Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Starring: Angelo, Paddy, Joey, Luke no-hair, Rasul, Sascha, Jon, Tobias, Albin, Vincent, Nico, Craig and Floyd
Arriving at various parts of the day and from various locations, the team gathered together at the German Beerhouse Soi 11 to learn the fate of the draw. Avoiding Saigon rivals once again, Raiders were however handed a tough Group A with Manila Nomads and the Swiss HK team who won the tournament two years in succession previously. The other two teams were Bayon FC from Cambodia and the London Panthers, both perceived as winnable group games.
Once the draw was completed the nights entertainment descended into the gutter rapidly, with a group consensus being reached that a quick stroll led by Papa Angelo would culminate at the refined Nana Plaza, second floor. You know you’re somewhere seedy when you have to open a curtain to go inside. Raiders took a back-bench seat in one of these flesh pits but then realized it was 10.00pm, all were sober and that it was a bit crap.
An inevitable argument with a mama-san over the bar bill saw a rapid exit to a slightly less seedy pool bar where Craig and Luke showed off their entries for the 2012 air guitar world championships. Fearing meltdown the following day Hoff and Dawson shared an intimate taxi journey home following Angelo, Vincent and Sascha as the sensible ones. Seeking immediate hedonism some of the lads attempted to find somewhere in Bangkok that tickled their fancy but (somehow) failed and were home not too much later.
On to the football, where first up on Saturday morning was Manila Nomads. A tight game and eventually a 1-0 loss..the first game is always the hardest in the Bangkok heat. Second was Swiss HK, a good, physical team, but not quite the caliber that had won the tournament the year before. Unfortunately Raiders failed to score once again and went down 1-0 again. That was to be the last defeat of the weekend, but a costly one. We were now battling for ‘best third’ or second best third out of the three groups of five (the third best third would enter the plate). Bayon FC were destroyed by Nico down the right with his famous ‘looks like I’m rolling the ball back but actually chipping it forward’ trick and a cross onto Floyd’s head. Against London Panthers the deadlock was broken when Hoff beat two darting into the box (honestly) and clipped the ball in for Floyd to nod home. So by the end of the day we had played 4, won 2 and lost 2, and were unsure of our third place competitiveness. We later discovered that it was exactly the same record as the GAS Bangkok (eventual finalists who defeated both Hotshots and Finexys, the team of football robots from Sarawak). We would face a penalty shout out first thing Sunday morning to decide who progressed to the quarter-final to play Hotshots.
Saturday night arrived and Raiders were led to the fish supermarket where ‘if it swims we have it’. My suggestion of just getting a whale shark and sharing it wasn’t popular, so a variety of marine treats were dished up much to the satisfaction of our stomachs. 37 large bottles of Singha consumed? Sounds about right. But that was just the warm up…. not for me and Rasul, unfortunately losing the main group around Soi 11 and having to retire early. Perhaps I’m not the best candidate to be writing this report as the real banter was had in the clubs of Sukhumvit into the early hours. We feared the worst when Floyd told us at breakfast he had left at 3.00am when a bottle of Vodka had just been ordered. However, after a few phone calls and the dismissal of visitors (no names mentioned) the whole team was on the bus, groaning in pain, in time to get to the tournament.
The penalty shootout ensued. Sascha buried his first and then Floyd had his saved to the keepers left. Nico scored casually having briefly removed his sunglasses, Joey stepped up for number four and tricked the keeper by intentionally scuffing the ground and connecting with his heel to send the ball rolling down the middle of the goal, did him with the eyes….Despite Angelo’s best challenge of the FIFA rules as the ball came off the bar and in off his body, GAS failed to miss and were through. Raiders had to make do with the rather tame ’round robin’ plate with three other teams.
The first game was a 1-1. Toby’s fantastic work down the wing and great cross saw Rasul connecting with the header and guiding it under the keeper from a narrow angle for a late equalizer. Second up was a 0-0 with a decent team, and two points after two games. The final game Raiders won 1-0 – the ball broke in the box and Craig narrowly missed his chance after seagulling a defender but Nico was there to knock it home – and celebrated with what a forward roll would look like if it was performed by a very happy spastic. Sadly 5 points was not enough to claim the plate and we finished second, 10th out of 15 teams. Floyd twisted a knee badly during the 0-0 and missed the rest of the football, and that was the only injury that occurred (well, physical injury, not sure about mental). I forget which game, but Angelo amused himself greatly by slamming a drop kick into the back of a very hungover Luke. The Italian’s belly laugh echoed around the ground as loudly as Luke’s howl of shock and pain. Nico also shocked us during the team photo with his orange football shaped penis.
Sunday night started off well in Gullivers, and particularly well for one opportunistic member of the group even before that. Some of us just can’t compete with extraordinary good looks and the gift of the gab that other Raider’s seem to possess, to the extent that the location of their prey is irrelevant, be it at the bus stop, walking by on the street, a fleeting look across a crowded room or even checking in at a hotel. There was talk of an insane cross town dash to Khaosan Raod which Hoff, Moras and Phillips declined ( waking up sweating in $5 a night room made of plywood with no clothes or money left was the most likely outcome). The lads however appeared to have manufactured a bait and switch as they jumped out of the taxi two minutes down the road and into Soi Cowboy. What happened there may never be repeated verbally, only those who participated will ever know, and share that warm silent glow of bonding that says ‘we did Soi Cowboy’. Later, they met the same girls with their clothes ON in Insomnia.
Saint Patrick took a second to use his incredible powers of perception (some call it a sixth sense) to locate the party and head off to rejoin. Hoff and Moras preferred a nightcap together discussing art and poetry in a posh bar overlooking the glittering lights of the City of Angels. And then got ripped off by a taxi driver.
Throughout the whole event Mr Phillips was taking care, as is his moral duty, of innocent Tobais (or was it the other way around?), who has undoubtedly been violated for life by what he heard and witnessed through the weekend. To Toby’s mum and dad, we apologize. We will pass over Luke’s phone number if necessary.
Quotes of the tournament:
Toby to Luke T: I’m not sharing a massage room with you, you’re sick.
Craig: Did you give it a rinse?
Nico: I’m all over you like a football Ninja
Awkward question of the tournament to a Raider:
When was the last time you had sex?
Star of the tournament:
Vincent – for all the filth he had to put up with
Special thanks to Captain Sascha for successfully managing our participation and leading on the field
Angelo for directing our social activities and being wonderfully eccentric to the last
The girls, Vy and Hop, for being our mothers during the day, serving drinks, taking pictures and keeping our area tidy
Rasul for being a legend on and off the pitch