IT was all downhill once the walk was over. It had felt like a walk into history, a walk into the unknown, a walk into the pages of time, whatever cliche-riddled walk you fancy.

If only the South African coppers had turned these fans around. Photo: Robert Cianflone.

What it was in fact was a long walk to humiliation at the hands of a German pantser division that gave us our greatest World Cup pantsing of all time. It had started so well but at the end of the day there were only three things that made us feel good. Sunshine, a terrific esplanade, and architecture.

The 10km walk from the Durban Marina to the Moses Mabhida Stadium took 90 minutes, the same length of time it took the Germans to subject us to a ritualised international sporting humiliation which was one goal worse than the former West Germany’s 3-0 pounding of the 1974 Socceroos side.

Hundreds and hundreds of Aussies made the walk. There were more Australian fans than Germans by what felt like a factor of two to one - funny that, because when the game started, it felt like there were twice as many German players as there were Socceroos.

The atmosphere could not have been better, the anticipation more pronounced.

It was a beautiful sunny day. We were truly girt by sea with a delicious warm breeze coming off the Indian Ocean. The Aussies were draped in flags, tooting their green and gold vuvuzelas, some of them catching rides on Durban’s famous beachside rickshaws, shouting Aussie Aussie Aussie as the super-fit black dudes ran along the beachfront towing them behind.

The consensus was that Das Mannschaft were in for a surprise.

I accosted a couple of German chaps on the way to Moses Madhiba and asked them if they felt a sense of terror at playing their opening match against the great footballing powerhouse that is Australia.
Being the zany funsters that they are, they replied: “No.”

(That reminds me of the German joke. This guy walks into a bar. He has serious personal problems and has resorted to alcohol abuse as a result.)

Germans Wolfgang Altmann and Antonio Riccio had travelled from Stuttgart for the game.

“No we are not terrified,” Antonio said. “We are convinced that we will win. We will score three goals. Maybe we will score four. It will be 3-1 or 4-1.”

“Tell him he’s dreaming,” piped up Darren Parsons, a 49-year-old bloke from Brisbane who was walking with his son Corey to Moses Madhiba.

“I reckon we can come out of it with a draw,” Darren said. “I’m tipping 1-1.”

Yeah right. Dazza, who were we kidding?

At times it looked like this match could have become the first in history where if you had to scull every time someone scored a goal, you’d be smashed by the end.

As a way of avoiding the horror below I found myself staring at the majestic concrete arch which spans the Moses Mabhida Stadium. It is a very clever piece of political architecture - the arch starts as two separate beams but meets up to form a single beam, and it symbolises the transition from apartheid to the new united South Africa.

Earlier this week we met an Aussie labourer who was working in Durban and had poured the concrete when the stadium was built. On the day of the pour, he wrapped an Australian flag into a ball and buried it inside the concrete.

Last night our national football team was buried there.

At his post-match press conference German coach Joachim Loew kept dabbing at his lips with a serviette, as if he was wiping away the blood from the footballing carcass he had just devoured.

“This was a good warm-up” he said, which you would regard as patronising if not for the fact that it were true, although describing it as “good” might be overdoing it.

He then said one of the scarier things I’ve heard in sport for a while, that the Germans had not played their best and needed to attack more. Jeez Joachim, how many goals does one bloke need?

In the mixed zone after the game, where the journos queue to interview players at random as they file out of the stadium, the Aussies looked exactly like you don’t want your team to look. They looked really embarrassed. Tim Cahill looked gutted, he looked like he’d been crying. And why wouldn’t he. Harry looked dirty and Marco Bresciano looked mad, as neither man took the field and both are angry at Pim. Kewell barrelled through without saying a word, looking like he was in a hurry to go to a funeral. Another funeral. Schwarzer, who prides himself on his record of keeping clean sheets, or at least standing between us and a blowout, looked like he wanted the earth to swallow him up.

Vince Grella tried to inject some perspective.

“Sleep it off,” he said. “No-one died.”

No-one apart from the Socceroos.

Most commented


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    • Michael L says:

      10:24am | 14/06/10

      Loew is right,  the Germans could easily have scored 7 or 8. The Australian defense was a complete joke.

      Our best hope now is to not be embarrassed by the strong Ghanian and Serbian teams.

