Unless you’re that knob in the office who still thinks saying “sportsball” is the epitome of cool you’re going to have to try and get a little bit excited about the soccer World Cup. (Yes I know, but saying “football, I mean soccer” gets wearisome after a while.) Crotchety old Socceroos fans like me who can still hum the theme song from ‘Captain Socceroo’ and know how to spell Mooroolbark City are old hands at picking a team to follow in the cup that’s not wearing green and gold. We’ve had plenty of practice. So here’s a few tips for who to throw your lot behind after Australia gallantly lose to France and Denmark before giving Peru a shellacking in the consolation final.
This is the team to get behind if you’re the sort of person who goes to the races and has an each way bet on the favourite in every race. In other words, if you’re a boring fart.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: THE MELBOURNE STORM. They crush every opponent like killer robots and no-one likes them.
Argentinian players are like drummers in 70s bands, in that they all have hot looking wives and girlfriends they most definitely wouldn’t have if they weren’t Argentinian soccer players or drummers in 70s bands. Lionel Messi looks like the sort of bloke who keeps his girlfriend up all night talking soccer tactics. Just remember to refer to the Falklands as “Los Islas Malvinas” if you find yourself watching alongside any sharply dressed blokes in tango dancing clobber.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: GEELONG CATS. Have been punching well above their weight for longer than anyone can remember.
They still steadfastly refuse to pick Roy Race from Roy Of The Rovers despite years and years of him pulling off thrilling second half comebacks after realising that his rubbing lineament has been replaced by sulphuric acid by an unscrupulous match fixer. I haven’t heard their World Cup song yet but I’m guessing its rubbish too.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: PARRAMATTA EELS. Their glory days are a long, long time ago, when they had a brilliant bald headed hero. In the Eels case it was Sterlo, for England take your pick of Bobby Charlton or Nobby Stiles.
If you have a pre-existing heart condition you might just get yourself into the news as the inevitable Brazilian fan who dies of a heart attack at an intense moment of the semi-finals. If you’re an irritating twat keep the rest of the bar on edge and your virginity intact by imitating that commentator who shouts out Go-go-go-go-goalllllllllllllll every time a goal is scored.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: ST GEORGE DRAGONS. Unbeatable in the fifties and sixties but things have been a bit quiet of late.
It’s hard to name a famous Belgian who isn’t fictional. (hint. There’re two. Plastic Bertrand and Mathias Cormann.) The team to pick if you want to be that smug bastard who was following them two weeks before everyone jumps on the bandwagon when they make it to the quarter finals. Yeah, you with the craft beer and the artisan bread.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: PORT MELBOURNE BLOODS. Of course you follow a VFL team don’t you, you hipster beardo.
Won two World Cups back in the days when half the European teams died of scurvy on the boat taking them to South America. No-one’s really sure why it gets to be its own country. If you really like the letter “u” I’d highly recommend them.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: COLLINGWOOD. Known for their violence and no-one much likes them so you’ll feel right at home. Have a dusty old trophy cabinet full of pennants from the 1930s when pennants were a thing that grown men cared about.
Must be handy because they won the European Championship, but then again Glasgow was once named the European City Of Culture so just because something has the word “European” in front of it it doesn’t mean its a fair dinkum guide to form. Will bore their way through to at least the quarter finals.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS. A one man team so if Cristiano Ronaldo does a hammy they’re stuffed.
The poor sod who has to write the official technical report for FIFA will cut and paste the usual stuff about marvellous natural ability and tactical naivety after Nigeria go out in round one. Hanging out with over-enthused Nigerian fans will be the best chance to get your face on TV because desperate TV news producers looking for a lazy story about exotic World Cup fans don’t have the usual fall back of sending a camera crew to Lygon or Norton Streets to film the crazy Italians.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: FREMANTLE DOCKERS. Not going to win but will be everyone’s second favourite team once Iceland get knocked out.
Invented a short passing game which they named “tiki taka”, further evidence that along with their ability to infantilise pop music and call it Eurovision, continental Europeans can also infantilise anything, even football tactics. Very different tactically from the style employed by the Peakhurst United under 7Bs of 1971, whose tactic was to give the ball to big Mick Loder who’d boot it down the field.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: CRONULLA SHARKS. Finally won the big one after decades of trying and now sliding backwards into obscurity.
Will get severely annoyed by the Socceroos mispronouncing their name as FRAN-NCE instead of FRAR-NCE. Will bow out in some spectacular and highly unfair fashion. You will eat very well at whatever venue the expats are watching them from. (hint. the bidet is for washing your bum).
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: MELBOURNE DEMONS. Experts at finding highly creative ways to lose important matches.
The country with the smallest population ever to field a team at the World Cup Finals. Unlikely to catch their opponents off guard like they did during EURO 2016 and qualifying, when everyone thought “we’re only playing Iceland, let’s go out and hit the piss the night before the match.” Have some Sigur Ros cued up to play in the unlikely event of them toppling Argentina in their opening match.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: The CANBERRA RAIDERS. You should already know how to do the thunderous hand clap, which won’t get tired at all very very quickly.
Might be their last chance to impress because from now on if they kick their ball over the wall there’s a good chance they won’t get it back. Always play in the finals because CONCACAF is the easiest group to qualify from, unless you happen to be from the USA.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: ST KILDA. They’re always there on the fixture list and I guess they start out hoping to do well, but you know.
If your refereeing the Russians, expect to find a short video on the pillow of your hotel bed that shows you the effects of polonium poisoning on anyone who doesn’t give the home team lots of penalty kicks. Will be setting the bar very low for Qatar in the “how far will the host team go” stakes. Their manager looks like Alexei Sayle, which is a plus.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: MANLY. Everyone will be supporting whoever it is you’re playing against.
Missed a golden opportunity to appoint Frank “Mad Dog” Arok as coach when Ange Postecoglou resigned and show the world what they could have done in Mexico in 1986. Mark Milligan will be voted player at the World Cup who looks most like that bloke from You Am I.
Follow them if your AFL/NRL team is: NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS. Have as much chance of winning the World Cup as the Knights did of winning the 1997 Grand Final at the 70th minute mark.
Expect one of either Morocco, Egypt, Senegal or Colombia to go surprisingly far. If Serbia end up playing Croatia don’t accidentally wander into the wrong place wearing the wrong shirt. Don’t bother staying up late to watch Sweden, Poland, Switzerland, South Korea or Japan, as you will instantly fall asleep once they start playing. Panama is most likely to do a Zaire and get beaten 9-0 by some middling European nation. Peruvians probably won’t think you’re cute if you join them to watch them play whilst clutching a Paddington Bear doll. I don’t predict a Denmark vs Tunisia final. Can’t think of anything to say about Saudi Arabia, other than they contain the most numbers of one vowel in their name (4 x “a”) than any other country.