England 1 - Australia 3

Landed Monday here in London.

I have been scanning the papers - makes some interesting reading.

There is no esp 'downgrading' of the game given the news of Sven's plans, but just of lot of talk about the young kid that's going to get a start for England.

In the Telegraph (Sat edition) there was an interesting commentary about the devaluing of the England shirt, however. The writer thought it was a disgrace that Sven was bowing to the clubs and that it was a bad message to young players, cheapening playing for your country.

It's interesting, we outside of Europe have, I believe, seen the death of the friendly as it once was, since noone from Europe will travel, and it will be similar for the Sth Americans.What the English are seeing is also the demise of the friendly even when in Europe, unless some way is seen thru the club - country divide.

Me - I couldn't care less. I'm here, I'll see the best Aussie team on the park, on a true football ground, against England. I didn't come to see the English stars really, just to see an England team play our team. I came to see our stars.

The friendly problem brings home the importance of the Oceania decision, but also means we have to have some competition (Confed Cup, Asian thing or something) in between World cups. Otherwise, sure, play some 'friendlies' in London but they might be training runs, more and more.

It's cold, there's no sky, the team is miles out of London. There is a mooted training session at Upton Park Tues pm and I'm hoping to crash it if it's open to the public, maybe see Matt Hall and Andre Kruger there.

I'll keep you informed

Caught up with Andre yesterday - we both appeared for a 4pm training session at Upton Park that was cancelled....

Anyway good to see him again - had dinner and discussed all things Aussie football. The guy now has a booklet that lists every A international that Australia has ever played in, with teams, scorers, the lot. Fantastic.

Our mail is that Chipperfield will start - has this already got home?

My view is that Chippers and Emmo are the potential matchwinners - the poms don't really know them.

The papers and their 'opinion' men are mostly all annoyed at the 11 sub thing and what this means for English football. Harry the hammy is the only thing you hear about the Oz team. I bet Harry is on the park.

It's wet/drizzly today, max 6 degrees. Likely to stay occ drizzle throughout today and tonight - expect a slick pitch.

Arnie was on BBC radio 5 this morning - says Harry running well. The interviewer asked about our 'bye' into the world cup (bitch) and would this help the game. Arnie corected her politely and wet on to explain how qualification has been nigh on impossible.

There is little written/said about the Aussie team but today there is a creeping feeling from the English (through interviews/talkback etc) that this is England / Australia and that they don't want to add football to their list of sporting humiliations to us. Commentator Mike Ingham is just a 'little' worried that the Sven sub plan could backfire. Noone has even thought about an English loss but also, no-one has covered their arse by saying something like 'well if we lose it wasn't our real team'. That might change!

Can't wait til tonight.

Well I'm out of bed - just.

What a night!!!!!!!!!

Met some friends for lunch, after putting 5 quid on Aussie to win at 7 - 1 (damn, only a fiver!!!)

Moved to the Queens pub near Upton Park tube about 4pm, immediately meet Craig Foster and Brendan Schwab. Typical SBS, Craig gets the train in the on-air suit - he dosen't stay for a beer.

Inside, lots of Aussie and Poms, all good natured. Met Ashley who was buying my 2nd ticket, we realise we knew each other from the Bay 23 days. Brendan was really up for it - for a conservative, cards to the chest guy he was telling everyone who wanted to hear about the APL, soccer in Australia generally.

We head to the ground. Ashley and I sit right behind the goal where we stuck 2, just to the right of the post as the telly saw it. There were Bec Carey from Spirit, Trumper McGaurin and another old Bay 23 mate, Tony Devo-.

The game- well you saw it. The was no sense of 'meaningless' at our end. Chippers did well, Harry spectacular. In short we out thought them, out played them and basically, our guys were up for it.

Lots of sledging from the Aussie fans, including:
'You'll never win the Ashes'
'Just like the cricket'
'Just like the tennis'
At half time - 'Bring on your B team'
At fullish time 'Bring on your A team'

At half time - called Dad at home - 45 min from him seeing a 50 year wait come true, to see us beat the poms. The half time PA music included Arethra Franklin's 'Respect' - I danced on the seat and pointed at the English stands.

Called Dad again at full time -in tears - and went looking for a pub.

The local fans were generally gracious - despite the papers, NOBODY I spoke to from the fans bleated excuses. They were just utterly dejected - we've now beaten them at everything.

I couldn't sleep in - I've got up and bought every paper I can find to read their miserable moaning.

Was this trip worth it??? Next question!!!!!!

Got back in early this morning, leaving fog, rain, cold, tanks at Heathrow, threats of war and terrorism....

...to a great warm Sydney day and the Herald's equally great "souvenier liftout".

Spent my Thursday wandering around London with the shirt and scarf on - everyone dresses so tediously, the green and gold stood out and screamed "losers" to them. But my favourite was striding into William Hill bookies and, under the glare of the poms there, collecting my winnings. "Not only did we beat you, but I won some of your poxy overinflated money as well", I thought, but stopped short of saying.

Wore the shirt home on the plane.

I have a library of English newspapers from the day after (Sun, Mirror, Mail, Evening Standard, Telegraph, Times, Guardian, Independent) to reread every angle of their misery and moaning.

My favorite pic was the Independent, with Harry having just rounded James and about to sidefoot the ball into the net. Behind the goal are the expectant faces of Aussies knowing that it will be 2-0 in a millisecond!

Back to the real world....

Written by Mark Bowman