    • T.Chong says:

      10:28am | 14/06/10

      Enuff of that soccer rubbish, now back to the real winter games of League, Union, AFL, netball -( SNAG credentials), + cricket , in all its forms, for summer.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      11:08am | 14/06/10

      Cricket? With the possible exception of 20/20 and on very rare other occassions, when cricket is shown in news reports or even actual broadcasts of matches here in Australia the TV cameras do their damndest to avoid panning across the virtually empty stands including week-ends and public holidays!  Maybe T Chong is one of the two or three people in those stands. The cheering, clapping etc. are al of the canned variety. Except for 20/20, crickets is, next to golf, the most time-wasting, boring alleged sport ever invented! May be that is why the French, who started it, gave it to the Poms!

    • Geee Jay says:

      11:17am | 14/06/10

      I agree with Chongo,but i would say that the girls soccer team is doing ok..
      Maybe if we swopped them in Africa we might do better!! After all it is a girly game and will never succeed in Oz..

    • Snorekah says:

      03:54pm | 14/06/10

      @ Robert

      Only bogans like 20/20 cricket

      Cricket is for people that can appreciate and understand a the qualities of a real sport that requires actual skill.

      Soccer is a game for a bunch of prancing niinies who fall over a blade of grass and claim a shin injury to get a penalty.

      Fans try to say that the low scores means it’s more exciting where a goal is scored - that’s like a woman who only puts out once per week trying to say it’s more special when she does - what tripe!

    • acker says:

      04:10pm | 14/06/10

      @Robert S McCormick says 11.08 am: Might pay to check your facts about cricket attendance figures before you mislead everyone here with some b.s>

    • acker says:

      05:48pm | 14/06/10

      @Snorekah says..your wrong as well, cricket is cricket and the better players can play Test, 50 Over & T/20 ..Gilchrist, Collingwood, McGrath, Warne, Tendulkar, Smith, etc can all cut the mustard across all forms of the game.

    • Alex says:

      10:28am | 14/06/10

      A great result.  Perhaps we can now have less hype from the players, the once every four years supporters and the media.  You would have thought “our heroes” were going off to fight a war.  Not so much tall poppies as tall egos.

    • Lindy says:

      10:39am | 14/06/10

      They only lost by 4 didn’t they?  That’s not even a converted try in “real” football!

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      10:41am | 14/06/10

      Come on, boys & girls! Did anyone really expect Australia, ranked 25th in the world, to beat Germany? Ranked #1 and without doubt currently the best team in the world. Be honest! we were on an almost “hiding to nothing” before we even went on the field! Of course the media will be full of all those “experts”, most of whom have never played sport in their lives and if they have have been rotten at it, telling us mere mortal why Australia lost and how we could have avoided doing so! It will not only be the paid “experts” but those who write letters to the papers who will get in on the act! The nearest these gems have ever had playing sport will have been to slouch on their sofas, beer perched on their huge guts, ciggie in hand, whilst they exercise their foul mouths screaming at their giant plasma TVs. The only other form of exercise they ever indulge in ever is when they bend their elbows to slurp down their grog!
      So the Socceroos got beaten! Big bloody deal. They did their best and that is all we can expect. Their turn will come and we should remember they are not out of it yet. There are still more games, yes it is only a game, to come. It is nothing more than sheer arrogance on Australian’s part for us to assume that we are always going to win at every sport. Get over the loss and just enjoy watching the experts show how it is done - even if those experts are not Australian.

    • Faul Kinell says:

      12:35pm | 14/06/10

      It may be lost on some people but most of the Australian side make a very good living overseas so SHOULD be able to offer some sort of reply on the field, not the drubbing and weak response that eventuated. As for Cahills performance with that crude so called tackle, he deserves everything he gets for that childish amataur act. For a professional player of his standing to risk so much for the ongoing tournament by being out is so so thoughtless & selfish.

    • Robert Smissen , rural SA says:

      03:03pm | 14/06/10

      exactly, it was ONE game, not the whole kit & kaboodle

    • Lee says:

      07:58pm | 14/06/10

      We would have been extremely happy to come away with a draw, a 4-0 loss or a 1-0, it is still a loss. Our tournament has always hinged upon the Ghana and Serbia games, this is where it begins for Australia. I don’t blame Pim for resting Kewell and Bresc, why risk them if the game is out of our reach. If we beat Ghana, we may only need a draw against Serbia to make it through. Too early to write the Socceroos off, the Ghana game will give us more information.

