Footy Japan International FC, Sponsored by Robert Walters
Phuket International 7's Open & Masters Competition
29th/30th November, FIFA Tsunami Memorial ground, Phuket, Thailand
OPEN & MASTERS Squad:
Sid 'DAS MACHINE' Lloyd, Jon "NUMBER TEN" Day, James "CODEINE" Morson, Leigh "SWOOSH" Manson, Jay "DRAGON INK" Bailey, Kev "DEER COCK" Gray, Andy "BAR FINE/BRAWL" Glinos
On paper the Robert Walters sponsored Footy Japan International Open and Masters Squads had both of these competitions in the bag before a ball had been kicked, such was the level of footballing talent that had been cherry picked for the affair. In reality, a bare bones squad of just 8 players, playing in BOTH competitions very nearly had both competitions in the bag, very, very nearly.
Having just 1 sub, for a 7-a-side tournament is hard work. Add to that some quality opposition, searing Thai heat and the fact that the same 8 man squad would have to play in two competitions, both Open and Masters simultaneously, and the job quickly evolved from laborious to one of utter insanity.
There was no talk of 'throwing' one competition in favour of the other, to save tired legs and up our chances of silverware. None whatsoever. FJ International FC, having battled their way to Thailand through a political besiegement and having seen a number of their fellow Thai-bound brothers fall in the rumpus, collectively thought, "sod it, we're here now." Spurred on by the anguish and misery of those who couldn't make it over, none more so than ex-BFC front man Sevan Alticosalian who was supposed to be flying from the UK & had been planning the trip for decades, the squad resolved to take both competitions by storm and systematically went about terrorising opposition after opposition on the first day in the group stages of the Open and the Masters competitions - with barely a game off in the 7 games played - more than twice that of any other team in the tournament. And so, at times unknowing as to whether we were facing an Open or a Masters team, but not caring either way, the scores went thus:
Day 1 Results:
Footy Japan 4 Spartans 0 (Jon Day 3, James Morson)
Footy Japan 1 Hotel Travel 0 (Jon Day)
Footy Japan 1 Scandinavian Vikings 1 (Jon Day)
Footy Japan 3 Flying Dutch 0 (Andy Glinos, Kev Gray, Jon Day)
Footy Japan 1 Phuket Football Club 0 (Shosuke Yamagishi)
Footy Japan 2 Shanghai Krauts 0 (Shosuke Yamagishi, Jon Day)
Footy Japan 6 V188 0 (Jon 3, Kev Gray 2, Leigh Manson)
Not bad for a day's work. The only goal we conceded was an own-goal and they never count. Following a round of Gatorades it was straight back to a hovel behind our hotel where fat masseurs broke down the lactic acid in our legs, including Kev Gray's third leg -- which explains his excellent balance and ability to pivot and twist in ways others can only imagine (but probably shouldn't). Quick shower and change and straight to the chicken man for barbecued chicken liver, chicken heart and chicken arse on a stick - the food of champions.
Bring on Soi Crocodile. Utter Filth. Vodka Rebulls laced with Rohypnol (are you still being 'spiked' if you're fully in the loop about what's going on, as the same thing happened to you last year?) I guess it's all good, up until the point you lose all memory of where and who you are -- and then it just gets better, in a really bad kind of uninhibited dancing on podiums and trying to stop a whole bar of girls from kicking the sh*t out of each other over a couple of sheets of Baht in your wallet, way. Easy solution. Another Vodka Rohypnol, followed by a quick deer/snake cock whisky chaser and... haven't got a scoobie what happened five minutes ago.
"How did we get here?" "Hello mate, yeah wicked thanks, you?" "Hello welcome...!!"
Well if you want to know how the evening panned out you'd best sign up for the next Footy Japan tour now hadn't you? ...
(Actually, much as this writer strains he has zero recollection of anything that happened after ingesting deer and snake cock --the Lord hath indeed shown his mercy for as far as Patong is concerned, ignorance is not just bliss, it is salvation. Chemically deliver us to evil and lead us unwittingly into temptation...
A 10:00am kick off is always nice after a large one on the town, but following a pre-match Ginseng imbibing ritual, conducted by Brother Gray, we were raring to go - after all we had ended the first day of football AT THE TOP OF BOTH OUR GROUPS, well actually we topped the Masters group outright, but were level at the top with Hibs in the Open, but still top none the less, no small feat for such an itsy-bitsy band of brothers.
As with all the previous day's games, seconds before kick off, the mischievous layer of clouds that provided comfortable cover for all the other teams, parted right on cue - the ref's whistle. It's bad enough playing multiple games back to back, with barely enough time to sip from the communal watering hole (communal for man, beast, insects and pathogens), without nature conspiring against you -- to burn and sear, to dehydrate and make simple neurological functions simply stop functioning.
Everyone expected the '8' to start flagging: "There's no way they can keep this up. One of them will get injured or cramp soon. I saw them all out last night and they were all completely battered," went the whispers around the touch lines. However, what the masses forgot to take into account was the fact that, aside from their football pedigree, the FJ select team was full of hardcore, hard-as-nails, lunatics who all thrive on pain and suffering - true masochists gaining strength and resolve where others would have whined and withered away into oblivion.
A 2-0 hiding delivered to Latini FC, courtesy of lashings from Jon Day and Shosuke Yamagishi, set the '8' up for a semi final confrontation against Hibs the two-time champions of the Phuket 7's Open tournament. An early strike from Jon Day left Hibs a little stunned as they upped the heat and applied pressure going forward. We took it upon ourselves to score the equaliser for Hibs, just to make things a little more interesting between the two Tokyo-based rivals, and 1-1 it remained until full time, following long periods of FJ possession. Bring on 5-minutes of furious Golden Goal, in the midday sun. We wouldn't have had it any other way.
