Bangkok International Soccer Tournament.
A disparate bunch of some twenty soccer teams hailing from
all over SE Asia, including Korea and China, conspired to find themselves at
approximately the same coordinates in time and space, and then proceed to run
around all day in the hot sun and smog.
Add to this mix the following improbable factors: players
surfacing from nights of Bangkok revelry to be ready to play at 9 a.m.; matches
starting bang on time with full complements of players and referee and linesmen
in official attire; perfect playing surfaces resembling putting greens, free
farang food and soft drinks (all day long), massage teams available in the airy
stadium. It was, I am sure you will agree, a remarkable occurrence that
transpired last weekend at Pattana International School.
“Ah,” said a team-mate, “it’s the Germans who
organised all this.” Say no more, say no more. Vorsprung durch Wotsit, and
all that. Chiangmai Farangutans would like to take this opportunity to extend
their thanks and respect to the “German All Stars”, who hosted an enjoyable
event that held potentially nightmarish logistical implications. Well done
boys! (Oh, and by the way, bad luck for losing in the final! – it definitely
crossed the line though.)
Day one (Saturday) dawned with rain clouds dominating the
skyline. Thus it was that our Team T-shirts, bearing the names of our kind
sponsors, the UN Irish Pub and the Chiangmai Mail, were a little soggy as we
entered our taxis for the trip down Sukhumvit to the breezy playing fields on
Soi 105. Thankfully, the clouds quickly desisted from watering the pitches and
limited the ferocious sun to sporadic outings.
Ideal playing conditions, however, were of no help to FFC in
their first match against Hanoi Capitals. Perchance a little disoriented in
their new surroundings, a “soft” goal conceded from a corner saw the
Chiangmai outfit playing catch-up for most of the match, and it took a great
strike from 20 yards by midfield dynamo Rick Mann to salvage a well deserved
It might be worth mentioning to our readers that the games
were only 20 minutes long (10 minutes each way). Each team was therefore able
to play 4 matches each day. Day one comprised the group stages, that is to say,
the twenty teams were divided into four mini-leagues.
Nevertheless buoyed by their valiant comeback in their first
encounter, the Farangutans went on to win their next match 1-0. The Taipei Red
Lions were given a veritable mauling in midfield, and the 3 points were bagged
courtesy of a close-range strike from Shawn Kelly, after a great knockdown from
Bryan “shaggy” Haggerty.
This was our cue not only for relief, but also excitement at
the fact that we were heading our group, and not about to be disgraced by the
array of muscular foreign outfits who had the unnerving habit of performing
soccer’s version of the Haka at regular intervals across the site.
Goals, however, despite the waiving of the offside rule for
the weekend, proved hard to score within the allotted time period, and the
final two matches proved disappointingly goal-less. Nevertheless, a good day
for us Chiangmaians as we secured second place in our group with a noteworthy
final point against group-winners, and eventual finalists, the German
So, a trip back to the hotel for a shower, a nap, and a beer
or three. Oh come on, we had a duty, surely, to participate fully in the
nightlife of the host city. And fun it was too. (NB: could the attractive Thai
ladies caught on camera sporting Farangutan shirts please return them to their
owners fully laundered, along with Ross’s toothbrush and the team’s
portrait of Nobby Stiles. Thank you Tilac.)
Sunday dawned bright and hot, and FFC were eagerly
anticipating further progress in the tournament after securing a berth in the
prestigious “Cup” with an excellent first day’s unbeaten record. Alas, it
was not to be. No doubt feeling the strains of the previous day’s exertions,
let alone the “nocturnal happenings” that ensued, the Farangutans failed
miserably to get out of second gear. Despite heroic goalkeeping from Markie
Flowers, two crashing defeats to the French Olympique Gaulois from Singapore,
and the Hong Kong Squadron, saw the Chiangmai outfit immediately eliminated
into the Plate competition, or was it the Bowl?
Demoralisation was the predominant mood in the camp as the
scorching heat reached its peak at 2 p.m. Fruitlessly searching for an
explanation for their fall from grace, the boys were rescued from their trough
of despair by the stirring words of Captain Lee Stevens who somehow managed to
instil fresh motivation in his beleaguered troops. Following his rousing speech
with a true skipper’s performance, the Farangutans stormed back to form with
a well deserved 1-0 victory against a hapless Bayon Wanderers (from Cambodia).
Carrying the ball out of defence, beating a succession of challenges on the
way, Lee’s searching long ball played Adam through in the wide right
position. Adam’s control and turn left the defender and ‘keeper stranded,
and his subsequent cross found Rick unmarked with the goal at his mercy.
Excellent first-time control by the marauding midfielder set up a simple
tap-in, and FFC were back on track.
Swiftly on to the concluding match, this time against the
Shanghai Krauts where the now buoyant Farangutans attacked the tired opposition
from the outset, dominating midfield and creating numerous chances. Captain Lee
opened the scoring with a spectacular effort from the halfway line, one for
Ripley’s Believe It or Not, before Rick Mann capped a fine goal-scoring
display with his third of the tournament, his low drive the culmination of a
slick passing move all the way through midfield from defence. Well done Rick on
winning the Farangutans’ Golden Boot.
And well done Farangutans on a creditable display featuring
three wins, only two losses, and three draws.
Thanks again to the German All Stars for organising a
terrific weekend, and a big thank you, as always, to our kind sponsors, the UN
Irish Pub and the Chiangmai Mail.