HERE I am Harry, where I was always going to be and where I’ll be for the next few weeks. Covering the World Cup.
Nanjing Night Net

Not covering you, exclusively, I must admit. I like to get around. On Wednesday afternoon, when you seemed to be rather upset that I wasn’t squeezed among the press pack at Ruimsig, tape recorder in hand, I was actually in Pretoria. Months ago I applied, and received, accreditation to report on South Africa’s game against Uruguay. You can check if you like.

Perhaps if I’d known you were going to front the cameras – we’re not generally told who Football Federation Australia are ”putting up” in advance – I would have changed my plans. Come to think of it, no I wouldn’t have.

You see, Harry, I spent a lot of years, a lot of energy and a lot of effort chasing you for quotes around the world. I was there when it all began for you in 1996 – in fact, I was there a long time before that – and I’m still here now.

Ninety per cent of that time, you’ve blanked me. The last time, four years ago in Yokohama, I made a decision there wasn’t much point in the charade any more. Something I conveyed, quite clearly, to your manager, Bernie Mandic. So you got on with your life and I got on with mine. That’s fair enough. There’s plenty of athletes and plenty of journalists who don’t get on. Nature of the beast and all that.

What’s also true in this business is that if you dish it out, you’ve got to take it. I’ve dished it out to you in the past week and I’m happy to take it. But I stand by every word I’ve written. Every single one. You’ve had a dream run in terms of scrutiny, real scrutiny, regarding your performances. You know it, Bernie knows it. In fact, Bernie once told me – remember when you brushed me at Waverley Oval? – that as far as Team Kewell was concerned, the football media was a joke, utterly irrelevant. Give us Ray Martin over you numpties any day was Bernie’s point. A message conveyed, I might add, in much more forceful language than that.

So if what is written by a football journalist means diddly-squat, I’m not quite sure why my words over the past few weeks have got under your skin. And they have because you went to the FFA last week and demanded my accreditation be revoked. The accreditation I need to cover the Socceroos. That’s 23 players, by the way, not just you.

So here’s the thing, Harry. You know and I know that most of the media are in your thrall. One hack even professed his love for you the other day. I happen to believe it’s what you do on the pitch for Australia that counts. Not what your PR machine spins out. Not how good you look in a pair of undies. And I happen to believe, since the last World Cup, you’ve done bugger all. I couldn’t praise you enough after the game in Brisbane against Iraq. You can get the clippings if you like. But the rest of the time, as far as I’m concerned, you’ve been a myth.

Now you’ve got the chance to show you’re not. That there’s still something in the tank. Go out against Ghana, when our World Cup is on the line, when your own international career is on the line, and do something. Actually DO something. Prove something. And if you do, I’ll be the first to praise you. As for the rest of it, I’m still here, still writing about football and hope to be for a long time to come.