    • Dougie says:

      10:43am | 14/06/10

      I’m with Grella.

    • CM says:

      02:25pm | 15/06/10

      Agree. Well said Vinnie.

    • 6c legs says:

      10:45am | 14/06/10

      Yeah Penbo, bury the Soccoroos cos they lost. Great way to get soccer back where it ‘really belongs’, eh. And with any luck all its latest fans will all go back to barracking for the ‘real codes’...

      Thanks for such a balanced report.


      Germany will probably win the WC - to draw them first up was the worst of ‘luck’.

    • Robert Smissen , rural SA says:

      03:07pm | 14/06/10

      Hopefully you are not talking about AFL, the game where the players are so pathetic that they still award them a point when they miss the HUGE goals, just so they don’t break down in tears

    • Jim says:

      10:47am | 14/06/10

      I just love it when an Aussie sportsman or team are going well…the media jump on the bandwagon to bask in reflected glory, coming out with lines like Our So-and-so…Aussie What’s-his-face…then when the wheels fall off some terribly smug - oh, sorry - witty play on words come out like Shockeroos. Ha ha frikkin ha. Lleyton Hewitt beat Federer last night, he’s bound to be pumped up now by all his new found media mates. If he’d lost we would have seen headlines like Lleyton Blewitt.

    • Paul Chawp says:

      02:12pm | 14/06/10

      And the sky is blue. What’s your point?

    • Jim says:

      02:45pm | 14/06/10

      Point is that had the Socceroos won, Penberthy would have pulled out Plan B - a piece written to blast all the Doubting Thomas’s out there while he sagely taps his nose and claims that he knew we would beat Germany.

    • Markus says:

      10:48am | 14/06/10

      Hopefully now the Aussie football bandwagon might shut up a bit and take a dose of reality.
      I don’t mean that as if I want to see the team lose, of course I wish them all the best.
      But after a historically best World Cup ever in 2006, which realistically only included one win, some fans and journos have been delusionally talking as if the Socceroos are world-beaters now.

      The current squad is decent. Not as good as the 2006 team, but still much better than most teams Australia have developed in the past.
      What it definitely is not, is a team that is going to magically overcome the real powers in international football.

    • Samuel says:

      12:07pm | 14/06/10

      Spot on Markus.  A loss to Germany has always been part of the equasion this tournament, just like losing to Brazil was part of it last time.  We can’t pretend we’re in the league of the big guns.  The only downside is we’ve lost Cahill for the next game.  Second place in the group is the goal, and that’s still well and truly on the cards.
      The other key point is that this team is still far more competitive than the teams of the late nineties and early noughties, despite this morning’s loss they will still be remembered as one of the best socceroos teams.

    • acker says:

      10:48am | 14/06/10

      Australia is like the Brazil of media build-ups and over inflating local sports stars but like the Mongolia (or Australia) in actual soccer prowess. Never have so many fringe English & Italian league players been raised so high on a media inspired pedastal.

    • TooOld says:

      10:55am | 14/06/10

      Thank goodness, I am sick to death of hearing about them. Was anyone really surprised? Every ad break on TV lately has had some form of socceroo mention, I am just so over it, surely more important stuff happens in the world than a soccer game.

      Whats the bet when they eventually return home the newscasters will be using the “HERO” term, a term more abused and overused I have never seen.

    • Hel says:

      01:04pm | 14/06/10

      If you’re that sick of hearing about them, why did you click on this article?

    • Ripa says:

      10:57am | 14/06/10

      Stuff FIFA, stuff soccer in Australia, we cant watch it on TV unless we pay. We were robbed last world cup, the red card this time was ridiculous.
      Pim you are a hopeless coach you handed Germany the win even before the game started, you played for a draw and as in the past whenever Australian plays defence only we lose.

    • marley says:

      11:31am | 14/06/10

      Well, I think the players might just have had something to do with “handing Germany the win.”

    • Ripa says:

      01:34pm | 14/06/10

      The players never had the chance to hand Germany the win, the tactics used were wrong. He made the same stupid decision that Farina used to do, play defensively, we lost back then and we will lose again until he changes his plan.

