SO, WHERE were we last time? Oh yes, I was just about to watch the Gemany v Ecuador game.

Well I watched it with a German mate of mine Fabi (who incidentally has just texted me to say that he is looking out his office window at the Socceroos milling about outside their hotel. Apparently they are in Stuttgart on holidays now. Sniff.) and afterwards went into the centre of Stuttgart (Stutters, or The Gart as I prefer to call it) and it was full of Germans taking pride in being German.

I can remember four years ago when they made it to the final of the World Cup, and there were celebrations, cars doing blockies beeping horns, plenty of flags and dancing and chanting, but it was nothing compared to this.

The main drag outside the Hauptbahnhof (or as I prefer to call it, The Haupt) was full of cars decked in German flags, and every single one of them had the horn blaring. Another main street, Theodor-Heuss-Strasse (The Heuss) was absolutely jam-packed with people. What is normally a very busy four or six lane highway had been transformed into a German mosh-pit. There was no traffic, it was simply a parking lot packed full of people chanting and waving German flags. Ace. And to think that they had only made it to second round, I can’t wait to hear what happens if they get to the next round!

After that game I went to Schlossplatz to watch the England v Sweden game. There were quite a few English fans about, and the square was very busy once more, although I didn’t see any chairs being thrown, which was nice. After the game about forty Aussie fans gathered down the front singing Oz songs. Some poms came over and tried to compete, but we drowned them out with “I’d rather be an aussie than a pom” and “3-1 in your own backyard” (we beat them 3-1 in London a few years ago). They actually had the final say with “where have all the aussies gone”, but by that time we’d gone to a pub to get more beer.

More gold shirts

By Wednesday the Aussie presence in The Gart had built up noticeably. There were quite a few more gold shirts wandering the streets, and a couple of flags draped from windows. I had bought my flag and shirt the week before, but by Wednesday Stutters had practically sold out of Oz paraphernalia, there were scores of desperate Aussies trying to buy shirts, flags and scarves, but the cupboard was bare.

That evening I went to a very Oz BBQ in the park, and then headed to my old Wed night haunt when I used to live here, the English pub quiz. I was walking up the stairs towards the pub when I noticed a bloke wearing a Socceroo’s t-shirt playing with his kid, and I thought he looked a bit like Super Timmy Cahill. No, hang on — it IS Super Timmy Cahill.

And there’s “Aloisi Johnny Aloisi, Aloisi he’s a Socceroo”. And that looks like Zeljko Kalac. I walked inside and greeted my mates, and who’s that sitting at the table next to them? Why it’s Lucas Neill canoodling with his girlfriend. And over in the corner — “Bresciano Marco Bresciano, Bresciano he’s a Socceroo” getting jiggy with his significant other. Cool. So I went out and shook Super Timmy Cahill’s hand and told him how he really is Super Timmy Cahill, and then I left the others alone, because they looked like they wanted to be left alone. My mate went and got a photo with Kalac, and may even have wished him luck for the next game, the fool.

So, the big day. I had been promising all of my mates that the Aussies would turn The Gart gold, but I was way off the mark with that prediction. In one of The Gart’s major department stores there is a little display for each country competing at the World Cup with some info including a stat for how many people from that country live in Stutters.

Hopelessly outnumbered

Apparently 153 Aussies live there, and over 13,000 Croatians. Also, I heard that over 100,000 Croations live near Stuttgart, and just about every single one of them had at least nine family members visiting from Croatia for the World Cup. Fact. By my calculations that makes around one million Croatians compared to the, oooh let’s be generous and say, 50,000 members of the green and gold army.

Naturally we were hopelessly outnumbered. The Gart was red and white, with a splash of gold. Inside the fanfest before the game was a bit better, the red and white were left to their own devices outside, whilst the green and gold gathered in clumps. The atmosphere pre-game was very festive, with a soccer ball being booted with much delight high in the air from one part of the crowd to another. Babies in prams and the portaloos were the only things in obvious danger.

As for the game itself, what a rollercoaster ride. I have sensational footage of the penalty that we scored (you can hear someone saying “Get in, get in!” and then we go nuts when the net bulges), I could watch that a thousand times and never get bored (I think I must be getting close to triple figures now anyway).

Zeljko Kalac was useless, the ref was even worse and the ending was atrocious.

I filmed the last 90 seconds of the match, and I think we score a goal (crowd erupts) which is disallowed (crowd goes “oh”), we get a free kick (crowd claps), there might be a red card in there (crowd cheers) we think the game is over (crowd erupts) then maybe it isn’t (what the ??!?!) then we think it is but aren’t sure, so there’s warm applause.

