Ivanhoe man Mike Baker never wanted to be a Fanatic, let alone spend the best part of 20 years in the green and gold afro but "life's funny like that".
“I’d never even seen Wimbledon on telly… next thing you know I’m there watching Richard Fromberg play an unknown South African and cheering my nuts off.”
“Rolls”, as his known to his Fanatic friends, journey began in 1998, when the then 23 year old teaching graduate followed in every other sub-thirty Aussies footsteps, setting sail for Clapham, London.
“I thought, I don’t want to live at home anymore, but I still want to live in Australia, so it was the logical choice.”
Soon after relocating, Baker made himself known at the Walkabout Pub, befriending barman Billy Appleton, who was also a young private school product from Melbourne.
“She’ll Be” (Appleton) recounts their first meeting, saying that after Baker put Land Down Under on the jukebox for the fourth time in a row, he knew “the guy was good gravy”.
“We got to talking and I told him some of my old Brunswick Grammar cohort were planning a bus trip to the World Cup in France that year… the rest is history.”
It was from that coach-ride across Europe that the physical, visual and audible nuisance the world know as the Fanatics were born.
“We thought, surely we’re not the only Aussie legends who enjoy putting a morph suit on, drinking and chanting while watching our athletes chase victory.”
“Aussie legends” they may be in their lunch-boxes only, as it seems the international perception of these “green and gold cloaked losers” doesn't equal reality, and Dutchwoman, Maartje Westerhout, spoke of her frustration at the groups “obnoxious behaviour”.
“Surely not all Australian’s are like these people… Do these f*%kwits ever shut up?”
Her sentiments were shared by Serbian bus driver, Dragar Ivanovic, who summed his passengers up simply as “singing scum”.
Baker said other countries were “jealous” of him and his gang of merry countrymen, saying the group had “practically saved world sport”.
Speaking emotionally to his Fanatics teammates, the 44 year old revealed today was to be the last time he’d lead them, deciding a Hockeyroos versus Netherlands friendly was the perfect exit.
“My missus’ said it’s time I grew up… So I left her” he laughed.
“Nah this will be my last Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi chant.”