GSP Books, 2006
I could not have been luckier in the way the 2006 tournament plotted my book. Australia kept playing in traumatic, yet ultimately exhilarating triumphs. Then there was an epic tragedy in the form of the Italy game, followed by an unbelievable, flukey situation where I landed a free ticket to a World Cup final. My two favourite chapters are ‘We’ll Always Have Kaiserslautern’ (Japan Game) and ‘Run, Tony, Run’ (Dash for ticket to World Cup Final.
In Kaiserslautern, Tony Wilson watched Tim Cahill transform Australia’s World Cup dream from despair to delight in five mad minutes against Japan. In Munich, he saw the Socceroos matchthe bedazzling Brazilians step forSamba step before eventuallysuccumbing. In Stuttgart, he rode an emotional rollercoaster of great goals and goalkeeping gaffes, refereeing blunders and red cards aplenty and, most importantly, Harry Kewell’s historic late strike to eliminate Croatia.
And then the nightmares started.
In a hot and airless Kaiserslautern hotel room, in the aftermath of Totti’s shattering, nerveless blast into the unsavable yonder during Australia’s showdown with Italy, Wilson tried counting sheep to restore peaceful slumber to his nights. But over and over he kept returning to the same questions: “Why God, in your infinite wisdom, did you choose the 93rd minute? And why did it have to be a questionable penalty? And did you think that was just a bloody good laugh?”
But despite Australia’s tragedy, Wilson caught up on some sleep and soldiered on to complete his own personal World Cup campaign: to tell the story of football and football fans through the prism of the Cup. From the Green and Gold army, to Brazililan fans in their bikinis, Wilson’s World Cup is the quirky, hysterical story of football fans; overriding, overwrought emotion; nationalism; politics; and religion.
And Wilson’s findings? Planet World Cup is a very different place from Planet Earth.
Larissa Dubecki of the The Age wrote this feature on Australia United.
Part diary, part memoir, he captures the specialness of being there.
Michael Visontay, Sydney Morning HeraldSee all reviews