Leave your A-League colours at the door
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    Australia's Tim Cahill (left) reacts to a call made by referee Ravshan Irmatov during their 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifier match against Oman. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

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    It was a message that reverberated around the room last Thursday night, as fans from around New South Wales met at FFA headquarters in Sydney.

    Active support for the Socceroos is undergoing a renaissance, one that is free from ties to A-League support bases and club loyalties.

    Anybody who has paid to watch the Socceroos play in Australia in recent years will know how dismal the atmosphere can be.

    It doesn’t help that the FFA plays so many games in the cavernous, soulless monstrosity that is ANZ Stadium, but there is more than simply stadium acoustics that feed this problem.

    The growing disconnect between the dreary atmosphere at Socceroos games and the vibrancy of the A-League is plain to see. Since the heady days of 2006, the active support for Socceroos matches has been declining relative to the level of support at A-League matches.

    Perhaps this inverse relationship has something to do with the fact that many football fans have replaced the national team with an A-League club as their central focus. Perhaps the transitional phase hasn’t inspired too many new fans, or maybe Pim and Holger’s conservatism has simply strangled any excitement out of the national side.

    In any event, if this new guard of Socceroos fans has its way, the lethargy will be a thing of the past. At best, the national team should be a coming together of the tribes.

    Nobody expects the active fans of different clubs to get along during the regular season, but the national team should be a place where these divisions are put aside.

    Last Thursday night, the seeds were planted for a new dawn. Marcus Ehrlich, a veteran fan of the Socceroos who helped organise the meeting, spoke to The Roar:

    “The national team is still critically important for the sport in this country, and active support is an important component of football culture more generally.

    “We want the Socceroos active support to reflect the best of the national team – young, vibrant, multicultural and inclusive.”

    Messages of support were delivered in person from former Socceroo Mark Bosnich and current Socceroos captain Lucas Neill who met with the fans to discuss ideas and prospects for the future.

    Neill, on one of his few nights off, made time for an impassioned plea to the assembled group.

    Staring down his fellow countrymen, Neill explained the importance of active fans to the players, recalling fondly the Croatia game in Stuttgart, where throngs of green-and-gold-clad supporters rocked the stadium.

    Make no mistake, this is not a collection of A-League support groups coming together. Far from it.

    Rather, the new active support crew, under the working title ‘Socceroos Active Support’ (SAS), are a motley crew of disaffected but passionate fans who want visiting sides to fear playing the national team.

    It’s an important moment. The Socceroos have a long history of bringing Australians together.

    Since the early days, they have served to overcome the seemingly inherent factionalism in our game. They’ve also been a crucial catalyst for new supporters to take an interest in football, perhaps best illustrated in 1974 and 2006.

    At best, they are Australia’s best loved national team. And while they might be hard to love at the moment, they are still ours.

    The Green and Gold Army, which for so long led the charge at Socceroo fixtures, has faded. They held the banner high for years, but a new guard has arrived, and it’s time to move forward.

    Now is not the time to throw mud at the legacy of the GGA, or talk down their efforts. Indeed, refugees of the GGA have been welcomed into the fold, exemplifying the conciliatory, forward-looking spirit of the new group.

    There has hardly been a better time for fans to have this kind of discussion. The governing body is more open with supporters than ever before, illustrated by their keen involvement in Thursday night’s meeting.

    Still, this bunch is fiercely independent, judging by some of the straightforward comments made to David Gallop and Kyle Patterson.

    But to their credit, the representatives from the FFA made it immediately clear that they won’t have a tin ear to these new developments.

    The reality is that the governing body are an important player in assisting with ticketing and other logistical matters.

    The tyranny of distance has never been kind to Socceroos supporters. Precious few fans have the money or the time to travel around the country – let alone overseas – to support the national team.

    To combat this problem, these young turks have proposed a structure that allows support groups to be set up in each state, in order to truly nationalise the group.

    Time will only tell if a new active supporter base can get off the ground. The ‘no-dickheads’ policy will be held sacrosanct, but ideas for songs, chants, tifos and flags will be discussed at the new online forum, Socceroos Active Supporters.

