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Rory Fallon - New Zealand's new sporting hero

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Paul Fletcher | 23:24 UK time, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Moments after Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Mohammed Jaffar saved his goalbound header, New Zealand striker Rory Fallon asked a companion he always turns to for another opportunity.

"When I'm on the pitch I always talk to Jesus," Fallon told me. "I said 'Lord, give me one more chance'."

Shortly before half-time at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on 14 November it arrived - and the Plymouth striker headed the goal that secured the All Whites a place at the World Cup finals for the first time since 1982.

Rory Fallon celebrates scoring against Bahrain Fallon scored with a header just before half-time in Wellington

The mood before the game had been extremely tense. Few words were exchanged over breakfast or lunch in the team hotel, while in-between the players retreated to their rooms to kill the hours before the evening kick-off.

You could hear a pin drop on the coach to the stadium and the tension was palpable as the players arrived in their dressing-room.

Inspiration came in the shape of the 1982 World Cup squad, who were paraded around the pitch before the match. The current vintage looked across and realised how close they were to emulating them. It was a motivational factor of the highest order.

The team's eventual 1-0 victory sparked huge celebrations in New Zealand, with soccer fever infecting the rugby-obsessed nation. Fallon is a former pupil of Mount Albert Grammar in Auckland. MAGs can name countless All Blacks and league stars among its old boys, including the likes of Joe Stanley and Sonny Bill Williams as well as great Olympian Peter Snell. Fallon's name can now be added to the list.

"It was surreal," said Fallon. "My phone was red hot and the game was shown over and over again on TV."

Fallon had booked a helicopter to fly him and his wife Carly to a winery the day after the match. It was Carly's 30th birthday and Fallon wanted to celebrate in style.

Strong winds meant the trip was cancelled so the couple sat down in their hotel to eat lunch. Fallon got a call from coach Rickie Herbert informing him that the All Whites had been invited to join the Christmas parade in Wellington - and their float was to be at the front.

"It was madness," said Fallon. "Everyone was wearing the All Whites shirt and waving flags. When I came off the float I was surrounded by cameras - it was the closest I will get to feeling like Beckham."

Fallon hasn't had too many opportunities to experience the glare of superstar adulation during a career spent exclusively in the Football League.

The striker left Auckland for Barnsley as a 16-year-old, determined to pursue his dream of playing professional football.

Older brother Sean had spent a season at Liverpool but returned home after realising he would not make the grade at Anfield. Even so, the younger Fallon decided at an early age that he too would move to England.

His chance came when Fallon and fellow MAGs pupil David Mulligan had both caught the attention of Tykes scout Colin Walker while playing for New Zealand under-16s in a tournament in France.

"Auckland to Barnsley was a massive shock to the system but living in south Yorkshire was no problem to me - I was living a dream," he said.

After making more than 50 appearances for Barnsley, the 27-year-old has gone on to play for Swindon, Swansea and now the Pilgrims, as well as loan spells at Shrewsbury and Yeovil.

A physically imposing forward who enjoys getting stuck in and cannot stand what he calls "all this diving around", Fallon has a record of roughly one goal every five games.

He became the second most expensive signing in Swansea's history when they paid £300,000 for him in January 2006, but his move to south Wales did not work out and he was sold to Plymouth 12 months later.

Fallon was a player in danger of not fulfilling his potential, of becoming the sort of person who in the twilight of their years wistfully reflects on a wasted opportunity.

It was perhaps the low point of his career but, looking back on it, Fallon knows why - he had lost direction.

"I did not take football as seriously as I should have," he told me. "I just thought 'whatever'; I thought the game owed me whereas I actually owed it a lot."

Fallon was living for the weekend and drinking too much. But even back when he was at Barnsley he had a suspicion that there was something missing in his life.

"When I became a professional footballer I thought what next? That got me thinking," said the Gisborne-born striker.

"The first pro I cleaned boots for was Bruce Dyer at Barnsley and he was a born again Christian. I asked him what his faith was all about and it went from there but it has been a gradual realisation over time.

"I used to live for the weekend but now I live to glorify God."

Fallon met Carly in the midst of his partying days in Swansea. Her mother Pearl was a practising Christian but Carly was not.

Rory and Carly discovered their faith together and were formally baptised in January 2008. Fallon, who has stopped drinking, now helps under-privileged children in Plymouth and is involved with his local branch of Faith and Football.

New Zealand striker Rory Fallon Fallon believes that his faith has helped his football career

"I'm still the same person but I am not doing stupid things any more," he said.

