A Football Match to Remember: Well Done Socceroos in Jordan

Published November 18th, 2019 - 10:35 GMT
In case you were wondering, the Australian football team is affectionally nicknamed the Socceroos /AFP
In case you were wondering, the Australian football team is affectionally nicknamed the Socceroos /AFP

By Lyn Heppner
 

Last Thursday morning, I awoke with the excitement of a child, because my friend and colleague, Wayne, had tickets for us for the FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifiers game between Jordan and the Socceroos.  Our South African friend, Graham, accompanied us on this adventure as well as our friends, Ahmed and Hamzeh, without whom we would surely have been lost.

I was excited because this was my country team playing against Jordan, the country where I lived for so many years.  During the course of the day, I told myself that I would probably be pleased with whichever team wins because I felt loyal to both sides. 

 

Our tickets were for the “Australian Fans” section, so we wondered how many Australians would be there.  We arrived amidst huge groups of Jordanian youth, all young men, around the various entrance gates.  I then recalled that sometime over the years I had heard conversations in which they stated that Jordanian women never attended football games. 

There was not one other woman to be seen as we wended our way around the outside of the stadium searching for the entrance for “Australian Fans”.  My Jordanian office colleagues assure me that it does not mean that women are not allowed in, but more likely, that they are not the least bit interested.

Our tickets were for the “Australian Fans” section, so we wondered how many Australians would be there.  We arrived amidst huge groups of Jordanian youth, all young men, around the various entrance gates.

We arrived at our designated entrance and proceeded to the relevant gate only to find a sea of empty seats except for one lady sitting alone in the very top row.  I spoke with her and she told me that she and a couple of others, who arrived a bit later, had travelled to Jordan especially for the game. After we took our allocated seats, a few Aussies arrived in dribs and drabs.  

The players came onto the ground for their warm up.  Coming from Victoria and being an AFL fan, at first, I had no idea of the names of any of our team members, but a huge pang of loyalty arose in my chest.  Then the players returned to their dressing room and at the same time, three or four young German chaps arrived to take their seats in our section.

We watched the clock: ten minutes to go, five minutes to go and one minute to go.  Then the players wearing their spectacular gold jerseys and shorts ran onto the ground.  What a thrill it was. At this stage, I still felt some loyalty for both teams.

The Jordanian team ran onto the ground wearing their stunning black jerseys and white shorts.  The teams lined up for their national anthems. The Australian anthem started and I found myself jumping up with immense pride, taking me back to my days in the W.R.A.N.S. I also sang, thinking to myself how easily the words flowed. 

a huge pang of loyalty arose in my chest

The game started with very little fuss unlike the AFL where fans, coaches, children and banners all flood onto the ground pre-match.  The Socceroos were kicking towards our end of the ground. It was very exciting, as they seemed to be the stronger team. I have some knowledge of the game, as it is similar to hockey that I played at high school as well as in the Navy. 

Jordan was showing signs of strong play and I do not think there was much difference between them at the half-time mark. I found myself jumping to my feet when Australia did something spectacular. Then it happened. The Socceroos’ Adam Taggart scored a goal.  There was no doubt, for which team Wayne and I were barracking. The golden Socceroos had scored! We leapt to our feet with joy.

At half time, we had a chat with an Australian man and his wife who were on a tour that brought them to Jordan.  They heard about the game and decided to attend and give their support to the home team.

Both teams sprinted back onto the ground for the second half.  The Jordanian team seemed to be stronger, but suffered several close misses thanks to the brilliance of the Australian goalkeeper; whose name I have since discovered is Mathew Ryan. 

I did see a banner in our section with ‘Saving Private Ryan’ blazoned on it, so I guessed at the time that there must be a player called Ryan.  There was also one close goal that an Australian player deflected using his head. Brilliant! 

The Jordanian team seemed to be stronger, but suffered several close misses thanks to the brilliance of the Australian goalkeeper; whose name I have since discovered is Mathew Ryan.  I did see a banner in our section with ‘Saving Private Ryan’ blazoned on it, so I guessed at the time that there must be a player called Ryan.

There were chants from our section such as, “He has no hair, but we don’t care…” (apparently from a Boney M song) which, again I’ve since found, is attributed to Aaron Mooy. We then found that we were nervously watching the clock again: ten minutes to go; five; three, two, one. It is over and we have won.  Tries by Hamza Al-Dardour and Yaseen Al-Bakhit could have won the match for Jordan and Tareq Khattab did well to fend off a late attack by Australia.

There is no doubt that Australians abroad are very loyal and supportive of their home teams.  Well done Socceroos. At the end, if Jordan had scored and the game finished in a draw, we would have also felt very proud of our host country and their players. 

Jordan is a country that has suffered wars as well as the plight of waves of refugees; a country that has almost quadrupled its population as hosts of refugees over past decades; a country without much in the way of resources or the capacity to ensure a secure future for their youth who cheered so hard for their team.

Jordan is a country that has suffered wars as well as the plight of waves of refugees; a country that has almost quadrupled its population as hosts of refugees over past decades; a country without much in the way of resources or the capacity to ensure a secure future for their youth who cheered so hard for their team.

On leaving the ground, Wayne and I were slightly fearful of elbowing our way out surrounded by the Jordanian fans, but here they were, offering us congratulations and best wishes, praising our team and inviting us for a meal of mensaf (the local and most popular dish of lamb, rice and a yoghurt sauce).  Some cheeky chaps danced for me, being one of the very few women on the street waiting for our uber.

Thank you Jordan for a wonderful evening.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Al Bawaba News.


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