Hong Kong Football Club May 23rd ~ 25th.
The Footy Japan International 7's squad, newly sponsored by Robert Walters, made it's first foray into the Hong Kong 7's, only to be shown a lesson in masters football. The competition has 2 categories, Open - with teams like Aston Villa, West Ham, Celtic & Urawa Reds - and Over 40 masters, with Rangers All Stars (Mark Walters, Alex Rae, Gordon Durie) Southhampton (Paul Jones, Nayim) and Barclays All Stars (Ruel Fox, Ken Monkou & Marcus Gayle).
It was with great trepidation that the FJ squad went out on Friday evening to meet their first opponent, Mel Hood All Stars, ex-pros from Northern England. The difference in class showed, as Mel Hood were easy 3-0 winners - they went all the way to the final where they lost to Glasgow Rangers.
Day 2 and FJ had a bright and early 8:50 kick-off which, while not good for the hung over, avoided the blistering heat later in the day. The Opponents, Happy Valley Veterans, took the lead midway through the 1st half, then opted to play that most famous of games, 'keep ball'. With only 7 men on a pitch the size of YC&AC (90m X 55m) once you go a goal down and lose possession, you can be chasing the ball for the rest of the match - all 14 minutes that is!
And so it was for the FJ team right up to the final seconds, when finally they got a break. The HV Vets got a bit too fancy for their own boots, having moved the ball all over the pitch they passed back to their keeper who was closed down quickly by Ian (Robo) Robertson. The keepers hasty clearance came back off Robo into the corner of the net giving FJ a 1-1 draw. As these boys went on to win the Masters Plate (beating Cap'n Kirks KFC 2-0 in the final) it was quite a achievement for the the new FJ team.
The last of the group games was against the Hong Kong Football Clubs own Masters team.
Again the FJ boys were given a lesson in 7's football with HKFC taking a 3-0 lead into half-time. Ian Brown-Peterside, (ex- Swiss Kickers) who'd flown in from Lagos, Nigeria to represent the FJ team, scored his only goal of the tournament with a beautifully taken effort following a good turn and shot from the edge of the box. It was not to be however as HKFC went out 4-1 winners.
4th place in their group meant the FJ team would go into the plate competition against Yau Yee Select (ex-pros from the Hong Kong League) in the final days knock-out matches.
Training for this match was once again set up by the FJ teams travelling fans, YC&AC's own Anthony Savage and Matt Wallace with some vital input from Dickie Philo. The waiters at the first port of call were left in a state of bemusement when 'Dickie' started a 'Monty Pythonesque' Peking duck sketch, that continued for the remainder of the evening. You can imagine the scene, half a dozen adults bowing every time the name of the main dish was mentioned!!!
Later in the evening, the idea of a good warm-up became yard glasses of Vodka redbull washed down with copious bottles of beer at some of the more famous locales of Lan Kwai Fong and Wanchai until the early (or were they late) hours!
On Sunday, the FJ Teams plight in the Masters Plate competition became a short lived affair, being knocked out with a 2-0 loss to YY Select, where as KFC managed to get through to the Plate finals only to be beaten by Happy Valley Veterans.
The standard of football in in this competition was very high, the masters cup winners, Glasgow Rangers, being the same team members who led them to 9 straight Scottish Premier League titles in a row in the 90's!! The Open tournament was won for a 2nd year in a row by Aston Villa, who beat Celtic 2-0 in the final. In the Open Sheild, Japan's own Urawa Reds came from 2-0 down to beat West Ham Utd. 3-2.
This was the first time Footy Japan have competed in this prestigious competition, but will not be the last. Hopefully next year we will find more players in the TML who want to be a part of these tournaments - It's within your reach, to play against your 'heros of old' in competitions that are 'no place for lightweights'!!
Do you want to be part of next years tournament? Wanna play?? Well let us know as we are always looking for players who wish to expand their experience!!
Hong Kong 7's Official Photo Galleries: Gallery 1 (Fri & Sat), Gallery 2 (Sunday)
Report by FJ