Fallon believes that his faith has helped his football - it has improved his focus. But more than that, he says it is reassuring to have such a powerful ally.

"He was listening when I asked him for a chance in Wellington," said Fallon. "It is not always going to happen but I know that when it comes to the crunch, when I really need something, I know it will come off for me."

Fallon has had more than one helping hand this year after a change of Fifa's regulations enabled him to play for New Zealand despite representing England at junior levels.

"I felt that was from God, he changed the rules for me, that is how I see it," said Fallon, who made his debut for the All Whites against Jordan in September.

"I don't believe in coincidence. You can call it fate or destiny but I think it is God's plan for me."

Fallon is currently trying to put the World Cup to one side and concentrate on helping Plymouth haul themselves out of the Championship relegation zone.

Injuries, illness, a loss of form - so many things could yet go wrong for Fallon between now and the World Cup. He wants to concentrate on things he can control - training hard, scoring goals and ensuring he makes the strongest possible case for selection.

But whatever happens in the rest of his career, Fallon will always be the man who scored THAT goal, the one that ended a 28-year wait.

His father was part of the NZ coaching staff at the 1982 World Cup squad and his father-in-law Mike Llewellyn hit one of the biggest sixes seen at Lord's while playing for Glamorgan in the 1977 Gillette Cup final.

"I think to play in the World Cup would put me top of the family pecking order," said Fallon.

"And nobody can take away from me the fact that I got the goal that took New Zealand to the World Cup. It is an awesome feeling."

Not surprisingly Fallon will be glued to his television set for the World Cup draw on Friday.

Who does he want in his group? Australia and England, of course.

You can follow me throughout the season at twitter.com/Paul__Fletcher

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "He big, he's bad....
    He's better than his Dad...
    Rory Fallon
    Rory Fallon"

    In this age of the arrogant, overpaid & under-performing international megastars, it's refrshing to find a player that want to give back to the game, and represents his country as a role-model of what a professional player should be...

    There may be only "One more shot for Glory" next year, but whatever happens, we can be sure that Rory and the rest of the All-Whites will be giving it their best, keeping it real, and chasing the dream...

  • Comment number 2.


    Jesus Lives, But Mark Paston Saves!!

    Rory - do you fancy coming up to London and playing for a proper team?

  • Comment number 3.

    My favourite New Zealand footballer is, of course, Ceri Evans. Arrived at Oxford Universtity on a Rhodes scholarship in the late 1980s and before long he had been drafted into what was still a half-decent Oxford United squad, though no longer in the top flight, shoring up the defence with Andy Melville.

    Evans, along with a young Jim Magilton playing directly in front of him, was a bit of a Manor Ground favourite for a few seasons. He made 56 appearances for NZ.

    Accroding to wikipedia, Evans is currently a forensic psychiatrist, and it is safe to say there are probably few professional footballers who can rival him in the intellectual stakes.

  • Comment number 4.

    yip new zealand one of the top couple of teams out of the 31 teams that i am now an unofficial citizen of! and will be supporting at the world cup! bistooooo!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    I was lucky enough to be at the Cake Tin a couple of weeks ago...an Englishman watching Football in a Rugby Country! Rory and the whole team played really well and did enough on the night to get the All Whites to 2010.

    I had a great night and to be honest it was probably 'the' biggest live sporting event I had been too (and I've attended some big football, cricket and rugby games in Europe). The reason it was so big was because so much was riding on the game for the Kiwi's and the outcome for them will hopefully be huge for football in this country (NZ). Rugby dominates in NZ and rightly so (they're so good at!!) but I think this world cup qaulifying campaign caught the imagination of so many New Zealanders who maybe hadn't looked at football in this light before.

    I think deep down we know the All Whites could get a hiding at the World Cup...but who cares. They are on football's biggest stage and rightly or wrongly deserve to be there. I for one will be supporting them annd wish them the best of luck (my new adopted International Football team....)

    ps wouldn't it be great for England to be drawn against them!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Totally agree with you, Mahoney - I watched the game on tv and the atmosphere was fantastic. It's great to see NZ in the World Cup next year and it's going to do wonders for the game here.
    Like in the USA, it is imperative that the country develops its homegrown players with a good structure in place. Would like to see Wellington Phoenix do well in the Aussie league.
    Dreaming dreams...what about a World Cup draw consisting of Australia, England, NZ and the Springbok? Could it happen? NZ v Italy in the opening game? Either way, if NZ are drawn with England or Australia, it's going to generate a lot of interest in the World Cuppy next year!

  • Comment number 7.

