Arsenal in Australia: A Link Down Under
Australians, by nature, are sports mad, all forms, all of the time. It is the way we are brought up, and it sticks with you.
The biggest sports down under are undoubtedly our own Aussie Rules Football, along with Rugby League and Union.
Proper football (or soccer if you prefer) comes in fourth but is catching the top three rapidly since the introduction of the highly successful national competition, The Hyundai A-League.
The football following over here can probably be attributed to the fact that Australia was originally a British Colony and quite a lot of ex-Brits, Scots, and Irish emigrate to our shores and bring their love of the game with them.
The most popular Premiership team in Australia is Manchester United, followed by Liverpool, and then our beloved Gunners a close third. There is also quite a large supporter base for the SPL in Scotland, with Celtic and Rangers being the most widely supported.
There was quite a large following for a short while for Leeds United when they were in the Premiership, due to the fact that both Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka played at Elland Road.
There is a large number of unofficial Arsenal supporters clubs in Australia, as well as the Officially recognised Arsenal Australia Supporters Club.
Australians at Arsenal
Although a lot of Aussies have graced the English Football and indeed all of Europe, I cannot remember a single Aussie playing in Arsenal colours in my time.
The closest we came to having a representative in Arsenal colours was when Harry Kewell was possibly going to join, a move which never materialised as he ended up going north to Liverpool.
Arsenal has been linked with a few Australians in the past few years, including Jacob Timpano in 2003, Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers), Tim Cahill (Everton), and Mark Milligan in May this year but none of these moves have taken place.
Arsene Wenger had said in the past that he would be wary of signing an Aussie due to the long travel times for internationals. But the Socceroos now play a lot of their home games at Craven Cottage, which may change the bosses mind.
I would have liked to see Timmy Cahill in an Arsenal shirt, but we wait patiently for our first Aussie Gunner. Ever since the first Australian in the top flight, Craig Johnston, ran out for Liverpool in 1981, we have waited... one day, one day...
I have struggled to find a concrete connection between Australia and Arsenal. Although there is a lot of direct links between Aussies and English Football. Not just in the Premiership, but in all divisions. After talking to other Arsenal fans over the past week, the general consensus seems to be that Aussies like Arsenal simply because they play great football.
We respect a team in any sport that plays with great skill, and Arsenal does that. Beyond that, it was the characters that Arsenal have had over the years and still have today, Pat Rice being the name that came up more often than not.
One Pat Rice fact I heard from my uncle, who lived just streets away from Highbury for a number of years and attended most Arsenal home games in the mid-to-late-'80s, was that he couldn't put a sentence together on match day without including at least a couple of expletives to get his point across.
Aussies like that side of the game too...
I would like to thank Shyam and Maire for coming up with the idea for these articles and giving me a chance to write on the Aussie perspective. I hope to read more articles on the Arsenal connection to other countries in the near future.
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