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Blood Brothers - The story of the Socceroos

by Steve Horvat on Jan 25, 2012

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It was a personally sad day for me last week when some accusations were raised and a war of words erupted on social media between two of my former Socceroo teammates. These were players who had been in the trenches together in the heated battle of international football, playing for the country they both love and cherish.

After representing my country at every age level, including at Olympic and senior level and also leading the Socceroos a number of times, there is nothing I hold dearer to my heart in my playing career than our national team shirt.

I have played under Eddie Thompson, Raul Blanco, Terry Venables, Frank Farina and with the exception of ’97, we were always the underdog going into battle on the park and in the mainstream sporting landscape of Australia. Therefore, the players shared a special bond and it really was less like a national side and more like a club side. Those bonds, friendships and ever lasting memories - both good and bad - created in those times are ones that I will cherish forever.

I read with obvious interest the angry tweets that were dished out by Robbie Slater and also the subsequent feedback from the football followers both there and on Facebook. It sparked much debate, but mostly about what went on in Tahiti, which was referenced by Slater. Well, I was on that tour, not present at the incident, but from my understanding it was nothing that was going to bring the game into disrepute or anything more than would warrant a small blurb on the very last pages of the sport section near the form guide.

Over the years we have circumnavigated the globe many times playing for our country in some incredibly hostile places. We were at times caught in some sticky situations, but for a national team that has no equal in relation to the places it plays, we have hardly had any issue that would cause the game and the people of Australia to be anything but proud of the way we conducted ourselves.

Having said that, obviously the football public – who are very passionate people and are incredible supporters of our Socceroos – were intrigued to find out about that night in Tahiti. I just found it poor form that an incident like this, from so long ago, needed to be brought up to make a point.

Both Robbie and Craig are very high profile past players in the football media, and both have differing opinions about the game. Craig is a very opinionated analyst of our game and studies tactics and styles to an incredible degree. He believes that the game needs to be played a certain way and — if you didn’t know it — he has a slight love of Barcelona.

Robbie is passionate and headstrong and an incredible supporter of Australian football, with an obvious love of the English game. So therein lies our first hurdle, and one, which it seems, is insurmountable. I must say I agree and disagree with things that both of them say at certain times, but that is the beauty of our game. It creates these discussions and debate; although personal attacks like the one we read about last week, I hope never see the light of day again.

People have expressed themselves over the past week on social media saying that “Foster had it coming” and “I’m glad someone stood up to him”. I can’t say that I agree with all that Craig preachers to the football public and without a doubt he has put people offside with his strong opinions, but he has a forum and is allowed to express himself freely. Last time I checked we were still living in a democracy. Robbie on the other hand is also free to comment or rebuke statements but in my opinion, Robbie took a legitimate gripe and brought personal grudges into it which made the whole thing worse than it should have been.

As with my other great passion in life, music, it would be remiss of me not to quote the Boss (not Les Sheinflug). His song “Blood Brothers” sums up the way we played and felt back in the day. I hope that feeling still exists, and if it does, long may it continue!

We played king of the mountain out on the end
The world come chargin' up the hill, and we were women and men
Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride and chances we gotta take
We stood side by side each one fightin' for the other
We said until we died we'd always be blood brothers