    Rafa? Oh Rafa?

    Cheap(ish) January transfer decent striking signing alert! PLEASE!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    i'm sure this world cup will be a great experience for Fallon et al. However they will lose every game, and will probably not score a goal. I wonder in this case whether it would be more worthwhile Ireland, Bosnia or another more deserving team got there?

  • Comment number 9.

    tomefccam
    ---
    I take your point, but by the same token, Ireland/Bosnia would not have stood a chance of winning the world cup so is there any more point to them going than New Zealand?

    Personally I like to see a new team in the mixer every now and again. Good for the global game.

  • Comment number 10.

    9. At 10:23am on 02 Dec 2009, Rafa's Magic Box Beard wrote:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I think that each continent should operate a league system as they do in south america, but include prelimnary rounds beforehand to the lesser nations. therefore in europe we wouldn't have the likes of san marino or azerbaijan wasting everybody's time in the league format. that would sort the men from the boys. and get more competetive games going as opposed to boring friendlies with 11 subs at half time

  • Comment number 11.

    Fallon described scoring the goal that took the All Whites to the World Cup as a dream come true.

    Now he is looking at new dreams - one of them being NZ collecting their first point at a World Cup.

    That will be easier said than done - and between now and next June he would be well advised to focus on scoring a few goals for Plymouth, who are looking very shaky at the wrong end of the Championship.

  • Comment number 12.

    Sorry to spoil your dreams but Australia and New Zealand cant be drawn in the same Wc group as they are in the same 'pot'. I would be happy for them to draw england though!

  • Comment number 13.

    #11

    Pauls, don't avoid the real issue here, which is that the world cup will be richer culturally for NZ being there, and I am happy for their fans, but the competition will be poorer for them being there. I am also sure that 3 group defeats, embarrasing ones in...the NZ fans will wonder whether the thousands of pounds spent will have been a waste.

    Plus I doubt that the nation of fans will be too involved, Rugby Union is their number 1 sport, unlike the 95% of other teams that will compete in 2010

  • Comment number 14.

    ...And England can't draw South Africa as they are both seeded.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ceri Evans, Rhodes Scholar, forensic psychiatrist, professional footballer and 6th dan black belt is annoyingly successful, living happily in christchurch with 3 young children...if you're looking for his achilles heal though, put him on skis and he resembles bambi on ice!

  • Comment number 16.

    Rory Fallon, you will forever be remembered for the overhead kick you scored in front of the town end for Swindon against Bristol City. Good luck at the World Cup.

  • Comment number 17.

    tomefccam

    unlike the 95% of other teams that will compete in 2010

    Australia, South Africa and USA would not class football as their #1 sport. Participation wise, Netball is then the biggest sport in NZ.

    You clearly do not get the meaning of World Cup. Based on your reasons then the so called top 4 clubs in England should play in the premiership and only Celtic and Rangers in Scotland. This could go on for every sporting event.

    By the way what have the likes of Ireland ever done.

  • Comment number 18.

    New Zealand are at the world cup because they deserve to be! Personally i find it refreshing to see a new country thrown into the mix every now and again,best of luck to Rory Fallon and the All Whites, unless they get drawn against England of course!!

  • Comment number 19.

    I love that Fallon believes that God changed Fifa's regulations to enable Fallon to play for New Zealand. That has to be one of the best quotes I've ever seen.

  • Comment number 20.

    17. At 12:52pm on 02 Dec 2009, Greg10 wrote:

    You clearly do not get the meaning of World Cup.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Listen my friend, I do get the meaning of the world cup, 32 teams in an international cup competition, the best team wins. That has always been the case with the world cup, we have never had a real shock.

    Your argument about a 4 team EPL or a 2 Team SPL is completely dumbfounded, are you for real??

    My argument is that New Zealand will be so sub standard, that they should not be in the competition as they will not win a game. The EPL is a fair compeitition where I cannot think of a time when any team has gone an entire season without winning. Everybody is capable of beating eachother as it has been standardised in that way, with the relegation and promotion systems sorting out the poorer teams.

    Even though it may be one of four teams winning it, or 2 in Scotland is down to the fact that their is an elite amongst this group who will always do well. In the world cup this will be: Brazil, Italy, France, Argentian, Germany.

    If you were to pick the top 32 teams in the world to compete at a competition, New Zealand would not feature, they would not even feature in the next 32. So my idea is to have the best 32 teams to represent

  • Comment number 21.

    I don't know why they bother actually playing the World Cup games if God takes such a personal interest in football that he actually goes so far as to change Fifa rules for one player. Presumably he can decide who wins too. And God is an Englishman after all.

