Patana, November 22nd 2014
The mighty Thailand Tigers were back on the footy ground for one last time this past Saturday to take on Asian Footy newcomers, the Bangladesh Hunters.
With the Indo-China Cup already under our belts, the Asian Champs a distant memory, and Presentation Night done and dusted, this was a festive festival of footy for all. The Tigers had been good for most of the year and thus they were gifted a beautiful Bangkok day with which to rewrap the footy season.
The Hunters quickly filed into Patana International School, with most unsure about what the rest of the day would hold for them. They seemed disorientated by their new surroundings, but the Tiger boys did their best to assure them that there was little to be afraid of, especially when it was quickly discovered that the Hunters would boast close to the 10 tallest players on the field as the Tigers were without their entire ruck division, most their key position stocks, and were wearing their short-stops in anticipation of a dry day. Of course, the Tigers remained supremely confident, knowing the quality of their little fellas and their faith in a well-devised and familiar game plan.
Thanks to the Bangladeshi’s wearing Brazilian soccer jerseys and creating a frightful clash with the yellow of the home team, the Tiger’s delved into their supply of old international jumpers and took the field wearing retro jumpers, circa 1998 (an estimation, based on the fact the sponsored pub closed down 15 years ago). The mothball and liniment-smelling jumpers had coach Dog harking back to days of ol’, when men were real men and footy was real footy, as he sent the Tigers onto the field for the first quarter.
Getting off to a traditional 30 minute delayed start, the Tigers were kicking to the Eastern end without the advantage of any noticeable breeze, and got off to an absolutely stunning start. After the Hunters moved the ball into their forward line, it was quickly repelled by a Tiger’s backline unwilling to entertain the concept of being ‘leaky’. The ball soon found itself in safe and caressing hands of Mr Jelly, a mere 55 metres from goal. As the windy picked-up for the one and only time of the day, it seemed as though the goal was outside of Jelly’s physical capabilities, but as happens so often when people doubt the Australian Ambassador of Loose, he proved everyone wrong by slamming through the first of the game. From there the Tigers did as they pleased; if the Hunters got a quick kick forward, it was easily cut-off by Rutty or Coxey who seamlessly transferred it to a midfield that were spreading the ball wide and moving it on with precision to a forward line that were making space for one-another and making the most of their opportunities.
The quarter-time siren couldn’t come quick enough for the Hunters, as the trudged off the field facing a huge deficit.
1st Quarter; Tigers 3.2.20 – Hunters 0.0.0
If Bangladesh came from their quarter-time huddle thinking the worst was behind them, then they were in for a rude shock in the second quarter. The Tiger’s, while satisfied with the initial performance, knew there was a lot of room for improvement, and it was the next 12-minutes that they showed why they are moving upwards in the Asian footy rankings. Taking the field were Tiger debutants, brothers Corey and HORSHLIB (nicknames pending), who were young, fit and coming off a season of footy in Australia, and they put all those attributes to good use. HORSHLIB was running fast and straight off half-back, while Corey was putting the final touches on good footy, with 3 goals for the quarter. Jacko backed-up his outstanding first quarter with another cracking 12 minutes, as he ran for everything and was getting more kicks than Nat King Cole on Route 66, while the tough man of Asian football, Sauly was moving around the forward line like he owned the place and wanted to make it more homely.
The Tigers totally dominated the first two quarters and went into the half-time break with an insurmountable lead.
Half-time; Tigers 9.4.58 – Hunters 0.0.0
Those who avoided going to Ikea with their wives, and managed to make it to the footy were reward for their patronage in the third quarter when the Hunters finally managed to put some turn the tide on the Tigers around the ground. Even Tiger’s leaders Paddy and Sugar, who for 24 minutes had been doing what they liked against a hapless opposition, suddenly found themselves under some good pressure from a Bangladeshi side that had clearly shaken off their jetlag and were ready to take it up to the locals. Suddenly, ground contests saw some vicious body-on-body contests, aerial battles left played bruised and tackles that were previously being walked around were now sticking and hurting. The Tigers kicked the first goal early in the 3rd, but after that it was a pure midfield battle with neither team able to find the space and time to transition the ball to their forward line effectively. Sea Bass, in his final game for the Tigers, started showing some of the composure he has only shown before over a Sambucca shot, and along with the mercurial Matty down back and solid, if not spectacular, performances from all Tigers, stopped the Hunters from gaining any momentum. What resulted was a see-sawing quarter, which was all tied up after the Hunters kicked their first goal with 10 seconds remaining on the clock.
3-quarter time; Tigers 10.5.65 – Hunters 1.1.7
The Hunters were gallant in the third, but they were unable to maintain the pressure in the last, allowing the Tigers midfield to reassume their dominance. Paddy was back to his best with brilliant long-range delivery to forwards Jazza and Sea Bass, while Tiger’s champion Rutty bobbed-up with 2 goals in a minute to put down his claim for a forward position in 2015. The goals kept coming for the Tigers, and by the end of a great, tough and fair game of footy, they walked off the field with a big win and the perfect finish to one of the great years in Tiger’s footy history.
Final Score; Tigers 16.11. 107 – Hunters 1.1.7
Goals: Tigers; Corey 3. Sauly, Paddy, Rutty, Jazza 2. Jelly, Bish, Cabbage, Jacko, Sugar 1. Hunters; Not Roosters 1.
Best: Jacko, Paddy, Sugar, Corey, Jacob
Special thanks needs to go out to Crackers & Maggot who umpired superbly, G-Mac & Lettuce for doing the boundary, and everyone else who helped on the day with cooking snags, selling beers, putting in posts, etc. Big team effort. As always, The Blade for getting the game organised on relatively short notice, and especially to all the Bangladesh guys who came over for their first game. Every team needs to start somewhere and we’re glad you decided to start your footy club with a tour of Thailand.
Well-earned break now for all the Thailand Tigers, but pre-season training will be kicking off early in 2015.