Friday, November 23, 2007
Memories of 1993
Tomorrow, in case you didn't know, there's a rather important event taking place in Australia. The triennial ritual in which we attempt to sift through a barrage of rhetoric, slogans and mostly superficial media analysis to decide who is going to run the country for the next few years.
Such an event was held on March 13, 1993 as well. It has gone down in Australian history as Paul Keating's "sweetest victory of them all", John Hewson's "unloseable election", and many other trite phrases.
It was also the night that Australia reached the semi-finals of the World Youth Championship of football. Guess what I was watching.
Actually, at that point I wasn't exactly a football tragic, just a scruffy university student with a catholic interest in plenty of sports, yet with a decided preference for cricket, which has steadily been eroded in recent years. By Arts student standards, I was fairly indifferent politically, which actually meant that I took a keen but not an overpowering interest. Hence, it meant a night of constant channel-flicking. But SBS got the lion's share of the attention.
It was a joyous night in many ways. Australia had played well, though not brilliantly, in the early games; they'd had a significant helping hand from the referee in their first-round game against the Russians, when the latter had their defender Yuri Petrov sent off for a negligible foul (another fond memory: the screen graphic, clearly reverting to a default setting for some reason, informing us that the Russian player Fred Bloggs had been red-carded!). And in their final group match against Cameroon, the Aussie youngsters were frankly awful.
Uruguay always looked like being a tough opponent in the quarter-final, and it was a very tense game. The Uruguayan coach was dismissed from the bench, the initiative swayed back and forth; in the meantime, Bob Hawke was giving his confident early prediction that, in spite of the analysts' expectations, Labor was going to win the election.
The match went to extra time. Ten minutes in, there came the moment of ecstasy: Anthony Carbone broke through to score Australia's winner.
I don't know which I enjoyed more afterwards: Uruguay coach Angel Castelnoble's frantic gesticulations to his team from beyond the perimeter fence, or John Hewson's strangulated speech, conceding an unthinkable election defeat.
I make no secret of my desire to see our xenophobic, reactionary Prime Minister toppled in tomorrow's poll, on top of the Olyroos' success in Pyongyang. But, to my shame, I'll probably be watching Melbourne v. Wellington instead.
By then I was well and truly a football tragic Mike and that whole tournament remains one of my most endearing memories....
I bought the syd pass, which meant i could go to all the games in syd, so my best memories were the opening game, against Colombia, at a packed sfs, when Milicic did the business and we won 2-1, and the final, which featured the two best teams of the tournament, Brazil and Ghana. Of course, Brazil had Dida in goals and the skipper Marchelino holding the midfeild, but i fell in love with Gian up front (never know what happened to him??)
And then the ghanaians, some of the most eye-catching stuff this young football fan had ever seen from players like Nii Lamptey, CK Akonnor, Ossi Kuffour and Augustine Ahinful (A-hand-full indeed).
I was transfixed.
Of course, the Aussies competed well, making it all the way to the semis, and there's no doubt that other than the abovementioned opener, that qf against Uruguay in Qld was the most special of games....Agostino's late equaliser, before mullet-haired Jimmy Tskenis sprinted down the right and teed it up for carbone....Gary Bloom went mad, and so did the country.
It was a great tournament to be a part of, and when I get together with old mates, we still have a yarn about the memories such the the Andy Paschalidis "Faklaris" call....he went potty.
Priceless stuff, all of it, thanks for the trip down memory lane.
They were a fantastic side, I remember. Sad to think that, now that we know a bit more about the standard African (and Ghanaian in particular) age cheating that went on during that time, a fair few of them were probably over-age.
Even though I was only seven I'm a bit annoyed I can't recall even knowing about anything to do with football (let alone Oz football) in 1993, considering so much happened in Oz football then with the WYC and the Argentina WCQs.
I still have great memories of seeing Milicic and Agostino and their inspirational performances, and that quarter final against Uruguay remains one of my favourite moments as an Oz football fan. The other game at the SFS later that year hasn't been forgotten quite as easily though....
Interesting parallel with Australian politics there Mike. While the overall profile of football has increased in that time, the two political adversaries of '93 were a good notch or two higher than the choice on offer tomorrow, regardless of one's political opinions.
In other words, football is FAR more important!
After that tournament (despite not knowing much about football at the time), I really though Milicic was going to go on and become something special. He did have the potential IMO...made a couple of dud career choices along the way, a la Zelic.
...The other game at the SFS later that year hasn't been forgotten quite as easily though...
The greatest night of Paul Wade's life, you mean? ;-)
...While the overall profile of football has increased in that time, the two political adversaries of '93 were a good notch or two higher than the choice on offer tomorrow, regardless of one's political opinions....
I'm with you there!
For all his faults, I really admired Keating. And Hewson at least had the balls to go to an election with genuine alternative policies, not that it did him much good.
Happy with the result of the election. But I think Melbourne season is stuffed now.