Thursday, 27 March 2008

Gearing up for 2008

We've been left with the bitter taste of second place in our mouths for nearly a year, and now it's time to start preparing for revenge. Unfortunately, star players from 2007 are unable to return, with pull-outs due to pregnancy, injury and deportation.

Thankfully a veritable media bandwagon has come forward to help the ASS cause, with a major spread in TNT magazine last year raising the profile of the sport, and more recently a radio interview with the ABC back home! (okay, I admit it, it was ABC Hobart at 5.40am, so the chances of finding new players for Dunoon is remote to say the least). If there are any other Aussies out there, who can make it to Dunoon and want to join the team, drop us a line!

Still, plans are afoot, and wheels are in motion, so watch this space for the ASS tilt at swamp soccer gold in 2008!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Match Day 2

After a short night at the ceilidh (that's Scottish for 'piss-up', but it sounds much more cultural in the Gaelic), ASS dragged themselves out of bed, or off the floor for those who had no bed and prepared for the finals. Those preparations consisted of a fantastic pre-game fry up. It is said that armies march on their stomachs (what are the feet for then?), but a swamp soccer team definitely plays on some part of the intestinal tract. Fed and watered, we headed down to the pitch to see who would be the next to fall to the great ASS team. Yes, with our better than perfect match record, ASS was getting cocky.

A quick look at the line up showed that the Antipodean teams were punching above their weight: ASS was in one semifinal against local pub team 'MacClures Swamp Stars' while the New Zealand All Muds were drawn against the Belgians in the other. It seemed only right that there should be a trans-Tasman final, but there was the small matter of the semis first...

Putting clipped vowels aside, ASS cheered on the All Muds against the Belgians. Kiwi affinity for the mud looked like it would help them, but the Belgian team had a few spry players that were able to dance across the mud like elves. And a lot more reserves. The All Muds went down 1-0, and dreams of a swamp soccer/Bledisloe final were dashed. My dreams of watching them try and perform a haka in knee deep mud were thwarted.

Having seen the quality of the opposition at this level, we knew we'd have to lift our game. With a supportive crowd (mainly the Irish and Kiwis) we took to the pitch against the team of Scots, whose warm up consisted of a downing a few ales. They were masters of the pre match psych-out games... but weren't masters of the on field game. Watch the video below to see their feeble attempt at a penalty shot. Two fantastic long range efforts from Tim and Mike were enough to seal the win and put us through to the final.

Watching a few of the mens' matches before our final, I was struck by how seriously these guys took it. It was a completely different sport. The match before our final went to penalties (I think it went to 7 or 8), only to be lost when one keeper stepped up for his shot and missed. The pain on his face as he fell to the ground in despair was priceless. Schadenfreude before the fall...

ASS lined up against De Rode Modderduivels in the final, whose team was so large they managed to break the bandstand. The final was conducted in a much more professional atmosphere than any other game, with the ref calling the captains to the centre to explain the rules and shake hands. An even larger crowd had gathered now that the sun had appeared and they were expecting a fierce contest from the two national teams. And fierce they got, the highlight being Megan turning on one of the Belgian elves when he turned the already dirty game a bit dirtier. Megan's revenge got a cheer from the crowd and decided the allegiance of any 'swinging voters' in the crowd - no one cheers a guy beating up a girl, but a girl shoving a guy face first into the mud...

Unfortunately crowd support wasn't enough to give us the second wind we needed in the bog: exhaustion was showing, our 'build up momentum and charge' tactic was failing in the face of the swamp dancing elves who could steal the ball and actually dribble away. But for some fantastic saves from Tim in goals, ASS would have been down and out by half time. The second half saw a slight resurgence from the green and gold, getting some good possession and into attacking positions, thanks largely to being awarded free kicks, but we were always thwarted by the elves and the ever present Belgian substitutes. The Belgians put another one past us when I made the shocking decision to try and pass back to the keeper: an elf danced past me to take the ball and not even Tim could save the shot. After an exhausting and challenging match, the Modderduivels took the match 2-0.

Although we weren't the champions, we definitely were the darlings of the press, with almost everyone with a camera snapping shots of the lASSes at every opportunity, and local photographers asking us to pose in the mud. This includes a 3 page spread in TNT magazine, where the cheap bastards have shockingly misquoted me (see p 67) for the write up rather than take up my offer of writing a short article.

All in all, a great weekend, despite the cold, the rain, and the midges... but you'd get that in Scotland no matter what. Although the comp is over, there will no doubt be more ASS news. Waiting for the plane back from Glasgow we've already come up with the idea of an ASS reunion monopoly pub crawl...

ASS in action

Thanks to Craig and Sarah for compiling the footage and pics. Very nice work.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Match Day 1

post match exhaustion, originally uploaded by patfoz.

