Swannies’ perspectives on the 2012 Asian Champs
Posted by Vietnam Swans on August 17, 2012
National President, Phil Johns reviews the 2012 Asian Champs campaign and what it means for the Vietnam Swans Australian Football Club.
Dear Swannies, Sponsors and Supporters
One week ago, on the eve of the 13th Annual Asian Championships in Thailand, I sent out an email and concluded with:
“And good luck to all the guys who will play tomorrow, bad luck to the guys who can’t make this trip and thanks to all the guys who have been playing for the Swannies since 2003!”
Well, the guys who played didn’t need any luck. They were sensational.
Last Saturday morning at 8am, the Swannies had the daunting task of lining up in our opening match against the Singapore Wombats. Not only had the Wombats kept us scoreless in last year’s semi final, they went on to win the Championship. Last Saturday morning, however, it was our time and we beat them convincingly through good, strong, skilful footy. Unfortunately, we couldn’t maintain the momentum and went down to Thailand on their home soil in the second match. In the third game, we played the Philippines who were making just their second appearance at the Champs. We remembered our debut Champs in 2007 and the size of the challenge facing the Philippines. The fourth preliminary was an epic against a rejuvenated Malaysia. Scores were level at half time. In the second half, just a solitary point was scored – by the Swannies.
In the semi final, we played the Hong Kong Dragons. Last year, they kept us scoreless in a preliminary match. How would we fare this year in the semi? World Footy News reports on its website that:
“There were more than a few nervous glances in the Dragons’ camp as the Vietnam Swans controlled much of the early play. Defending well and with the aid of the breeze at their backs, the plucky Swans registered the first two behinds of the match and looked likely to build some real scoreboard pressure. However, as the half wore on, Vietnam was squandering their chances up forward. The class of the Dragons shone through as they snatched back momentum scoring two late goals before the main break. Kicking against the wind in the last half, the gallant Swans were unable to bridge the gap and were eventually overrun by 19 points. Hong Kong 4.4 (28) def. Vietnam 1.3 (9).”
Hong Kong went on to win the Asian Champs knocking off the Jakarta Bintangs in the Grand Final.
Swannies’ Captain, Dukes, reflected afterwards:
“I really think (this year) is the best we have ever done and I am mega proud of our achievement. For a small club, we really punched above our weight and achieved some real respect in Asian footy. In reality, last year we had a soft draw… But, this year, we really played tough and earned our result.”
Ado, the Club’s Vice Captain commented that:
“The Club’s success on the weekend was very much a product of a lot of hard work… I am looking forward to continuing to build this great Club.”
One of the great things about this Club is that although plenty of our players leave Vietnam, they don’t leave the Club.
Our first Captain back in 2003, Jarrod “JD” Dale who now lives in Africa wrote of the result:
“WOW! Another step up the ladder for the Swannies taking some big scalps along the way. Great effort! For those who were there in the beginning, what has happened over the last few years seemed like ‘the impossible’ not long ago. When I left in 2008, I never thought the Swannies would be dishing it up to Singapore, etc. Wish I could have been there to have a coldie with you guys – the club is bigger than the individual – GO SWANNIES!” (Click here for photos of the Club’s first ever tournament which was held in Hanoi, 2003, against the Thailand Tigers and Hong Kong Dragons.)
Former Skipper, Monkey who now lives back in Australia chimed in with:
Jez Palmer who played back in March 2006 when the Hanoi Swans notched up our first ever international victory (against the Jakarta Bintangs), and now lives back in Australia after a tour to Dubai, wrote that”
“I have played a lot of footy and not a better memory then that day (against Jakarta). It was sensational! Sounds like the squad has improved over the years.” (Click here for photos of the Jakarta match.)
Current player, Micky “MJ” Johnston wrote of last weekend:
“It was the ability of everyone to put in 100 per cent all day (including the 57 years young, Paul Koch, in the ruck) that prompted a number of people to comment on how strong a TEAM we fielded on Saturday. Seeing past players coming back to have an ale with us and wearing their Swannies’ shirts was another indication of what a great bunch of people we have off the field as well.”
Parents of Ado commented on the website:
“We are so proud and grateful that Adrian has been part of this outstanding TEAM both on and off the field. Through the Swannies website we too have enjoyed your activities and cheered you on from South Coast NSW. Go Swannies indeed!”
To an outsider, it may seem from this selection of quotes that we actually won the Asian Champs. Obviously that didn’t happen but nor does that, in anyway, devalue the significance of what the Club achieved last weekend.
Looking to the Champs next year, we wonder what might be possible. We are also acutely aware that a number of our key players will have moved on by then – just as JD, Monkey and Jez did some time ago. That’s normal – as it is with every club in Asia. That’s why this Club is in a perpetual state of “continual renewal”, continually recruiting, bleeding in new players and personalities who will carry the baton through to the next stage of the Club’s development.
That’s why we play as much international football as possible – our raison d’etre. But we also recognise that self funded international flights to play footy has serious limitations – and that’s why we also place great emphasis on our off field activities.
MJ wrote the other day that “the beauty of a team sport is that it is forever welcoming of people who have a go and unforgiving of those who don’t pull their weight, regardless of physical attributes or skill.”
I think that, more broadly than just the team, that is also true of the Swannies Club – forever welcoming of people who have a go: regardless of whether the player is skilled/learning, playing member/social member, married/single, executive/volunteer, Hanoi/Saigon/Danang, non Australian/Australian etc, etc.
Another former Captain, Gus, who returned to Vietnam a month ago commented that what he likes about the Swannies is that “it feels like a Club”. And that feeling – of being a Swannie – is the glue that holds it all together.
Congratulations to all the guys who played last week. For the guys who couldn’t make the trip, you were, absolutely, still very much part of it. And, as I wrote last week, thanks to all the guys who have been playing for the Swannies since 2003!