    Time is of the essence. The national team faces an uphill battle to get to Brazil after some shaky performances. But as Lucas Neill explained on Thursday night, the players can only do so much.

    Active fans, who are willing to sing for ninety minutes, are crucial now more than ever before.

    As Neill pleaded on the night – “we need you.”

    Joe Gorman
    Joe Gorman

    Joe Gorman is a football journalist with a particular interest in sports history. After completing his thesis on football in Australia, Joe started with The Roar in October 2012. He tweets from @JoeGorman_89.

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    The Crowd Says (80)

    • May 20th 2013 @ 7:57am
      Towser said | May 20th 2013 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      “The tyranny of distance has never been kind to Socceroos supporters. Precious few fans have the money or the time to travel around the country – let alone overseas – to support the national team.”

      “To combat this problem, these young turks have proposed a structure that allows support groups to be set up in each state, in order to truly nationalise the group.

      This Joe although a no brainer, has to be said,because it is a problem for gathering as many Socceroo fans together to support the National team in crucial matches.
      One of the problems facing this country is that the capital Canberra unlike England as an example & which I know best ,is not the spiritual focus of Australians in the same way that London is In England.
      Not only that but there are enough people in London itself to support the National team & distance is not prohibitive in allowing fans from provincial towns & cities to get in the car or on a bus/train to get down to London.
      Wembley also historically has been the place to hold National team matches & finals as long as I can remember anyway.
      So given these factors any co-ordinated plan by fans/FFA to overcome the distance/cost problem is a positive.

    • May 20th 2013 @ 7:59am
      Lucan said | May 20th 2013 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Wouldn’t it make much more sense for the SAS to align with the GGA and utilise those well established resources and networks rather than starting from scratch????

      • Roar Guru

        May 20th 2013 @ 9:05am
        Fussball ist unser leben said | May 20th 2013 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        I’ve attended every single meaningful match played by the AUS NT in Melbourne since 1977 & I’ve even travelled to Sydney for a few games. I was in GER for the 2006WC & in the stadium for AUSvJPN, AUSvBRA, AUSvITA … couldn’t get a ticket for AUSvCRO.

        As far as I’m concerned, the GGA is nothing more than a glorified Travel Agent. Again, purely from my observations from afar, the GGA don’t exhibit a real passion or understanding for the Game. A lot are just jingoistic groupies, who like to fly the national flag at any sporting event.

        So, I’m thrilled by this new initiative. We need to gather real football fans – those, who have a true passion & understanding for the actual Game & respect for the National Team and …

        … respect for the National Team’s opponents – I was embarrassed & disgusted by the GGA chants after AUSvJPN – despite the heart-breaking loss in Kaiserslautern, JPN fans were gracious & sporting. GGA fans were the worst of AUS bogan behaviour.

        Exciting times in football – unlike the other allegedly big sports in Australia, fans of AUS Football have so much more to enjoy than the annual domestic competition.

        • May 20th 2013 @ 9:47am
          Lucan said | May 20th 2013 @ 9:47am | ! Report

          You’re mistaking the GGA and the Fanatics, Fuss’. I abhor that bogan element as much as the next guy, but we see it creeping in everywhere these days.

          While the GGA has unfortunately evolved into a “travel agent” in recent years, it was born as 100% football lovers, and active supporters. To suggest otherwise is to rewrite history.
          Following the NT from the early 90’s onwards in Melb there was nothing (Sydney had Bay 23), so I was rapt when the GGA eventually appeared on the scene. (even tho’ the core of them were Carltoon SC supporters 😉 )
          GGA made a presence at Aust fixtures dating back to 2000 or so.
          Personally, I’ve stood side-by-side with the GGA at Oceania Nations Cup games, U23’s Oly Qualifiers, U20’s Youth World Cup Qualifiers and countless other more and less fashionable fixtures.

          Respect where its due.

          • May 20th 2013 @ 10:56am
            jb said | May 20th 2013 @ 10:56am | ! Report

            however the GGA is fast becoming the fanatics. Spruiking bookmakers and travel deals at every chance

            • May 20th 2013 @ 11:11am
              Lucan said | May 20th 2013 @ 11:11am | ! Report

              The betting agency partnership does make me sick. It is an embarassment, and I continue to protest this involvement.

