Scots go crazy over Trinidad and Tobago
The World Cup is under way, but the Scots are not there. No worries. We will just support Trinidad and Tobago instead. You cannot buy a T and T jersey anywhere in Scotland, they are all sold out. Why you may ask? Well there is the ABE factor. Anyone but England. Something any true blue Aussie will understand. Then there is the personal connection. There is a lad called Scotland, Jason Scotland, playing for T and T. He normally turns out for St Johnstone in the Scottish League. But perhaps more high profile are Marvin Andrews, a big, strapping centre-half who became a cult figure at Glasgow Rangers, playing for them in the Champions League in the season just past. Unfortunately he turned an ankle in training and missed the opening game.
Then there is the charismatic and brilliant, if ageing, Russell Latapy, now with Falkirk in the lower leagues, but formerly with Hibernian in Edinburgh, where my son just used to see him on the night club circuit. He is also a great mate of that party animal and T and T skipper, Dwight Yorke, who had a stellar season with Australian A-League champion Sydney FC.
So there is plenty to keep the Scots interested and no doubt there were many glasses raised to the Soca Warriors, as Trinidad and Tobago, like to be called, when they managed to hold the might of Sweden to a scoreless draw in the opening game yesterday. Mind you, that result probably makes it a great deal easier for England to qualify for the later stages of the tournament since it scrambled to a single goal victory over Paraguay, thanks to an own goal from a diverted David Beckham free kick.
Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker, a mate of Guus Hiddink’s, and formerly with Ajax and Real Madrid, thought the result was one of the greatest of his career and his exciting and excitable team will go into its match with England with no fears. What made the draw more remarkable was that T and T played most of the second half with ten men after defender Avery John was sent off. The Soca Warriors rode their luck and good luck to them.
My own world cup begins today as I fly out of Glasgow for Frankfurt via Amsterdam. Thanks to a little bit of luck I now have tickets for all three of Australia’s qualifying games. I was half way down Loch Ness on Thursday on a jet boat with my 92-year-old mother-in law when my son rang from Australia to say that he had managed to get a ticket for Australia versus Japan. That led to some frantic phone calls to try to arrange flights and transport and to pick up a former student in Cologne to go to Kaiserslautern with me. But it has all fallen into place so far.
The plan involves a quick return to Scotland after the game, then a flight back to Germany on Friday, since that had all been arranged after I came up trumps in the second round of the Australian Football Federation lottery. I am expecting to find a mass of Australian and Geelong fans in Germany, and I have a half-Socceroo, half-Croatia top lined up to wear at the final group game. As my friends of Croatian extraction keep telling me, ‘We can’t lose.’
(Version of this article appeared in the Geelong Advertiser, 13 June 2006, Australian and British Soccer Weekly, 20 June 2006 and on the Football Federation Victoria website on 12 June 2006.)