  • Comment number 22.

    I have to giggle when these players go on about Jesus supplying them with a chance! Yeah, it had nothing to do with the hard work of your team mates, it was the bearded winger supplying the cross lol.

    I wonder how many people still believe 'God is on my side', 'Allah will not let us lose' or surely 'Buddha will lend us a hand'. They can't help EVERYONE guys! Seriously. Give your team mates some credit at least!

    New Zealand are in the World Cup on merit, both Ireland and Bosnia had their chances and failed. Who is to say Bosnia or Ireland would pick up a point? Shocks happen at World Cups, just like in the Premier League. Who would have given Cameroon a chance in 1990, or Senegal in 2002, or what about Saudi Arabia and Bulgarias progression in 1994? These things happen.

    Personally i think New Zealand wont get a point, but who knows? Thats the beauty of football. I for one will cheer them on as long as they aren't playing England.

    Is it just me or do all England fans feel some kind of bond with the Kiwis, Aussies (to a lesser extent - maybe because they are often better at cricket and the rivalry is more fierce haha), Wales, N Ireland, Ireland and Scotland? I always find myself cheering them on.

  • Comment number 23.

    Also football is the no 1 sport in south Africa as its the sport of the masses that were repressed under apartheid. In such sports like rugby and cricket are only successful because history, money and lower level of international competition. The south African team is trying to come to terms with poor organization of the national league and youth setup. As well as the effects of poor diet and health care of the children born during the 1980s that make up most of the current team.

  • Comment number 24.

    Good to see Fallon doing well for himself, though he was never particularly good for us and was in the team when we were relegated. Interestingly you mentioned we signed David Mulligan but not Leo Bertos who supplied the cross for Fallon. It was a bit of a surprise to see these three playing at the ConfederationsCcup, and I'm sure a lot of Barnsley fans will watch their games at the world cup out of curiosity. Have to say though, I'd like to be drawn against them.

  • Comment number 25.

    Let us not forget that many years ago God sent to earth a man - in many ways a humble man, an unremarkable man, but a man of great faith. On occasion he would display moments of great brilliance and genuine tenacity. Though he was mocked and vilified by his opponents for his intellect and insight and so often had his reputation tarnished in the public domain, he stood fast and was rewarded with a platform on which to share his views with the world. Though this exposure was short-lived, his legacy remains to this day. He is, of course, Graeme Le Saux.

  • Comment number 26.

    In reply to tomefccam, I think you're doing NZ a bit of a disservice regarding their competitiveness, recently (and yes I know they were only friendlies) they're drawn 2-2 with Wales and 3-3 with Italy ... We know we're not going to win the world cup, but if we get South Africa or North Korea we could pinch a win, and I can see us managing a draw with a few other sides in it. There won't be any San Marinoesque scorelines!

  • Comment number 27.

    Look, to suggest that New Zealand do not deserve to be at the World Cup is, to my mind, to miss the point.

    They do not decide the qualification system, that is done by Fifa. NZ played the fixtures they were handed and duly qualified - the results show they deserved it and I for one with them the best of luck in the finals.

    This is in part because I have a soft spot for the Kiwis having spent some time over there way back when but, also, because as others have stated, they are most definitely going to need it.

    Whether the qualification system is flawed is another argument altogether. However, I don't agree with the argument that the best World Cup would be one in which the world's top 32 teams played. Sure, I like to see all the big hitters there but I like to see some of the smaller sides given a chance. It helps football in their country develop and sometimes we see the odd major surprise that really adds to the richness of a tournament.

    There is also the fact that a World Cup is a great festival when many cultures and different peoples come together. The tournament benefits from a few new faces (or ones we haven't seen for some time).

  • Comment number 28.

    Hear hear Paul!

    Does no-one else recall a similar conversation being had about the Australians before they got out of their group eight years ago? It can and does happen.

    Plus as it's a winter World Cup, might the Kiwis (and the Aussies too) not have some kind of advantage in fact as they'll be coming to a climate similar to their home nations at that time of year, whereas other teams will have to readjust to that?

  • Comment number 29.

    #28: My bad, I meant in 2006 not 2002.

  • Comment number 30.

    Do you think a MAJOR shock is possible though?? I do not.

    North Korea in 1966 had come out on top of an African and Asian qualification process. This was designed obviously to provide us with the best team from Asia and Africa. They went on of course to complete a major upset in the finals, but they were a credible side, having been the best to get their in the first place.