Afterwards the Socceroos did a lap of honour, and they played the obligatory Aussie songs over the sound system. When the chorus of ACDC’s TNT was played, 30,000 voices all in unison, in perfect timing, bellowed out “Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi!” and the whole stadium rang like a bell.

The reverberations were astounding, and what had been a sports stadium was transformed into a golden living, breathing, yelling organism. After the match thousands of Aussies gathered outside the ground and sang and chanted for several hours. I think the cops were eventually called in to move them on (I had left after about an hour and a half).

Chantwatch:

To the tune of yellow submarine:
We all dream of a team of Timmy Cahill’s, a team of Timmy Cahill’s, a team of Timmy Cahill’s. We all dream of a team of Timmy Cahill’s, a team of Timmy Cahill’s, a team of Timmy Cahill’s. Number one is Timmy Cahill, and number two is Timmy Cahill. Number three is Timmy Cahill, and number four is Timmy Cahill. We all dream of a … (etc)

To the tune of Go west:
You’re shit, but your chicks are hot

You’re red, you’re white, you’re going home tonight.

Can we play chess on your shirts?

There was another one about tea towels, but I can’t remember it, sorry.


Famous people watch:

Well, the Socceroos, obviously. George Negus — gave me an elated thumbs up after the game. Us media types like to stick together. David Hasselhof — I could have gone drinking with The Hof on Sunday eve in London, but I decided to watch Netherlands v Portugal. This is almost a 100% true story.

Stadium watch:

Well, The Gart is shit (for the view and acoustics), Munich is a great stadium but the transport there is shit, and the walk from the train station to the ground is a moonscape, it’s a horrible way to approach such a splendid structure. Inside it is very impressive, but because of the tiers there are parts of the ground that are hidden from some spectators.

My seat was practically on the feld itself, so the noise wasn’t as loud as that in The Slaut, which for my money is far and away the best stadium I have ever been to. With the centre of town turned green and gold for the day, and the walk from the old town up the alleyways to the stadium situated on a hill, it was a magnificent venue for a match.

And the stadium itself is fantastic, very steep tiers, right up to the sidelines of the pitch. From every single seat the view is superb, and the noise was awe-inspiring, bouncing off the roof and echoing around the whole ground. Stuttgart was merely cacophonous — it was noisy, but it was simply very loud, almost defeaning, white noise. The Slaut was defeaning but clear — when Super Timmy Cahill’s winner went in the roar was tremendous.

I can only imagine the atmosphere in The Slaut before the Italy game, the noise during it, and the appalling quiet afterwards.

You all saw the game. You all saw the incident in the 93rd minute. As one bloke next to me said, it looked as if he fell over a parked car. What a cruel way to end. After the farce that was Graham Poll, along comes a Spanish ref and spears Australia right through the heart.

image
Croat fans

image
The Gart

image
Theodor-heuss

image
Kalac

Rich “neverapen” Maddock

(Apologies for typos/lack of cohesion, I just got sick of writing really) PS no, I didn’t get tix to the Italy game, I probably could’ve, but it would’ve meant a big change in plans at great expense and a fair amount of hassle. From a personal point of view I’m kinda glad I didn’t, because it would have been excruciating to be there.

Earlier: And we did

Richard Maddock

And there’s “Aloisi Johnny Aloisi, Aloisi he’s a Socceroo”. And that looks like Zeljko Kalac. I walked inside and greeted my mates, and who’s that sitting at the table next to them? Why it’s Lucas Neill canoodling with his girlfriend. And over in the corner — “Bresciano Marco Bresciano, Bresciano he’s a Socceroo” getting jiggy with his significant other. Cool. So I went out and shook Super Timmy Cahill’s hand and told him how he really is Super Timmy Cahill, and then I left the others alone, because they looked like they wanted to be left alone. My mate went and got a photo with Kalac, and may even have wished him luck for the next game, the fool.

Afterwards the Socceroos did a lap of honour, and they played the obligatory Aussie songs over the sound system. When the chorus of ACDC’s TNT was played, 30,000 voices all in unison, in perfect timing, bellowed out “Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi!” and the whole stadium rang like a bell.

The reverberations were astounding, and what had been a sports stadium was transformed into a golden living, breathing, yelling organism. After the match thousands of Aussies gathered outside the ground and sang and chanted for several hours.