Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Socceroos and Gold Coast exorcising our Cultural Cringe

Australia is a land and a people unto itself. At the same time, our geographic isolation lends to our sense of wanderlust as we peer over the horizon imagining about the different people and places that exist.

(warning the following story may not make sense as the Author has lost his patience waiting for this damn long offseason to finish)

Any cultural expression that we catch ourselves doing causes our bodies to elicit a reflex gag in the form of a cringe. More specifically, a Cultural Cringe.

An Australian coined the term, a chap by the name of A. A. Phillips wrote an essay in 1950 under the same heading.

Does the Cultural Cringe still exist? Is it relevant today? And does it exist in football at all?

Some AFL types think calling Soccer by Football is a form of it. Here is a letter I found by an irate ex player who refuses to join the football bandwagon:

“Let’s not revive the Cultural Cringe on the football field,” he protested. “Many millions of Australians ‘going to the footy’ most decidedly does not mean attending a soccer match. Australian journalists, sports writers and commentators should be mindful how we Australians think of and talk about our games, and resist inducements to jump on yet another trendoid bandwagon.”

The A.A. Phillips essay explored ingrained feelings of inferiority that local intellectuals in Australia struggled against. The essay spoke of an internalised inferiority complex.

One article on the essay said that ”in the back of the Australian mind, there sits a minatory of Englishman. His ghost sits in on the tête-à-tête between Australian reader and writer, interrupted in the wrong accent.”

It seems Australia has taken self-deprecation that the English made into an art form and taken it to a new level.

Whereas the English like to sing, “we’re shit and we know we are,” Australian’s like to sing “we’re awesome ,but we’d rather be shit,” as to avoid at all costs the Cultural Cringe’s closest relative: the Tall Poppy Syndrome.

The Socceroos recent success and some of the media reaction to that success could be a case of the Cultural Cringe and Tall Poppy syndrome, particularly with the Tim Cahill and E-E-mail-gate stories.

Perhaps certain sections of the media who have the job of peddling League, Union and AFL are now suffering from Football Cringe. That is, every time the Socceroos are successful, they can’t help but cringe.

Not So Cool Britannia

Teams from Britain:- Celtic, Fulham and Wolves have been touring Australia in the last week, playing against Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane perhaps a prequel to the mooted 39th Premier League playing pre-season games.

So far the A-league is one win and three losses. Gold Coast’s 2-1 win courtesy of a late goal to Shane Smeltz. The achievement marks the first time an Australian team has beaten a Premier league side and even tough Fulham just stepped off the plane and it’s pre-season a time, it’s still a good result.

I hear GCU employ a 4 2 2 2 formation, just like you guessed it Brazil!. It is going to be a rather novel experience watching the Gold Coast this seaon.

Before the game at pre-match press conference ex-Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy assumed that Gold Coast United was going to approach the friendly like a "mini cup final” such was the reverence that the players felt for such a big name like Fulham has in World Football.

Jason Culina responded by reminding Danny Murphy that this was just Fulham.

"I think the boys would be a lot happier if we got to play Manchester United or Arsenal, but Fulham ........ big deal." Captain Jason Culina responded.

Considering that Fulham plays in a cottage (Craven Cottage) and Gold Coast play in a Stadium, those are strange words by Murphy and words that did not contain a hint of an internalised inferiority complex from Culina. With his experience playing Champions League games and winning many titles at PSV Australian fans will see a true footballer in action.

He is always honest and forthcoming when dealing with the media so that will help promoting the Gold Coast United and the A-league

The success of the Socceroos and the rise of football in Australia may not sit well with all the locals, but with A-League season closing in and the World Cup on the horizon, rather than cringe or wrangle with a syndrome or feelings of inferiority, I think the year ahead will see me cheering my football ass off.

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