Phil Johns pays tribute to eleven departing Swannies last Saturday and provides a club context for going forward.
Last Saturday night, the Swannies farewelled no fewer than 11 players (one, Marty “Lurch” Beecroft flew out the week before) and five wives in Saigon. Below is an edited extract of National President, Phil Johns’ speech.
“You’re dead to us!”, screams the farewell banner with the names of 11 players and 5 wives who have served this Club selflessly and tirelessly for the last several years… Awkward.
By way of background, the Swannies played our first Asian Champs in 2007. However, it was not until 2010 in Shanghai that we won our first game (two, actually).
The mischievous Shinboner, Natty Payne was best mates with two star Swannies: the recently departed skipper, Monkey and his successor, the recently arrived Dukesy.
Sunday morning in the team’s hotel foyer, Natty persisted that the Club had moved on since Monkey claiming our first ever scalps at the Asian Championships. Eventually, I concurred that Monkey was ‘dead to us’ and that nothing could stop the Swannies juggernaut.
The Shinboner was a happy man. He had his headline. His best mate was ‘dead to us’ and he was all too pleased to tell anyone who gave him time enough to open his mouth. Mischievous in the extreme to such an awesome Skipper of this Club – but at least the Club now had a tagline for all people leaving the Club!
The current crop of departees
Skipper, Dukesy, farewells MIchellin Man, Heater, who played such a major role in the on field performance of the Swannies over the past few years.
There’s Dukesy (and Pia), the man who brought Cool Hand Luke to life out on the footy field; Revo (and Dani), as the Hitler video pointed out, who has ‘his songs and chants’; American Michael and his bandana; the larger than life Mighty (and Asami) who stormed onto the field in Cambodia to announce his arrival to Asian football; Phil Ghasseb the steam roller who was steam rolled earlier in the day by a rampaging American Michael last seen wearing a bandana; Dave O’Shea, who brought footy and a presidency to the people of Binh Duong; Dave Robb (and Anne Marie) who was drawn from rugby to the culture of the Swannies club; the heavily bandaged Michellin Man, Heater, who declared that ‘there is nothing that sticky tape can’t fix’; Irish Brian who would translate Irish John’s wise words in an Australian accent with an Australian twist; and Moggy (and Dani) who famously suggested during last year’s election for Saigon President which had a US style Presidential election flavour to it – “Get over yourselves. It’s just a football club!”.
Contrary to popular belief, these players and their lovely wives are not dead to the Club; they’re more like martyrs. They have done what they can during their time in Vietnam. Now they move on to different paces in the world to support a growing Swannies alumni (and probably do other stuff).
The Club sincerely thanks each of them for their amazing contribution.
Can the Swannies handle such a mega departure?
In terms of the number of players it is unprecedented in this Club’s 10 year history. But you would expect that. The Club is much bigger now than it ever was.
I remember the bus trip back from the Indochina Cup in Phnom Penh, October 2010. It was the farewell tour for Saigon’s first President, Scotty Stacey. A devastating loss and… the Club kicked on.
I remember that tour to Hong Kong in May 2010. It was the farewell tour for former Skipper, Danny Monk, JD (CHF, Jarrod Dean (not the Swannies first Skipper, Jarrod Dale who today leaves a five year post in Tanzania and is now bound for Tashkent in Uzbekistan!)) and “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry”. Again, devastating losses and… the Club kicked on. And, on every measure, it has kicked on more strongly since.
Departures – which feed the Swannies growing alumni – are part of the Swannies landscape. The accompanying challenge of the change here in Vietnam is something we embrace. We have a great stock of quality people, prepared and ready to seize the opportunities presented to them. We also have a great brand and exposure in the community. People talk about this Club. And the more people are talking, the easier it is to recruit new players.
The building blocks of the future
Billy Crang, National Co Captain elect and Andy Glendinning, Coach.
Coach Andy Glendinning has a wealth of high level footy experience back in Western Australia. For the past 10 months, he has been learning about the Vietnam Swans and Asian footy. In the short time he has been here, his development has been really exciting. There is no doubt that his influence and input into the Club will take the Club to the next level and beyond. Watch this space.
Saigon Captain elect and National Co Captain elect, Bill Crang has incredible experience. Billy is the only Swannie to have played in all five ANZAC Matches (including Thailand, 2009) – awesome evidence that being appointed Captain of the Swans is not a decision taken lightly.
Billy’s development as a player on the field and a clubman off the field has been especially significant. One example is that in 2009, the Club wanted to help Billy get to Thailand for the ANZAC Match. We also needed photos of the ANZAC Dawn Service and the weekend. The Club then offered to support Billy’s trip to Thailand with $100 as long as he took some photos. Today, which Swannie tries hardest to get other Swannies to travel? Billy.
Andy and Billy are our two on field leaders. It now falls to the rest of us to get on with the job and actively support them on and off the ground.
Recognise and salute
Again, to the departing players and your ever supporting wives, we salute you for your contributions and we thank you.
Your legacy in Vietnam is our foundation.
Go you Swannies!!!