McGauren: Inspiration behind Green & Gold Army
With important World Cup qualifiers rapidly approaching, the Socceroos need as much support as they can muster to help get them to South Africa 2010.
As the Socceroos gained momentum in their last qualifying experience (for Germany 2006), this support was evident as the public got on board and backed the boys in green and gold as they battled it out for their chance at World Cup glory.
The class of 2006 faired better than any other Australian side to play at the pinnacle of football events worldwide and through the whole journey there was a group of supporters, an army if you will, who cheered, clapped, shouted, applauded and at times heckled.
This army of supporters is known as the Green and Gold Army (GG Army) and is Australian football's own traveling cheer squad.
triballfootball.com caught up with GG Army spokesman John McGauran in the lead up to the next batch of qualifiers to find out a bit more about this loyal and fanatical group.
"It all began in 2001 when I was following the Carlton Soccer Club in the national league. I was a born and bred Carlton Aussie rules fan when my school mates introduced me to the 'beautiful game' and fell in love with it but unfortunately the club disbanded.
"We had nobody to support so we decided to support the national team but I wanted to have it more organised. I guess it just snowballed from there with people jumping on board and wanting the team to qualify for South Korea 2002."
McGauran recalls the time the GG Army spent in Germany for the World Cup in 2006, describing it as a 'once in a lifetime experience'.
"There were about 3,000 GG Army in Germany. It was fantastic but it was nervous times getting tickets, we were all on knife edge. For those lucky enough to get tickets, it was a great experience.
"We sort of followed the FFA tour and this is when the army really kicked into gear. We became a massive community where we would all meet pre-match and then stand with friends who you had met whilst traveling with the GG Army."
Apart from the successful German adventure, the GG Army have convoyed to other parts of the world and also have fans outside of Australia which makes them a force to be reckoned with amongst football fans all over the world.
"We have been on other tours like the Asian Cup, we have presence in every game (the Socceroos play) in London, and we have about 1,000 members outside Australia, mainly in London so it's good to have support there.
"We had an organised tour of China and we are getting a crew together to go to Uzbekistan (for upcoming WC qualifier). It's just great to experience something different. It's what football fans love, traveling around the world and enjoying football."
If the Socceroos qualify for South Africa 2010, you can bet your bottom dollar that the GG Army will be there in full force but McGauran conceded that numbers may be down on the Germany success.
"South Africa may be a bit different due to security issues. It is a bit of an unknown so I don't think there will be as many (as in Germany).
"We were told that in Germany it was the biggest exodus of Australians they had seen since World War 2 when we left. Apparently there was up to 10,000 Aussies in Germany at one time.
"I'm thinking perhaps in South Africa we may have about 2,000 GG Army members and something like 5,000 - 10,000 Aussies in total. But you can bet we will be the most vocal."
The GG Army is a great initiative for football lovers in Australia and I'm sure the national players agree, especially when they are in a foreign land playing in unfamiliar conditions, to have such great Australian support can only lift the spirit.