In my quest to watch the World Cup with fans of the participating nations in New York City, I decided to check out the Australia versus Holland match at a midtown restaurant and bar called The Australian.
Australia came in to the tournament as the lowest ranked nation of all participating in the World Cup. While there is no official ranking for fans, I’m pretty certain the Australians would be somewhere close to the top.
The Australian is one of the few authentic Australian bars and restaurants in the city so I expected to find a decent early lunchtime crowd. Instead, I found that I was lucky to get inside. It was already standing room only. Every table was full, every spot at the bar taken and there was a party atmosphere in the air.
This place is the real deal…not a theme restaurant like the Outback Steakhouse. I headed to the upstairs bar and spoke with bartender Adam Williams. Williams is from Melbourne and has been in New York for seven years. He said that the restaurant generally does good business, but there’s been a massive turn out for the World Cup. He added that they had to stop letting people in during Australia’s first match with Chile.
Williams further explained that since the restaurant is in midtown they tend to get a lot of business from the work crowd. “A lot of Aussies come by when they are on holiday in the states, especially during major sporting events involving Australia.”
There were some Dutch fans sprinkled in among the Aussies. One was Ernso from Amsterdam. He was proudly wearing a Dutch team warm up jacket and had the colors of the country’s flag on his face. When asked why he came to The Australian to watch his team, he said, “Because I know they are going to win and wanted to be here to celebrate their victory.”
When Australia went behind 1-0 in the 20th minute, the crowd kept cheering. They were rewarded in less than a minute when Tim Cahill scored what might be the goal of the tournament to bring Australia level. The room went nuts and waitresses brought around shots for everyone in the restaurant to celebrate.
The first half finished 1-1 when a man jumped up on the bar, grabbed a microphone and led everyone in a group sing-a-long of Australia’s unofficial anthem “Waltzing Matilda”. The crowd sang a long and one guy in the crowd even held up a yellow inflatable kangaroo.
I caught up with the man with the microphone afterwards and found out that he is Drew de Carvalho, also known as “The Voice of Australia in America”. The Australian voiceover artist and marketing professional has been in New York for over 20 years and is a regular at The Australian when his homeland is playing. He added, “It’s the only place to come watch Australian sports with your mates.”
More shots were handed out when Australia took a second half lead in the 54th minute.
While Holland went on to win the match 3-2, it didn’t end the party atmosphere at The Australian. Regardless of the outcome, the Aussies were there to have fun and enjoy themselves.