Kanchanaburi, Saturday 26 April 2014
In yet another showing of the growing strength of the Thailand Tigers Football Club, 40 players and 15 support staff and helpers converged on Kanchanburi for arguably the greatest weekend on the Tiger calendar. Starting with the ANZAC commemorative activities at Hellfire Pass, Kanchanaburi Cemetery, and Easy Bar (two up) on the Friday, the Saturday featured two great games watched by former POWs Milton ‘Snow’ Fairclough and Neil MacPherson. These two gentlemen had been to a number of previous ANZAC Day games, and it was once again an honour for all the teams to play in front of them as a way to show their support and appreciation.
The curtain raiser saw a 9-a-side domestic between Dave Rainsford’s Reds and Dave Lee’s Blues. In stifling conditions, the boys ran hard in a 20 minute game that finished with the Reds triumphant – 7.4 (46) to 4.2 (26). All put in and played their part, but special mention needs to go to 14 year old Blue Nic Cox, who showed up his older, more experienced opponents by bobbing up to score two great goals in the second half.
The main game pitted the Tigers against the Islamabad Makhors in their first international. Led by the irrepressible Marzio ‘Muzza’ Da Re, the Makhors were always going to struggle against the stronger Tigers, but everyone knew that the occasion was bigger than just a game of footy. In true spirit, Jake, Windy Dan, Drew Smith, Tugga, Yoda, Wazza, Sea Bass, Dave R and Jazza helped out with numbers by slipping on the black and green guernsey – but when both sides stood in a line for the anthems in front of Snow and Neil, we all felt like we were on the same team anyway.
In his pre-game address, Dog reminded the Tigers that a game was still to be won, and the boys started off magnificently, booting six goals to nil for the term. Aggotts starred with four goals and seemed to mark everything that was fed to him by Painey, Paddy, Al and Tim.
Quarter time – Tigers 6.4 (40) Makhors 0.0 (0)
The Tigers were blessed with a long and talented bench, and Dog made 10 changes throughout the second quarter, providing Aggotts with the opportunity to tan up his abs. Twoey made a silky impact the moment he came on, kicking a goal and setting up another. Jesse was everywhere, and Rut and Bish were typically dogged in defence. The Tigers only scored three but probably should’ve scored more, and a lapse in concentration led to the Makhor’s first international goal. When Makhor Ben went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, the umpires blew their whistles for half time.
Half time – Tigers 9.11 (65) Makhors 1.0 (6)
With the game all but over, Dog asked the boys to focus on the fundamentals and team mates. A great spoil/tackle/handball combo by Jason culminated in a goal to Paddy, and Saul did a couple of one-percenters one would expect from a respected clubman. Dave Lee was getting his hands on the ball and enjoying his return, while Joel once again showed balance and poise off the half back. Even the man with arguably the most awkward nickname in Asian footy – Firecrotch – managed to get a few touches despite only turning up to the game at half time following an ANZAC Day blinder.
Three quarter time – Tigers 12.15 (87) Makhors 2.0 (12)
More sweeping changes on the bench but the Tigers’ domination continued. Aggotts came back on and kicked 3 more goals, bringing his tally to 7 in a half of footy. Dave Lee also chimed in with another 2 goals to ensure Samo’s club record of 9 goals still stands (for now…), and Saul kicked the final goal for the match.
Final scores – Tigers 18.15 (117) Makhors 3.0 (18)
Goalkickers: Aggotts 7, Dave Lee 4, Painey 1, Paddy 1, Jessie 1, Twoey 1, Firecrotch 1, Saul 1
When BOG Aggotts and Captain Paddy received the Chicken Smallhorn Award and ANZAC Cup from Snow and Neil, their eloquent words summed up the feelings from both sides – it was much more than just a game of footy, and all should be commended for the spirit shown both on and off the field. It was a true club effort with everybody contributing – from the patience shown by the many Tigers who were only on the field for a quarter, to the many helpers off the field who made the day a memorable one for all.
Photos courtesy Robert Brewer