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Friendly leaves gaffer-by-default with more questions than answers

Stats: Saints 3 Were Meant to Be Beaten F.C. 3

ATTD: A year high of 7

Goals: Connla, Aidan and Roel


So the Saints blew a 3-0 lead and drew against “Meant to Be Beaten F.C.” but fronted up with an excellent team performance in Game On consuming a rake of beer-filled towers –- it all leaves Captain-slash-Gaffer-by-default Steven Shaw questions that will keep him awake for nights on end before “Le Crunch” on Saturday (The 117th edition of Saints versus Raiders).

What kind of questions you ask? Questions like...

Should we get to the pitch earlier so Sean Campbell can make everyone stretch for hours on end under a blazing hot sun leaving us more supple yet sunburned?

If we play 4-4-2 and don't hold onto the ball will we be less, more or equally "hot and bothered" as when we play 4-5-1 and don't hold onto the ball?

If everyone eats a Caesar salad for dinner will we all get drunk much quicker at Game On?

Is Roel right when he says with 5kg less muscle the referee would give Jimmy Q. a penalty next time he’s hacked down by 45 kilogram defender in the box?

Were recent-new-signing Jake and Jimmy Teague REALLY separated at birth?

If Iaian Campbell played with a sombrero would he keep a cool head (when all those around him are losing theirs... or just the ball…)? 

Is Alex Crane more effective when he’s ANGRY about the defensive line?

On a scale of one to 10, how cool does Aidan look when he decides the game is over and it’s time to smoke a cigarette, open a beer and watch as his teammates flounder in the heat?

Is Max “the Butcher” Oswald deliberately pretending he doesn’t know about Kangaroo Court even when he’s in the same bar less than 10m away from everyone else?

Well, as wise old Norm always reminds Steve in these moments of post-weekend doubt back in Chez Shaw in District 7, "Remember kid, seek not to know the answers but to UNDERSTAND THE QUESTIONS." 



Next Week: Saints vs Raiders!



Match Report: The Magnificent Seven (Goals), THE EVEN MORE MAGNIFICENT CLEAN SHEET


Attendance: Four and a half

How we went from zero to seven in 80ish minutes: 

One: Sam Green/ Greene/ Greeney fielded on the right-side of midfield, cut inside and unleashed a cracker with his left peg from outside of the box after 15 minutes or so (Captain-slash-Gaffer-by-Default Steve Shaw/ Shawn/ Swan admitted later he’d had a pep talk and told Sam to do exactly that so a technical assist for Steve there).

Two: Rich/ Richard/ Dickie Fitton/ Fittan/ Fitten/ Fetton came cutting in from the left and linked up with someone else who deserves to be mentioned but I can’t remember who it was (but whoever you are, YOU GOT AN ACTUAL ASSIST!) before slipping through one-on-one with the keeper and casually stroking it home. 

Three: Rich/ Richard/ Dickie Fitten/ Fetton/ Fitton scored directly from a beautifully curling corner kick after a brilliant dummy run and dummy-flick by the webmaster (my assist there surely).

Four: From another corner or maybe a cross (who cares), the webmaster completely missed a header on purpose to give John/ Jon Norfolk/ Norbert/ Norfert the space to loft in another superior cross (read: placing it right on my head) into “the Mixer” for the webmaster to nod home. 

Five: Bursting through the middle like a man’s man, John/ Jon Norfolk/ Norbert/ Norfert left a trail of bodies in his wake and slotted the ball into the bottom right of the goal (Steve gets another technical assist here thanks to his general instruction to everyone to: “Get your shots away... and try to get them on target”). 

Six: After some superb pressure from the left the ball spurted across the box before Benjamin/ Ben/ Benny Hawxwell-Greene/ Hawkswell-Green/ Hackswell-Green  bullied the defender into scoring an own goal with his back (a physical assist there for our finest tweed-cap wearing Yorkshireman).

