Scary stories from a lovely place
Today the World Cup countdown reads 16 days to go. I for one am getting very excited, mainly as a pseudo-South African but not so much as an Australian. We are coming here right? I mean are Australia actually in the World Cup? I am only now, 16 days out from the kick off, seeing evidence that Australia are indeed to be included.
All year businesses, buildings, people’s cars etc have been increasingly festooned with flags of the competing nations. But there has been a serious, distinct and absolute lack of the Australian green and gold, or blue and red and white. Up until a couple of weeks ago when the flag thing really exploded I had only seen one Australian flag displayed around the place. It was on the side of the SABC building, which is a large and rather grand eyesore down the road from my house. But it wasn’t at the main section or with all the other glorious flags. On the side near the UJ Bunting Rd entrance is a sort of crappy deliveries driveway for the SABC and above the ramp were about 4 or 5 pretty tatty, perhaps plastic flags of unimpressive size. A couple were torn and all were faded. Australia’s was amongst them. Perhaps they were even relics from some other sporting tournament from years back. But when I drove past I felt a, sure somewhat diminished, surge of pride to see my nation’s flag. But then they were taken down.
I think this lack of recognition of Australia’s place in the World Cup is to do with the fact that we aren’t really a soccer nation when compared with the other big guys who are coming in a couple of weeks. But there has been a proliferation of the New Zealand flag, and who are they? I mean have you heard their strange accents? But they are recognised as competing in the World Cup. Maybe it’s also becuase Australia doesn’t have a great reputation here in South Africa. In the past we have creamed South Africa at all sports, namely cricket and rugby, and been pretty arrogant about it. Australia is also the beachy haven that many South Africans want to and do emigrate to. They don’t do it quietly, and that causes understandable rage
(even though it should be directed at the South Africans, not us).
So I will be excited about Australia’s arrival in secret, or on my own. Interestingly though, down the road from me, in shoddy but wonderful Brixton, I have seen a man with a New Zealand flag on his car. Though I previously insulted New Zealanders and their funny accents it does comfort me a little that someone from nearly the same country as me is getting into the spirit. Let’s face it, it’s basically the same flag as well. Maybe for some solidarity I will hang my Australian flag in the front window. Though I don’t want to have rocks thrown at the house.