By Peter FitzSimons, Sydney Morning Herald

Revolutionary: Tommy Raudonikis’ style of coaching could help the Socceroos at the World Cup. Photo: Getty Images

Gawd, I wish I had written this brilliance, Oscar – in fact written by an unknown, but circulating on the net …

“I just can’t get excited about a sporting event, where a government has spent millions funding it, yet people still live in squalor and deprivation. Where drugs are rife and life expectation is very low. But enough of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The World Cup [has] started …”

And so it has!

In fact, by the time most of you read this, we will have already gone up against – and likely been flogged by – the Dutch, leaving us only the world champion Spanish side to play, an already wounded side eager to gouge all in their path.

The expectation, of course, is that we are in for another foreign flogging. But need it be?

My favourite oft-cited quote in this field comes from the Frenchman, Marshal Ferdinand Foch in the First Battle of the Marne, in September 1914, as the Germans pushed towards Paris: “Mon centre cède, ma droite recule, situation excellente, j’attaque. My centre is giving way, my right is retreating, situation excellent, I am attacking.”

In his case, just when it looked like the Germans were to break through, the most extraordinary thing happens.

Soldiers of the French reserve, 6000 strong, turned up at the front in Parisian taxi-cabs – ever after to be known as les taxis de la Marne – just when they were most needed, helping turn the tide. The old send-the-soldiers-to-the-front-line-in-taxis trick, and the Germans never saw it coming.

Happily, when it comes to taking on overwhelmingly strong forces and triumphing anyway through innovation, and surprise, has a wonderfully rich history. Perhaps a combination of these might be used to beat Spain?

Hubert Opperman 1928. He was Australia’s greatest cyclist of the 1920s, but still no one gave him a chance of taking on the French in France in a cycling race. The Bol D’Or was a race held at Montrouge Velodrome, just outside Paris, and the aim was to see how far you could travel in 24 hours. After Oppermans’ trusty Malvern Star was nobbled, and it took some time to repair, he found himself a massive 17 laps behind the leaders. What could he do to make up for lost time and put those leaders off their game, once he made up some lost ground to be just 16 laps behind …? Inspiration struck.

After a bit of manoeuvring and some readjustment of his clothing, he assumed a slightly higher position in the saddle, and was ready.

“It still took a little while,” the man who would become a famous Liberal Cabinet Minister told me in 1994,“but I eventually overcame my diffidence and emitted a stream like a stallion. I could hear all the riders behind me who were riding through it, cursing me, but that was too bad …” Of course, he went on to a great victory, even if the French were a little … pissed off.

Me? Not sure how this might be applied against Spain in the coming match, but we can leave that to Ange Postecoglou.

1975 – Darryl Harberecht’s Up-the-jumper. A couple of years ago, I heard former All Blacks centre Walter Little describing his attempt to tackle the Wallaby halfback in the early 1990s. “Farr went one way, Jones went the other, and I was left holding the hyphen!” This was a little like that. City was playing Country in 1975, and losing with just minutes to go. Tap penalty. Unleashing a move invented by Country coach Darryl Harberecht, 14 Country players turned their back on City, and when the halfback tapped, all put their hands up their jumpers as if they had the ball, and then scattered towards the line. City had no idea who to tackle, and was left grasping at thin air, allowing lock Brian Mansfield to score the try of the decade! Surely, Australian soccer can come up with their answer to that genius?

America’s Cup 1983. The winged keel. I know the story, you know the story. To beat the bastards who’d held the America’s Cup for 126 years required technical innovation the likes of which the yachting world had never seen before, and Ben Lexcen’s winged keel was born. The result – the greatest sporting win in Australia’s history. Rather than merely taking a leaf out of Australia II’s book, I would enquire if we could park the whole thing, with winged keel, in front of the Australian goal?

Tommy Raudonikis and “Cattledog.” The most famous Australian football tactic of all. When the chips are down, and playing straight up and down is seeing you going down the tubes at a rate of knots, Raudonikis perfected the pre-arranged code-word to put on a stink and put your opponents off their rhythm. “When you hear ‘Cattledog’” Raudonikis told his charges in 1997, “Everyone into it! Everyone off the bench.” The result, a great win in the second game when the call was used. Listen, given how most of these soccer players go down in a screaming heap with the tiniest tap on their torso, toes or tibia how would they go in a real stink?

When the Spaniards call “Goooooooal,” for the second time, we call “Cattledog.” Game on!

And if they can’t beat them, at least they can bring a piece of them home with them, to show their mothers.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

Peter FitzSimons is exclusively managed by The Fordham Company.

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