Seven: After Gemadept shored things up a little bit and did their best to start a fight several times, the Saints slowed down on the goal scoring front. At some stage Chuck Roger/ Rogger/ Rugger burst across the box and the ball fell to the webmaster’s feet. I side-footed my shot too close to the 4ft 6 inch goalkeeper, who managed to palm the ball into the path of Richard/ Rich/ Dickie Fetton/ Fittan/ Fitten who stroked the ball into an empty net for his hat-trick (actual assist for the Webmaster however Steve takes some credit too. He didn’t actually say, “GO SCORE A HATTIE ON YOUR DEBUT RICH!” but he did give him “the look” – you know, the one that makes you BELIEVE...).

AND THE GLORIOUS ZERO: With Sean/ Shawn Boyle/ Boil/ Bowle returning to his spiritual homeland -- downtown Saigon -- and returning between the sticks, the Saints defence got what they’ve long deserved: a beautiful clean sheet. Mr. Boyle/ Boil/ Bowle was aided and abetted by Sean/ Iaian Campbell, Ben Hulfolk/ Hulbert/ Hibbert, Simon Finnigan/ Finnegan/ Finnygin, Maximus/ Max Oswald/ Ozwall, Benjamin/ Benny Peadon/ Peterson, Alex Crane/ Crowne who all did heroic shifts at the back. Gemadept did slip through a couple of times but Sean Boyle/ Boil/ Bowles gave them the look, you know, the one that says, "I didn't sleep much last night, do no trouble me with your shots." And so they didn't. 

And we were simply fan-fucking-tastic throughout. Everyone played a part. James/ Jimmy Teague/ Tiggy/ Teaguey played more beautifully than he danced at Kim's 18 hours previously and HE DANCED SO BEAUTIFULLY AT KIM'S WOMEN CRIED TEARS OF JOY (and a man took his clothes off). The only lowpoint was an injury to Aidan McNally/ McInallay/ Macauly who has just come back from a long lay-off. But all-in-all, it was an almighty performance only surpassed this season by the Saigon Saints Table Quiz Team winning the Belgian and Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce annual quizathon last Friday. Did I mention (brag about) that yet?!




A Year of Two Halves: an appreciation of the Saigon Saints

Lads, we have finished the year with two straight defeats against two of the best teams in the league, and sure, we’re all disappointed not to get something from these games and to drift towards the dreaded realm of “mid-table mediocrity” but we will hopefully return to the league with a full-strength squad in 2015 and get some wins. In the meantime, we have much to be proud of – for those who have arrived this season, earlier this year, the Saints were stuck in what seemed like an endless rut—dubbed the “Season of Perpetual Crisis”. We were unable to win games, unable to draw games, and just generally not enjoying our football (if still enjoying a right old knees up on the weekend regardless; nope, no link whatsoever there).

So here’s an appreciation for what has still been a great campaign so far in bringing back some of the feel good factor to training and playing TOP FLIGHT low level amateur football in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh Ville since the beginning of this season.

