Saints 5 Gemadept 1, Match Report, Saigon International Football League

That’s right folks: THE SAINTS ARE BACK! “Yes, I smell a changing in the wind, a turning of the tide, a fresh start, a new dawn to a brand new era, all those things and more,” said Gaffer-by-Default and Skipper Steve Shaw, “And the season is young yet, so who knows where we might end up but mathematically speaking, well, as I always say, anything that is possible, is not impossible.”

Do we need to mention Gemadept are the whipping boys of the entire league?! Do we need to say that the Saints probably took a little longer than they should have putting Gemadept to the sword? Or did I accidentally do that already? 

What’s important was the Saints got back to winning ways, no matter who we were playing. No one was more up for it than Chairman Ben Peadon — fresh off the red eye flight back from Dubai, where he was the guest of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, one of the Saints biggest admirers, who has been “gravely concerned” with the club’s winless streak in the league. His spurt — Ben’s, not the Sheikh’s — up the left flank all the way to the byline would have reminded you of the greatest attacking left-side full back of all time, yes, the pocket rocket, Terry Phelan. Wrapping his left peg round the ball, he — Ben, not Terry Phelan — picked out new signing Andy Smith, who managed to avoid cushioning the ball on his magnificent head of hair, a bed of tightly-wound ringlets, to power a header home. “Valderammesque that hair…” said Iaian Campbell to Steve Shaw, wistfully recalling his own glory days with his Hansel (the boy band, not the character from Brothers Grimm, or Zoolander) style hair-do. Incidentally, with this headed goal, his first in the league for the Saints, Smith immediately became joint 4th top-scorer for the Saints. 

The Saints probably should have had a couple more before halftime—and done more with the ball in general but they eventually started to turn the screws in the second half with midfielders James Teague, Steve Shaw, Bryan and Aidan McNally all bossing the game at various stages of the match with Chuck and new signing Quan looking lively on the flanks. Powering through the middle to latch on to a Jimmy ‘Half-Iron Man’ Q pass, Smith grabbed a second goal with his right peg from the edge of the box — a strike which, incidentally, immediately put him in joint-second place on the top goal scorers’ chart. The Ultras were starting to get lively now, taunting the opposition’s fans — might have been a couple of randoms, but better safe than sorry, so the Ultras let them have it anyway. Would the Saints pull away? Yes, but only after deciding to let Gemadept have the ball for a while. Sean Boyle expertly let one long-range effort float over him, hit the post, and come off his back to complete safety. “Had it all the way,” Boyle comforted his mostly unflappable central defenders, Ben Hulbert and Sean Campbell, who were soon flapping as a spot of ping-pong broke out around the box, which only ended when a Gemadept striker scored with a scissors kick. 

The Saints collectively decided enough was enough and pretty much straight from the kick off, running onto a flick from Chuck, Smith was through on goal again, this time lobbing the ball over the Gemadept goalie and his Gangnam-style googles, to grab his third of the day, incidentally, a goal which made him joint top scorer for the league this season. 

The Saints relaxed a little and started to control the game after that. With Ian Pavitt now on as right back, Iaian Campbell was free to run around wherever he liked. Both were involved in a superb team move that built from the right, weirdly making its way further forward, before switching over to the left from where Jimmy Q squared for Andy to tap home with his left peg, a goal which, incidentally, made him top scorer for the Saints this season. “I told the boys if the defenders passed to the midfielders and then the midfielders passed to the forwards, then we’d cause them problems,” said Shaw. “So, yeah, I am claiming a technical assist for that.”

With the match now wrapped up, James Teague took an executive decision to take Andy off before Andy became runaway top scorer for the season, and also so he could milk the fans adulation from the stands, where they were on the verge of getting up to the usual hijinx (setting off flares, doing the poznan, winding up the opposition fans, driving a burning Vespa off the top tier, etc). The Saints had time for one more, the tireless chairman ripping the hapless Gemadept apart with an incisive Phelanesque run before laying it off for the Webmaster to side-foot a FIZZING shot in between the legs of the Gemadept goalie to make it five-one. The icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the “decisive” fifth goal that inarguably determined the final score, I’m not one to brag but that was also my second best (and second) goal of the season. 

