By Tom Doer
On Friday the 17th of July, the Swannies headed across the border on the ‘Cannonball Run’ to the happening city of Phnom Penh. We just got over the line in a close game back home, but needed all hands on deck if we wanted back-to-back wins and win the two game series on aggregate score! One of the most enjoyable tours on the Swan’s calendar, the boys, rallied together to get amongst it and attempt to keep our winning streak going. The real cannonball run is what legends are made of and when we speak about legends, we can go no further than our skip, Bilbo Crang. Boy can the man drink, and by drinking I mean keeping up with old mate Dan ‘The Man” Morrison, keeping up with Cannonball tradition. The undermanned Swannies headed over the boarder and eventually found our way into the beautiful Eureka Villas where of course we all went straight into bed to count sheep before the big game tomorrow.
An experience only AFL Asia footy players will be familiar with is turning up to a game to see 3 or 4 cows cruising around the ground making use of a good patch of grass for lunch. The game started with pressure from all over the ground, the Swannies midfielders all getting tagged like a mud wrestling match between two beavers. The ball went up and a leaping Jason Carter, who was absolute dynamite from the get go crashed into his huge opposing Cambodian ruckman to create a null and void. The ball was gobbled up by the swooping eagles, pushed forward and goal snagged like a Coles sausage roll. We all looked up at each other a bit stunned and under the realization that the Cambodian’s were going to have a red hot dip at making the most use of the wind and home ground advantage as they possibly could. Midway through the first, a centered ball into the guts in our attacking 50, is taken on the chest by Tuan. With not another man in sight, he looks up and takes off like a frog in a sock and puts himself under more pressure than an unstarted thesis due tomorrow. After arm wrestling we managed to kick our first goal late in the first quarter and kept the Cambodians to only a two-goal lead. Nonetheless, they had us with our backs against the walls with a lot of unexpected pressure and an unwanted notion of common mistakes on our end.
As stand in coach for the game, Timmy Pickert fed the team the inspirational words they so required to pick up the tempo and take it up to the fighting fit eagles. Straight away we saw the Swannies of recent, who had been on a six game winning streak coming into the match. Coast to coast movement with Nath Milner darting through his opposition like a ballerina on ice, truly poetic stuff. The boys clicked, we gained back the momentum and took the game on, doing what we do best. The Eagles had other plans though and kept the pressure on keeping their beaks in front at half time. Barton Schnemann was looking absolutely beaut up front, making up for our lack of tall timber that the boys are used to. The boys went into half time knowing that we had a lot of work to do if we were going to claim the cannonball run and make drinking those post match beers a little extra spicy on the night!
In the spirit of the missing Andy G, who was suspiciously unable to make it due to a ‘wedding’, the swans needed to come out in the second half and play with heart. Down on points, players and kicking into the wind the fellows rallied together and played one of our finest quarters of footy for the year. Sean Milner got on top in the midfield, Jason Carter kept crashing those packs like a possessed donkey, Bart looked like he was going to kick a bakers dozen and Gus Mcewin was clunking marks like he was wearing baseball gloves. With hands down the best shirt front bump laid by coach Tim Pickert, which was cleaner than a freshly showered baby, the collect group of swan ducklings pushed forward to mountain the pressure right back on the Cambodian’s, going in a couple of goals up into the final change.
The whistle for the final term blew and the game switched on straight away, the skies opened up and matched the intensity with a nice little bit of tropical rain. Wet under foot we kept control of the game but only managed to stay 2 or 3 goals up at anytime in the last. Feeling the heat, the game got closer and closer, as the final siren was about to sound. New recruits for the day Brett and Darb’s got infected by the Swannies spirit and helped us pull together what was a nail-biting victory and a goal after the siren, making it SEVEN in a row!
Best Players: T Pickert, B Schnemann, J Carter, N Milner, S Milner (and of course T Doer – ed.)