T'was a dark and stormy, ill-omened Friday to begin the ASS campaign: the fashionable team shirts were lost in the post so it looked like the players might not have anything to wear, and the dark and stormy storms meant that most people's flights to Glasgow were delayed so it looked like that the non-existent shirts wouldn't have anyone to wear them anyway. Depending on how you look at it, the problems compounded each other, or cancelled each other out.

Thanks to Tim's efforts, the shirts were found and made it to Dunoon along with the scattered and delayed players, although some had to spend a night at Glasgow airport.

Come Saturday morning, it was no longer dark and stormy, just cold and miserable. The general consensus among the team was: "let's play one game then withdraw." Given the conditions, I'm surprised people were willing to play the first game. The 'pitch' we were to play on that day had a large pool at about half way (which we later learned was due to a cracked water/sewage pipe - we never did get a definitive answer), was slightly higher in one corner, and ranged from being ankle deep to knee deep in mud, which wasn't just mud but also contained lots of tiny and not so tiny rocks. And there was a witches hat in the middle.

Nevertheless in true 'have-a-go' Aussie style we leaped into the bog, and joked to each other about how it wasn't really that tiring. Within two minutes I had subbed myself off to go pass out. Adjusting to the conditions was tough, but once we did we began to dominate. Our tactic for simply getting up some momentum and charging the ball towards the goal seemed to work - we managed to put 3 past the opposition for no reply. Other teams seemed impressed by such a convincing victory.

With over 3 hours to kill before the next match, we hit the showers and tried to warm up by curling up in sleeping bags, turning up the heaters and having some soup. Just at the point where I could feel my fingers again, it was time to suit up for the next match. The taste of victory had left us hungry for more, and there was no more talk of slinking off home and forfeiting the remaining games.

Our second match was against the 'swamp babes' (a terrible misnomer) and were an experienced outfit (they had played in last years tournament). The experience showed early, when they immediately set about playing dirty. Pushing. Pulling. Grabbing. And even dacking (although the Scots probably have another word for it). In true Aussie style, we played in a civilised sportsmanlike manner, up to the point when it happened to us. Then we gave as good as we got. Actually, better. Amid all the foul play goals didn't seem as important: we put two past their keeper, but only one was noticed by the ref. At the other end we kept a clean sheet, and that was probably the only thing clean about the game.

With 2 from 2, we were confident of progressing to the next round, and went to the bar to celebrate (cheers to the Arran micro-brewery! - just the stuff to keep your liquids up). Our chances of progressing got even better when we discovered our third match had been forfeited by the opposition.

So at the end of day 1: 150% winning percentage, 5 goals for, 0 against. We began to think seriously about winning the comp...

Day 2 reports to follow.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Team list announced

After a gruelling selection procedure, the ASS selectors have announced the following team to represent Australia at Dunoon:

First team (have booked travel):
Barry, T
Cahill, M
Fogarty, P
McLaren, C
Tse, J

Cahill, A
Carew, J
Carew, J (this could be a problem for team jerseys!)

Labruyere, R
McEwen, M
McKendrick, E

Support Staff (have booked travel but don't want to play - boo!):
Nixon, S

Reserves (might still make it):
Gligora, C

Football pundits have questioned the selection of such a young, inexperienced team. The selection committee stated that decisions were based solely on skill and fitness, wanting to choose a team that could achieve success at Dunoon, and continue to build on it in the future. The committee responded that the recent allegations of bribery and nepotism were completely unfounded.

Despite security fears, Prime Minister John Howard has given the team the all clear to travel to Scotland to compete.


Monday, 14 May 2007

National Team In Tumult

Amid accusations of mis-management and feuding ethnic divisions, Swamp Soccer Australia have managed to scrounge together the funds to enter a team in the UK championship. The hopes of the nation will rest on the shoulders, buttocks and spleens of the mixed 'Australian Swamp Soccer Team' (think of the acronym on the shirt ; )

The final roster has yet to be decided, and it is still possible that boardroom machinations may prevent the team from competing, as QANTAS have refused to provide a free charter flight with on board masseuses, meaning stars like Harry Kewell have refused to participate. Kewell claims that his first duty is to compete for his club in the Champions League final. This has lead to a backlash from fans, questioning his loyalty to the national team and demanding that he "get his priorities straight!"


Tuesday, 24 April 2007

The beginning of a dream...

For many, the Australian soccer dream died in that ill-fated 2006 world cup match against the overly-pretty, easily-knocked-down Italian team... but fear not! The dream lives on!

Forget the Asian Cup, Australian soccer is set to make a comeback, in a format that has no place for overly pretty Italians who wouldn't dare dive on this surface... yes, Australia is making a comeback with Swamp Soccer.

The driest country on earth is sending a team to the wettest football comp in Dunoon. Selections will be taking place soon - stay tuned for updates.

ASS Manager