In Part Four of his World Cup adventure, A-League utility Shannon Cole tries the jersey test and reports in the aftermath of the Socceroos clash with the Netherlands.
After the history-making Socceroos clash with Netherlands, Brazilians and visitors alike will not leave us alone when they learn we are Australian.
They are all burning like the rest of us that Australia didn’t get what they deserved. I just wanted to let everyone at home know that fans here from all over the world are raving about our boys.
Not just saying we competed with Holland, but even more incredibly as a team that plays the best football they’ve seen thus far.
Before I go on, just for the record, all of us here have been proudly sporting our Aussie jersey as often as possible. However, as many of you know, jersey fabric can stink to high hell after a couple of hours, so we’ve tried to ration our usage and keep Australia’s reputation clean.
As sick as it made feel, I wore an orange jersey the other day, but not that of the Dutch, rather the orange of Ivory Coast.
People stopped me and asked for photos, probably because I am fair skinned and blue eyed. After the game I swapped my shirt with a fan of Columbia for the jersey of his beloved home land. Same thing, people came up and had a laugh with me because I was clearly not Columbian.
I have a Japanese jersey with me that I was going to wear for their game out of respect for Tensai (Shinji Ono) but having being stared at all day I felt a little self-conscious and went casual gear instead.
It got me thinking though. I didn’t pass for an Ivory Coast fan nor a Columbian fan, the idea I’d pass for Japanese was just as laughable. But...
What does an Australian football fan look like?
If a white guy with red hair took the pitch for Nigeria, would you laugh? I would, 100%. I’d call my ginger dad straight away and let him know.
But the beautiful thing about our national team is that no matter your skin colour, your facial features, your name, or your past you are still Australian.
I saw it at the ground in Porto Alegre. Aussies of each and every ethnicity you could think of proudly cheering for our boys, and the green and gold suited them all perfectly.
I’ve known a lot of people over the years who have said to me: “I was never accepted as an Aussie. So why would I support Australia?”
Does this sound like you or someone you know? In theory the argument makes sense but it is flawed and I’ll tell you why.
The Socceroos represent all of us. Do you think someone with a name like Bresciano was viewed as an Aussie in high school? Not in my high school they weren’t.
The Socceroos is a place where guys named Spiranovic, Bresciano, Cahill, Wilkinson and the rest can all wear the same shirt and no one would think twice.
No matter your background and how long your family has been in Australia, it is possible, perhaps even likely that someone with the same journey as you has, or will one day wear the green and gold.
In Porto Alegre I sat by a 70-year-old Greek Australian Sydney Olympic fan. He was dressed head to toe in Socceroos gear and goes to the World Cup every four years to support his team.
He knows that one or many players on that pitch understand his journey. That one of their fathers migrated to Australia for a new life. That they were probably persecuted for being different when all they wanted was to feel the same. He knows that when he holds his half Greek half Australian flag high that the rest of the Socceroos fans instantly understand his story.
There are many who will never be convinced that they should support our national team, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you. Good people are still good people even when they disagree with each other.
I just hope you allow your children to be proud Socceroos fans. Even my American wife, yet to be granted her citizenship is proud to call herself an Aussie. She’s sitting next to me right now, wearing her Aussie jersey, still heartbroken like the rest of us.