I had to post this excerpt from today’s Fiver because it made me laugh. Being the Executive Producer of Australia’s leading football website, The World Game, it’s always interesting to see how the rest of the world perceives Australian footballers. Here, they’re the best in the world. Obviously, that’s not the case outside the land Down Under.
ONCE A JOLLY SWAGMAN …
Such are their numbers in London, you’re famously never more than five metres from a rat … or one metre from an Australian. Unless of course you’re trying to get served by one – an Australian, not a rat – in one of the city’s pubs, at which point they invariably contrive to be well out of earshot, fashioning a necklace out of a thin strip of leather and some beads, or serving another customer an order of drinks they didn’t ask for before slowly counting out the wrong change.
That said, the number of Aussie backpackers living in 35-person, two-bedroom flat-shares in Earls Court will almost certainly decrease by one now that Lucas Neill is set to leave West Ham for the exact same reason he joined them in 2007: “footballing” ones. With the Hammers’ owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson just a dirty blanket and a poorly spelt cardboard sign away from abject penury, the Sheilaroos’ skipper is being offered less than half the £60,000-per-week worth of footballing reasons that originally attracted him to Upton Park, so unsurprisingly the 31-year-old’s decided to sit and wait by the billabong in the hope that some other club will offer him more lucrative reasons to go a waltzing matilda with them. “The door remains open for West Ham and Lucas. Obviously the longer it goes on, the more likely it’s not going to happen,” explained the player’s Mr 15%, firmly shoving his client out the open door marked “Exit” and into the shop window.
Of course criticising any Premier League footballer for being a mercenary is like criticising a dog for barking, and Neill’s only doing what any other vaguely co-ordinated past-his-prime defender would do in the exact same position. However you’ll have to forgive the Fiver’s eyes for rolling heavenwards if Neill has the brass neck to cite “footballing reasons” as his motivation for pitching up at either Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur, the vacuums of quality predictably interested in showering him with ££££££££s now he’s back on the market.
For the time being, Neill is remaining tight-lipped and will concentrate on finding a new club once he’s returned from international duty. The Sheilaroos need just one point from this month’s qualifiers against Bahrain, the Dog & Duck and Uninhabited Pacific Ocean Rock if Neill is to get a chance to atone for the comical footballing reasons that got his team eliminated from the last World Cup.