GOOD CLEAN FUN: The rivalry between the Australian and Croatian soccer fans was cast aside during their World Cup play-off yest
GOOD CLEAN FUN: The rivalry between the Australian and Croatian soccer fans was cast aside during their World Cup play-off yest

Socceroos are the lion hearted

I'VE never experienced so many emotions in under two hours before.

Not even against Japan, when the Socceroos came from the death to win it, did the feelings fluctuate so much.

Earlier in the tournament the supporters went in hope of a Socceroos victory against Japan, and then prayed for a miracle against Brazil.

In Stuttgart against Croatia we expected a result.

So, when Srna fired in Croatia's first goal after only two minutes, the optimism within the crowd deflated quicker than a popped balloon.

Second round qualification seemed an eternity away.

As the minutes ticked by and the goals failed to come, the boxing kangaroo slung around my shoulders was entrenched in my teeth, as were my fingers, which were left without fingernails by game's end.

This was more gripping than any other sporting event I've ever witnessed and it was almost too tough to bear.

But then Stjepan Tomas handballed, Craig Moore slotted the penalty and the Aussie crowd was in raptures. The pressure was off and the celebrations began.

The Australian crowd had been singing the entire first half, and added to the usual were songs were chants of 'your red, your white, you're going home tonight'.

All was good with the world.

Then came Kalac's blunder and the boxing kangaroo and nails were again lodged firmly in my mouth.

The rollercoaster of emotions was in full swing again and it was becoming unbearable. But I guess, the Socceroos have never made it easy for their fans.

For once the Aussie crowd was relatively quiet, as the Socceroos battled to find the equaliser for which we were desperately praying.

When it finally came, the Australian supporters' end of the stadium exploded back into life.

The last 11 minutes was n Continued: P3

From: P1

pure delight, joy and pandemonium wrapped up in skepticism: surely we weren't going to qualify, I struggled to believe I wasn't dreaming.

And then the final whistle and all the anxiety flowed off the fans like a geyser.

The boys had done it. The stadium rocked to the sounds of screaming Aussies, with shouts, cheers and tears flooding the arena.

But the party was only just beginning and it was a full 45 minutes before anyone left their seats. The Socceroos came over to the supporters, who cheered even louder ? which I didn't think was possible.

They disappeared and the party continued in the stadium.

The Socceroos returned 10 minutes later to do a lap of honour and the cheering stepped up a notch again. AC\DC, INXS and Men At Work blared from the stadium's PA system and the crowd was in raptures. The players didn't want to leave and they hung around for a few minutes taking in the singing and dancing of the crowd.

After nearly an hour the crowd moved from their seats, but only to the back of the arena where the singing and chanting continued. For another full hour every Australian chant from Advance Australia Fair to Waltzing Matilda was heard.

One Aussie supporter did himself a mischief and was taken away in an ambulance, but even he sat up and proudly display his Aussie's scarf as the ambulance made its way through the crowd.

It was over, but the experience will never be forgotten by those who were there.

We never stopped believing.

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