Why you should read Surfing For England – Our Lost Socceroos

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Jason Goldsmith’s ability to give a voice to lesser-known Australian footballers, who did not get to represent the Socceroos is simply brilliant.

Goldsmith is a massive sports fan, which is not surprising seeing as he grew up in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

His childhood best friend, who was of Italian descent, introduced him to the world game. Goldsmith’s love for the game grew so much that he even convinced his wife to honeymoon in South Africa in 2010, so he could go to all of the Socceroos group games of the World Cup.

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The book Surfing for England – Our Lost Socceroos is named after a quote from the Craig Johnston, whose story is accounted for in the book. Johnston compared playing football for Australia to surfing for England.

Johnston was ineligible for the Socceroos during his time as a player as he represented England at under-21 level. He would later go onto say that not playing for Australia was one of his biggest regrets. Nowadays this is not a problem due to updated eligibility rules.

Other accounts in the book include Tony Dorigo, who played for Aston Villa and was called up to play for Australia in 1986. However, Villa denied him to go on national duty as they had upcoming games against Manchester United and Arsenal. Dorigo then earned his British citizenship and was called up for England.

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In essence the book details individuals who missed out on playing for Australia due to various reasons. These include international football politics, they were playing at a level too high for a time when Australian football was still finding its feet, or they genuinely had no other option but to play for a different nation. The ‘Cahill Rule’ changed everything. Tim Cahill campaigning to play for Australia after making some appearances for Samoa at youth-level and succeeding was a landmarking football decision.

Imagine if Cahill had never played for Australia? How different would our footballing landscape look? How would we remember the 2006 World Cup? Goldsmith’s book makes us ponder this, as well as what our landscape would have looked like had players like Johnston and Dorigo played for the Socceroos, and how we can deal with challenges of the future.

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The history behind this piece is unique and Goldsmith’s account of Australian football is totally unique to any other. The whole premise of the book is to explore stories of footballers that have been overlooked. This is so refreshing and tells some truly engaging stories.

Surfing for England – Our Lost Socceroos, is a must read for Australian football fans. It tells a story of our landscape’s past and makes the reader question the impacts of our lost Socceroos. I would definitely recommend this to passionate fans, give it a read, you will not regret it.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Feature image credit: Alen Delic

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Chris Ball
Football fanatic, supporting some, at times, hard to follow sides.

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