              Do people actually remember the support GGA provided pre-2006? STUNNED that folk continue to suggest the GGA are not football people.

          • May 20th 2013 @ 11:00am
            AGO74 said | May 20th 2013 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            I’ve stood in GGA a couple of times in Sydney for the Uzbekistan and Bahrain qualifiers a few years back. Sadly my view of a lot of these GGA people that night was that they thought they high and mightly constantly dissing on other supporters in the stadium (to the point where they were making chants against these group) more than they were watching the Socceroos. Plainly weird.

            It’s very easy to take a shot at The Fanatics but honestly I’m not sure what’s worse. Pompous GGA or supposedly bogan Fanatics.

            • May 20th 2013 @ 1:51pm
              Matt from Singapore said | May 20th 2013 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

              +1 GGA remind me a lot of the early seasons active supporters of Melbourne Victory. Looking down at the rank & file family supporter, thinking they were the reason people go to the football. That’s why when they went on with their petty disputes the average member never supported them. Seems like the Wanderers have engaged their rank & file far better & don’t seem to look down on them.
              Hopefully we some loud, passionate, inclusive home support for our national football team, that shows the real multicultural Australia at it’s best.

              • Roar Guru

                May 20th 2013 @ 9:11pm
                NUFCMVFC said | May 20th 2013 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

                To be fair on that issue, (I started off sitting on the wing and moved into the active areas fwiw)

                Unlike Sydney where the Stadiums have tended to be more active fan friendly, eg in 2007 Urawa fans were allowed to bring large flags in so SFC could easily copy etc, and WSW fans have had no issues

                In Melbourne we had issues firstly with MOPT Trust (bit vague on that personally) in season 1 but Seasons 2 and most particularly seasons 3 at Docklands there was a big challenge in trying to get things like large o/s flags, banner space but perhaps most hilariously even a Drum was very difficult at the time and the club was quite complicit in all this for a long time

                The problem being is that there is a slight notion that more broadly while active fans want to facilitate football culture given they see it all as a football institution, there was some idea put forward by the Isings of this world that people should be able to support like AFL fans etc given the club is broad-based and a sporting institution more generally etc and add in the fact we were run by an ex-AFL President there is a strong defensiveness of the culture and a bit of suspicion on both sides given there is a slight conflict of vision.

                Wing fans get caught in the middle me thinks which in turn led to a strong ‘pushback’ which unfortunately, eg a generalist sports fan on the wing and even more specifically one who is naive enough to buy into or near an active area would mistake active areas for an area where all the “hooligans are” etc so this “looking down” issue you speak of goes both ways. Even worse is when these people get security because someone is standing in their seat involved who don’t know any better

                Even more recently, especially when there is allocated seating there is conflict between the areas that border the active area and represent its expansion zone if you like and the seated areas, this is why GA makes sense and since the new MVFC admin introduced this the situtation has alleviated slightly because people are free to move about a bit more but it isn’t as simple as saying it’s stuck up snobbery as you are suggesting

                You have to remember – and this still occurs now – oppression of the active fans is always done in the name of making it safe for the so-called “family fans” who sit on the wing so there may be a bit of resentment mis-directed I suspect.

                This is all rather unfortunate in an ironic way because a lot of the fans and the kids ironically love the active areas and spend half their time watching those areas instead of the game

          • May 20th 2013 @ 3:09pm
            Oz_scosuer said | May 20th 2013 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

            I agree with Lucan. I have stood beside Lucan at many games and sung many times at varying locations globally. I made many great friends from the GGA but the Betfair partnership also killed it for me as well. I did go on the South Africa Tour and it was very different to the Fanatics. The GGA was all about the football until they took the organizing of trip’s to that next level and turned into a Tour company supported by a betting company, but at least it was only for Football.

            I am excited by the new ideas however, the comments re We are Australian. Read the lyrics, the Socceroos really sum up what those lyrics are all about. We are the only code where all religions, ethnicity are represented in the national team. The Socceroos do come from every land on earth and we all do sing with one voice. Well I hope thats the aim. Leave your club colours at the door on Socceroos game day, and get behind the lads.

