Scotland 0 - Australia 2

WHO do you think you are kidding Mr Brown?

When the Scotland manager went on TV this week following his side's 2-0 defeat by Australia and blathered on about how it was their worst performance since he became manager, how the players had let the fans down, how they had created the chances but not put them away blah blah etc etc, he was not being entirely honest.

Of course Craig Brown wouldn't come straight out and say that Scotland are pretty rubbish, and nor should we expect him to. But what he was hiding was a slightly different fact, one that is going to become increasingly obvious over the next few years - namely, that Australia are, against all the odds and common sense, a growing world power, certainly too good for the likes of the men in blue.

And don't be fooled by the Aussies' lowly FIFA world ranking (74). Because of their geographic isolation they tend to play their competitive matches against the likes of the Solomon Islands (who they recently beat by a score that would not have embarrassed the nation's rugby league side) and Gwanalulau; teams who do not carry many FIFA ranking points. So, for instance, Scotland are 54 places above the so-called Socceroos in the world rankings but everybody knew (even if Craig Brown wouldn't admit it) that they were going to get their asses kicked the length of Sauciehall Street.

Why is this? How has a country where football is, in terms of national interest, behind rugby union, rugby league, swimming, athletics, cricket, Aussie rules, horse racing, barbecuing, lamington drives and wearing corks hanging from your hat, and which was until recently played on stony public paddocks covered in thistles and wallaby shit, come to be one of the emergent nations in the world's most popular game?

Some of this is simple. The population of Australia - at least since it stopped being the sinkhole for Britain's pickpockets, vagabonds, highwaymen, mental cases and sexual deviants - has been imported from football-playing parts of the world; Britain (including Scotland!), the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. The culture of little kids kicking a ball around has therefore been transplanted wholesale, rather than in less fortunate parts of the world, having to be nurtured by Nike marketing and spurious 'initiatives' by FIFA.

Secondly, the sun shines. We all know what that means. But critically (and this is no original thought), as has been evidenced in recent years following merciless batterings in cricket and their embarrassing domination of the last Commonwealth Games, it has more to do with the Aussie attitude to sport. They do not tolerate losers. They do not tolerate whingers. They do not tolerate excuses. They do not tolerate people who just turn up, collect the money, come fourth and then bugger off home. They do not tolerate, in short, attitudes endemic in so much British sport.

It is no good Brits who have just been beaten at football, rugby or cricket, or who have just finished 25 seconds behind the Aussie in the 200m butterfly, going on about facilities. That is the cart before the horse. The reason Australia has terrific sporting facilities is because Aussies actually care about winning and are prepared to provide their competitors with whatever is required to make sure they're on top of the victory rostrum.

And so, while Scotland struggles to produce a single world class player, Australia beats them with a side bereft of its own top performers; Mark Viduka, the great Harry Kewell, even the pre-Ferguson-ruined Mark Bosnich. The attitude of European clubs like Leeds United (who sign young players on the understanding that they will not actually play for their country) may stymie this progress, but for now we face the prospect of having to share the regular fate of British rugby union, rugby league and cricket fans in recent years - a periodic and terrible slapping at the hands of the gloating Australians.

It isn't just Scotland either. Twenty years ago, England were able to send their sixth XI on a tour Down Under, safe in the knowledge that they would come back undefeated. Today, could anyone confidently send out England's first team against that of Australia with anything more than fingers crossed that they wouldn't return with their noses as bloody as those of the Scots this week?

No they XXXX wouldn't..."

written by Danny Kelly