I loved reading Fever Pitch, (one man’s story of the highs and lows of being an obsessive Arsenal fan) when I first found it, but I never thought it would apply to me.
But watching the World Cup last night with Australia spending most of the match futilely trying to match Japan’s controversial goal before coming good in the last 10 minutes with 3 glorious goals, I was reminded, unexpectedly of Nick Hornby’s description of how, when you’re a fan, you spend most of the time hating your team for their ineptitude. Every time Australia wasted time passing the ball to each other outside the penalty box before being tackled by the Japanese defence, or alternatively took hopelessly inaccurate shots at goal, I was inwardly cursing their hopelessness.
I realised that the Australian men’s soccer team is one of my few experiences with real fandom. I’m not a serious fan in the Nick Hornby mold, but I have come to care. Probably that experience of watching Australia throw it all away in the last few minutes against Iran 8 years ago has made it that way, but who knows what captures the imagination? Suffice to say I’m now even more jealous of my brother’s tickets for the Croatia game next week. That one’s going to matter.