Many thanks and much appreciation must be channelled towards our captain, the Gallant Knight of Nottinghamshire, Steve “Half-Marathon Man” Shaw and vice-captain Ben “Never run a half-marathon, Never will run a half-marathon, don’t even say the words half-marathon or I’ll puke” Hulbert for all their hard work and calmness. And here’s to the rest of you, all of whom continue to ensure the Saigon Saints are by a stretch the best and most merry band of footballers in the land. What other team has a player who never plays but who can dress up as a 75-year-old Vietnamese granny, direct traffic at 8am and get 18,000 (and counting) likes on Facebook? What other team has a fearless centre-back who can always find the Bermuda triangle and demands conversations on literature in Little Xu’s bar at 2am? Who else has a playmaking centre-midfielder unafraid to make agricultural tackles for no reason or wear a tight t-shirt with a floral pattern on the town? Or a left-sided midfielder from Yorkshire who wears a tweed cap in a tropical country? Or a Scottish right back who can LITERALLY put them on a plate only for the striker to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time, again, and again, and again? Or a vice-captain who vomits all over the bar when it’s time to go home? Or a modest man from Limerick who when he gets his Weetabix-to-Stomach ratio right is CLOSE TO UNSTOPPABLE? Or a Great American Patriot who watches Pearl Harbour before going to play Japan F.C.? Or a flying Belgian with a fantastic pair of blue shorts who is moving to Singapore but loves us so much he’s going to come back every weekend and play for the Saints before going on a pub crawl that involves always arriving where his girlfriend has just left? Or a Chairman whose nickname is Peado and is unafraid to grow a pencil thin moustache for Mo-vember? Or an Iraqi-Englishman unafraid to declare that he is possibly the most handsome Saint in the squad and always wants to take his top off so WE CAN SEE THE GUNS? Or three very well-behaved, dynamic young players who always arrive late because they were really busy doing their homework or helping old ladies cross the road? Or a silky-skilled, fleet-footed and most importantly BEARDED midfielder who lovingly and tenderly assists our injured and “off-the-rails” striker home and pays for the taxi after said striker lost his motorbike and wallet? Or an always-injured player who never fails to come and do the subs and organises hedonistic international tours to the most debauched parts of Thailand? Or a Liverpudlian centre-back who FEARLESSLY strides into bars with magnificent mustard coloured shorts? Or a young French butcher and a baby-faced Australian who might just be the quietest, sneakiest operators of us all, and who clearly should be paying more for misdemeanours? Or, last but not least, a goalkeeper who has his own exclusive sponsorship deal with the Spotted Cow and is off to detox in the Middle-East and maybe get a new hip, and maybe make some cash, and then USE that return ticket to return to his spiritual homeland of Pham Ngu Lao? Or that person who I have tragically overlooked and is now slightly miffed that they didn’t get a mention? Yeah, that guy/ you!


That’s right! No one else has any of this! Only the Saints have all this and more which is why we’re the best and everyone else isn’t, and which is why they even look miserable when they win.   

So well done everyone and here’s to 2015 being a cracker on and off the pitch.


Webmaster over and out!



Week Five of SIFL: Saigon Saints 0 ASW 0

Just in case you had trouble reading that header or believing a game of top flight amateur football in Saigon can remain scoreless for 80 minutes: I repeat... SAIGON SAINTS ZERO, ASW ZERO!

Saints Stats

No. of Spectators Including Saints: 7

No. of Spectators not including Saints: 1

Yellow Cards: 4

Shots off the Bar: 1

Spectacular Fresh Air Clearances: 1

Clearances that went backwards: 3

Percentage of players hung-over: 60%

No. of Butterfly Henna Tattoos on the Right Shoulder of a Belgian man named Roel: 1

A brief summary: The Saints wanted a clean sheet. The Saints got a clean sheet. But who woulda thunk that both teams would fail to score? weren’t even giving odds on a no-score draw. The Saints went home shaking their heads though in fairness so did the Men in Pink F.C., officially known as ASW. They hit the woodwork twice and had a penalty not given (and had a goal disallowed). The Saints piled on the pressure in the first half but failed to boss the game in the second half. “What went wrong?” Club psychologist Dr Iaian Campbell quizzed the Noble Knight of Nottinghamshire Steve Shaw over a mug of tea in the club’s imaginary kitchen-slash-therapy room. “I think we might have overdone it on the skipping at training,” said the club captain. “The lads looked overcooked.”

“Au contraire, I’d say we were undercooked,” said Chairman Peadon, who 24 hours into Movember was already looking like a cross between Freddie Mercury and the fifth Musketeer. “Playing a new team with a pink kit, the lads weren’t mentally up for it.”

Whether overcooked, undercooked or medium-rare, the Saints certainly failed to pull off any of their signature “That looked like a fluke but it was actually something we practice at training routinely”-moves. They also failed to out-jump men on average about half a meter shorter than them.  