    • Gazza says:

      02:52pm | 14/06/10

      Err RIPA… not sure where you are Mate but SBS is showing the games. Are you somewhere SBS is not shown?

    • Ripa says:

      05:07pm | 14/06/10

      sorry Gazza should have clarified, i was talking about the domestic league.

    • Dan says:

      10:59am | 14/06/10

      I blame the the vuvuzelas - they drove me to distraction too

    • Matthew says:

      11:02am | 14/06/10

      The junket sounds like its going well. Remind me what penbo knows about football?

      Outplayed by a team who should outplay us. We played poorly but its hardly a disaster. Qualification was always dependent on games vs Ghana & Serbia - that equation remains exactly the same. A win over Ghana & a draw against Serbia & we’re in (assuming, fairly methinks, that Germany beat both Ghana & Serbia). Tough assignment without Cahill but not impossible.

      Its about expectation. If ppl genuinely feel AUS are a footballing nation, then this is a shocker. If you have the slightest idea re the footballing world and our place in it and think making the round of 16 would be possible but even then, over-achieving from a tough group, then this result is about right.

      Pension off Craig Moore, bring in Milligan, Kewell, Kennedy & Carney, abandon the high line of defence and play a more attacking formation than 4-2-3-1.

    • David Penberthy

      David Penberthy says:

      12:36pm | 14/06/10

      I resent the use of the term junket. It makes this all sound so tawdry.

    • acker says:

      06:08pm | 14/06/10

      @penbo ..The best key decision maker Australian Soccer might have is the current but soon to be planned retirement coach of the Sydney Swans ..Paul Roos who would be a top person to have on the selection panel deciding the next Socceroos coach, support staff, planning.. and is unbiased.

      Australian soccer now needs a plan beyond just getting to the World Cup, and I think a freed up succesful lateral thinking Australian sports coach such as Roos is the type of renaissance person that can cut through and give Australian Soccer a quantum leap to the next level, not by being team manager but by being a conceptual designer of the Socceroos future that appoints and helps drive the Socceroos future team management.

      Roos is a rare talent in Australia, if soccer does not grab him, the American LA Lakers or Clippers basketball franchises probably will.

    • Bruno says:

      12:24pm | 15/06/10

      unfortunately we’re gone. Germany won’t beat Serbia. The Slavic countries know how to play the germans.

    • connolly says:

      11:05am | 14/06/10

      Its over for the Socceroos - too slow, too old and completely out of their depth. And you as well. Get back to work and do some real journalism

    • persephone says:

      11:09am | 14/06/10

      Yes, bad result - but in some ways deceptive.

      Australia generally played really well, in some ways better than I’ve seen them, but there were some bad decisions made.

      Firstly, Tim Cahill shouldn’t have been played up front. He’s a midfield, who scores because the defenders don’t see him coming. If you’re up front, they know exactly where you are.

      And up front, his height is a real problem.

      Secondly, the defence kept playing for the offside. This meant, when a ball wasn’t called off side, the ball and the attacker were already past the defence, who were scrambling to catch up.

      Both of those weaknesses appear to be the result of bad coaching decisions.

      Another weakness was the defenders’ failure to register the Germans’ main goal scoring tactic - of passing the ball back from near the goals to a player running through.

      Given the general high standard of play demonstrated by the Aussies, a bit of tweaking would have seen them be far more competitive.

      Lessons to be learnt for next time.

    • Richard says:

      11:20pm | 14/06/10

      Good Lord persephone, you’ve placed me in the very uncomfortable position of being in total agreement with you.

      I will just add one thing however, the possibility that this loss was just a clever ruse from Pim Verbeek (who never thought we could defeat gerry anyway) in order to conceal our true tactics from Ghana for the next game…

    • stephen says:

      11:10am | 14/06/10

      OK, so the Germans are good at soccer, but they aint good at Rugby, AFL, Sailing(even our girls could thrash em), anything to do with water and they’re crap now at F1.
      Mr. Schumacher is starting at the 13th grid at his next race.
      Hell, he may as well be racing for VW… and for their beetle division.
      (Reckon Mark’ll clean him up).