    In 1990 cameroon beat argentina in the opening game, yes. But they had finished top of their qualifying group and then won a two legged final round qualifier. They qualified as one of two of the best teams africa had to offer, from a possible 26 candidates.


    Thye did also have a squad of players who played or would go onto play Top tier european football in france, spain and italy.

    New Zealand had to beat New Caledonia! Vanuatu! and the mighty Fiji to excel through a tough group phase to play an intercontinental playoff against Asia's 5TH BEST qualifier...being bahrain in this case. They scraped through 1-0.

    Why should ROI have to face France, Italy, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia and montenegro to get through. This is simply unfair.

    New Zealand will not cause an upset, they will be beaten in every game. If anybody would like to bet against this, i will happily take your bet.

    NZ have just one player who would potentially make the ROI squad in Ryan Nelsen. They have produced in Wynton Rufer only one player worthy of mention in their history.

  • Comment number 31.

    #24 are you suggesting Leo Bertos is in fact Jesus :D (read #22)

    #30 you are still missing the point. ROI have a huge advantage in that they get to play competitive matches against good teams on a regular basis and can improve as a result. New Zealand are somewhat hampered by the fact that their only competitive matches come against the likes of New Caledonia. So how can they improve?

    What do you suggest a World Cup group with no continent division? What is England were in a group with Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Vanuata. That could happen if it was just luck of the draw. Yes England would qualify but have you any idea what that would do to the players physically? Already there is complaints of too much traveling, so this is just impractical.

  • Comment number 32.

    tomefccam - I think you're probably right - that doesn't mean NZ should not be there.

    However, South Korea reached the last four in 2002 - and even with home advantage that was a major shock. Then we have Greece, who won Euro 2004. Most definitely a major shock.

  • Comment number 33.

    Responding to tomefccam

    By your reckoning I imagine you would agree that England have no place competing in the winter Olympics where they will lose in everything. Why did Tim Henman play tennis for so long when he was quite clearly useless?

    I can imagine your life is spent sitting on your couch, eating pies and drinking beer yelling at the TV telling the players what they should be doing (as you obviously know best).

    Remember New Zealand is a nation of 4 million people as opposed to the 50-60 million in the UK. As you said, Rugby is the main game so for a small country where most of the males play rugby, it’s perhaps more impressive that NZ qualified than it is the English. After all, the English wouldn't not qualify for a major tournament in the national sport would they?? Oh wait, Euro 2008.

    I agree New Zealand will not win the tournament, but why write them off so quickly. I personally don't think England will make it past the quarter finals, for all the money and hype the players and team just aren't good enough. So why should England show up to a tournament they're not going to win. Also why should Wigan travel to Old Trafford when they know they can't win against Man U?

    New Zealand focusing on football/soccer more can only improve the sport. As they've shown in other sports they compete in they can compete at the top levels, so give it a few years and the England team may well be running scared.

    Its arrogant negativity that you show which ruins the game, but I'm sure you'll be wearing a shirt that doesn't fit over your belly, waiving a flag from your window and drinking Carling right up until the point when England lose another tournament when you'll get into a fight and complain about the ref, just because you don't have enough intelligence to realise England just aren't that good at football - really they might as well stay home and leave it for people who at least try they're hardest, like New Zealand.

  • Comment number 34.


    Yes Greece winning was a shock, however they did have players who had played and went onto play regular champions league football. Their league is also competetive and has boasted winners of major European trophies. Korea Rep in 2002 had Hiddink a world class manager and home support, neither things will NZ have at their disposal. Korea rep were also ranked amongst FIFA's top 20 teams between 1998-2002. They are the major asian footballing power and had they not been unable to participate in the World Cup for 32 years surely would have recorded a their first win in the competition before 2002

    #31 your argument is valid, but this is what I am getting at. NZ I believe, along with Australia would benefit from an Asian/Austalasian qualifying section. But only if they finish the top 2 teams in an OFC qualifying section (presumably they would).

  • Comment number 35.

    I wonder if he attributes Jesus to his earlier miss.

  • Comment number 36.

    But tomefccam, surely NZ drawing with Wales and Italy is an indication that maybe they are going to be competitive? ... And there's an old expression that you can only beat what is put in front of you, arguing they only beat minor teams is a bit like arguing that runs scored in test cricket against Bangladesh don't count.

  • Comment number 37.

    waikato_fc

    I hope so for your sake, as I I do genuinely hope NZ do well, but i also genuinely believe NZ will not.

