After organizing 3 tournaments in the inaugural year in 2007 (Jun/2007, Sep/2007, Nov/2007), the Vets crowd recommended that we taper down the futsal activity, and therefore, we decided to showcase only 1 major futsal tournament this year, and, fittingly, we called "Veterans Futsal Championship".
To this year's 2nd annual championship, including 3 new teams, 6 teams were attracted to claim the fabled futsal Permanent Cup:
• LeCoq French
• British Club <== new team
• Anatolian Turks <== Defending Champ!
• LesGaulois French <== new team
• Nongjohk Nomads <== new team
• BU Japan
From last year, BSL Veterans, Capioni Italians, Hotspot Spotters and Turkish Allstars weren't represented in this 2nd annual edition.
After the beginning-of-the-day Captains Briefing took place, the teams were ready to take on each other on this slightly different surface, that we also call "carpet football"
The day started with a massive 5-1 thumping of the British Club by the LeCoq French who seemed to adjust to the new conditions rather quickly. British Club took a bit time to realize the natural English style of kick-&-run game didn't have its place in futsal.
Also, with a 9-men squad in a 5-a-side tournament with 13 min games, British Club had to figure out how to effectively manage the time of all their players on the court for improved team performance.
LeCoq French went ahead and thumped Anatolian Turks 4-0 as well, not intimidated by the fact that Anatolia was the defending champions from 2007, and finished 2nd in the Group Stage.
Defending Champ! Anatolian Turks struggled throughout the day on their favourite surface, while, earlier in the year, losing Gonzague and Vern to British Club on a free-transfer , and with only Captain Yilmaz as the returning player from last year, all the rest of the squad were new faces. Engin did his best between goalposts, saving the team from more devastating losses a number of times.
Last minute entry,LesGaulois French seemed like they had the right players, especially with the help from late-showing Kh. Somboon and some of his crew from Harrow Cooks, but weren't adjusted to the futsal's fast carpet surface. Yet, in the colosal battle with their archrival LeCoq French, they found a way to finish the game 2-0 on top, and still narrowly lost 1-2 to the improving British Club in a hurry.
Representatives of the East, BU Japan, with merely 5-men on the squad and no substitutes, wasn't having too much fun, and finished the Group Stage at the bottom of them all with 0 ("zero") points. Biggest loss of the whole day, a clinical 2-6 lesson by LesGaulois French, in the very last game of the Group Stage, which will stay on their record forever.
And, then out of the mist, we had some new kids on the block going with the name of Nongjohk Nomads who were taking noone hostage, and finished the Group Stage on top of all others with 4 wins and 12 points. Of course, they had the advantage of incorporating the other half of the crew of Kh. Somboon and his Harrow Cooks.
When the points were tallied and teams were ranked at the end of the Group Stage, we found an interesting tie between British Club and Anatolian Turks, both at 4 points, with British Club 4th and Anatolian Turks 5th due to BC scoring more number of goals. Yet, in a gesture of fairness and honesty, BC Captain Ashley generously offered to put on a play-off game, where the winner would have a shot at the tournament championship, and the loser would have to play for the tournament last place in BadCup! Final.
The play-off match ended a 0-0 draw in the regulation time, which meant that a penalty-shootout was in order. Another awkward rule of the Vets football in Bangkok is, in futsal, our penalties are taken not directly onto the haplessly waiting goalkeepers in close range, but they are taken as in-the-air kicks from all the way from the center-spot.
In the first kick of the shootout, Anatolia's Captain Yilmaz sailed his shot wide right, and up stepped British Club's Eric who duly put his shot straight into the back of the net all in-the-air for a deserved Semi Final spot against heavily favourite Nongjohk Nomads.
The 2 SFs were the David -vs- Goliath battle between [SF1] Nongjohk Nomads -vs- British Club, and the 2 French teams matched up again in [SF2] LeCoq French -vs- LesGaulois French.
Actually, the 2 matches had already taken place in the Group Stage, and yet they all had the chance to change the course of history to their favour now in the Knockout Stage.
The 2 SFs taking place side-by-side meant that both matches can monitor the action and the score on the other court, and perhaps can put in a bit more extra, if need be.
In SF1, British Club having learned its lesson from the Group Stage, this time, totally locked down in the defence, and allowed no chance for a score to the heavily charging Nomads. And, through a shocking early goal and then a late one, put themselves in the Grand Final with a clear 2-0 score, and left the Nomads totally baffled on what just happened.
David overcomes the Goliath once again, and the giantslayers British Club were victoriously marching to the championship.
In SF2, another turn-of-the-tide action was on display, this time, LeCoq French, having learned from the Group Stage encounter with the LesGaulois French, were cautiously optimistic of their prospects. Taking advantage of their chances, LeCoq went up 2-0 with some of the skillful moves and goals of Gilles, and stayed up 2-0, despite all the attempts by LesGaulois.
Relegated to the BadCup! Division, defending champions Anatolia knew they had to redeem themselves and stay away from the BadCup! And yet, the day wasn't going their way at all, and lost to BU Japan 0-1 in the BadCup! Final, wondering how a team could go from top to bottom in futsal in less than a year. Obviously, Anatolia's Management will have to sit down and assess such a dismal performance for winning the BadCup! "first-ever" time in all the activities of the Bangkok Veterans League.
