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Thursday
Apr162015

Weeks 16, 17, 18: Questions, questions, questions…

Saints vs Sporting Saigon, Fusion and Fusion

Captain-slash-gaffer-by-default Steve Shaw from the shire of Nottingham must have looked at these three fixtures and pencilled in 9 points but the Saints sadly stumbled at the first hurdle by throwing away a 3-1 lead against Sporting Saigon (scrambled home to nick a point in the end) before getting on track with back-to-back victories against bottom of the table Fusion. In the first of those two ties, the Saints cantered to a 4-0 win and in the second the boys romped home to win 8-1 after the boys’ scheduled weekend of Team Building and R&R in Bangkok, Thailand.

As ever, all of this has left the selectors, pundits and analysts with nothing but questions as we now go into the last four games of the season with three fixtures against three of the top four sides.

For example: was Max the Butcher Oswald’s goal against Sporting a wonder goal or wasn’t it? Taking time out from sipping Pina Coladas and sunning himself on a beach somewhere in Central Vietnam, Simon Finnigan took to Facebook to claim it was a mishit. You can judge for yourself here.

Do the Saints need to practice celebrations? Young Max certainly celebrated his goal like he meant it which is more than we can say for the guy (his name escapes me at this very moment but he falls over surprisingly easily for a big unit) who scored twice against Sporting and refused to celebrate like a man should when he scores his first and second goals for the Saigon Saints. Was he taking a leaf out of Mario Balotelli’s book that a postman does not celebrate posting a letter so why should a footballer celebrate scoring a goal? Do the Saints need to up their game and give the fans what they want? “We planned to practice celebrations at the tournament in Bangkok,” said Skipper Shaw. “We just didn’t score enough goals to practice that many.”

The next week the Saints experimented with our finest players from the Youth Academy as we took on Fusion, who were recovering from a demoralising 14-1 drubbing at the hands of Saigon Japan. Young Dom once again showed his peers in the academy where the back of the net is (it’s behind the hapless keeper who let the ball roll up the front of his body and over his head). Sean Skene was overheard saying Dom got lucky (no jealousy there). True or false? “False,” says Simon Finnigan while ordering his second club sandwich of the day. “In Liverpool, wise man say get your shots on target and you will get the goals.”

Speaking of which, Simon Hyatt – a.k.a. baby-faced Australian – got his first goal for the club in the second match against Fusion by clipping a half volley in to the top corner. YOU BEAUTY. Later on in the same half, he then slipped through the defence to go one-on-one with the keeper. Time seemed to slow down as he calmly strode towards the very tiny, very crap goalkeeper. The goal seemed to widen as he went to slot it home but…  [oh dear]. Is this what they call "difficult second goal syndrome"? “In Liverpool wise man say if you don’t make your mind up well in advance of a one-on-one you will miss,” says Simon Finnigan while enjoying a pedicure for less than a dollar and munching on a banh mi in Hoi An. “True story: Robbie Fowler used to decide what he was going to do days in advance of going in on goal.”

In spite of the miss what a day for Australia with Sean Skene getting his first for the season and new recruit Tom also netting on his debut. Should we have more Aussies in the team? Vote now in the comments people.   

Does Chuck Roger play more calmly when he is literally blue in the face? After entering the Color Me Run Chuck arrived to play Fusion looking like an extra from Avatar or the Smurfs. It must be noted that he did not say “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” once. Mind you, it was a stress free match as the Saints romped to a 8-1 win. Still, all those in favour of Chuck doing this every week please say AYE in the Facebook comments (PS: Bonus extra Question – How is that life-size portrait of Sean Boyle coming along?).

In between that 8-1 win and the 4-0 win two weeks previous, the Saints enjoyed a weekend of football, team building, sightseeing and shopping in Bangkok. Does this mean we play better after going to Bangkok for such activities? All those in favour of going back as soon as the webmaster gets his visa sorted VOTE YES NOW!

Young Caelan Stokes’ formidable record as a supporter (completely ignoring his father on the pitch) is now two wins from two wins with the Saints scoring a total of 15 goals and winning by seven goals on both occasions. Do we need more pint sized mascots? If you think the answer is yes, slap on the baby making music and get busy!