After that it was party time. The wild celebrations very nearly had all four Ultras kicking off in the stands. The players did their best to intervene, pleading the fans to come down and have a can of beer instead. 

Man of the match: Andy Smith 

Next week: Saints vs Olympique, Same Place, Slightly Later Time






Saints Score Three! But...

Fighting Cocks FC 6 Saints 3

Attendance: A few Sting™ guzzling locals, a brood of chickens and John Norfolk’s Razorlight looking mate.

Location: Cambodian National Stadium (We suspect), it was very far away.

Preparation for the game began for many saints on Saturday afternoon with a pool / gym / nutritional session (Read: Meat, beer and mystery punch fest) at the House of Super Hunks in the very bourgeois district 2. Keen as ever to gain an edge, James Teague and Andy Humphreys made sure to begin drinking on Thursday evening, the former not stopping for food or sleep until very close to kick-off. It’s definitely worth mentioning that Teaguey, from a family of fishermen, finally learned to swim during his three-day bender. Problem is, he may have since forgotten, ah well, c’est la vie.

The Saints began the game in good form despite the searing Cambodian heat. Jimmy Q (Very well rested after crashing hard and early the night before) and resident coffee guy / caveman John Norfolk linked up well in an uber-hunky attacking partnership,  with wide support from Roel (Future Mayor of a small but well functioning place... somewhere, I think) Borremans and Ben (A bearded...something) Green.

Captain Fantastic Steven ‘Steve’ Shaw and James Teague put in plenty of effort and industry in midfield, supplemented by Ollie Sergeant who policed (terrible, I know) the space in front of the back four to destroy, or at least marginally disrupt for a few minutes, the Fighting Cocks ridiculous skill and fitness.

The Saints opened the scoring midway through the first half, Max ‘the butcher’ Oswald scoring his now trademark long distance curling hoof before inexplicably performing a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque celebration. The goal was amazing, the celebration however, a very fineable offence… If he ever shows up to a kangaroo court that is.

Skipping over the immediate equaliser as I seem to have repressed that memory, the Saints took the lead again, Skipper Shaw heading home from a dangerous free kick by John Norfolk, who not long before half time converted from the penalty spot to give us a fully deserved third goal to take into the break.

While the saints did toil to create chances, with relative success, the less we say about the second half the better. The unbearably cruel heat, the accumulation of injuries and the utter cheek of the opponent to be very fit and fast indeed made life very difficult. The overworked defenders, Dr. Ian ‘Zen’ Campbell, Andy ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ Humphreys, Ian ‘youngest looking old man in the saints’ Pavitt, Ben ‘Where’s my phone?’ Hulbert, club musicologist and most valuable Liverpudlian Simon Finnigan and tax-evading chairman Ben Peadon tried their darndest to resist the irresistible Cocks (Ooh Matron!) from penetrating Sleepy eyes Boyle’s goal, but it wasn’t to be. A free kick that should never have been given was indeed given (for more information, contact Skipper Shaw for a full and very dramatic demonstration of the dive, as provided to the Referee at the time). Up stepped the kicker who thumped it into the wall, the ball took a wicked deflection and outwitted the now dizzily dehydrated and sun-fucked Sean Boyle to give the Cocks the lead with 10 minutes to go.

That’s all there is to it really. I mean, they scored a few more but who really wants to hear about that? Not Ben Hulbert and his twisted blood, that’s for sure.

Final thoughts for the day

  • We may have had to go all the way to Cambodia, or at least the depths of Nha Be, but by God that pitch was an absolute carpet.

  • Losing is kind of crap, we should really go back to winning games on the reg.  

  • Was this the hottest, driest day ever in Vietnam? My guess: Yes, it absolutely was.



Club Chairman Ben Peadon and local real estate magnate Mr. Alex Crane shake hands in Ho Chi Minh City after agreeing to what is believed to be a 'highly lucrative sponsorship deal' for the Saints


(Ho Chi Minh City, October 22, 2015) -- After flying in from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates late last night, Chairman of Saigon Saints Football Club, Ben Peadon has secured what is believed to be a "highly lucrative" sponsorship deal with a local real estate magnate, Mr. Alex Crane, who represents a powerful locally-based realty conglomerate in Vietnam's largest business hub (at least that’s what his business card says).  