            Last time I saw, it doesn’t matter if you are from Sydney or Melbourne, your passport says your Australian. That always annoyed me coming form Brisbane. I couldn’t give a hoot where you are from, stand beside your fellow Football supporter and sing for the Socceroos not crap on about how much of a better group you are or city.

            Who cares how bad we are playing under Holger (and retrospectively under PVB) I’d rather support them then bag them out which many fans tend to do.

          • May 20th 2013 @ 6:27pm
            Kasey said | May 20th 2013 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

            Yes the Fanatics = Fan-tiki…no clue about the game and their behavior in RSA was terrible and ungracious at the soberest of times:( (especially in Rustenberg!)

            I am finding it harder and harder to get enthused for NT football these days, I suspect as a result of the rise in the HAL…a substantial sum of my ‘football support’ money/effort now goes to following the Reds around the country.

        • May 20th 2013 @ 5:46pm
          Daryl Adair said | May 20th 2013 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

          Fuss, rugby union fans have plenty to follow on the world stage too. They have the Rugby World Cup, while the British and Irish Lions are playing the Wallabies soon. That may not be your kettle of fish, but it is for rugby fans.

        • Roar Guru

          May 20th 2013 @ 8:54pm
          NUFCMVFC said | May 20th 2013 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

          Just quietly I think you are mixing the Fanatics up with the GGArmy

          One thing I hink people are overlooking is the issue that the FFA chose to favour some generic sports bogan travel Agent (Fanatics) as their official partner for the 2006 and 2010 World Cup (I think) ahead of the GGArmy which was a football oriented fan group

          Whoever these new people are will have the same issues as the GGArmy, namely that we didn’t play any meaningful gome games at all last year, so it is a matter of the “tyranny of time” as much as it is the tyranny of distance

          My experience of the GGArmy with the 2007 Asian Cup and the 2009 Japan WCQ as a hardcore fan was excellent, in Japan for example I an an MVFC fan ended up in the same hostel room as a fair few Sydney FC fans etc, but the colours were always “left at the door” so to speak, and I spent the week with a mix of Jets fans and fans from a number of other A-League clubs and all was well, as we were all there and all supported the A-League as hardcore football fans who could see the bigger picture

          Given they are together on a weekly basis, naturally the club support is always going to become higher quality than the national team who have to bring people together from a vast distances and only intermittently, then of course we have had ticketing issues in the past where there would always be clowns wanting to stand or sit quietly buying into an active area and not understanding what it was supposed to be about and dickhead security guards who weren’t told any better either always taking their side etc

      • May 20th 2013 @ 9:28am
        Football United said | May 20th 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        GGA only just scrape ahead of the lowest of low that is the fanatics. Both are essentially tennis/cricket Bogan style supporters that have turned into a travel company and continue to embarrass Australia repeatedly across all sports.

        • May 20th 2013 @ 10:51am
          vinnie said | May 20th 2013 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Yep, i can confirm this embarrasment at sth africa 2010, bogans from GG and fanatics throwing bottles at the Ghana game after the kewell sending off , luckily they only hit the running track around the pitch,
          i mingled with alot of people from these groups and their main priority was the state of origin footy scores and the AFL back home, Sth africa was merely a holiday and an excuse to support australia.

          • May 20th 2013 @ 11:00am
            Jacques said | May 20th 2013 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            Well if that’s the case it’s not good for us real football fans.Especially the AFL loving media in Melbourne who jump on anything negative regarding the world game

          • May 20th 2013 @ 11:22am
            oly said | May 20th 2013 @ 11:22am | ! Report

            I met Fanatics in SA who didn’t even bother going to the Ghana game despite having tickets and just watched the game on the TVs at their cricket ground base in Durban!

            At least their jackets and caps made them easy to identify!

          • Roar Guru

            May 20th 2013 @ 3:37pm
            Ben of Phnom Penh said | May 20th 2013 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

            I was to the left of them in the stand at Rustenberg. The bottle throwing was embarassing. I hope whoever did it received a clip around the ears.

