David versus Beckham versus Australia

By Max Grieve

Beckham. Australia. Lucrative. Speculation. POSSIBILITIES. They’re all words, but what do they have in common?

We were convinced that the trans-Pacific liner carrying David Beckham and all manner of spices and exotic fruits would dock in Sydney Harbour. The newly-appointed CEO of the Football Federation Australia, David Gallop, told the country that he had spoken to those mysterious ‘people’ who decide the midfielder’s life for him. ‘David Beckham,’ Gallop declared in an actual quote, ‘can kick a free-kick, and do some other stuff too.’

Australian football knows international superstardom – indeed, we have seen cultured forwardsman Emile ‘The Touch’ Heskey at his imperial finest this season – but Beckham would take the game to an entirely new level. Imagine the delirium, then, when a mere four hours after news of his imminent arrival broke, his ‘people’ – those malevolent bastions of misery – took to the skies in a biplane, and launched an almighty assault on the dreams of a nation. Apparently, he had no interest in Australia. We wept for a time, then got on with watching Alessandro Del Piero, who I will get to shortly.

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Roy Hodgson, are you watching?

By Max Grieve

Unless you’ve been staring directly into the Sun with your ears sealed up by industrial grade cement, you’d have seen or heard that Emile Heskey scored a bicycle kick over the weekend.

Perhaps I’m being generous – any ‘bicycle kick’ is, of course, subject to conditions. Heskey didn’t so much push off the ground as lift his legs out from underneath his body and fall gracefully, but the kicking motion wasn’t so horizontal as to label it a scissor kick. It was a “Bicycle Kick Presented by Emile Heskey” and the world smiled.

A boom rang out across the country as he fell back to Earth, and kangaroos scattered towards the sea, where there were sharks and jellyfish and crocodiles, because this is Australia; a land where everything is coloured red by dirt, blood or the backs of spiders. 

It was like watching a 1000-year-old tree falling from the skies. Heskey looks hot, and altogether weary of the world. His muscles were sculpted by overzealous stonemasons, but he doesn’t seem to want to use them. His eyes are tired and heavy, and he struggles to point at things with any enthusiastic intent. Emile Heskey doesn’t look as though he really cares for football any more, but then he kicks his feet over his head, and trots away; delighted.

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AFR Voice - Episode 4

AFR Voice is counting the cost of the beautiful game this episode as we dissect a new study revealing that the cost of watching English football has risen by 12%. We ask why European leagues are so much cheaper, and most important of all – reveal which club is selling the most expensive pies at half time.

With our calculators and disillusionment put to one side we embark on our familiar audio tour of the global game. We start in West London where we confirm ourselves born again Juan Mata fans and hitchhike our observations up to Manchester; controversial t-shirt protests aside, we make time to meditate on the 10 year anniversary of Wayne Rooney’s first Premier League goal. Was the raw potential that exploded on to the scene that day in 2002 fulfilled or fumbled?

Our passport then gets a bigger stamping than Nigel De Jong training partners as we visit last week’s World Cup qualifiers - cherishing a thoroughly bonkers come back by Sweden, a not-so-great escape from the USA and the unlikely love story of England’s Kyle Walker and Phil Jagielka.

On our final leg we round up MLS and pick up some duty-free oddities in the European leagues – including an enforced slumber party for the atrocious AC Milan squad, Emile Heskey doubling A-League attendances and cash-strapped Greek clubs taking sponsorship from kebab shops.

Get in contact with the AFR Voice team by tweeting @AFRVoice, or emailing afrvoice@gmail.com. Also, you can find us on iTunes and Soundcloud.

Del Piero and Heskey; stars on the ground

By Max Grieve

Del Piero scored a free kick. It was really good.

Given that there is no definitive ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ in space, as far as we can tell, Australia isn’t really ‘down under’, is it? Of course, that doesn’t stop the headline writers referring to the country as though it’s clinging on to the underside of the Earth for dear life, or otherwise exists as a land mostly occupied by red dirt and kangaroos – and it is – and is altogether otherworldly.

Perhaps it is, because on Saturday afternoon in Sydney, Alessandro Del Piero scored a free kick , and Emile Heskey a volley (think 5% Balotelli v. Ireland in the Euros, 95% typical Heskey) in the very same match, on the very same stretch of grass. After a opening weekend that drew 42,000 people to the Melbourne derby between the Victory and the Heart, but disappointed when people looked to the stars, this was what the A-League was waiting for. 

Those watching at home could split the screen and watch ‘Hero Cam’, a live homage to Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait; taking in 85 minutes of impish, darting movements, and five minutes of celebration and grace as the Italian scored in jet black boots – you know it makes sense – then went about being the King of Charm and Poise as Sydney chased the game. Heskey did as Heskey does; and spent his time on the field rampaging towards goal, rampaging towards the far post, rampaging along the sideline, and eventually rampaging – well, trudging slowly – towards the bench. 

Did I mention that Del Piero scored a free kick?

It’s altogether likely that your interest in Australian football doesn’t go far beyond what Del Piero and Heskey are up to, but there are other teams, too.  Japanese star Shinji Ono signed for the newborn Western Sydney Wanderers (a club with a brilliant crest and a Flamengo-esque kit), and will take part in the very first Sydney city derby next weekend. Strange as it might seem, WSW already enjoy an intense community support, and a sellout crowd is expected. Elsewhere, the Victory let in five against the champions Brisbane Roar, as current Melbourne ex-Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou claimed his side had been ‘beaten by the better team’, the team in question being the one he took to the title last season. 

The rest of the league is going along as it always has. What the majority of the A-League lacks in star quality and world class skill, it more than makes up for with a natural tendency to be violent within the rules, and an inevitable ten minute frenzy at the end of every match.

Also, Del Piero scored a free kick. It was glorious.

‘Inspector Rooney and the Case of Jabulani Japery’ is a cartoon serial by Jon Horner and Oliver Sparrow, and will be continued throughout the duration of the World Cup. Part One sets the scene in the dark and gloomy underworld of back-door dealings in South Africa. Join Inspector Rooney as he explains how he unravelled the mystery of an audacious plot by a suspicious-looking man from Buenos Aires and his attempts to steal one of the most precious items in the World.

‘Inspector Rooney and the Case of Jabulani Japery’ is a cartoon serial by Jon Horner and Oliver Sparrow, and will be continued throughout the duration of the World Cup. Part One sets the scene in the dark and gloomy underworld of back-door dealings in South Africa. Join Inspector Rooney as he explains how he unravelled the mystery of an audacious plot by a suspicious-looking man from Buenos Aires and his attempts to steal one of the most precious items in the World.

Crouch to follow in the footsteps of Legends

Sports News - May 24, 2010

By Alison Dennehy, writing from England

England’s World Cup squad numbers:
1 David James, Glen Johnson, 3 Ashley Cole, 4 Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, 6John Terry, 7 Aaron Lennon, 8 Frank Lampard, 9 Peter Crouch, 10 Wayne Rooney, 11Joe Cole, 12 Robert Green, 13 Stephen Warnock, 14 Gareth Barry, 15 Matthew Upson,16 James Milner, 17 Shaun Wright-Phillips, 18 Jamie Carragher, 19 Jermain Defoe, 20Ledley King, 21 Emile Heskey, 22 Michael Carrick, 23 Joe Hart.

England’s squad numbers were announced yesterday and Crouch is said to be following in the footsteps of legends with Nat Lofthouse, Bobby Charlton, Glenn Hoddle and Alan Shearer by wearing the number 9 shirt instead of the rumoured Emile Heskey who was given 21.

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