Swannies Coach at last weekend’s Asian Champs, Josh Little, reviews the weekend. He argues quite convincingly that it was a hoot!
Friday morning (15 Oct) the most of the team ventured off to the Tan Son Nhat airport in Saigon to take on the 11th Annual Asian Championships in Shanghai. In the week leading up to the games, there was only one goal the team was trying to achieve: nothing short of a victory! The Swans had never tasted on-field success at the Asian Championships and now was the time to bring home the bacon.
There were issues from Day 1 with Mighty Rich trying to sneak a knife onto the plane! Luckily the security were on the ball and Rich was stripped of all his weapons.
To motivate the team, Kev decided it would be appropriate for the side to travel on the from the airport. The train reached a top speed of 431km/h and the Vietnam Swans must have stood out like a sore thumb to all the business men on the train with photos and videos taking place every couple of seconds.
The Club arrived at the and some decided to go their separate ways. With Fabbo and Danny attending the AFL cocktail function and Asian Presidents’ Meeting, it was up to the rest of the team to find its way to the heart of Shanghai. After the team finally got its head around the ticketing and transportation procedure, the boys finally found the centre of Shanghai. With pretty lights and people everywhere, it was an amazing sight and a HOOT!
With an early start and big games in the morning, it was soft drinks all around and an early night’s sleep for the team. The boys were definitely “switched on”!
Saturday morning, the team departed from the hotel at 6:30am to arrive at the playing fields. Unfortunately the bus driver had no idea where that was. Thanks to the aid of technology, Timmy Clements showed the driver how to find the ground on his iphone. The Swans made it to the ground and everyone was determined for that all important first win at the Asia Championships!
As the games were played the team struggled with options. Lucas went down in the first game (but still received All Asian honours) and we had limited changes for the midfield. This resulted in the team dropping its first two games in what could of been a bleak afternoon at the Champs.
In true Swannies spirit, however, the team fought as hard as we possibly could to take out our first victory of the Championships against the Barbarians. Danny called for the team to sing the song there and then. We had to tell Danny to wait until after our last game.
Between our third and fourth games, the team was very lucky to have the opportunity to meet one of the Melbourne Demons’ players in Rohan Bail. Just weeks earlier, the Vietnam Swans received Rohan’s signed jumper to auction off at our Grand Final Party. The Club was able to make contact with the Melbourne footy club which organised a time to meet in Shanghai to return the favour and present Rohan with a Vietnam Swans jumper.
Rohan Bail, the Senior Coach in Dean Baily and legend of the Demons in Brian Dixon came down to speak to the team. All were fantastic and so was Rohan who accepted the jumper. Rohan went on to explain how appreciative he was and how much he and his family loves travelling to Vietnam. You never know, maybe he could pull on the boots and play for the Swans one day?
After the Melbourne guys moved on, the team was pumped up and ready for our next victim! The Swans faced an old rival in Thailand. The Tigers faced a team on a high that was determined to finish the Championships off 2-2. The Swans never looked like losing our final game!
The Swannies watched the Grand Final between Dubai and Singapore with the Hong Kong Dragons. We were keen to mix with their boys as we will play them at next year’s ANZAC Friendship Match in Vung Tau.
After the game, National President, Phil Johns, decided to thrill us with one of his typical speeches about the upcoming ANZAC Day event to the Vietnam and Hong Kong groups. It was at this point where Phil decided to talk about “how football is bridging the gap in between Australia and Indonesia”. Phil understood his mistake in confusing Vietnam and Indonesia and ended the speech there and then.
Saturday night was the after match function. The China Reds put on a great dinner with guest speakers, Brian Taylor, Steve Silvagni, Paul Salmon and Paul Licuria. With all the teams mingling and sharing stories, it was a great way to cap off the Champs. Most of the boys headed out together with some heading home early due to a big day in the sun and playing their hearts out in the 4 games. They escaped fines… just.
Sunday was the AFL’s Shanghai Showdown match between Melbourne and Brisbane. Watching the AFL’s first ever game in China was a highlight in its own right but seeing Liam Jurrah in full flight was simply amazing! Melbourne kicked the final 6 goals of the match to come from behind and win with Liam Jurrah taking 2 hangers in the final 5 minutes. It might have been the greatest AFL game ever played outside of Australia! Jurrah was best on ground with 5 goals, most of which came in the last quarter.
Like in the good old days, the crowd was welcomed onto the ground after the match and was able to mingle and speak with all the players and coaches. The Vietnam Swans couldn’t care less about the likes of Brendan Fevola, Simon Black, Aaron Davey or any other of the stars on the ground. We wanted to meet up with Rohan Bail and get our photo taken with the honorary Swan whilst he was still in his playing strip. Bail was involved in the final passage of play which resulted in the mark and goal to Jurrah. In the words of the National President, Rohan Bail was “seriously awesome”.
With the team all heading their separate ways for the final night in Shanghai, Glenn Nolan (President of the Vung Tau Massive) and myself were fortunate enough to attend the Melbourne Football Club’s function after the match. It was a great event with some of the greatest players to ever pull on the Melbourne jumper. Melbourne travelled with 150 people which was made up of the playing list, past players, staff and the board. It was clear that the Melbourne Football Club is united and everyone is considered an equal member of the club.
Glenn was lucky enough to get everyone to sign the Kaspersky cup banner which will be hung in . Everyone should keep an eye out for that next time you travel to Vungers.
On the Monday, after an action packed weekend, it was time for the boys to share their stories and jump on the bus and head to the airport. With the final fines session taking place, the team were officially “switched off” and ready to head home.
The weekend was a massive success and it would be impossible to thank everyone who made it happen. So I will just thank everyone who is involved with the Vietnam Swans because the great thing about this Club is that it’s all hands on deck and that’s exactly how we registered our first win. Team work!
Thanks again and let’s now all shift our focus to the Indochina Cup that will be held on 27 November in Saigon.
For lots more photos of the entire weekend, please check the which is growing bigger by the day as more photos are added.