2007 Asian Championships Wrap:
Hong Kong Take Cup In Extra Time Thriller:
July 14 2007
The 8th Annual Asian Championships of Australian Football, held on the 14th of July in front of hundreds of spectators at Bangkok Patana School, have been hailed a great success by all involved and once again raised the bar on the standard of footy played in Asia. The official word after a weekend of footy and talk is that The Asian Champs is now BIG and just keeps getting better year after year.
As promised, the tournament produced 21 games of high quality footy and remarkably evenly matched teams with the Hong Kong Dragons the eventual Asian Champions, downing the Bali Geckos in extra time, 6.7 (43) to 5.4 (34) in a nail-biting Grand Final.
The President of the Hong Kong Dragons, Nathan Byrne, says that the Dragons commenced preparations in April and they knew that, "...the draw was quite important to us and knowing we were taking on Singapore first, we knew we had a good chance to build some momentum.... Singapore were strong but depleted."
The Dragons route to the Grand Final also saw the Malaysian Warriors "...put up a fierce battle and be hard at it", while the Japan Goannas are a "...fast running and unpredictable side". The UAE Heat match was "... in short, a hard fought victory and one of the best achievements of the club given what we were up against. They are a great side and we look forward to future battles." remarked Byrne. Then in the Grand Final, "...Bali were their all time best again. Hard to the ball, body on body and young and quick. Somehow we came out on top but it could have gone either way. They are a great bunch of fellas and it was great to play them, but we really did feel for them and know they will be the same force in 2008."
The last round games for four of the clubs were effectively semi-finals, with each of these four teams on 3 wins already and the winners of these games topping their group. Results were Bali 5.9 (39) def. Jakarta 4.3 (27), whilst Hong Kong 4.6 (30) def. UAE 3.3 (21).
The 2007 Championships were not only notable for the close competition, but for the high standard of skill displayed and the great spirit in which all teams played. The standard of footy has been raised with each ensuing year since the inception of the Championships, but 2007 saw an extra level reached.
The UAE Heat, as first-timers to the Asian Champs, showed themselves to be a very good football side. The China Reds were an imposing presence with ex-AFL players Greg Stafford and Mark Chaffy in their line-up. The Vietnam Swans, also first-timers, led at half-time in nearly all their matches.
A huge thankyou must go to the Thailand Tigers and everyone involved for staging a stunning and hugely successful tournament. A healthy crowd was present all day, they enjoyed first-class catering provided by DownUnder Sports Bistro and legends of the Melbourne rock 'n roll scene, The Fauves, played for the crowd after the presentations.
Andrew Mannering, President of the Malaysian Warriors, congratulated the Tigers and said, “..Hats off to all involved in the organization, you have raised the bar yet again for the continued growth our great Australian game in the region....”
The Tigers arranged for two senior grade SANFL field umpires to officiate throughout the day.
Interested overseas spectators at the event included Brian Dixon, an esteemed promotor of Aussie Rules internationally, 252-game 5-premiership great for the Melbourne Football Club between 1954 and 1968 and former Victorian politician; Neil King from Masters Australian Football; and John Hyde, Western Australian politician.
International media interest included 'ESPN Sportscenter', and 'Al Jazeera English TV'. While local media interest came from 'Bangkok Post', 'The Long and the Short of It', and 'Siam Sports'. There is now a significant web presence of the Asian Champs and Asian footy in general, led admirably by the Vietnam Swans.
People to thank:
Official Sponsors: DownUnder Sports Bistro (naming sponsor and caterer), Raimon Land, Be Specific, Air Madagascar, Bangkok Barbeque Store, Brunsworth Ltd., Crown Relocations, Curve Interiors.
Supporters: Coca-Cola, Masters Australian Football, PAS409 Engineering.
The 9 overseas teams for coming, especially first-time participants, UAE Heat and Vietnam Swans.
Australian Ambassador, HE Bill Paterson.
Earlier in the day, Ted couldn't believe it when he saw the stage, pronouncing the set-up as "Woodstock....in Bangkok".
||The Fauves - Coxy (lead singer and guitar), Ted (bass), Doctor (guitar and keyboard), Doug (drums). All The Fauves were knighted after the gig by Benny 'Mango' Will of the Tigers for playing a great show including their
stand-out hit 'Hot Sexy Bangkok Nights' and a great cover of The Angels' 'Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?'.
Peter Habel from Malaysian Warriors (scoreboard).
Bangkok Hospital (ambulance and first aid).
Sila Carson, Barbara McHerron, Kate Bolam (sports massage).
All the Marshalls, Jaa and Daa, Liv Thwaites and netballers.
PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT - Aaron Bester (Captain) for Hong Kong Dragons
BEST PLAYER IN GRAND FINAL - Lee Hughes for Bali Geckos
GOAL OF THE TOURNAMENT - Take for Tokyo Goannas (vs. UAE Heat)
MARK OF THE TOURNAMENT - Shannon Morgan for Hong Kong Dragons (vs.
LEADING GOAL KICKER - Aaron Bester for Hong Kong Dragons tied with Lee
Hughes for Bali Geckos (9 goals each).
There is some debate about when the Asian Champs started. For those that have been around long enough it was 1999 in Bangkok. Only four teams turned up, but it was intended to be the Champs, which was renamed the 4-Nations Cup. Teams were: Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Singapore won, beating Thailand from memory.
2000 - Jakarta Bintangs - Jakarta
2001 - Singapore Wombats - Bangkok
2002 - Jakarta Bintangs - Singapore
2003 - Hong Kong Dragons - Hong Kong
2004 - Hong Kong Dragons - Kuala Lumpur
2005 - Singapore Wombats - Manila
2006 - Singapore Wombats - Jakarta
2007 - Hong Kong Dragons - Bangkok
21 matches were played in total, with each team fielding 16-a-side, and 8 on the bench.
A random draw split the ten teams into two groups of 5 teams. Each team played the others in their group, then the winner of Group A played the winner of Group B in the Grand Final.
Group matches were played in 15-minute halves. The Grand Final was played in 20-minute halves (then 10-minutes of extra time).
Reports/Sin Bin/Sending off: 3 send-offs, for fighting.
Injuries: Nothing serious. One trip to hospital for concussion (given all-clear). 'Bangkok Hospital' provided an ambulance, and 2 paramedics, they were attentive and alert. Players were treated to sports massage