Australian footballers captivated the entire nation with their success at their home World Cup. Countless fans celebrated the Matildas’ semi-final berth – and in the most unusual places, too.
Never in the long history of the derby between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers has this happened: On Saturday evening (August 12, 2023) the players of the two Australian Football League teams got no attention from the fans when they entered the Perth Stadium turf just after 6pm (local time). Almost all the spectators in the arena were watching the screen showing the Australian footballers’ quarter-final penalty shoot-out in their home World Cup against France.
Every successful penalty of the “Matildas” was wildly cheered – with every missed shot of the Australians, football fans were shocked. When Courtney Wynne finally beat coach Tony Gustavson’s side in the semi-finals, Perth Stadium began to shake. The progress of folk heroine Sam Kerr and co. was celebrated with dramatic music that was superb and appropriate.
Football fans in football fever
“Matildas” captivated the entire country. The kick-off time of the football derby between the Eagles and the Dockers testified to this. The match was originally scheduled for 5:40pm, but kickoff was delayed by half an hour due to the Australian women’s football quarter-final.
They are absolutely in love with this team that made it to the semifinals with so much heart, passion and unity. The team “inspired” the nation, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese already excited ahead of the France clash. The 60-year-old politician from the Australian Labor Party announced he would work to introduce an extra public holiday if the Matildas win the World Cup.
Prime Minister Albanese is enthusiastic about “Matildas”.
Albanese was one of nearly 50,000 fans at Brisbane Stadium to watch the dramatic quarter-final against the Europeans. In the streets of the capital of Queensland, Australia, in pubs, restaurants, homes and even the best galleries, countless fans cheered along with their footballers.
Of course, this is not a regional phenomenon. People all over Australia trembled and finally celebrated with the “Matildas” on Saturday evening.
“Everyone in the country is a part of our society”
Coach Gustavsson has no doubt that the joy in the country inspires his players. “Thank you to all the fans who supported this team. You are part of the success. We are a close-knit community. Every person from this country is a part of that tonight,” the Swede said. The 49-year-old was “proud” of his team, adding: “They showed incredible courage today.” Gustavsson explained that for him, reaching the semi-finals was “the best moment of his life”.
There was great satisfaction in his words. The coach came under fire after losing 2-3 in the second group game against Nigeria. Had he left sooner, he might have been fired. However, the 49-year-old is already likely to enjoy hero status among Australian football fans.
The press is overflowing with praise
And “Matildas'” journey is far from over. Still two wins short of a dream World Cup win – and an extra holiday. The team captivated the nation with a “magical night”, wrote the “Sydney Morning Herald” and, like almost all the Australian media, showered Gustavsson’s team with praise.
Footballers from the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers reacted with initial surprise to their fans’ disrespect on Saturday evening, then made peace with themselves and the world. Because eight minutes after the penalty play in Brisbane, their derby began. With the kickoff they once again grabbed the attention of their fans.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Web guru. Organizer. Food geek. Amateur tv fanatic. Coffee trailblazer. Alcohol junkie.”