    And nobody wants to see 8-0, 9-0 defeats in tournaments. Nobody wants to see an Oleg Salenko being touted as the next big thing due to scoring lots of goals against poor teams.

  • Comment number 38.

    Tomefccam

    It is quite obvious that yo have never played a team sport in your life. Before you reach for another beer try looking up FIFA world rankings. The best 32 teams in the world would mean the ROI and Bosina wouldn't be there anyway. Oh but they might in your rankings as clearly you know best.
    Also the powers that be in English Football have taken on your advice and decided that the FA cup will only be contested by Premiership Teams as no one else could possibly have a chance of winning it.
    You will also believe all the hype that will be written in the papers here stating that England are going to win the World Cup.
    By the way in the 20/20 cricket world cup I clearly remember the Netherlands beating an over hyped, cocky England team but then in my eyes that wasn't a shock.

  • Comment number 39.

    Fair enough, but remember that we didn't get humilated at the confed cup recently, picking up our first senior fifa point (0-0 v Iraq), playing poorly in losing 2-0 to South Africa and 5-0 by a very good Spanish side. Not great results indeed, but nothing to suggest 8 or 9 nil. With Shane Smeltz, Rory Fallon and Chris Killen potential goal scorers plus Nelsen at the back I can't see anyone absolutely thumping us. I don't expect us to spring any major surprises, but I don't expect humiliation either. For example, Australia are now considered (quite rightly) a very good football side, and when we play them there is very rarely more than a goal or two in it.

    Please also forgive my error in the Italian friendly, I was under the misguided impression we drew, but they actually nicked it 4-3 with a couple of late goals, the sods!

  • Comment number 40.

    #31 Leo Bertos may well have been Jesus and it is to our shame we let him move on. We could have used his water-walking abilities at Plymouth last weekend.

  • Comment number 41.

    So yet again people resort to bashing the English, showing themselves to be quite pathetic. I hate the ignorant chav minority as much as anyone as they are an embarrassment to our nation, but we are not all like that!

    Post no. 33 - Would you post on a forum about African football calling yourself 'GladImNotAfrican?' or would you think that's racist?

  • Comment number 42.

    Haha, good arrows Tom.

    Hey Kiwis, stop the pommy bashing would you! The World Cup is the only time that the English get to wave their flags without getting called racists! At least give us our few weeks of misguided optimism wont you?

    Regarding my ealier post, i presume from some of the anti-England comments, that those of you who arent English will be cheering for England to lose. Oh well. I'll still root for the All Whites nevertheless.

  • Comment number 43.

    Oh dear - the old does everybody hate the English argument.

    I wrote a blog at Euro 2008 reflecting on the comments I had heard from quite a few fans telling me they thought it was sad that England had not qualified. I was duly savaged in a big way.

  • Comment number 44.

    Tomeffcame.. what a stupid attitude towards the world cup. By your infinate wisdom surely the US should not compete in the world cup as there qualifying is pretty much guranteed. How do you expect new zealand to improve if there are unable to compete in such a competition, they thoroughly deserve to be there, qualifying for the the world cup will encourage more people to get into the sport meaning they will be even more competitive come future tournaments, the USA is a perfect example of this. You clearly miss the point of the world cup. Look at Trinidad and tobago, they gave everyone a good game at the last finals and nobody gave them a chance.

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm a Kiwi, see any England bashing from me? I live here (England) because I want to, and I support England against anyone except NZ!

  • Comment number 46.

    Paul, do you not think that some posts have turned into an England bashing for no particular reason? It happens so often. From what i can tell their was never any animosity from the English aimed at any other ntion here - in fact the English were saying they would suppot the All Whites. So why the animosity in return? Personally i find it quite tiresome.

  • Comment number 47.

    To Glad I'm not English (or should I reveal your real name and home address?)
    You are comparing the population of NZ vs the UK - in case you haven't realised, the UK do not have a football team

  • Comment number 48.

    Fair play to you Waikato, but some of your countrymen are letting the team down. Its not really an issue of anyone supporting England, more a case of why do people hate England so much? im honestly interested whether it was to do with personal experience or just stereotypes.

  • Comment number 49.

    I also am a Kiwi living in Britain and do support England Football team. My comments are directly at tommefccam who is just an ignorant individual who clearly thinks his opinions should be valued. It doesn't matter who you support but to say that a team shouldn't be there when they clearly qualified shows the narrow mindleness of a idiot.
    And yes these idiots also exist in NZ hence the dislike and hatred directed at me when the All Blacks are playing over here. There wouldn't be any bashing if idiots just kept there opinions to themselves.

