By Mike Bruce, The Herald Sun
Published 06/24/06

HAVING washed all the beer out of my hair from Thursday night on the Schlossplatz in Stuttgart, on Friday I took the train out to Oehringen, the Aussies' training base.

The town had all the feel of a collective hangover – it was as if the whole town had been to a big birthday bash or a wedding the night before and was easing itself back into the day, taking stock, recharging the batteries.

A couple of townsfolk told me they were out at the local fan fest which had been chockers and that they had, naturally, celebrated the Aussies’ win as only the Germans know how – with a lot of beer.

At the Australians’ hotel, manager Georg Bastendorf said a group of 150 locals had turned up at that hotel 1.30am to welcome the Socceroos back home with a large “congratulations” banner.

Remember that Friedrichsruhe has a population of just 1700. Out on the hotel lawn, Comrade Guus was looking very satisfied, enjoying a post-lunch cigar with what looked like a few friends.

A group of about 20 Aussie fans had gathered at the hotel gate to get autographs and or just a glimpse of the players who were enjoying a morning of rest, according to Mr Bastendorf.

Joining the fans were an Italian and a Dutch TV crew. Subject matter number one? You guessed it, Guus Hiddink.

Rob, from the NSW Central Coast, is wearing a t-shirt with “In Guus We Trust” – the TV crews lapped it up, doing interviews and big vertical shots of his shirt.

“The Koreans wanted to give him an island, what will Australia give him,” the Dutch reporter asked.

“Probably beer,” Rob said.

Back in town a mother is buying her a son an Australian t-shirt.

“Grandma told him he had to have one,” she said. Up the road a free, charitable internet service normally reserved for the unemployed, has been occupied by a battalion of Aussies. The room looks like the marshalling area for a surf competition – it’s all beach blond, thongs and board-shorts and the air’s thick with truncated Aussie nicknames and footy scores from home.

Many are talking about the possibility of tickets for Monday’s quarter-final against Italy. Some are looking on – a site for hard-to-get sports tickets.

They are offering category one tickets for the Italy game for US$1087 ($1450). The Aussies are also reviewing the Australian press’s take on the game. There’s a lot to look at – the unemployed of Oehringen won’t get much of a look in today.

There’s a lot less about the Australians’ miraculous victory in the German press, however. In most papers, the Aussies’ achievement was buried under the previews of the German-Sweden game, Brazil’s 4-1 against Japan, the Czechs’ dramatic departure and Ghana’s sensational entry into the next round.

The death of Sunshine Coast's A-list tortoise Harriet, aged 176, seemed to make bigger headlines. Also in Germany’s headlines today was this cracker which took my fancy: “It stinks to high heavens”.

In Berlin’s Tiergarten next to its Fan Mile (which has had 3.5 million visitors so far), men are reportedly emptying their bladders of up to 100,000 litres of urine a day.

Preferring the romance of nature over the practicality of 300 port-a-loos available, though, the men have caused such an embarrassing stench near a VIP grandstand, that the City of Berlin has taken to having to water the greenery in the each morning with six million litres of water.

Preview: And then there were 16. Now it’s serious. All the fun and games of the group stages are over, where you can draw with Trinidad & Tobago and you’re the fans are still a clappy-happy, painted mob who sing and dance into the wee hours.

Germany (ie the World Cup) could go from absolute euphoria to the depths of depression today should it not win against Sweden in Munich (1am Sunday AEST). And if England doesn’t lift its game against the impressive Ecuador in Stuttgart (5am Sunday AEST ), the years of hurt could just go on for another four.

Quote of the day: "I will first finish the World Cup and then we will see. Maybe I can play golf for the next three months and make Tiger Woods a little bit nervous; that would be fun." - Trinidad & Tobago coach and footballing warhorse Leo Beenhakker on what he will do after the cup.

Chix pix: A German paper this week carried pics of “Sweden’s tasty snacks” – Freddie Ljungberg, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and “boy next door” Niklas Alexandersson.

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