Heat stroke was taking it's toll on most of the '8' - FJ's 'Number Ten' didn't even realise the second half had finished, let alone extra time had begun. Both teams locked horns, probed, tackled, passed and ran, but to no avail. The full time whistle went and PK's would decide the result, even though we'd scored twice as many goals in this game as the opposition had - unfortunately not all in the right goal.
Up step Mike McGirr for Hibs. He's tall and lean. A nice lad and a good laugh, with a sweet left foot and a penchant for liquor and women. He just managed to steer his shot via Sid's right glove onto the inside of the post and the ball trickled limply into the side netting. Unlucky for Sid.
Shosuke Yamagishi for Footy Japan was assigned the task of stepping up first. He was sat down with a Marlboro Menthol at the time and seemed intent on finishing his ciggie rather than kicking more footballs. Perhaps a fraction too casual, Sho tried to place the ball past Hitoshi into the bottom right hand corner, Hitoshi read it well and parried with relative ease. Sudden death. Game over. Penalties is no way to decide a game. Golden goal should just last forever. Fair play to Hibs though (they'd actually pick up that award too later on...), they were through to the finals, which they'd go on to win and we'd all meet that evening and get utterly hammered by a bunch of Tequila and Whisky wielding Germans. Bonding stuff.
In the Masters tournament the '8' had their work cut out for them, knowing that sooner or later they would have to meet the infamous 'Team Bondi' - a seasoned Australian 7's team that has played in and won every major 7-a-side tournament everywhere. They know their small-sided football. They will never give up possession. If you go a goal down, you're done. They'll have you chasing the ball like a dog it's tail. Team Bondi - more ex-Australian international players than you could shake a stick at, including their skipper and keeper who also played for Sheffield Wednesday.
Having overcome another tough Aussie opponent, Sydney Real, thanks in no small part to the conviction of a Leigh Manson PK, we lined up against Bondi. This is the point at which most team fall apart, as Bondi's reputation doesn't just precede them, it eviscerates oppositions before the ref has tossed his coin. Not in this case. We'd come too far. We weren't thinking straight. We'd take on anyone. The pre-match talk went something like this: "Lads, d'ya know what I mean? Let's 'av it!! Remember they're just like snakes, more scared of us than we are of them." No reflection on Bondi's character - bloody nice blokes and nothing serpentine about them whatsoever.
3-minutes in and Bondi's Gabi - a legend in his own right - redirected a bullet of a shot and turned it into a missile, leaving Sid no chance whatsoever. Scudded. Not the best of starts and Bondi and the hundreds of spectators thought that one goal would be enough. We had other ideas...
A long throw from Sid released Shosuke who danced around their midfield and moved the ball into the last third where he slid it square to Jon Day who nonchalantly flicked the ball up and volleyed it passed the ex-Aussie international keeper. Apparently Bondi DO NOT concede goals on the counter attack. They do now. Pick that one out.
The second half was all about possession, precise passing, tracking runners and everyone doing their job. Sid at full stretch denied what looked certain to be a Bondi winner - sending the ball round the post with a save to rival any you've seen. Seriously it was sick - you'll hear about it no doubt, probably a few times, but you really had to be there. Minutes later and a deflected header looked comfortably on its way into the roof of the net, only to have its journey interrupted by a back tracking Sid whose finger tips sent the ball just over the bar - stellar goal keeping.
Can't be long left. Not another Golden Goal surely? It's been another long day - this was our 11th game, they'd only played 5 or 6. 'Number Ten' gets clattered from behind by what (he claimed) felt and looked distinctly like a lump of granite - normally this would've been enough to kick off, but energy reserves, depleted to mere fumes, were barely enough to get the bruised and battered striker back on his feet (and mumble a few unrepeatables in the general direction of the offending player). Perhaps a sign that Bondi were getting a tad frayed. Indeed they were.
A clumsy challenge by a Bondi defender sent twinkle toes Yamagishi into sub-orbit and back to terra firma with an audible thud in the box. The ref blew his whistle so hard I thought a lung might fly out of his nostril and he dutifully pointed to the spot. 'Number Ten' picks up the ball, not sure if he knew what this indicated at the time, but it soon dawned as he looked around to see his team mates all looking at their feet. He placed the ball on the spot. The referee informed all players that this would be the last kick of the game. No pressure then. He took 3-paces back. Had a gander at the goal. Had a gander at the keeper. Another step back for luck. Half a step forward. One to the left, a shuffle to the right.
"Make a choice. Left or right? Top corner or bottom? OK. Sorted. Don't change your mind," was the likely conversation he had with himself. Or was it something more along the lines of, "Must muster enough energy to swing boot at ball."
You'll have to ask him. Whistle... Bosch! Keeper went the right way, but the ball was placed with venom passed his outstretched arm and into the bottom left hand netting, just inside the post. Textbook. Whistle. Game over. Marlboro Light. Gatorade. Plenty of banter that night....
Day 2 Results
Footy Japan 2 Latini FC 0 (Jon Day, Shosuke Yamagishi)
Footy Japan 1 Tokyo Hibs 1 (Jon Day) (0-1 PK)
Footy Japan 0 Sydney Real 0 (1-0 PK) (Leigh Manson)
Footy Japan 2 Team Bondi 1 (Jon Day 2)
Click Here for a local newspaper report
Report by Ed Hardy