This was also a bright spot in the record books of BU Japan, as they stayed true to their promise of not winning the BadCup! in any Vets competition in 2008. They were still on track.
3rd Place Match:
The chance of salvaging some pride on the day for the Semi Final loser teams were left to Nongjohk Nomads and LesGaulois French, in which Nomads comfortably pulled away with a 3-1 victory, and pondered what it could have been if they were in the Grand Final.
It couldn't have been more ironic to have the very first game of the tournament to finish with the very last game of the tournament. Only just a few hours ago, LeCoq French were running circles around the British Club, and teaching them how the game of futsal is played. And yet, they now had the prospect of doing it once again, albeit, this time, in the Grand Final of the tournament.
Evidently, the British Club had learned their lessons going through the 4 tough matches of the Group Stage, and plus 1 more for the play-off with the Anatolian Turks, and weren't ready to be a push-over.
In a thrilling, up-&-down seesaw final (mostly in front of British Club goalmouth ), we witnesses LeCoq working hard to get on the board. Nevertheless, BC was ready for anything LeCoq was throwing at them — all the way from Peter's rare goalkeeping, to Marc's and Vern's brave defending, to John's and Bruce's masterful organizing, to Keith's and Ashley's incisive striking — it was all working for them this time around.
The timely substitution of long list of players by Captain Ashley, reminiscent of German precision, turned out to be BC's greatest strength and major advantage, having many players on the squad, continuously refreshing the legs on the court like clockworks.
As we were nearing the end of the regulation time, everyone in anticipation for the dreadful penalty-shootout, British Club produced an unseen counter-attack, and Captain-turned-Saviour Ashley slotted one in nicely in what seemed like split second away from the final whistle. The crowd was jubilant, and the players ecstatic.
The British Club, coming back from the brink of extinction, won the 2nd Annual Veterans Futsal Championship in emphatic style, which some understandably equated to the 1966 World Cup victory. This was history in the making!
Overall, an enjoyable afternoon, and plenty of laughs among friends.
The decision is that we'll certainly keep futsal in Vets calendar, perhaps making it 2 competitions in a year — one with clubs competing in a "Futsal Championship" as today, plus a second one as nations competing in a "Futsal World Cup".
More on that soon.
Looking forward to 2009.
Picture 1 — British Club and LeCoq French get the day started.
Picture 2 — Nongjohk Nomads and LesGaulois French battling it out in one of the early games in the day.
Picture 3 — British Club's dedicated followers once again here to support their team.
Picture 4 — Defending champions, Anatolian Turks, were unable to find their rhythm in this year's futsal championship, and ran away with the BadCup!
Picture 5 — Some of the rarely seen faces of LesGaulois French, with support from Harrow Cooks, are all smiles.
Picture 6 — The new outfit, Nongjohk Nomads, with some support from Kh. Somboon and Harrow Cooks, were a force to reckon with.
Picture 7 — BU Japan, with only a 5-men squad and no substitutes, still had a good run on the day, and decisively stayed away from the BadCup!
Picture 8 — Anatolia Captain Yilmaz in the process of missing his key penalty shot in the play-off game against British Club.
Picture 9 — LesGaulois Captain Dominique trying to find ways through to LeCoq's goal in SF2.
Picture 10 — The 2 French teams, LeCoq and LesGaulois, caught in the frame, and still smiling, after their Semi Final encounter.
Picture 11 — 3rd Place match teams, LesGaulois French and Nongjohk Nomads, appear content with their finish in this challenging futsal tournament.
Picture 12 — Grand Finalists, LeCoq French and British Club, making sure the joint-teams photo is taking before the epic match.
Picture 13 — Eventual tournament champions, British Club, are all in joy for their great achievement. Left-to-right: Bruce, Peter, Vern, Ashley, Eric, Gonzague, Marc, Keith, John
Picture 14 — The Vets are in a bit of a break before the trophies ceremony.
Picture 15 — The Vets re-convene on the upstairs terrace with the lush tropical forest in the background on Rama-2 Road, which some thought was somewhere in Myanmar.
Picture 16 — In the absence of anyone from the BadCup! winning Anatolian Turks, LesGaulois Captain Dominique steps up to present the BadCup! to Eralp the Organizer, which he duly brought back to Anatolia Headquarters on Silom Road as a poignant reminder of the dubious achievement.
Picture 17 — Nongjohk Captain Steve gets a photo-op for their 3rd place achievement in the tournament.
Picture 18 — Manolo picking up LeCoq French's Runners-up trophy.
Picture 19 — British Club Captain Ashley with today's Winners trophy, as well as the Veterans Futsal Championship Permanent Cup.
Picture 20 — Ashley making his acceptance speech.
Picture 21 — A final happy picture of the champions British Club and all the other winning captains.
Hearing of such a rare and massive success, shortly after BC's futsal championship, British Club Management down in Silom Soi 18 instantly reserved some prominent space on p.39 and p.40 of their monthly magazine, Outpost, to publish this long-sought-for news to all its members around Thailand and, indeed, around the world in their Dec/2008 edition.
Despite not being a member, we managed to get a hold of it in the black market, and scanned it for the readers of the Vets League website as well. Enjoy!
Page 39 — The story starts midway through on p.39 . . .
Page 40 — . . . and, goes all the way till p.40.
Feel free to e-mail to me if you would like to voice your take on the above summary, or would like to obtain the original resolution pictures.