Andrew Humphreys a.k.a. Cantonaked returned from Bangkok where he was unsurprisingly voted “best off the pitch performer” and immediately disappeared over the border to Cambodia for seconds. “He’s more of a legend than a man,” says James Teague with obvious admiration. With both of our social secretaries doing more socialising than um… secretaryzing (?!) is Andy the man to lead a coup d’etat and take us to the promised land of scantily clad debauchery in exotic locations? “Vote No,” says Jimmy Q. “Vote YES,” says Jimmy T.

Meanwhile, did someone say CONSPIRACY THAT GOES TO THE VERY TOP? The free-scoring Saints clearly feel most comfortable on what was the league pitch in D7 but sadly it’s been “reclaimed” and is no more. Since losing to Japan, the Saints are undefeated and had three wins from four matches, scoring a whopping 18 goals in the process. Bugger it anyway. If this means going back to Phuoc Long A and re-engaging the Curse of The Fat Naked Demented Baby Who Licks His Own Vomit we are all doomed.

Is Benjamin Hawxwell-Green canvasing for “General Role Telling people What they Ought to be Doing”? With the year-end AGM already on the horizon, the Saints in-house DJ and leading bearded Yorkshire man is clearly swaying voters with his new self-appointed role which involves telling everyone what they ought to be doing. All those in favour of making this an official title VOTE NOW! In the meantime, if you are unsure about what you should be doing right now, ask Ben! he's online RIGHT NOW!

Last but not least with our game cancelled this weekend, should we go out and get ties-around-our head-drunk tomorrow night?  No need to vote yes for that. See you all in the pub.

 

 

Tuesday
Mar172015

Four things to think about after a hard-fought victory over ASW (Match Report, kind of)

For those who weren’t there, the Saints laboured for 60 odd minutes before putting ASW TO THE SWORD (well, not quite…) and claiming all three points in a 2-0 victory on Saturday. Our in-house analysts look back to see what we learned before the weekend’s MUST-WIN DERBY against Sporting Saigon.

Should we go out or stay in the night before a match? Ben Hulbert arrived fresh as a daisy on Saturday afternoon after a rare quiet Friday night only to hobble off after 10 minutes. “Knew I should have gone out last night,” he moaned before making up for lost drinking time over a cool and refreshing can of San Miguel on the side-line. Meanwhile, ol’ Sleepy eyes Sean Boyle arrived at Game On looking suspiciously bright eyed and bushy-tailed before boarding the team-taxi. He didn’t even need a Subway sandwich to put in a highly convincing display between the sticks. “What works for one man, might not work for another,” says Iaian Cambell, the Saints’ official Motivational Coach. This puts the pressure on each individual in the squad this Friday night with a huge six-pointer against Sporting Saigon, a match described by captain-slash-gaffer-by-default Steve Shaw as a “must win” encounter 72 times last week. 

Pre-match film selection: Perhaps it’s more about how players prepare before the match? Ben “A Young Bearded Man Stares Intently…” Green found his rhythm as well his mojo after watching Whiplash to put in one of his best ever displays for the Saints. He scored the decisive second goal that finally killed off ASW – cutting in from the left he curled his shot into the top right corner of the goal. Should we all watch Whiplash next Saturday? “What works for one man might not work for another,” says the Saigon Saints official film critic Iaian Campbell. “But whatever you do don’t watch Boyhood—it felt like it went on for years.”

Is Chuck related to John McEnroe? “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” is to Chuck Marion what “You CANNOT BE SERIOUS!” was to another great east coast American patriot, John McEnroe. But with his two striking partners both off injured and the Saints floundering for “field position” in the second half, a fired-up Chuck was inspirational on “offence”. Yes, he missed his “field goal conversion” (after Aidan McNally was brutally chopped down in the box) but he won the all-important penalty (scored by John Norfolk) after bursting “into the 18” and turning both central defenders brilliantly. But does he need to work on controlling his temper when talking to “the umpire”? The Saints’ Sports Psychologist Dr. Iaian Campbell weighed in with some anger management advice: “Why can’t everyone just keep their %*@#ing temper under control for &*@#’s sake… ”

