Another weekend and another brilliant footy tour passes into folklore. A small, but hardy band of Thailand Tigers ventured deep into the heart of enemy territory in order to stake their claim as the greatest team in Asia at this years AFL Asian Champs in Ho Chi Minh City. For the first time in their illustrious history, the Tigers self-regulated themselves to division 2 after too many complaints from the likes of Hong Kong and Singapore saying that the Tigers were just too tough. So, with a reduced squad of just 15, we woke early and went into battle against Laos.
Sporting a new-look jumper and midfield, the defending div.2 champions went into the match-up with a lot of confidence, confidence that was quickly dented when they came up against the Mighty Tigers and had the first goal kicked on them by a rampaging Chippie. A few more chances went begging before the Pink Elephants began to steady their wavering ship and fought back. The remainder of the first half was pretty even, with the only difference being the conversion of the prospective forward lines. Where Laos were dobbing them from everywhere, the Tigers were relying too heavily on the unreliable boot of Samo.
The second half was all plain-sailing for the boys in pink, as the Tigers succumbed to a midfield which oozed a little too much class. The Tigers continued to squander opportunities, and invoked little-to-no scoreboard pressure, which allowed the elephants to run away comfortable winners.
It was a 2 hour break before our next game against Bali, so the Tigers settled in for a nice morning rest. Bulldogs stars Tom Libratore and Luke Dalhaus settled in next door with the Macau players while a few of our boys began negotiating future beer purchases with the waitresses.
Soon enough it was time to go again and we took the field against the Geckos. The morning rest did wonders for the team, as we sprung out of the box in the first half and never really looked like losing. Goals began to flow thick and fast, and while a few mistakes allowed Bali to kick a few of their own, the Tigers never looked like anything but winners and easily defeated a team which were setting themselves for a crack at the trophy.
Full of confidence and back to playing like the Tigers we all know and love, we had to endure another 2.5-hour break before our final pool match against Hong Kong B, but boy was it worth the wait! If the Tigers played out of their pants earlier, they were positively starkers for this one. If it weren’t for a few absolute shockers in front of goals, the game would have been over at half-time. As it was, we only needed a few minutes of the second stanza to put it beyond reasonable doubt. From there it was a cakewalk for the Tigers who saved their best for last and ran out huge winners.
With 2 big wins and a disappointing lose to our names, there was a quiet air of confidence our name would be announced as a semi-finalist, but unfortunately we were soon to learn that our bid for a maiden finals appearance had been missed by less than one percent.
Laos Elephants 6.9.45 d Thailand Tigers 1.7.13
Best: Paddy, Shields, Chippie, Samo, GMac
Thailand Tigers 7.2.44 d Bali Geckos 3.3.21
Goals: Samo 3, Shields 2, Paddy 2
Best: Paddy, Shields, Easy-E, Samo, GMac
Thailand Tigers 8.7.55 d Hong Kong B 2.5.17
Goals: Samo 3, Paddy, Yoda, Smith 2.0, Shield, Jazza
Best: Paddy, Chippie, Samo, Smith 2.0, Snoop Dogg
All Asian: Patrick Fitzgerald
A big thanks to Bear for the tireless work he did to get the team on the field, and throughout the day. Thanks also to Samo for stepping up as coach on the day, and to Chippie who not only took on the Captains role, but truly lead from the front all day. It was a very even contribution from the Tigers, and each and every player made the day special. There has been a hold on the Mr Jelly Award for the best tourist, though Libba is currently in contention.
Andrew Cox (Coxy)
Played off the bench. Ever reliable and made few mistakes. Showed grit and courage all day.
Andrew Smith (2.0)
Great debut. Consistent rather than flashy in the middle. Delivered well and didn’t shirk the contest. Tough.
Dave Shields (Shieldsy)
Among the best all day. Pure class through the middle and played inside and out equally well. Don’t remember him making a mistake.
Paddy Fitzgerald (Paddy)
Just another lazy dominant display and All-Asian honours for one of the Tigers greats. Kicked plenty of goals and delivered forward with surety of foot.
Jason Goldstein (Chippie)
Stand-in Captain for the day was always dangerous. Gave great contests everywhere he went and tackled hard. Coin-toss superiority.
Jason York (Yorkie)
Just tough. First game back for a while, but never missed a beat. Probably didn’t lose a contest all day down back and was vital in keeping the opposition quiet.
Dave Rainsford (Rainsy)
If York was the chalk, Rainsy was the cheese. Exudes class from the half-back and used all his skill and charm to set up from deep in defense.
Steve Rapp (Rappy)
Rappy’s first tour and he made it a good one. Slow first game was followed by great reading of the ball and determination. The surprise packet of the day.
Lucas Stevens (Lettuce)
Played down back and was given the role to just cause havoc. And havoc he caused. Easily his best and most consistent day for the Tigers. Barely got beaten in the air or on the ground.
Michael Sammons (Samo)
Found his kicking boots after an inaccurate start. Finished with 6 goals and was a consistent target all day.
Gary McDonaugh (GMac)
Was spectacularly good. Somehow managed to jump higher as the day went on and some of his desperation acts were absolutely breath-taking and team lifting. Still a funny bugger too.
Alan Sutherland (Yoda)
Turning back the years, was Yoda. More game time than he’s had for years and absolutely reviled in it. Kicked nicely and was rarely beaten.
Eric Nguy (Easy)
Not too spectacular, but damn effective. Kwongy was sure-handed down back, and simply got better as the day went on. Doesn’t make much noise, but if you play like that, you don’t need to.
Andrew May (Maysy)
Quietish day for rookie who is still finding his feet in footy. Gave some good contests but also kicked the miss of the century. Highly valuable commodity off the field though.
Jarrod Roberts (Jazza)
The President played his best day of footy for some time. Looked fresh and care-free as he stalked across half-forward like a man possessed. Last pass forward was a beauty.
Did what the Bear does. Just pumping up footies and cooking gourmet shit for breakfast!
The Tigers have assembled a small but quality team for Asian Champs this year. The club will compete for the first time in the newly formed Division Two.
It will be an early start to the day, with the Tigers coming up against last years victors the Laos Elephants in the first game of the day, before facing off against the Bali Geckos and Hong Kong Darkside.
It’s not to late to join the tour, so if you haven’t done so already book a flight and let the club know that you are in.
Game1: 7.30am Laos Elephants vs Thailand Tigers (Oval 1)
Game2: 10.00am Thailand Tigers vs Bali Geckos (Oval 2)
Game3: 1.30pm Thailand Tigers vs Hong Kong Darkside (Oval 2)