Matty Townsend travelled to Hanoi from Saigon last weekend for the inaugural Kainey Cup between the Vietnam Swans and the Jakarta Bintangs. Below is his match report (and photos from match day are still coming…).
So here are the key facts up-front: the “Kan’t-Lose Kainey” Kup went to the Bintangs by 47 points. Jakarta key forward “Butcher” kicked 5, the Swans had mulitple goal kickers and the game was watched by a non-playing crowd of about 23, including children, dogs and Timekeeper Potsy.
But since the author was busy trying to avoid getting steamrolled by a former East Timor peacekeeper lovingly called “Fester” by his teammates, you won’t get a play-by-play here. Anyway, if you’re on the Swannies’ website, you want to know how the Swannies travelled… and so here’s the drum:
Some cameos from the old stagers pleased the cheer squad, none more so than Patty Griffith’s Bartlettesque antics in front of goal, the North cap flying off his head as sheer goal hunger propelled him forward. Active and antic, Patty befuddled and bedazzled a younger backline with his age and guile, worrying the ball loose for an opportunistic poke by Fabbo (something Fabbo’s made a trademark in both his football and his personal life, apparently). Trav never looked like he was moving quickly but seemed to have half a second more available to him than everyone else on the ground; Chris scored through effort and industry. And no-one tried that bush-league rubbish on either Phil or Joe.
Some real muscle came from the team’s prime-of-life brigade, with Grouchy Dave and Debilitating Fondness For Nicotine Dan forming a mobile and sadly-overworked defensive pairing. Derrin bustled around the forward line like a mid-career Billy Brownless, but as he kicked like a late-career Billy Birmingham, it was left to one of the Dans (Dan Kindness) to provide the crucial finishing and a dash of sang-froid.
The fairytale story came from the ringers, especially Nick and The Mick. Although DoCS were standing on the boundary ready to pounce with a writ of child endangerment, Li’il Nick sent them packing by dancing out of defence like the Lithgow Flash, at one stage backing himself to take two bounces and drill it halfway up the ground (maybe he should have been kicking out in the first term, as well). Gaelic Superstar Jimmy The Mick loved what he saw and tried it on himself, although he was probably a bit more Sean Wight than Marty Clarke as he tucked the ball under and took on seven Bintangs in the centre of the ground, learning too late that you’re actually allowed to tackle in Aussie Rules.
In another strong day for the ruck division, Ryan threw himself selflessly at every contest, even turning a Bintang half his size inside out in the final quarter as he arched his back and salsa-ed towards goal. But the hit-outs and the day belonged to the Swans BOG, Griz – who was playing in his farewell – who moved across the ground with speed and grace and gave the Swans’ onballers more first touches than they’ve had hot dinners. A towering mark over two better-placed Bintangs encapsulated the courage and skills of a majestic final go-around for the big-hearted ruckman, the only man on the ground to whisper quietly in Willy’s ear, “Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal”.
Willy wasn’t whispering at three-quarter time, though – he was roaring, and he sent the Swans blazing onto the track for a smashing last quarter. Champion Data’s computers would have blown a transistor if they’d been set the task of tracking the number of times the Swans onballers managed to get hold of the pill, and the drive and desire to pull it back to evens was evident in the camelia pink of Nick Shiell’s face, who ran like a train all day.
In fact, the midfielders showed some real dash throughout the game, and not just because Adam and Willy gave them the hurry-up: Micky J did his best to cut down the opposition tall timber and has the scars to show for it (but seriously, you should see the other guy – last seen saying something about codeine and the sponsor’s product). Vietnamese superstar, Phi used superior fitness and diabolical commitment to impose himself on the contest, and Dan Lucardie made sure to bring something onto the field that the Swannies bitterly lacked – talk.
Of course, if we were all such champions, how did the other side snatch it.
Four goals in 4 minutes, an early lead, hard running from defense into attack by their middle men and a couple of sterling individual efforts: their ageless captain MJ never stopped once and put it down the throat of Dave “The Butcher” Edwards – who marked strong and kicked straight – a sickening number of times. Having been cut up in consecutive games by a skillful midfielder on short grounds, the Swans could always do with a nuggety tagger to come and earn his Jim Beam by running with the best midfielder on the other side and telling him intimate details learned about his mother… but then, that just wouldn’t be Asian footy.
And the man of the hour?
He helped establish both clubs, he played for both teams, he promoted the game, he pumped the attendances, he became a Bintang Official Legend, he drank the bourbon, he turned tears into laughter and sunshine into rain… and he still picked the bloody wrong side to play on. Dave “Flyer” Kainey, for all of the above and two handy stints on significantly taller opponents on Saturday, the footballers of Vietnam and Indonesia salute you. Congratulations to the man who taught us all that no matter who scores the most, we’re all winners in Asian football.