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Socceroos get the old band back together, and get mauled

Soccer

At least the band was back together.

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That’s the summation from former Socceroo Graham Arnold, who was in the dugout for Australia’s 4-0 wipeout to Liverpool in an exhibition match between retirees in Sydney last night.

Reds icon Steven Gerrard certainly played his part as the headline act, having a hand in three of the visitors’ four goals, two of which were netted by former sidekick Luis Garcia.

Critics questioned the merit in the NSW state government spending taxpayers’ money on bringing Liverpool’s old-stagers halfway across the world for a novelty match.

And pre-match speculation that San Francisco 49er Jarryd Hayne would be a last-minute addition to the circus – he was instead a celebrity coin-tosser – only fuelled the argument.

You don’t get really greeted that well from the FFA

But for Arnold, it was an opportunity to feed a culture he believed Football Federation Australia hadn’t contributed to enough on a regular basis.

“You don’t get really greeted that well from the FFA. You might be lucky to get a ticket to a World Cup qualifier,” he said.

“So the fact that the promoters have put this together and brought the band back together with this fantastic concept, let’s hope that it continues.”

The Australian Legends team assembles for a team photograph ahead of the Liverpool Legends v Australian Legends match at ANZ Stadium, in Sydney, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The Australian Legends team assembles for a team photograph. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP

A crowd of 40,805 were treated to a display that, while low on peak physical condition, was high on nostalgia – including a stirring rendition of club anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone.

And an appreciative applause also echoed around the Olympic arena when Liverpool’s greatest goalscorer, Ian Rush, and former striker John Aldridge, both goaled in the second half.

“I felt particularly happy because I also enjoyed the reaction of the whole team that went to congratulate (Rush),” manager Gerard Houllier said.

“John played three generations ago, but he still enjoyed playing with us and with a team that’s much younger.”

Former Liverpool star John Arne Riise, who assisted on two goals, said it was worth the long flight and would definitely come back again.

“Since I landed in Sydney airport, it’s been amazing,” he said.

One Liverpool fan, Chris, said the success of the event showed the growth of soccer in the country.

“I reckon there’s as many fans watching this game as there were watching Man City [play a friendly on the Gold Coast in 2014],” he said.

“And that was [current] players, not the legends. It’s a pretty good turnout.”

-AAP

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