June 2006 – Australia at the FIFA World Cup
Australia was still part of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) during the qualifications for the 2006 World Cup. The first stage of the qualifications involved a three-round affair involving nations for Oceania. Australia and New Zealand would not enter the competition until the second round.
Ten nations were divided into two round-robin groups in the first round. The top two from each group would move into the next round. Solomon Islands and Taihiti from Group 1 and Vanuatu and Fiji from Group 2 made it through.
Round two was also a round-robin which now included Australia and New Zealand. The top two nations would move into the final round. New Zealand was stunned with a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the round’s wooden-spooners, Vanuatu. This left the door open for the Solomon Islands to claim second spot. Australia was undefeated and topped the round.
The final round of the first stage was a two leg play-off between Australia and the Solomon Islands. Australia won the first leg in Sydney 7-0 and the second leg in Honiara 2-1. Australia entered the final qualifying stage – a two-leg play-off against Uruguay.
The first leg was played in Montevideo where Australia lost 1-0. The return leg was in Sydney in front of 83,000 people four days later.
Australia started shakily and in the 32nd minute Harry Kewell was brought on. Soon after his slick flick pass saw Bresciano smash the ball into the net. The Socceroos went on to dominate the second half, but could not capitalise.
Five minutes into extra time and John Aloisi was brought on, but the Uruguayans hung on and the match went to a penalty shoot-out.
Harry Kewell was first up for Australia and put the ball comfortably away. Dario Rodriguez steeped up but Mark Schwarzer saved to his left. 1-0 Australia.
Lucas Neil comfortably score Australia’s second, but so did Gustavo Varela. 2-1 Australia.
Tony Vidmar and Fabian Estoyanoff also put theirs away. 3-2 Australia.
Mark Vaduka was the next to step up for Australia but he put the ball wide. Marcelo Zalayeta’s follow-up penalty looked like it was a sure thing but Schwarzer’s amazing save kept the status quo. 3-2 Australia.
John Aloisi placed the ball on the spot. All he had to do was score and Australia would be going to Germany in June 2006. He calmly did and the crowd roared as one. 4-2 Australia.
Australia was drawn in Group F in the group stage of the finals in Germany. They would be playing a round-robin with the then current holders, Brazil, Croatia and Japan. Their opening game on 12 June 2006 saw Australia go one down against Japan before fighting back to win 3-1.
They lost their next match 2-0 against Brazil, but a 0-0 scoreline between Japan and Croatia meant qualification to the next round was still in their hands. They needed a draw against Croatia. A lost would have put Croatia in the next round instead.
The game against Croatia on 22 June 2006 was strange. A Darijo Srna free kick saw Croatia take an a lead two minutes in but a Craig Moore penalty in the 38th minute saw the scores tied.
Croatia went 2-1 up eight minutes into the second half but a 79th minute strike by Harry Kewell saw Australia tie the game up again.
The game ended 2-2 and Australia moved into the knockout stage but the drama packed game was hectic to say the least. In fact, Guus Hiddink thought it surreal.
Firstly in the 38th minute Croatia’s Stjepan Tomas handled the ball from an Australian cross and a penalty was awarded which Craig Moore scored. He did it again, but nothing was given. Okay, sometime this happens but Referee Graham Poll was having a shocker.
He booked Croatia’s Dario Simic in the 32nd minute and Tudor in the 38th. Croatia’s third yellow came in the 61st with Josip Simunic being shown the card and their goalkeeper was next nine minutes later.
Australia’s first card was in the 81st minute – Brett Emerton was shown yellow followed four minutes later with Simic picking up his second yellow and therefore his marching orders.
Croatia by now was understandably trying to score and Australia equally understandably trying to defend. The game was hectic. Two minutes after Simic was sent off, Emerton received his second yellow and he was off. Three minutes later Simunic got his second yellow but Poll left him on the field. Three minutes later he got his third and was finally sent off.
To add to the confusion in the dying seconds Tim Cahill puts the ball in the back of the net, but Poll disallows it saying he had just blown the whistle – unheard off in the modern game.
Understandably, Graham Poll was sent home.