  • Comment number 50.

    I thought this post was about New Zealand, and people are talking about Republic of Ireland! I'm sick to death of all this talk about the Irish, if they were so good they would be at the World Cup without any controversy, end of.

    Just shut up and let the rest of the World get on with the World Cup without you

  • Comment number 51.

    Greg10, remember that this is a forum for expressing opinions. I disagree with tomefccam BUT hes entitled to write what he thinks. Ive heard the arguement plenty of times before about changing qualification groups, but i dont think this ever will, or ever should happen to any major degree. The logical next step may be to combine Oceania and Asian qualifying. I think this would really help New Zealand develop, as i think its already helped Australia become stronger.

  • Comment number 52.

    Oh deary, deary me.

    We really have moved so far away from the Rory Fallon story. Which is a shame because I'd quite like to hear his take on the NZ-England face off that we seem to be having.

    I say this because his appearance for an England junior team almost cost him a senior international career before a rule change by Fifa.

  • Comment number 53.

    Its good that FIFA have relaxed these rules in letting youth players change nation (only if its valid and not someones grandma bought a camel from an Egyptian so they qualify for Egypt etc)

    It gives so many players the opportunity to experience a tournament like the World Cup and them experiences live with you forever!

    Its also good to see the little less known teams like NZ and North Korea and so on get to be at these tournaments. I mean, when would players like Rory Fallon ever play against the Messi's and Kaka's of the World?

    Plus, theres always shocks waiting around the corner, its what makes the World Cup, FA Cup (and others) so interesting and everyones favourite competitions

  • Comment number 54.

    Why would he play for England when he was born and brought up in New Zealand?

    Im sorry, but once you play for a country at any level that should be that. Its your country, yet some people treat it like a club - look at Tyrone Mears.

    It sees nowadays too many people who are not good enough for one country simply play for another, its a complete and utter nonsense and dilutes the International game. Just like this talk of Almunia playing for England, its ludicrous. Im sorry, but i dont want him to play for England. The only reason he would is because he isnt good enough for Spain. I dont want a player playing for us when we are second best to him personally.

  • Comment number 55.

    Deats80 - I think it was all to do with the fact that he came to England as a 16-year-old and has played here since then. I take your point that once you have made your decision you should have to live with it - however, all that Fallon has done is played by the rules.

  • Comment number 56.

    Tyrone Mears is in the wrong, he played a full international and is trying to change it (I have no idea why, he was rubbish when he played for us)

    In my opinion, if you played youth internationals then I think you should be still allowed to change, unless you have played a certain amount.

    I don't like the idea of Under-21's changing though, plus you should only be allowed to play for the nations you were born in or your parents were born in, grandparents shouldn't come into it, and that 5 year rule should be there either, maybe if you spend 10-15 years growing up through schools in a country should you be allowed to play for that nation. Makes me sick knowing Almunia wants to play for England..

  • Comment number 57.

    Well Done Rory, as a big Swans I am really pleased that you managed to get to the World Cup. I always liked you as a player and you had a good record with us, of 14 goals in around a year, including the fantastic goal in the play off final v Barnsley. I was very disappointed when you left us, although I know that this wasn't the view of all Swans fans.

    Good luck this season Rory except when you play us, and also of course for the World Cup.

  • Comment number 58.

    The issue of him nearly missing out on playing for New Zealand because he played a couple of games for an England youth side is another opportunity for me to rage at FIFA. Of course rules are needed but FIFA seem to run around making up nonsense just for the sake of it. I'd love to see some common sense in football but it's all too rare.

  • Comment number 59.

    As a Kiwi I acknowledge that on form and ability NZ are not as good as other teams who won’t be at the World Cup. But it’s like the English FA Cup. The occasional success of clubs outside the Premier League adds to the appeal and excitement of the competition.

    Most Kiwis empathise strongly with Ireland’s bad luck, particularly because a blatant referee’s error led to the winning try by France (them again!) to knock NZ out of the last Rugby World Cup. But football’s like life. It isn’t always fair. No one supports injustice but if football was completely fair all the time then wouldn’t it be a bit dull?

  • Comment number 60.

    Hi Fletch... sorry but i only read the first couple of lines and then my interest was lost this time mate....

    ....but my initial thoughts were - I don't want to be deliberately nasty (but)... maybe Rory Fallon should pray a bit harder as he is tosh.

  • Comment number 61.

    with God all things are possible,NZ can shock any team,watch out mate

  • Comment number 62.

