Last weekend, the Vietnam Swans from Hanoi and Saigon met up in Hoi An (central Vietnam) for a match. Below is the match report prepared by Damo (who ended up playing for the Rest of the World).
Hoi An Highlights:
The town of Hoi An was buzzing with excitement in eager expectation for the Vietnam Swans North-South Clash on the 18th July and the chance to get a glimpse of the “super supreme, with extra cheese” bodies of their favorite AFL athletes.
Departure in Saigon got off in its usual organized style. Gus was definitely the most eager player having booked his ticket to fly 24 hours before he arrived at the airport… Woops! Rob defied the law of Saigon traffic and made it from the Airport to Binh Thanh and back on a passport run in less than 1 hour during a thunderstorm on a Honda Cub 50. He made it back with minutes to spare, albeit a little wetter for the experience.
Players arriving at the team accommodation were a little blown away by the serenity of the 4-Star Life Resort – although none to my knowledge opted for the early morning yoga and meditation courses or were seen walking around in loose fitting linen. The high thread count sheets, open spaces in the tastefully decorated villas did seem out of place compared with the plastic sheets, dark alleys etc of the usual Swannies’ tour accommodation options. Nonetheless they (combined with the notable absence of some unnamed Hanoian Hooligans) ensured plentiful rest on the eve for the monumental clash the following day.
As is common with Asian footy, match time was set for the hottest possible hour on the hardest possible ground. Unfortunately the grounds-men were on holidays so after some debate as to whether or not the ground condition would add to the experience, an emu walk was arranged to clear the field of broken ceramic shards and other souvenirs which now hold pride of place on Niko’s bookshelf. Poor Niko is trying to fill the empty shelf space he had reserved for the BOG trophies which Monkey has gone on to win! The cows on location were given some encouragement but failed to mow the grass on the flanks below knee level. But the game had to go on before it got too cool and the arthritic joints started to freeze up.
The north were well… dismally represented only by quantity not by quality. Although the unstoppable Mickey J, “The Banker” Tony and “The General” Trav were oozing with confidence, the sides were set according to bloodlines and birthrights with the Vics V the Rest of the World and only 1 man on the bench. This proved to be a great idea with very even matchups of, say, “Big man” Drew against Jerry “The Quiet American” who nimbly weaved past the far reaching clutches on at least one occasion. The World side was loaded with first-time Swannies like Andrew “Mr Rugby” who, thrown in the deep, did a mighty job including dive tackles against his poor teammate Matt whilst Phil the “Silver Fox”, up to his old tricks, just danced between them (well after the 7th minute of play). In addition to the usual crowd there were a few guest appearances by Three Mast Sam (Sam is currently crewing on a three mast yacht) who made One Mast Paul’s ego quiver when comparing boat sizes (Paul’s company Corsair Marine builds one-mast yachts).
Control of the game ended up securely in the Vic’s hands led by local talent Lucas. His solid debut performance driving and clearing out of the centre (make sure you make the Asian Champs) fed by Danny and Drew in the ruck who took turns against Damo who did his best to weather the storm. Trav definitely made an impact when he switched sides (!) at half time but even he couldn’t save the World and was surprised to have someone “out arse” him on at least one contested mark. Evan “The Enigma” actually does remember how to play after threatening to train for the last 6 months. He showed some nice one-two father-son combinations. The lack of training meant he couldn’t hack the blinding pace of Nick!
As far as I know the injury list was short, Just me! Special note to Chris. I am on the record as being sorry for sending your face to the FV-ER (French Vietnam Hospital’s Emergency Response Unit) last week. I honestly didn’t realize I was the offender until beers that evening. But you didn’t have to pay Big Drew off to break my ribs. You would have beat me in the Triathalon anyway…
As the game drew to a close, all minds were on the beach for a bit of chilling before the evening’s festivities. And what happened that evening… well, all I can say is that what goes on tour stays on tour.
As always Football was the winner and I feel sorry for the blokes that didn’t make the trip.
Special thanks to Gus for coming up with the idea of the Hoi An match and delegating the organization to Trav and Micky J who did all the work. Also thanks to Kylie for being a magnificent field umpire and to Sam, Peter and Paul who were passing through Hoi An and were then conscripted to join us for the match as players.
Special thanks to for giving us a great recovery session at their new driving range on the Sunday.
Photos of the actual match coming soon!