I have a question for you this week.
Which country do you most enjoy seeing Australia beat on the sporting arena?
I asked myself this question this week, and there were a few answers that came to mind.
The first country I thought of was New Zealand. Now, I have a bit of a complicated history with our neighbours; I was born in Palmerston North, a small city about two hours northeast of Wellington.
My father was working at a school in nearby Longburn at the time of my birth, but we soon moved to Auckland where I would spend my formative years.
Dad made sure I would not harbour any sympathy for the Kiwis though, as I was taught from a very young age that Australia was the country to follow, and that we always wanted New Zealand to lose.
I still feel the same way, don’t get me wrong, but it’s hard for a man to feel a strong hatred for the country of his birth.
I then thought about the United States. This has a completely different dynamic for me, as I have no personal history with the USA. I have no family there, no friends there, I’ve never even stepped foot in the country.
There’s still something so sweet about beating the Americans though. I think it’s the same part of us that enjoys seeing the bully get beaten every now and again.
The US obviously have a lot more money in their sports, which usually translates into global success.
They can also be very insular with their sports. If it’s not one of their big four (basketball, baseball, gridiron, ice-hockey), they’re usually not interested.
But I love those sports; I’ve been following them all for more than a decade now.
So that left me with only one option, one that I’m sure most Australians would agree with: England.
Australia and England have been locking horns since the 19th century, hence the commonly used term ‘Old Enemy”.
This rivalry has spanned many years and many sports. The Ashes are the most famous example of this, as our two nations have been battling for the urn since 1884.
The rivalry was exacerbated by bodyline in the 1930s, arguably the biggest sporting controversy to that point in history. England were slammed in Australia for the tactic, being called brutes playing a game that was considered a gentleman’s sport at the time.
It’s not just cricket though; we also have a fierce rivalry against the British in the rugby union arena. I still rate the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final as one of the most heart-breaking moments in Australian history.
We’ll have plenty of opportunities this summer to pummel the English, starting with the Rugby League World Cup final this Saturday Night. We also have four more opportunities to crush them in the cricket.
Alas, I can’t be too open with my hatred of the British. My wife was born near London, and grew up in Watford. I also have a lot of family in Bristol who are very important to me.
In fact, of the three countries I considered, I probably have more connections to England than the other two combined.
But I just can’t help myself; beating England is one of the biggest joys I experience as a fan.
The fact that it annoys my wife and family is something of a bonus.