    44. At 5:19pm on 02 Dec 2009, Jonny5 wrote
    ---------------------------------------------------

    For some reson my username has changed, and I can't change it back. So tomefccam says:

    I do not have a stupid attitude, I am arguing that teams as poor as NZ will take away the competetiveness from the finals by being there, all teams they face in the group stage will take 3 points from them.

    USA are a different kettle of fish...

    They go through 4 rounds of competetive qualifying process where they eventually had to progress through a group containing past world cup participants in

    Mexico, Costa Rica T&T etc.

    USA, Mexico and Honduras made it through...Costa Rica the 4th placed team had to face a play off with the 5th best team from South Americas qualifying system...in former world champions and ever competetive Uruguay!!! a far cry from having to beat Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia and subsequently BAHRAIN to get there. This is clearly flawed.

    38. At 4:43pm on 02 Dec 2009, Greg10 wrote:
    ------------------------------------------------

    The only thing that is obvious is that you do not know anything about me or my background, so to say I have never been involved in team sports is laughable. This is also a football blog, therefore comparisons with 20-20 cricket are not accurate, I refuse to compare standards accross different sports, that is for a whole other blog.

    I did not state at any point that ROI or Bosnia were in the top 32 Fifa ranked teams, I simply stated that the best 32 teams should be there, and I would include these two nations at present as amongst the top 32. Ignore FIFA rankings...they are also flawed, and a system that has been changed numerous times and will change again soon because they do not illustrate the performance of international team accurately eg. Croatia are not the 10th best team in the world, they are not even the 10th best in europe

  • Comment number 63.

    silence speaks volumes...everybody acknowledges that I am right

  • Comment number 64.

    Silence means everyone has moved on, it happens you know?!

    And you aren't right, just because you say Croatia aren't the 10th best team in Europe doesn't mean everyone has to agree. In my opinion Russia have one of the best teams around, yet they aren't going to the World Cup, but it doesn't mean they should automatically be there because they are good, and it doesn't mean I'm right either.

    Theres no way ROI or Bosnia deserve to be there, there are better teams in the world, Europe and South America do have the most competitive competitions and qualifiers, because they replicate their leagues.

    I think your forgetting Ghana qualified for their first World Cup last time round and they shock everyone and got through their group, plus South Korea got the semi finals of a World Cup - a feat which raised their profile in the World

    Everyone loves an underdog, so let NZ, N Korea, Honduras and co have their day!

  • Comment number 65.

    Another thing, another reason its good to see the smaller footballing nations in the World Cup is that it promotes football in their country, it gets fans on board in places that football isn't the number 1 sport there. It gets players noticed by big leagues (especially the African players) and it also helps attract sponsership money, players and so on to their country. USA have benefitted in the long run with hosting a World Cup, but other nations are expanding their amount of players, income and leagues etc, just like the Caribbean Islands and maybe now New Zealand, thanks to exposure on the World Stage

  • Comment number 66.

    Football is not the national sport of NZ, them being at a world cup will not change this...it did not work for the USA, the MLS got going again in 1996, and I don't see how in 13 years the standard of it has improved at all. The attendances are probably just about the same as they were in '96 and the standard of players is probably worse in fact. Yet they continue to pump money into soccer stateside

  • Comment number 67.

    It has to be said the the Kiwis did have the easiest qualifying of all the 32 teams going to South Africa. But this is not their fault. They can only do what FIFA put in front of them. I am an Aussie and there is a great rivalry between the 2 nations, but I think it is great that the Kiwi's will be there. It is a shame for Australia that they have not had an easy qualifying run or they may have been at more World Cups. Once again, this is not New Zealand's fault.
    To all the supporters of other countries wining about the Kiwi's being there, get a life. Just go to South Africa or sit at home and cheer for your team of choice. I am going to be there and will have a big cheer for the Kiwi's (as well as England and Australia of course) and would love to see them win a game or even just get a point.
    Another question to all the doom sayers, if one of the top teams were to have a bad tournament and not get a point, should they never be allowed to compete again.
    FIFA want to get as many teams involved from all corners of the globe. If my team missed out (Ireland, Bosnia etc.) then I guess I would be upset. But if you look at the big picture, Football is truly the only "World Game". It is because of some of FIFA's policies that this is the case. Is it corrupt to do this, probably yes. But now there is interest in Football al around the world.

  • Comment number 68.

    The beauty about football, an old cliche, anything can happen :)

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    it gets fans on board in places that football isn't the number 1 sport there. It gets players noticed by big leagues (especially the African players) and it also helps attract sponsership money, players and so on to their country rolex replica

 

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