    • Dan says:

      05:29pm | 14/06/10

      Exactly right.  The German sports channel DSF pretty much shows soccer, soccer, fast cars, a bit of soccer, some more soccer, and late at night some naked women playing soccer - most of them showing considerably more fortitude than those diving pansies in their national team.  Most Germans are vaguely aware that there’s such a thing as handball and tennis, but that’s about the limit of their sporting knowledge.  One of my colleagues when I worked in Germany heard me mention cricket as one of our national sports.  He though long and hard, then said, “Ah, I know it.  That’s where you hit the coloured balls through the hoops, isn’t it?”

      Let them have their little victory since it’s about the only sport they could ever have half a chance at.

    • Tom says:

      11:32am | 14/06/10

      Look on the bright side - the Wallabies dominated the Poms. A victory over the English in any sport on any particular weekend outweighs anything else IMO.

    • Sid Vicious says:

      03:06pm | 14/06/10

      Wallabies dominated the poms in the set pieces like BP dominates an oil spil!

    • Joel says:

      11:44am | 14/06/10

      hilarious stuff penbo

    • nosthow says:

      12:03pm | 14/06/10

      If this is the true state of Soccer in Australia then I really think it needs a complete revamp - get rid of all the golden oldies and bring in new fresh young players - new Coach too ! Not good enough Socceroos !

    • Andy says:

      12:22pm | 14/06/10

      Can’t really blame them for losing, they aren’t as good as the Germans. Glad us fans only have the ‘aussie’ spirit when we win.

      Mistakes were definately made and we didn’t play our best, don’t get me wrong, but I’m definately staying on the socceroos bandwagon!

    • Luke says:

      12:31pm | 14/06/10

      They CAN beat Serbia… They CAN beat Ghana

    • Sherekahn says:

      12:36pm | 14/06/10

      Oooh Gawd!  I watched the last 25 minutes on SBS digital this morning.  Luckily my breakfast is not greasy and stayed down.
      Notes for our Coach:  Three things to be corrected in the team.
      (1)  I noticed that whenever a German player was approaching the ball, say about one metre away, he looked all around him, 360 degrees.
      An Aussie player in the same position did NOT.
      (2)  Aussie players employ the “slide tackle” even in the middle of the ground!  They are therefore sitting useless on their bum afterwards.
      The “slide tackle should only be applied to “put the ball out of play!”  Therefore allowing the player to get up and be useful.
      (3)  The German players seemed to position themselves away from the Aussie players and leaving a straight line of sight to their other players.
      The Aussie players were more stagnant trying to still stay where they last left the ball.

    • cate swannell says:

      12:58pm | 14/06/10

      pantser division ... LOLOLOLOL ,,, god i love you penbo

    • Burger Man says:

      01:05pm | 14/06/10

      Oh well, looks like the sales of “Weetbix” just took a dive… C’mon Hungry Jacks, the official burger of the AFL….

    • The Cricket says:

      01:40pm | 14/06/10

      The reactions from some people on this forum and others are pathetic.
      I’ve got no issue with people criticising selections, tactics and performances. It was hugely disappointing and confirmed the worst fears of many Socceroos fans who had seen this coming for several years.
      But what’s with this “let’s go back to following AFL and rugby league”??
      T Chong regularly embarasses himself with what he writes here, but his post today is among his least impressive.
      We should continue to support our team because we’re Australians, we’re true supporters and we back our team regardless, even if we aren’t always happy with how it performs.
      Even if the Socceroos crash out of this World Cup, we’ve still done better than most countries in the world who haven’t even qualified. We’ve just got to aim high and do better in future. This isn’t a reason to abandon the team or the sport.

    • Daddio D says:

      05:36am | 16/06/10

      Great point there re Aus soccer on the World Soccer Stage. A great point! A dad here in Ireland bought his little son one of those ‘collect and stick a picture’ commodities for his son for the World Cup. With it came a history of the qualification route and results for all the teams now in SA. He was astounded to see that Argentina lost six of their matches en route to SA, yet qualified. Rep of Ireland were unbeaten throughout their qualification games but yet didn’t qualify. The “Gaul” of it still rankles!
      On the subject, Penbo was the wrong guy to send to SA on what’s definitely a junket for him (whatever else he thinks!). He’ll spend more time writing about what’s going on ard him than about the football and the accolade tribute to the stars of soccer from around the world that this tournament is all about.
      The aim of the game for modest teams like Oz is to get past the first round. I think they’ll do it, despite the unfair loss of Cahill.

