It was great to see the Socceroos back in Perth last night and playing at a rectangular venue built for football. It was also good to see an almost capacity crowd turn out for the game.
There were many who had concerns that a lesser crowd would spell the end of international fixtures here in Perth. Yet the word is the coach Ange Postecoglou likes playing in Perth, and the players were more than impressed with the outstanding quality of the pitch.
There was however one thing missing from making it a night to remember, and that was the crowd making any noise, getting behind their team and creating an atmosphere. The Socceroos fans were out-sung from start to finish by the pockets of Iraqi fans who turned out to support their team.
As football crowds go it would be hard to go past the word pathetic. The Iraq fans were hugely outnumbered but were heard for most of the ninety minutes.
Perth Glory fans make more noise than the Socceroos fans did and there have only been just over 7000 of them turning up each week, and less than half of those would be the ones vocally supporting their team.
So why were the Socceroos fans so pitifully quiet? The first time they were heard was just after half time, and then it all went quiet again.
Australia’s fans have never had a reputation for being the most witty of football fans, and certainly they are rarely spontaneous, but last night there was not even any long-term tried-and-tested chants.
It is unlikely that the FFA would bring a key World Cup or Asian Cup qualifying game to Perth, as they will currently attract bigger crowds on the east coast rather than here in the West. Yet if the crowd here was loud and menacing, and supported their team for ninety minutes then they may well think twice about such a venture, as the crowd can make a huge difference. Ask any of the players who have played in Iraq or Iran, or Israel when they used to play in Asia, and they will tell you the level of the noise they had to encounter.
There is no doubt that everything else was perfect. A Socceroos win, a few missed opportunities that had people wondering, a beautiful evening, not too cold, and a great stadium and almost full, and a pitch that has to be one of the best in the country. All that was missing was a little bit of atmosphere.