On 26 June 2006 Australia’s adventured ended when Italians were awarded a controversial penalty, scored by Francesco Totti, deep into the remaining seconds of the match. It also must be said, the Italians had spent much of the game with only ten men on the field, following an equally controversial red card shown to centre back Marco Materazzi.
It’s been ten years and Australians still feel they were “cheated” out of the World Cup. Truth is, after the final whistle they congratulated the Italians and left the pitch heroes around the world. It was all in the game.
But we still need to talk about the penalty.
By all accounts it was an unnecessary move by Luca Neill. Fabio Grosso had nowhere to go in those dying seconds, but Neil gave him the opening and he took it. There was no contact by Neill but Grosso saw an opportunity for a penalty and took it.
Grosso still insists it was a penalty but he admits laying it on. “It’s been a long time since 2006 but I say this with as much sincerity as I possibly can,” Grosso told the magazine, Football+ in 2010. “In this instance when Neill slid in, maybe I accentuated it a little bit.”
In 2012 former Italy international and AC Milan player Daniele Massaro believes Italy was “very lucky” to be given the spot kick that helped the Azzurri beat Australia 1-0.
Overall Australia in June 2006 impressed the world with their brand of football, and perhaps the penalty helped in some way. Football in Australia has boomed and is still growing.
Would the Socceroos have beaten Italy if the penalty wasn’t given? Italy was down to ten men for the last 50 minutes, they had used all their substitutes while Australia had two pairs of fresh legs ready to go on but they are Italy and even with ten men can never be ruled out so that question will always be left unanswered.
What we do know is they went from strength to strength after that game against Australia beating Ukraine 3-0 in the Quarters and Germany 2-0 in the Semis and then went on to lift the World Cup in a penalty shoot-out against France.
3 June 2006 – Montenegro declares independence
In 2003, after years of wrangling and outside assistance, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia renamed itself as “Serbia and Montenegro” and officially reconstituted itself as a loose union. The State Union had a parliament and an army in common, and for three years (until 2006), neither Serbia nor Montenegro held a referendum on the break-up of the union. However, a referendum was announced in Montenegro to decide the future of the republic. The ballots cast in the controversial 2006 independence referendum resulted in a 55.5% victory for independence supporters, just above the 55% borderline mark set by the EU. Montenegro declared independence on June 3, 2006.
23 June 2006 – Death of Aaron Spelling
Spelling, through his eponymous production company Spelling Television, holds the record as the most prolific television writer and producer in US television history, with 218 producer and executive producer credits. Forbes ranked him the 11th top-earning deceased celebrity in 2009.
On June 18, 2006, Spelling suffered a severe stroke at The Manor, his estate in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California. He died on June 23, 2006 from complications of the stroke, at the age of 83.
23 June 2006 – Death of Harriet
Also passing-away on 23 June 2006 was Harriet – a Galápagos tortoise. She was reportedly collected by Charles Darwin during his 1835 visit to the Galápagos Islands as part of his round-the-world survey expedition, transported to England, and then brought to her final home, Australia, by a retiring captain of the Beagle. In fact he brought three – Tom, Dick and Harry.
Harriet was thought to be male for many years and was actually named Harry after Harry Oakman, the creator of the zoo at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, but this was corrected in the 1960s by a visiting director of Hawaii’s Honolulu Zoo.
On November 15, 2005, her much publicized 175th birthday was celebrated at Australia Zoo. This event was attended by Scott Thomson (the researcher on Harriet’s history), three generations of the Fleay family, Robin Stewart (author of Darwin’s Tortoise), and many hundreds of others who knew this tortoise during the latter part of her life.
Harriet died in her enclosure on June 23, 2006, of heart failure following a short illness.
June 2006 – Music, Movies, TV and Books
Women dominated the music charts in June 2006. The top of the lists were Sandi Thom’s I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker, Nelly Furtado’s Maneater, Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie and Rhianna’s SOS.
At the movies we were watching X-Men – Last Stand, the remake of The Omen, The Breakup and the animated smash, Cars.
The two Bestsellers in June 2006 were At Risk by Patricia Cornwell and Husband by Dean Koontz.
After a twelve year run, Blue Heelers finally went off air on 4 June 2006. The series won 32 awards including 25 Logies.