        • May 20th 2013 @ 4:28pm
          Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | May 20th 2013 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

          Is there anything more embarrassing as an Australian than hearing the Fanatics yelling “Aussie,Aussie Aussie,oi oi oi” at Wimbeldon?,they must be stopped.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 21st 2013 @ 9:30pm
            Matt Man said | May 21st 2013 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

            I cringe any time I hear, “Aussie,Aussie Aussie,oi oi oi”. It had its day back at the 2000 Olympics, but now it needs to be muzzled for good.

    • May 20th 2013 @ 8:24am
      Ballymore said | May 20th 2013 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      A timely and pertinent article.

      I’m pleased you’ve mentioned the cavernous ANZ Stadium, the stadiums used (Etihad included) is probably the primary reason I don’t travel to Socceroo games interstate.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

      • May 20th 2013 @ 8:28am
        Franko said | May 20th 2013 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        On the flip-side though. Melbourne rectangular could be a cauldron.

        • May 20th 2013 @ 9:42pm
          Ballymore said | May 20th 2013 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

          Very true. FFA are taking the ‘small stadium at capacity’ approach with WSW, I’d love to see the same with the NT.

    • Roar Pro

      May 20th 2013 @ 8:42am
      Football United said | May 20th 2013 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      You’ve got to be joking FFA. All season you abuse active supporters and target us with unfair bans and restrictions, we only barely put up with the counter terrorists and neanderthal security you set on us just so we can support the teams we love in the ways we should. Now because you completely have sat on your arse with the National Team and watched it go to shit, you expect the fans to pick up the pieces and just forget all the crap you give us at club level. No chance, other people are free to do what they want but the North Terrace and those that affiliate with it will not back this initiative.

      • Roar Guru

        May 20th 2013 @ 9:02am
        Cameron Kellett said | May 20th 2013 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        IC. I’m all for it.

      • May 20th 2013 @ 10:29am
        Jukes said | May 20th 2013 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        There are plenty of people who will back it. If you want to sit in the stands out of the active area, good for you. No one will stop you.

        • May 20th 2013 @ 11:44am
          Lucan said | May 20th 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

          Whichever group is actively supporting will have my matchday support and voice.

      • May 20th 2013 @ 2:34pm
        AZ_RBB said | May 20th 2013 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

        I reckon this is a huge issue. It’s easy to say “well we’ll just find other people to be in our active support” and to say that the active supporter groups need to stop complaining and get behind their national team. But the fact of the matter is that the power is very much in the hands of these groups ie. RBB, Cove, NT and others. The people most capable of putting together something like this successfully are closely tied to those groups. They have at their disposal the most vocal fans and those most likely to make some noise at international matches.

        Not expecting the FFA to give in to every demand of these groups by putting a stop to the unjustified antagonisation of these groups will go a long towards reversing the alienation that has happened recently.

    • May 20th 2013 @ 9:07am
      mahonjt said | May 20th 2013 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      I have registered for the website and like some of the names fr the new group being proposed – “Terrace Australis” is easily my favorite. This is the right pproach to be taking in overall terms. My congratulations to the FFA for getting involved and facilitating this as ell. Luca$h is right – they need us!

      • May 20th 2013 @ 9:25am
        Football United said | May 20th 2013 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        This will be the winner. I might have my own opinions re this but that is a clever name so fair play to them.

      • Roar Guru

        May 20th 2013 @ 11:39am
        Fussball ist unser leben said | May 20th 2013 @ 11:39am | ! Report

        I like “Terrace Australis”, but would add either “1922” or 1974″ the name:
        1922 is the year the AUS NT played its first internatonal … a friendly against NZL
        1974 must never be forgotten – the lads, who took us to our 1st FIFA WC.

        “Terrace Australis 1922”
        “Terrace Australis 1974”

      • May 20th 2013 @ 12:46pm
        nordster said | May 20th 2013 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

        not to be confused with Terra Nullius 1770 !

        • May 20th 2013 @ 1:15pm
          Titus said | May 20th 2013 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          I think The Hearts support group is already called Terrace Nullius ; )

    • May 20th 2013 @ 9:36am
      Greenwood said | May 20th 2013 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      Hope the new active fan group keep out of selling merchandise,

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