Home 2010 – Nike
The temptation when writing about Australia is to indulge in all manner of well-worn, hackneyed cliches based around a few lazy ideas about the country, its people, culture and wildlife. To do so would represent a crass disservice to a vibrant, modern nation, and I for one will not be stooping to such sweeping generalisations as it would be ill-advised to risk offending a people as proud as the Australians – especially as they all carry huge knives and wrestle dangerous reptiles for sport. Bugger!!! Oh well, in for a penny. As well as having a virtual monopoly on the ‘creatures that can kill you in a very nasty way indeed’ list – including great white sharks, funnel web spiders, saltwater crocodiles and Russell Crowe -Australia is also home to various species of stereotype including the naturist stereotype (khaki shorts, swatting away flies, prodding something venomous), the outback stereotype (corked hat, dusty pub, flies adhering to face) and the confused stereotype (flies still on face, chucking a dingo on the barbie.)
Officially an English speaking country – although anyone who has ever been subjected to unofficial national anthem Waltzing Matilda may beg to differ – Australia has developed a rich lexicon of slang with which to bombard confused tourists. Verbal highlights include “kangaroos loose in the top paddock” (to describe someone who is intellectually deprived), “shark biscuit” (a novice surfer) and, unsurprisingly given their perpetual drunkenness, many concerning alcohol and its consequences such as “gutful of piss” (drunk), “two pot screamer” (one who is quite unable to handle their booze) and several sublime terms for vomit like “liquid laugh” and “technicolour yawn.” How lovely.
The founding of modern Australia can be traced back to 1788 and a British penal colony at Botany Bay (present day Sydney), when several thousand petty criminals* found themselves deported to a largely uncharted, inhospitably dry continent to face gruelling heat and the occasional hail of Aboriginal spears. Hugely ironic then, that from such humble beginnings, Australia’s blossoming into a successful, extrovert nation now sees Brits voluntarily emigrating down under in huge numbers looking for a better life, better weather and an extravagant sunburn.
Bewilderingly, a sizeable number of Aussies also make a dash for the UK well, they do say that people often return to the scene of a crime) where they can be found occupying a wide range of positions such as bar manager, assistant bar manager, bar supervisor or just working in a swanky hotel, behind the bar of course.
*There exists the misconception that Australia’s initial convict population contained the worst of the worst, when in fact many were extradited for relatively trivial offences. The whole affair essentially represents an attempt by the British to thin out their underclass and sweep undesirables under the carpet.
Aussies love their sport, that much is undeniable. Historically however football hasn’t featured too prominently on the radar, with Rugby, Cricket and Aussie Rules (a curious hybrid of football, rugby and murder) garnering most of the public’s affections. The national team’s 32 year absence from the World Cup finals between 1974 and 2006 probably didn’t help the sport’s peripheral status either. During this period Australia were part of the Oceania Football Confederation, often racking up frankly embarrassing scores against Pacific minnows during qualification campaigns (22-0 vs Tonga and 31-0 vs American Samoa, both in 2001, the latter still a world record) only to come a cropper against a battle-hardened South American team at the final play-off hurdle. Then, in 2005, the Australian Football Association took the plunge and shifted over to the Asian Football Confederation in search of meaningful opposition. The move proved a masterstroke with Australia hosting and winning the 2015 Asian Cup in front of sold out crowds, while the Socceroos have also now qualified for three successive World Cups and, as of January 2017, are firmly in the mix for a fourth. The team even reached the last 16 of Germany 2006 only to be eliminated by eventual champions Italy via one of the worst penalty decisions ever at the finals. Seriously, look it up. It’s fecking ludicrous.
Arguably this shirt represents Nike’s strongest offering since they began kitting out Australia some 12 years ago. Admittedly this isn’t really saying much as their previous efforts have often leaned on the conservative side with many probably venturing over into boring territory. Thankfully they put a bit more effort into this one, making good use of green as a secondary colour and even adding an “Australia” label to the back of the neck just in case the Kangaroo and Emu on the badge didn’t offer a big enough clue as to whom the shirt represented. This kit was worn at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where Australia bowed out of a tough group on goal difference from Ghana, making the 4-0 mauling they received from Germany in their opening game all the more regrettable.