De-fence! De-fence! Mid-field! Mid-field! We cannot overlook that clean sheet. Mr. Boyle looked rock solid in goals while Simon Finnigan, Sean Campbell and Ian Pavitt all put in impressive shifts in the centre of defence with Iaian Campbell and Max “the Butcher” Oswald  on the flanks. More of the same this Saturday please. Our midfielders, Steve Shaw, John Norfolk, James Teague, Ben Hawxwell-Green, Darrell Haines and Sam Green all out in big shifts in a physical draining match. We will need more of the same in suppressing Sporting Saigon who will be upbeat despite losing narrowly to Japan F.C. on the weekend. For those who like a flutter, the Saints’ official bookkeeper Iaiain Campbell will release the odds on Friday night.

Thursday
Mar122015

Match Report (but not really... 'cos What We Really Need to Talk About Is…) 

Saints 2 Japan F.C. 4

Attd: Three

Goals: John N. (pen), Chuck

 

So the Saints lost to Japan F.C. 4-2 on Sunday but rest assured it had nothing to do with a lack of tactics, “technical ability” or heart – far from it my friends!

No, what we really need to talk about is: what the hell is that mysterious iced drink that Japan F.C. dispenses to its players before, during and after the game? That is surely the secret to their success.Of that we have no doubt.

“Bring me that recipe or die trying!” demanded James “Jimmy Q” Quantrill, the Saints’ high–profile dietitian, who has come under fire since it has been discovered he has actually been eating steaks smothered in Bearnaise sauce the night before big matches while pretending his girlfriend’s risotto with sustainably sourced “farm to table” asparagus is his (Quantrill also suffered the ignominy of pulling his hamstring while eating a curry late Friday night).

A perfectly engineered drink might be just the ticket to get the Saints through what is notoriously the hardest part of the year for them—scientists (and when I say scientists, I mean the webmaster making things up after a ridculously strong coffee) now believe the blistering heat of late dry season magnifies a hangover by approximately one million per cent.

Sean Boyle certainly looked queasy at the prospect of standing in the sun for 80 minutes when arriving at GAME ON to board the team taxi. “Can I go get a Subway sandwich?” he pleaded like Oliver from the film Oliver in which a boy called Oliver played a famished orphan who’d been out until the wee hours (or something like that).

The Subway sandwich couldn’t save Boyle from wilting in the heat with Ben "Nothing but Ginger Ale for Lent" Peadon stepping in between the sticks—but could Japan F.C.’s mysterious tonic have offered Boyle the right balance of vim and vinegar with electrolytes, vitamins and exotic Japanese roots? Could it have helped the Saints finish their spurned chances up front? Jimmy Q was unavailable when asked to comment further.

With no magic tonic, and a 3pm kick off this coming Saturday, Captain-slash-Default Gaffer Steve Shaw came up with a radical suggestion to optimise a more robust match-day performance. “Go out on Thursday and have a big one, not Friday,” he said. “It’s straight out of Guardiola’s playbook that one. In Barcelona and now in Munich, Pep would always tell the players if you want to drink till 4am, do it two nights before match day. Arjen Robben is famous for being on the lash every Thursday.”  

As ever, ready to follow the party line, Ben “Wake me up when it’s time to send me home” Hulbert has volunteered to trawl the bars on Friday night to make sure key squad members are at least “not having a big one” with an early kick off on Saturday.

When pressed for his definition of a “not having a big one”, Hulbert wasn’t quite sure: “Home by 3am? Maybe no jager-bombs?”

More importantly, the Saints should be back to full strength with returning regulars. Last time out it was a nil-all draw with ASW (which stands for "We Are Not Ashamed to Wear Pink" in Vietnamese).

BetFred.com says the chances of another 0-0 are a million to one. Chuck Roger rocking a Clint Eastwood beard is 2/1 to open the scoring. Sean Campbell -- as long as he isn’t still waiting for his motorbike to be fixed outside work – is odds on favourite for clearing the lines like he never wants to see the ball again.But he's like that. He really loves the ball. More importantly he loves clean sheets (or the idea of them).

Bold Prediction: Saints 4- ASW 0 

 

 

Monday
Feb022015

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!

 

Wednesday
Jan212015

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

SAINTS 7 GEMADEPT 0

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?!