Bangkok Veterans League Season #5, Month #7 02/Aug/2009 • City Ground
Anatolian Turks finally kick the monkey off their back in Aug/2009 Vets League
The "August edition" of the Vets League has always been awkward in many ways. Being the middle of summer when everyone is away for their holidays, August produces strange results year-in-year-out (do have a read through the previous Augusts: Anglo-Franco Alliance in Aug/2006, British-Frog in Aug/2007, New Wave in Aug/2008). And, this August was no exception.
The strangest absurdity of this year's August competition was the fact that the long time "Omnipresent" of the Vets League, a team that showed up in every single Vets League competition month-after-month since from its inception in Feb/2005, the British Club, failed to raise a team for the "first-ever" time, and demoted themselves to "Everpresent" !
On the other hand, again unusual for an August, a total of 16 teams turned up for a "perfect fixture", and this is despite being the middle of summer AND holding the tournament at a new venue, the City Ground.
Another strangeness of the August competition, we even had LeCoq French amongst us chasing their elusive championship. The globalization effect is affecting even the French to stay and work in Bangkok in August, instead of donning the beaches back in Riviera.
This August, we hit a new record mark with having a total of 5 Japanese teams in the fray, and this is in comparison to 2 Thai teams from the local scene (looking around with blank gazes for Harrow Cooks, Red Navy, Amnuaysilp Grads, Customs Officers, Nextstep Steppers, Medical Gear, Enfant Teenagers, Jewelry Makers, Debsirin Grads, Samart United, Referees United, Bangkok Governors).
And, one of those Japanese teams, the only 1 new team in the Vets League this month, Manow Japan, was also unique to August, and carried, a record, 3 Lady players in their squad, only the 3rd time in the history of the Vets League since Apr/2005 (view Picture-3 and Picture-10), and then in Apr/2009 (view Picture-8 and Picture-11).
Seeing the Ladies move the ball so efficiently was an impressive display of football. And, in fact, couple of times, when they hit with deadly but beautiful precision to win their games against Crossbar Southerners and Los Latinos in the Knockout Stage, the crowd's roar could be heard at the parking lot, all the way on the other side the venue.
As a results, Manow Japan finished a respectable 13th, above Los Latinos, JFC Penguins and Crossbar Southerners — the undisputed BadCup! winners on the day.
As I mentioned above, August tournaments always produce unusual champions (as evident in the past 3 Augusts). This August, not having defending champions Harrow Cooks and always strong Bangkok Cosmos amongst us led most us to look towards Sunbelt United and Blue Lighting.
Yet, there was one other team in the mix this month, (to everyone acknowledgment) the penultimate underachiever of all the teams that have ever competed in the Vets League, a team that has placed in Top-4 many times and finished Runners-up twice, the Anatolian Turks. They were back in it again, chasing their "first-ever" championship.
And, this time they brought an immaculate squad: both B.Yilmaz and K.Yilmaz and Alcan (back after a long absence), plus experienced-hands Sunai in the goals, and also many of their usual Thai contingent. They were not leaving anything to chance.
Well, one risky move Captain K.Yilmaz made was to invite "moi" to play in the team during the Group Stage against the championship thirsty Blue Lightning. That, of course, lost this "Early Final" and caused Anatolia to finish 2nd in the group, while Blue Lightning ended at the top.
Coming 2nd in the Group-B meant that they would have to go up against another championship thirsty team, Sunbelt United in the Quarter Finals. In this another "Early Final", Anatolia scraped through on a penalty-shootout, leaving Sunbelt to win the Plate Division rather easily.
In the Semi Finals, the opposition was JFC Bears, a team that always brings a strong squad each month. Yet, Anatolia was upto the challenge, and put themselves in the Grand Final with a casual 2-0 victory.
And, yes, to noone's surprise, the other Grand Finalist was the Blue Lightning. In a very high-tempo exciting game, Anatolia finally reached the top of their history with a tough 1-0 win.
This win is double-sweet for Anatolia, since they consider the City Ground as their "home field" calling it "Bizim Mahalle" (i.e., "Our Neighbourhood"), and the team could ironically hand a Vets championship trophy to B.Yilmaz on his very last tournament in the Vets League, as he is preparing to re-settle in his new assignment in Burma.
With this championship, Anatolia breaks the leg of the money that has been on their back since they first competed in Dec/2006, delighted in knowing that they can do it.
In terms of the venue, the Vets gave their thumps-up and said would be Ok to be back at the City Ground, as the Harrow School's main pitch goes through its much-needed maintenance until the end of October.
The convenience to get there via the Expressway and the Rama-2 Road, with the closeness of the pitches in about a 25m radius and good quality grass, we enjoyed this "first-ever" time we held the Vets League away from Harrow School, since the last time we held it at Patana School in Oct/2006.
Our thanks go to Kh. Doi, the Manager of the City Ground, who set up everything quite nicely for us.
We all know it needs improvements in terms of toilet/shower facilities and a dire need for a PA announcing system, we hope, in time, the management can improve the venue.
And, one more upside, having done the Vets League in another spot than Harrow School gave us the experience and knowledge to be able to hold our usually large tournaments in different venues in town