This week we caught up with the man behind Australia's favourite football newsletter to chat Rhyan Grant, short shorts and the 1986-88 Socceroos home shirt.
Hey Tom! Firstly could you tell us a bit about yourself? Background Info? Upcoming Projects? What you do for a living?
I run False Nine, a publication covering football in Australia and our place in the world game. It’s centered on a weekly newsletter. The format keeps changing, but I think that’s what makes it work. We’ve done deep dives on iconic players like Mark Viduka, moments in time like historic wins or losses for the Socceroos, or just write about things like when Ian Rush came to play in Sydney for a few weeks. It’s all on the table, really.
Our big project at the moment is still in the works but the gist of it is that we’re making a deck of cards. A really, really good set. One that’d be just as at home on a poker table in Monte Carlo as they would in your house. Each card in the deck will be a Socceroos legend throughout history. So they look and feel like old playing cards from the nineties, but you can win money off your friends with them. We’ll be running a Kickstarter soon, so sign up to our newsletter if you want to hear about it when the time comes. There won’t be many going, so you’ll need to be quick. Here’s a sneak peek.
Basically, just sign up to the newsletter anyway. It’s the life blood of what we do. If you’ve already subscribed, tell your mates about it. Post it on your TikTok or just shout about it from your window if you live in a densely populated area. Whatever it takes.
For those who aren’t aware of your brand can you tell us a bit about False Nine and the inspiration behind it?
Australia has a very rich football history, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t really feel like it if you pick up a newspaper. Football doesn’t really get the attention it deserves in the media, so smaller publications are popping up to give football fans a voice. False Nine exists to bring all of the stories of Australian football to life in a way that Aussies can be excited and proud of.
I want them to look and feel like top quality football content they might see about their favourite team in Europe, but it’s about something just as interesting that happened in their city in Australia. That said, we love the modern game, too. So we try to get the balance right between looking back and looking forward. It’s my hope that shining a light on some of our footballing history and iconic players will grow the profile of football today.
What does the future hold for you and your brand?
Hard to know really. We’ve been growing really quickly since I started False Nine last year. We now have other writers contributing and are starting to work with organisations like the PFA and other brands to help bring their brands to Australian football fans.
So maybe we start to become a bit of a creative agency, or maybe we just keep writing a newsletter each week that people enjoy. Both are good options. As long as we’re helping to move football forward in Australia and give it a voice, that’s the goal.
Can you tell us a bit about your background in football and how you first got involved?
I guess like every Australian kid I played a lot of sports growing up. Soccer in the morning then across the road to play hockey that afternoon. When I was young my family spent some time overseas in the UK and Europe and it’s really in that period that I zoned in on football as my game.
I played at a decent level in Australia. My friends will tell you that I never shut up about playing with Tom Rogic for years, or with Rhyan Grant at the AIS when I trained there for a while. Mostly I was pretty average. Didn’t have much of a first touch, or a second one, to be fair. But I was athletic and did what I was told. I scored the winner against New South Wales in the U-15 National Championship so that’s probably my crowning achievement.
I did work experience at the Central Coast Mariners and met John Aloisi a year or so after he sent us to Germany. I flogged his mobile number from the player database which, in hindsight, was still a great idea. I never rang him but I thought about it a lot. When I was 18 I moved to the US to play football at college and won a national championship over there before gracefully retiring to 5-a-side cameos for the rest of my life. I’ve got a buggered knee and a groin that’s worse than Harry’s but I still dream about banging goals three nights a week.
Which Kit have you chosen for your MY KIT?
I’ve got a few kits that I love. More recently I managed to get a hold of the Nigeria kit in 2018 by fluking it on the release day. But to keep it local, you can’t really go past the Socceroos home kit from 1986-88.
What is it about this kit that connects with you?
It’s absolutely stunning. The Adidas logo on the chest is glorious, and that dark green on the stripes and collar is just **chefs kiss**. The gold is just everything Australians are known for in sport and I reckon the hue of this yellow is about as patriotic as you can get.
The Socceroos have buggered it up with the shorts recently, but the dark blue with the big numbers on the thigh need to come back soon. And they were short, too. Imagine doing leg workouts every day for ten years to cover your thighs with long shorts? No thanks. Look at Mike Peterson’s thighs here. Goodness me. Long shorts are what’s really wrong with the game today. Ask Alexis Sanchez.
Which player/s immediately comes to mind when you look at the kit?
Another tough one, really. Charlie Yankos scored an absolute thunderbastard against Argentina in this kit and looked terrifying in it on the day. But it’s Mike Petersen who I think of. He left Australia to go and play for Ajax in the nineties. Ajax! And despite them wanting him to hang around, he sacked them off to come home because he didn’t fancy Amsterdam. He also called them ‘Ay-jax’ the whole time. I love to imagine how much that riled up Van Basten.
Favourite Footballing Memory In this Kit?
The Socceroos wore this in the 1988 Bicentennial Gold Cup against Brazil and Argentina and absolutely spanked Argentina 4-1 in Canberra. Doesn’t happen too often for us, playing in Canberra that is, so I’d say these kinds of memories are my favourites.
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