Almanac Soccer: Book Review – Socceroos: 100 Years of Camaraderie and Courage

Martin Lenehan, editor, Socceroos: 100 Years of Camaraderie and Courage, Are Media, Sydney, 2022. ISBN: 9781761220111. RRP $49.00.






This book is a contribution to the celebration of the centenary of international football matches between Australia and New Zealand. It is explicitly presented as a coffee table volume with the layout and the photographs at its heart are excellent. Some have not been seen since the day they were taken and many reflect pivotal moments on and off the field. As there will not be an international match this year to mark the occasion, football fans will have to settle for the book.


A photograph can tell you what might need a thousand words to describe, but a caption that gets to the heart of what the picture is illustrating makes the difference between a good book and a great one. This is exemplified by the two captions on page 160. Paul Wade, former captain of the Socceroos, provides the insight about Ange Postecoglou’s role in the triumph of the tournament and his walk around the empty stadium after the final when the crowds had gone. The other on that page unfortunately does not recognise the significance of Ange Postecoglou’s hug of Cha Bum Kun of South Korea, at the end of the final of the Asian Cup of Nations in 2015. Ange knew that the son of the legendary Cha Do Ri, South Korea’s most well-known and probably greatest ever player, was completing his final game for the national team after an almost as impressive and long career.


Ange knows the world game like few, if any, other Australians. This helps just a little to explain his success as a player, coach and human being. He said in 2015 that he wanted to raise the standard of the game not just in Australia but in Asia, and he helped do so during his time at Yokohama F Marinos before his recent successful translation to the top job with Celtic in Scotland. He will be just as committed to improving Scotland’s standing in the world game.


The text also cannot always be relied on as accurate history of the present state of knowledge. The account of the origin of the name Socceroos is an example. It derived from a publicity campaign by the Australian Soccer Federation in 1972 and was first used in the program for the visit of Dundee United to this country that year. Certainly, journalist Tony Horstead had a role in subsequently promoting the use of the name, but the idea that he coined the word is incorrect. David Hearder uncovered the true story which was published in Goal Weekly in 2012.


My wife Frances, who is an editor, picked up that Jess van Stratten had his registered birth first name, Kedvall, on the back of his goalkeeping jersey, in a great shot of the Under 17’s in their World Cup campaign of 1999, when they only went down on penalties to Brazil in the final of the tournament in New Zealand. She particularly liked the photograph of Mark Milligan and his young girls after Australia’s final game in the 2018 World Cup in Sochi.


Credit should be given to Football Australia for its support in kind through the input of Ben O’Neill and Carlo Kasparian, and Andrew Howe for his impeccable statistical and other information.



Read more from well known historian and writer Roy Hay, including stories from, and about, his many books HERE.





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