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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 June 2006, 19:50 GMT 20:50 UK
Supporting the Socceroos
By Sam Lyon

The party atmosphere gets going
The party atmosphere gets going
It's Sunday afternoon in Shepherd's Bush, west London. And Australians have taken over the city.

For a country not commonly associated with football, Aussies sure are caught up in World Cup fever at the moment.

The Olympic Stadium in Munich was packed to the rafters for Australia's clash against Brazil, as were the local bars (see our reporters' entry in the World Cup blog).

And in their homeland, the Socceroos are inspiring late-night parties to watch the matches which, due to European timings, fall when they would ordinarily be sleeping.

However, ex-pats in England are also taking the chance to catch Australia's efforts in Germany between mid-afternoon and evening at special events throughout England.

WORLD CUP BLOG
Martin Richardson in Munich

At the Walkabout and Empire in Shepherd's Bush, hoardes of fans, decked out in Australian gold, caught the Brazil-Australia match in the relative comfort of a packed bar.

Busy, sweaty and drunken it was - but enjoyment was top of the billing.

The Walkabout was full to its 1150 capacity before four o'clock, an hour before the game started, while people were still queueing to get into the Empire after kick-off.

Scott, the manager, said: "This is an exceptional turn out for a football match, even if it is a Sunday afternoon.

"You'll find a lot of new footy fans around now that we're at the World Cup. I think since November, when we qualified for the finals, every Australia kid between six and 16 got a football for their birthday."

With special screenings planned for Australia's entire campaign - "All the way to the final," as Mark from Melbourne declared - the Golden Army won't have to miss a kick.

We came here to get a proper bit of atmosphere - and watch us beat the Brazilians obviously!

An all-too optimistic Petra, Empire

"It's like a little bit of Australia, right here in London," said Jason from Brisbane, while Brazil fan Vivi, from Sta Catarina, said: "It's a great atmosphere, plenty of drinking, and football - what more could you want?"

At the Empire, a special one-off event was put on to cater for football fans ahead of a rock concert on Sunday night, with nearly 1200 of the 1500 tickets available sold before kick-off.

Simon Lacey, who organised the event, said: "This was a unique opportunity to cater for the huge number of Australians here.

"Along with the Walkabout, there must be nearly 2500 Australians in a half-mile squared area."

But it's not just west London that's catering for the new-found desperation to cheer on Australia.

Queueing at the Walkabout
Long after kick-off, fans waited to join the party

Believe at the Truman Brewery has been converted to a 1,000-capacity, three-screen venue, Jackson's Lane is catering for the family-friendly approach with a screen in its foyer, while at the Victoria in Battersea you need only hold aloft a red card to get served beer during matches. And that's just a few of them.

Sydney residents Carrie and Mikey are in England as part of a back-packing holiday, and they insist here is the only place to catch the football.

"It's unbelievable," said Mikey. "Just to get to the finals was amazing, but now we're here in London, surrounded by our countrymen, cheering on our side believing they might win.

"Still, whatever happens, it will be a hell of a party."

A 2-0 defeat for Australia does not mean the end of the party of course. A point against Croatia and the Golden Army's party can continue.

Which can only be good news for London's publicans.



SEE ALSO
Brazil 2-0 Australia
18 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
Australia team guide
22 May 06 |  Australia
Pick your Australia XI
31 May 06 |  Squad selectors
World Cup schedule
25 May 06 |  Schedule
Have your say on the World Cup
28 Apr 06 |  Football
BBC World Cup coverage
27 Apr 06 |  BBC coverage


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