'It's all about the emotion'

Why do we support Australia's national football team?

It's a question that has one obvious answer – you’re from Australia, therefore if you’re into sport, you support Australia.

Pretty simple. But there's another less tangible reason. And for new fans to football in Australia, this alludes to something more abstract.

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure - as always - of chatting with four dead-set Socceroos fans.

It's for a series of Socceroo fan videos we're producing in the lead up to Australia's next home World Cup qualifier on September 5, a crunch match with Thailand. 

We all gave up our Saturday to head to ANZ Stadium under a pristine winter sun to talk about “that night” in 2005.

That night can still make me emotional.

And likewise for Daryl, Matt, Adriano and John, just recalling November 16, 2005 and what it meant to us as a nation and them as fans, fathers, brothers, husbands and mates, brought up some emotional recollections.

Four strangers meeting for the first time recalling that night - we could've talked all day.

John Aloisi about to run off to celebrate after stroking home the penalty that sent the Caltex Socceroos to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Australia has been on a roller-coaster journey since we first qualified for a World Cup in 1974.

The heartbreak of the 32 years that followed never leaves those who went through them. It was soul destroying to see our dreams shattered for so long.

Stories of Australia’s World Cup qualification: '77-2001

Stories of Australia's World Cup qualification: 2005

And this is why sometimes we forget how much this shirt, this team, means to us.

It's born out of this history of the national team, pride in the country and our passion for football.

A colleague of mine summed it up perfectly last Saturday. He reckoned being a Socceroos fan was, “all about the emotion”.

And he's right.

The Socceroos are a fundamental part of our lives as Australians who love football – and that's a very strong emotion when you stand for the national anthem and see those 11 shirts on the pitch.

Australian players celebrate Tom Rogic's stunning strike in the Socceroos' 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia.

It is about the emotion. And the passion. It binds us all together. That pride when you see your team on the world stage - it can bring you to tears.

Those tough years were followed by the successful ones, with the green and gold representing us on the biggest stage at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

And right now, we’re at the pointy end of a qualification for a fourth World Cup in a row.

The next two World Cup qualifiers are utterly vital. We meet group heavyweights Japan on August 31 in Tokyo, then come home to Melbourne to face Thailand.

We desperately want to finish in the top two to secure automatic qualification. If not, we may have to face off against the third-placed side in Group A in Asia, with the winner facing a nation from the CONCACAF region for a place at Russia 2018.

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So if you’re new to football, and indeed new to the Socceroos, your life may never be the same when you become a fan of your national football team.

And right now, we need to show what it means to us as a nation. This is our moment to show the team how much they mean to us. 

Because it doesn't matter if you’re rusted on, or new to football, when you support our nation, it is all about the emotion.