While details are still unavailable, industry insiders believe that the Saints can now be considered one of the true powerhouses of top-flight low-level amateur football in Asia. "For financial muscle this might put them up there with the likes of Guangzhou Muff Divers F.C. and some of the oil-rich clubs of the Middle East like the Abu Dhabi Abracadabras," said a rival club chairman from the Saigon International Football League (SIFL) who preferred to remain anonymous so he could express complete bitterness. "When I came into top-flight low-level amateur football I thought it was going to be Jossy's Giants level or jumpers for goalposts stuff. But by the sounds of it the Saints will have their own air-conditioned stadium soon. I want to see the SIFL step in with Financial Fair Play restrictions. Otherwise we can't compete with how much fun the Saints are having – who knows what’s in that esky of theirs but I bet it’s not Zorok – and there isn't a weekend that goes by where we don’t have our faces rubbed in their sordid tales of excess and debauchery. I”d like to see someone ask some hard questions for a change.”

A spokesperson representing Ben Peadon, who was unavailable to comment personally as he had already flown back to Dubai, dismissed accusations that the Saints' chairman’s suit was made of pure gold and hand-stitched by underpaid factory workers somewhere in the industrial heartland of Binh Duong Province. She also denied that Mr. Peadon flew business class using club funds and that he is regularly quaffing 24-year old scotches and champagne in downtown drinking emporiums with the city's most notorious fatcats and tycoons while the rest of the Saints get to drink nothing but Zorok. “That’s poppycock – Mr. Peadon is in Dubai on club business and flew business class as he is a guest of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is coincidentally a massive fan of the Saints. His highness reads all the match reports on his magnificent throne and when I say throne, I mean his massive marble toilet with a golden flusher and Japanese-technology installed for automatic rinsing. Like the rest of the club’s inner sanctum, I mean, committee, and paying members, the most Mr. Peadon gets out of club funds is a few cans of Zorok, a home and away kit and a free polo shirt,” said the spokesperson. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Crane’s personal assistant speaking on his behalf claims Mr. Crane “doesn’t quite know what hit him. Mr. Peadon’s reputation as a smooth talker when it comes to negotiations is second to none,” said the P.A. “Mr. Crane is not really sure what he signed but he did so quite willingly. He just woke up under his desk and it’s all a bit of blur – a super-flash golden blur. For the record there is absolutely nothing in this for Mr. Crane other than a seat in the Saints’ executive box and all the associated benefits of sponsoring the most high profile amateur club in Ho Chi Minh City in one of the greatest amateur leagues in Asia. All rumours of kick-backs are utter nonsense. I do happen to remember Mr. Peadon saying, “What’s good for me, is very good for you – when you go home, there will be a special treat waiting for you in the fridge, Alex: a crate of Zorok, perfectly chilled”, but even if that’s true, Mr. Crane isn’t stupid enough to drink it, and even if he is, well he’s doing the Saints a massive favour.” 



One red card, two goals, three points...  

Saints 2 Gemadept 0

Attd: A smattering

Man of the match: Everyone except Alexander Edward Jeater the First, who is a very naughty boy

A clean sheet and the first win of the season? Who could complain about that? Well, every Saigon Saints player who had to work their socks off for 70 minutes after Club Treasurer Alexander Edward Jeater the First got a straight red (“I hope my dad doesn’t find out I got sent off,” said Alexander Edward Jeater the First, doing his best “I’m completely mystified as to why that happened”-face before perking up when he realized he could crack into the post-match beer supplies).

Luckily the Saints had already scored after the All-American Chuckster placed the ball LITERALLY on a plate and just where the Webmaster likes it: right in front of his toe. All the better to poke it home, you see. So once Alex got his marching orders, all we had to do was defend for our lives. Club captain and gaffer-by-default Steven Shaw from the forest of Nottingham inspired the team by working three times as hard as he normally does (which is a lot). Having just flown in on the red-eye from Dubai, our chairman, BRAVE ENGLISH Benjamin Peadon also put in a massive first-half shift as did our other full back, Ben “Just having a quiet one or 10 for my birthday” Hulbert, who LITERALLY had Gemadept’s token nippy winger in his POCKET (most of the time).

