Rain Will Not Stop Play (this year either)!
Footy Japan Charity 7's Football Tournament
In aid of Jeannine and Billy’s Children’s Foundation (to find out more about Billy & Jeannine’s Children’s Foundation click here)
Friday, March 20th 2009.
Generously supported by:
Banyu Life Science Foundation International
Coca Cola, IKON Europubs
PHOTO GALLERIES (Click Here)
Mother nature conspired once again to make the running of this tournament exceedingly difficult or perhaps it was a test to see how in true Footy Japan spirit we tend to triumph in times of adversity, either way at 9:00am as the first games were scheduled to kick off, the ominous dark clouds that loomed over head opened and to say the rain that followed was torrential would be a monumental understatement. However, if sceptics were looking for proof in the wisdom of YC&AC’s huge investment in doing away with the old grass field in favour of a brand-spanking-new 3rd generation artificial field, they’d have found it today they may’ve had to search deep within themselves to find their hidden altruistic essence, but had rain stopped play, it would’ve meant much more than a day’s football down the drain.
This year’s charity tournament was to raise urgently needed funds for ‘at risk’ children on the streets of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Jeannie And Billy’s Children’s Foundation needed this tournament to go ahead, whatever the weather.
The rain lightened and eventually stopped. The players, officials and organizers were soaked but eventually dried out as dark skies made way for heavenly sunshine. Incidentally the pitch dried almost instantly for any more sceptics out there making for a formidable playing surface. Game on it was then for the 17 teams looking to get their hands on some silverware YC&AC, BFC, FC International, ’08 champions Celts, Azule FC, InterTane and Footy Japan FC (comprised of the British Football Academy coaching staff) all looked pretty tasty on paper and in the opening stages of the competition.
FC International, who could probably be renamed ‘Sukui Ono FC’ (as every time this writer glanced over to see them play Ono was banging yet another goal into the back of the net), topped Group A with ease even thumping second year champions Azule FC in the process 3-1, although Azule would also qualify along with FC International for the knockout stages of the main competition.
BFC hardly broke a sweat in Group B winning all their games comfortably and leaving InterTane in second place, despite them only conceding a single goal at the hands of the British and putting 6 past the Italians, both teams would qualify for the Cup knockout stages nevertheless.
Robert Walters Sponsored Footy Japan FC got off to a customary lethargic start but won their first 2-1 against a fairly decent PWC side with a last minute Simon Sanders effort that saved the coaches’ blushes. Kanto Celts, minus some familiar faces, would finish this group second and qualify and Footy Japan went on to show a little more form in their systematic dismantling of France FC 4-0.
YC&AC, clearly following Footy Japan FC’s coaching manual, decided not to start playing until the knockout rounds and made hard work of RW Gash and BEFC, winning both games by a single goal, but hinted there was better to come by smashing Shane B 5-1. BEFC and Gash would have to shoot it out from the spot to see who’ll be placed second in this group and go into the Cup knockout stage or into the Bowl competition. It would appear (from overheard comments) that both teams were playing for the Bowl as the PK shootout went on for about 4-hours with neither team wanting to score, but doing so anyway and keepers not meaning to save, but pulling off some blinders all the same.
My guess is that both teams wanted to play in the Bowl competition as the chances of silverware were more “accessible” when looking at the teams who had qualified for the Cup, but then again football’s football and with the (possible) exception of Tony Moore ;-), all players took their PK’s with conviction even Fernando who blazed so wide of the goal we’re still looking for the ball.
RW Gash went through to the Cup and BEFC to the Bowl.
In a tempestuous affair that unfortunately continued long after the final whistle, early favourites FC International were dismissed by a feisty InterTane 3-1 (admittedly individuals were at fault here and not a reflection of the whole team). Similarly Footy Japan FC beat RW Gash 3-1 in a game that most, particularly Footy Japan, would rather forget for the ‘afters’, ‘handbags’ and the sending off all excuses beside it’s a charity tournament and the ref’s decision is final, end of story…, or not, as was the case… At the final whistle, RW Gash to their credit, were consummate sportsmen and all was forgotten (whether all was forgiven remains to be seen, but knowing these lads I’m sure it was). Two great strikes from Footy Japan in the semis, including a goal of the tournament contender from competition organizer and Sala FC player Peter Swinney, sent InterTane home in a game played in great spirits epitomizing what the tournament is, has and will always be about. BFC made easy work of Azule in the quarters only to fall foul to a lively YC&AC team 2-1 in the semis.
Footy Japan FC weren’t overly impressed at the arrival of YC&AC’s goal-machine Tyse Masar, doubly so when he proceeded to consistently outjump FJ’s defenders and keeper at full-stretch check out the photos it was ridiculous and a little scary (rumour has it Tyse played a bit of basketball in his youth, it must’ve been with Shaq, Iverson and Kobe), I was just glad I was up the other end of the pitch with a slightly less bionic and very cordial Steve Taw for company. 3-2 the final score with both keepers making excellent saves (Sid using his plums to stop one daisy-cutter) and YC&AC answering Footy Japan’s attempt to play a neat and fluid passing game by lumping balls up to Tyse or into his feet for him to blaze through defenders which is not a bad tactic being that it works. ‘Ginger’ in midfield was pinging around some useful stuff and Mikey Taw was a handful on the flanks and upfront.
First half strikes from FJ coaches Paul and Mike and the winner from birthday boy and now former FJ coach Dan Clark (bless him, the young lad’s off back to Blighty for good we’ll see you in 6-months then mate begging for your job back ;-) were enough to claim the cup, even though YC&AC answered twice and another couple of minutes and it would’ve been Golden Goal time for sure and I don’t think either team wanted that as legs were heavy and everyone else was already in the bar.
In the Bowl competition a plucky BEFC team beat and even pluckier Shane B team 4-3 on penalties. It’s great that the Embassy won some silverware in this tournament, as their league results have been a tad woeful this season and they’re a good bunch of lads.
As for Shane, if there was a ‘Most Up for It/Happiest, Loudest, Most Positive Squad’ Award it would go to Shane Having seen them at the New Year 7’s and at the Charity 7’s this year, I’m starting to think FJ tourney’s wouldn’t be the same without Shane keep it up lads!
Thanks to all the sponsors for supporting this event (particularly this year as the recession has hit everyone so very hard), YC&AC for use of the facilities and tireless help from their staff and all of the match officials for giving their time.
Also our thanks goes out to all the teams who entered the tournament and in doing so contributed to the final amount raised for Jeannie and Billy’s Children’s Foundation: Footy Japan FC, British FC, YC&AC, BEFC, Viatore FC, Shane A FC, Kanto Celts, FC International, Tokyo CSC, Azule FC, France FC, RW Gash, InterTane FC, Shane B FC, Team Italia, Bloomberg and PWC.
For all the results from the day: CLICK HERE
The final amount raised this year was: ¥302.215
Report by FJ