By
Anthony Stavrinos
:

By far the highlight of the 2005 sporting
calendar that threatens to turn the nation’s sporting politics upside down, is
the Socceroos’ World Cup finals qualification after 32 years in the wilderness.

Relatively unnoticed was an incident at
the SBS studios where former Newcastle boy turned Liverpool FC superstar, Craig
Johnston
, broke down in tears off the set after being asked about missing
the opportunity to represent Australia.

Johnston
– who once said playing football for Australia
was like “surfing for England”
– was at Telstra Stadium on November 16 for the historic win over Uruguay
and was sucked into the emotion of it all, it seems. He’s since been inducted into the FFA’s “Hall of Fame.”

Meanwhile, coming to a football pitch near
you is the sporting version of being torn between two lovers, starring
goalkeeper Joe
Didulica
.

Didulica, who decided to represent Croatia
because he didn’t think he had a future with the Socceroos, may now see himself
as first-string keeper, trying to keep the Socceroos from putting the ball in
the back of the net for the group stage of the finals.

Meanwhile, the FFA
has claimed success for football in 2005. “It’s been a great year,” FFA
spokesman Stuart Hodge told Crikey. “We had four major priorities, qualify for
the world cup, get the A-League up and running, engage with Asia
and engage with the football community. I’d say we’ve ticked all those
boxes but there’s still a lot of work to do.”