Sport Football Dear Aussie soccer fans: this is how you prepare

Dear Aussie soccer fans: this is how you prepare

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For most Australians, the pilgrimage to the footy is fairly straightforward.

There’s the drive, bus, train or taxi ride in, the obligatory pre-fuelling at a nearby pub, and a leisurely stroll to the stadium just in time for kick-off.

But the Dutch do things differently, making the trip to the ground as much of an event as the match itself. This was on display in full Oranje glory before the Socceroos World Cup clash against the Netherlands in Porto Alegre.

When I turned up in the Mercado Central (central market) around three and a half hours before kick-off, it was barely recognisable.

The local stalls which filled the plaza the day before were gone, replaced by thousands of football-mad Dutch men and women (and some bemused Australians) turning a small Brazilian port town into the traditional ‘Oranjeplein’ (orange square).

The festivities were spearheaded by DJ Danny Lukassen – a man with the looks of Angry Anderson, the voice of Barry Crocker, and the charisma of a young Daryl Somers.

He owned the crowd, perched atop an orange double decker bus belting out an array of popular Dutch songs, and a few universal classics like Sweet Caroline.

Then came the ‘Oranjeparade’ down Avenida Borges de Medeiros, with thousands of Netherlands fans faithfully following DJ Danny’s bus, to Estadio Beira-Rio for the ‘Caminho do Gol’ or ‘Goal Walk’.

While the Oranjeplein was intriguing, the Oranjeparade was completely entrancing, as the wave of orange washed over Porto Alegre, capturing everyone in its alluring, unmissable neon glow.

It took one and a half hours to make the four kilometre trek to the stadium, with-non stop singing, cheering, and dancing in the streets. It was completely infectious, as locals hung outside their windows, their Brazilian flags briefly replaced by anything orange they could find.

It was a vastly different colour scheme inside the stadium with around 14,000 Australians compared to 4,000 Dutch.

The Aussie fans even kicked some serious Tim Cahill-esque goals in the supporter stakes, creating an incredible atmosphere and only resorting to ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!’ once.

But that walk, that unforgettable march to the stadium was truly something unique.

The costumes were quirky and diverse, the songs were sung loud and proud, and the love of the game was all pervasive, showcasing football fandom at its absolute finest.