However, the Saints were missing firepower up front with that Great American Patriot Chuck Roger and Aidan McNally of the Bundesliga-Worthy-Hair both injured.

And let’s not forget that clean sheet—the first *in a while*. It was a great defensive effort by the starting back four and all the subs with Ol’ Sleepy Eyes Boyle rarely troubled (he knew those shots were going to rebound off the post). The lads re-assembled at Game On and managed to gather a kitty of VND2.3 million in the kangaroo court—the season’s biggest tally and that was without Roel and his butterfly henna tattoo turning up.

Next week: Saint vs. Saint, Buddy vs Buddy, Mate Against Mate, Etc.


Saigon International Football League Round 3: Saints 2 Raiders 1

True story....

Playing long-time arch rivals on Saturday, half of the Saints decided that Friday night was the perfect time to go to Oktoberfest—Ho Chi Minh City’s annual tribute to the city of Munich’s festive orgy of beer, sausages and dancing on tables.

As one of the club’s Patron Saints, Duncan Ferguson, will tell you – nothing sets you up for a massive derby better than going out and getting completely ossified the night before the game. By obliterating your conscious and subconscious mind, there’s no chance of lying in bed with a dose of the pre-match nerves.

Those who went to Oktoberfest did us all proud. They poured beer on each other’s heads, they puked, they lost their phones; they made it home but don't know how they got there. They think they had a good time but can’t really remember. They arrived at the pitch looking like shit (those of us who hadn’t been out drinking felt hung-over just looking at them).

Skipper Shaw, who incidentally came straight to the pitch looking positively spiffing in his work clothes, announced we would be going with a 4-5-1 formation as we went through our meticulous pre-match ritual of stretching one minute before kick-off. Sam Greene, Steve Shaw and Chuck would sit in the middle of the park. Paul Hurley would slot into the “Borremans role” and Sean Skene would take responsibility out on the right. It was a midfield line up that had everything: youth, experience, one of Vietnam’s four Leicester City fans, a great American patriot, a modest man from Limerick… The Raiders would have to go over the top and there they would find a formidable defence who looked like a pack of convicts: Ben “I can puke on request” Peadon, Ian “Black Eye” Campbell, Ben “The number you have dialled is not in service” Hulbert and Sean “Actually, I went to the theatre last night” Campbell. Even if the Raiders could squeak through they would then have to put it past Sean Boyle, who’d been on the wagon since 9am.

The Saints caused problems from the off. Within minutes, a flick from the webmaster playing up top on his tod found the feet of Chuck “Suspiciously Mellow” Roger, who shifted the ball into the path of the onrushing Paul Hurley, who took a touch before unleashing a left-footed beaut of shot into the far corner of the net. The Raiders were at sixes and sevens defensively and soon after he’d scored his first ever goal for the Saints, Hurley would plunder the Raiders box and poach his second by getting to a loose ball first and poking it past the keeper. The Saints looked like they were going to put the Raiders to the sword but collectively sensing that this would be an anti-climax for the international media, they decided to gradually ease off and let the Raiders get a bit more of the ball. Some ponderous play just before half time in midfield went tits up when the Raiders best finisher nicked the ball off Skipper Shaw, who on a quick side note went straight to the pitch, and suddenly the Raiders were through on goal and back in the match.

The second half is easy enough to summarise: basically the Saints defended like beasts for 40 minutes (and that 40 minutes felt like hours) but the Raiders failed to score (despite making a few chances). Our subs all did important shifts as we closed out the game with Darrell, Dom, Ben Greene and Maxine all working their socks off. The ref finally blew up and the Saints are now unbeaten in three league games and sitting on seven points. We’re also unbeaten in five straight matches after beating Olympique in a friendly and the Raiders in the ashes last month.  

Which reminds me of another true story: the Raiders advertised this year that if players joined their club, they would get to beat the Saints three times a year. Oops. That’s what you call a #marketing #fail.

After the match the losers trudged off to Oktoberfest to drown their sorrows in a litre-sized bier stein.

We went to Game On.