In the middle Ian Pavitt and Sean Campbell marshaled the defensive line superbly for every one of the 55-minutes the ref included in the first half. Known for being aggravated by refs, on occasion, the Saints then turned the table on the ref by making him so angry at halftime he threatened to go home (Bryan, whose Vietnamese is LITERALLY AMAZING, overheard the ref telling Gemadept how to get back in the game. This advice may or may not have been “bring on a couple of 50-year-old lads with beer bellies” which is precisely what they did).  

Luckily, we had plenty going forward even with 10 men with Bryan, Max The Butcher and the Future Mayor of a Small but Well Functioning Town in Belgian Flanders Roel Borremans making plenty of runs and holding up the ball well. Up front, the Chuckster and Club Musicologist and Liverpudlian thoroughbred Simon Finnigan also put in some hard yards. Hames Teaguez, the Argentinean playmaker, had just enough red bull vapours in the system to make it onto the pitch and run around a bit. We also saw an incredible defensive performance from Andrew “Quite good at badminton” Humphreys who LITERALLY had that middle-aged winger in his POCKET. Thankfully Chuck finished off a great team move to give us the vital cushion which made it easier for us to LITERALLY park the bus. Looking resplendent in luminous yellow, Joe “It’s a long way to Tipperary/ and Coventry” Keogh was rarely troubled and when troubled equal to the task of dealing with that trouble.  

Sensing the team was edging towards victory, the Saints’ ultras, the noisiest, liveliest maddest fans in all of top flight, low level amateur football, were kicking off in the stand: two-month old Lukas, Van (the Future Wife of a Mayor of a Small but Well Functioning Town Somewhere in Belgian Flanders), and Joe’s Tinder date from Bangkok were goading the Gemadept fans with some unrepeatable chants (although they may not have been Gemadept fans and in fact just a random bunch of street urchins and one strange old homeless man with a glass eye. But the Ultras let those w&@*ers have it anyway!).   

Finally, the ref had seen enough and decided to blow it up and the Saints went off to celebrate as if they’d won the league.

This time next week: MORE INCREDIBLE SCENES as the Saints take on Sea Collection in a stadium with a capacity of 25,000 – Ultras assemble! The atmosphere is going to be LITERALLY electric. 


Quick fire Match Report: Saints 3 Olympique 2


Goals: Jimmy Q, Iaianianain, Connla

Stadium of All Your Dreams Coming True (or Phuoc Long A)

Attendance (not including subs): five grubby street urchins that Roel didn’t trust.

The Saints got preseason off to a fine start with a well-earned win against last season’s league champions Olympique (with a light sprinkling of Hotshots). Never behind during the game, the Saints went 1-0 up with a strike from assistant-to-the-fitness coach James Quantrill that no goalkeeper in the world could have kept out (that is if the goalkeeper was blindfolded and had his hands tied behind his back -- not sure what this guys excuse was). Still that’s why the Gaffer… actually we have no gaffer but if we did, he would say this: “Always get your shots on target fellas!”

Olympique replied with a fine strike of their own that volunteer keeper and fitness coach Joseph Keogh – looking magnificent in luminous yellow – couldn’t get a hand to but Joe’s speed off the line was key to the Saints avoiding about 10 one-on-ones and he was voted man of the match for an impressive turn between the sticks. Joe even grabbed an assist for the Saints second goal after 60 minutes with a massive kick that put through renowned speedster Iaianaiaiaian Campbell who put on his LEGENDARY after burners to surge past the defence and give himself enough time to smash a sweet strike into the bottom corner. Did someone say it was positively Ronaldo-esque (celebration)? The Saints were then unlucky to concede a second as an Olympique shot deflected off Simon Graves’ head to wrong foot Joe. Down but not out, the Saints attacked and the Future Mayor of a Small but Well-Functioning Town Roel Borremans curled a beaut of a cross for Ze Webmaster to head the Saints back into the lead with only a few minutes to go. The team then reconvened for light refreshments and sandwiches at Game On before having an early night ('cos, you know, it's preseason).

Next week: Saigon 7s, Reloaded Tournament.