    • Kup Swiata says:

      02:49pm | 14/06/10

      I’d like to congratulate the Polish team for their outstanding victory against Australia (even if their side had a disturbing number of Germans on it). I also think Verbeek made a bit of a goose of himself with his squad selection - “Let’s see, I’ll leave all the star talent on the bench, and expect Cahill to play a position he normally doesn’t play. Bugger, it didn’t work, and Cahill’s out for the next game. Time for a bit of a smoke and a rethink.”

    • Saskia says:

      03:23pm | 14/06/10

      It might be played by a lot of countries but that sure aint proof that its a good game!

      Yes the Aussies were appalling - so slow in defence, but watching the other matches has been painful!  Boring, defence mad and those f’n trumpets.

      The McDonalds of sport.  I prob won’t watch any more.

    • Square Football League says:

      04:50pm | 14/06/10


    • Harquebus says:

      05:16pm | 14/06/10

      Can we go home now? I’ve had enough of this.

    • LegalEagle says:

      05:33pm | 14/06/10

      IF Australia DID manage to win the World Cup at some stage, how many of you would still be saying go watch the NRL/AFL/Rugby/Cricket?

    • Dark Rider says:

      06:14pm | 14/06/10

      Is there a soccer match on somewhere ?? I must have missed that. Oh well, it’s a girl’s game anyway.

    • biff says:

      06:16pm | 14/06/10

      I hate to repeat myself but I have said in the past that Australians CANNOT play soccer. One of our TV channels said we had a secret weapon to counter the Germans on the soccer field. Maybe the secret weapon was a needle to puncture the ball and slow the German attack. It didn’t work.

      Soccerfools, come home lads.

    • Just Sayin' says:

      06:52pm | 14/06/10

      Yeh, but we won WWI and WWII.

    • Rod says:

      07:25pm | 14/06/10

      A ll the aussie media hype made great odds on the krauts.
      I bet you couldn’t get $1.55 on the german tab

    • Peter H. says:

      07:48pm | 14/06/10

      That was very funny David P. Your best article yet. And great comments

    • Sherekahn says:

      07:15am | 15/06/10

      A famous writer visiting Australia many years ago said we’re on the verge of fascism.
      Was it the lack of our usual playing kit, (green&gold;) that gave the Socceroos the Soccerblues?

    • Dan says:

      10:08am | 15/06/10

      Wurst performance I’ve seen for a while

    • Dan says:

      10:28am | 15/06/10

      Not Kewell Pim

    • Fish says:

      11:55am | 15/06/10

      you all realise that this will never get better now the FFA has stopped releasing young players to go overseas. You now must stay in Aust until your 18 to learn to play a sub standard game by poorly educated coaches. 
      To win at this game you have to have aload of good technical coaches training as many young players as possible, with youths being encouraged to make it overseas, and coaches being encouraged to train what shape and structure is not “Direct Route One”

    • stiffy says:

      12:51pm | 15/06/10

      Hey Penbo were not dead yet, theres still a pulse. Yes it looked bad and the questionable game strategy did not pay off. but there is still two games to go. A win against Ghana and then just a draw with Yugoserbia and were likely back in there.

    • James says:

      01:45pm | 15/06/10

      Bah, we played one of the best teams in the world and we lost is that any real surprise.  Soccer is in its early stages in Australia, the fact that we made it to the world cup is a real achievement. 

      Playing better teams just means we will improve faster.

    • Dark Horse says:

      03:51pm | 15/06/10

      Too develop we need to understand that Football overseas the players are developed as a way to make money for the clubs.
      Theo Walcott notably dropped for the current English World Cup Team - was signed for 5Million Pounds from Southampton to Arsenal at 17yrs Old, in Aust we dont look to create a player like that, or to sell a player like that and use that money to make grass-roots football stronger.
      You want to make Aust soccer/football stronger start understanding that its a very big business, with academies there to make as many players as possible to be sold for profit.
      Not have the current way of coaches who are all “old boys” with favours being paid for to ensure that selection goes a certain way.


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Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



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