Captain Gus McEwin – Angus to his work colleagues – files this report on the Indochina Cup held last weekend in Phnom Penh. It was also the farewell tour for Scotty Stacey.
It was billed as the tour of the season and it did not disappoint. On Sunday evening the green tour bus returned to HCMC after a successful tour. As the players disembarked outside the Café Latin, faint but discernible traces of the sponsor’s product, Jim Beam, could be smelt in the air indicating it had been an enjoyable trip back from Phnom Penh.
This was the Swans’ first foray into Cambodia and the first Indochina Cup to include the mighty Cambodian Kangas. The Kangas squad of 24 or so were captained by the ball-magnet Greg Eggins who was best on ground for the Swans at the Asian Champs earlier this year. The football slut Rooster also lined up for the Kangas. The Laos Elephants squad of 24 included the amazing Marty Sharples, an institution in Asia, who learned about football playing for the Swans in years past. The Thai Tigers had a squad of 15 and the Swans also 15 which left just one on the bench.
Amongst the Swans squad were Colin and Jerry playing their first games of Aussie Rules, 3 players over 40 years old and one, Micky J, over 50. Larry the token pom was also about to play his first full games of AFL. And of course, there was Scotty Stacey, the Little Guy, the Super Coach, the Filthy Dog, call him what you will, on his last tour with the Swans. Young Zak Stacey was also there to take part is his father’s send-off. (There is a chance he may need therapy after this weekend). The tour was all about Scotty and the Swans had prepared a massive banner to honour his huge contribution to the club over the last 5 years.
After a beer soaked 8 hours with Danny Armstrong and Scotty leading the way, the Swans arrived in Phnom Penh intact at around midnight on Friday. Colin ventured out and started earning his tour reputation. Saturday was a beautiful sunny day of about 40 degrees in the shade and the ground was resplendent. The Thai squad were late to arrive which meant that the Swans were first up against the Kangas. It was a must win for the Swans and after a miserable start the Swans came home by 4 points despite some truly woeful kicking in front of goal. Greg Gregson and Monkey got plenty of it with help from Danny A in the ruck. Larry the hooligan was surprisingly brilliant in defence and seems to have ‘come of age’. We are not going to talk about Phil’s ‘Daicos-like’ goal.
After a short break, the Swans took on the Tigers and played some of our best football so far. Greg Gregson was on fire and starting baulking and throwing dummies and arrogantly squeezed in a couple of bounces as he weaved through the Tigers. Derrin was getting plenty of it up forward. It was neck and neck throughout the whole game. Euan pulled off some big marks but then kicked it out of bounds in their forward 50 which lead to a goal on the final siren for the Tigers…but it wasn’t enough and the Swans won by a point. Euan wept with joy. History was made as this was the Swans first ever defeat of the Tigers in about 6 clashes so far. The Swans were on a roll.
The Elephants had disposed of both the Kangas and the Tigers by a couple of goals and they were looking the in-form side. The final match between the Swans and the Phants was the grand final for the coveted Indochina Cup and the Swans wanted it badly. The Swans 15 players were all still walking but it was reduced to a hobble for many, with Nick twinging his infamous groin, MJ with wooden Achilles heels and Danny A audibly creaking. This was our last game with the Super Coach Scotty Stacey and our shot at the Cup. Scotty rallied the troops and we flew into the Phants with everything we had left. Everybody had to stand up and everybody did. One of the Phants stood on my back. Jerry was thrown in the deep end and seemed to enjoy getting tackled and thrown into the pitch. MJ still had plenty to give and Colin took over in the ruck against Asia’s tallest man. Scott Stacey was seen to catch and hold his first mark for the day (first ever?). Monkey, the ring-in Matt and Damo were superstars.
But alas, the Phants with 8 on the bench were just too good and too fit. The Swans ran out of legs and continued to kick like retards in front of goal. The Phants went on to win comfortably and take the Cup with their captain Souk kicking his first ever goal.
It was an absolutely awesome day and the games were played in a fantastic spirit – a fit send off for the Swans star Scotty. The Swans were undermanned but our performance on the field was inspirational and courageous and there were even some patches of good football. But as we all know, the game is played in 2 halves – on and off the field – and our performance off the field was just as good. Colin’s pole dancing was eye-catching, Greg Gregson showed shades of Hugh Heffner, and Phil Johns contributed $400 to Cambodia’s GDP. But it was really on the bus trip home that the Swans hit their best form. Larry lost the fines sheet and was duly fined by the new self-appointed fine-master, none other than Super Scott Stacey. And fined again. There was a 6 litre bottle of Jim Beam (soft like a kiss), chants of Jerry-Jerry-Jerry, a ferry, and no-one remembers much else.
All in all it was a cracking tour and will go down in history as one of our best. Thanks to all those who played for us and against us and all those who supported the tour. Goodbye and good luck to Scotty Stacey, may there be many happy returns!