The Farewell Tour. The Farewell Tournament Report.

This was, without doubt, a Red Lions tour of global proportions. Players flew in from all over the place to gather in Bangkok for this annual pilgrimage to the Footballing Holy Grail. George the Hippy flew in from Santa Monica, taking time out from his dope smoking friends at the wife swapping commune to indulge in a trip down Memory Lane. Jan-Hendrik “Team Player” Meidinger flew in from Guam. Paddy the Monk, back to his glorious former self, ambled in from England, as did Hewitt, with Olaf flying in from Dresden. Olaf’s wife/gf/partenaire de vie took the shortest route over from Cebu Island, with all other Lions assembling at various times and dates flying in from Taiwan. Except Grimaud, of course, who already lives in Bangkok.

The pitches were not quite in the pristine condition that we are usually treated to, but given the state of Bai Ling pitches this last BML season, your humble chronicler is in no position to whinge. As the taxis arrived at the Patana School pitches, the tinge of excitement surged through the Lions collectively, everyone seemingly up and ready for the 2013 tournament.

For the record, the Lions squad consisted of:

Andy the Bear
Paddy the Monk
Jan-Hendrik “Team Player” Meidinger
Mirko the Carp
Tim “Brutus” Brown
George the Hippie
Chris Grimaud
Pablo the Confused
And your Humble Narrator

Traditionally, the Red Lions are slow starters, never scoring more than one goal in the opening match, usually shaking off hangovers and unwanted ladyboys instead of switching focus to the football. But not this time. The Red Lions – up against Schwerzenbach from Switzerland – raced out of the blocks, with French Chris putting the Lions in to a 1-0 lead by the end of the first half.

The second half was more one way traffic as Tim “Brutus” Brown rose like a Gordon Ramsay soufflé and scored with his head, taking out the goalkeeper in the process, and with the final touch of the game, Andy the Bear secured the bonus point. Bonus point? Oh yes, for the first time in Lions history, a bonus point was gained in Bangkok. Get in!

Shortly after came Hanoi Drink Team, and this was most definitely not a one way match. Thankfully though French Chris put the Lions in to the lead, scoring the only goal of the game. Mao in goal was finally brought in to action, making a decent save to his left from a free kick after the ref awarded a nothing free kick – must have been out of sympathy.

The third game of the day was against Wanchai from HK, and it was not the Red Lions finest performance of the day. And that is putting it mildly. The Lions were given no time to settle on the ball, and there was a distinct lack of movement from the players which – given the heat and the collective age of the Lions – was perhaps understandable, but being shut down at every opportunity meant that the ball was simply handed to the opposition and the Lions got stuffed 3-0, despite the best efforts of Mirko the Carp in midfield.

Still, the Lions were not too downhearted, and knew that a point against the Farangutans would secure 2nd place in the group, and a quarter final line up the following day.

Andy the Bear was having issues hydrating himself, despite a steady flow of Gatorade. Jan-Hendrik left his bandana out to dry, claiming it was from the sweat from running around in the Wanchai game, although the empty water bottle he tried to hide was a bit of a giveaway.

Given the amount of Germans in the squad, Paddy the Monk was in his element, regaling tales of Dresden and other such wartime ditties. George the Hippie was just relaxing, closing his eyes and thinking of Santa Monica. Tony Hewitt for once decided not to talk about his dog, but his investments in Cyprus were picked up as the topic for the afternoon.

In fine spirits then, the Lions headed on to the pitch for the final match of the day, with the Carnegies team watching from the sidelines. And within just a couple of minutes French Chris had scored one, and then two to give the Lions a seemingly unassailable lead at half time.

But the second half saw a resurgence from the Farangutans, and perhaps the Lions were tiring but all in all a stirring comeback was experienced, with 2 goals scored in the last 2 minutes. Still the Lions held out for the draw which secured a place in the cup competition on the Sunday.

Beers flowed.

In the evening, all the Red Lions with one exception (can you guess who it was?) assembled at the fine open air place that has become the tradition for Red Lions Saturday dinners over recent years. Even Mrs Mao and the Noodles joined in the evening feast.

Sunday morning came around, with whispers of interesting night time activities for various Red Lions, which of course will not be repeated here. For achieving 2nd place the Red Lions were rewarded with a 9 AM kick off, which may once more have affected some player’s thinking. TB, Pablo and Mirko the Carp for some reason all took separate taxis, with the drivers all getting lost on the way. This left the remaining squad a tad threadbare for the opener against Beijing Sexy.

But French Chris had had a good night of sleep, and was truly refreshed, ready to pounce. So he did. In the first minute. Scoring his 5th goal of the tournament, Beijing were shellshocked. But they steadily worked their way back in to the game, but found Paddy the Monk, George the Hippie and Tony the Cypriot Banker solid in defence. And on the most rare occasion that they got past this veritable Great Wall, your humble scribe was alert and in no mood to let in any goals. Not just yet anyway. Despite being outplayed, the first minute screamer from French Chris was enough to put the Lions in to the semi finals against FC Farang (not to be confused with the Farangutans).

With the taxis now having arrived, the Lions were up to full strength, and ready for the challenge of the semi final. Alas this did not go according to plan, and a combination of Mao and Volker led to the first goal, Mao also perhaps at fault for the second, although he was whining that he was taken from behind (oo-err missus). And by this time the damage was done. A third was to follow before half time, as the Lions failed to put in a performance that was worthy of a semi final.

The call at half time from Andy the Bear was that a Lions goal could change it around. But if we concede again, “we’re fucked”.

For the first few minutes of the second half it was the Lions who put in more fight, a good combination in the middle of the field looking strong and passing the ball nicely, Chris or TB up front, with the rolling subs, looking to shoot and put the Lions back in with a shout. But despite this pressure, Farang counter attacked and the Lions were fucked. 4-0 then.

Except the Lions had the last laugh – right on the final whistle Chris got his 6th of the tournament, unofficially golden boot winner, to provide some Red Lions pride.

With a wait now of several hours before the 3rd/4th play off, the Lions decided they wanted to drink beer, so offered Vietnam Reunited who similarly got stuffed in their semi final penalty shots to decide the game, thus leaving more drinking time. Mao’s cunning strategy worked as they accepted, and immediately both teams went to the organizers who said no problem, and there was a field free for an immediate penalty shoot out.

The Vietnamese were up first, your humble chronicler facing the first penalty. Mao dived a tad too early and went under the ball, but was actually watching, stuck out his hand and knocked it over the bar.

Tim “Brutus” Brown, the man who has missed more penalties for the Red Lions than the Red Lions have actually had penalties was first up. Trying to make up for his incredible, infamous penalty miss of 2006, he blasted the ball in to the net, 1-0 Lions.

Mao, incredibly, saved the next one too, with a low dive to his left.

Up next was George who scored with a mellow, very calm and collected penalty. 2-0.

The Vietnamese hit the bar with their 3rd, leaving Hewitt under pressure knowing that he could score the winning penalty.

Hewitt then went and missed.

Vietnam responded by scoring their 4th penalty, but had to hope that Mirko the Carp would miss, or that the keeper would be more Mao-esque. He didn’t, and he wasn’t.

Up stepped the Carp, boom shanka – in the back of the net, the Lions won 3-1, and immediately started drinking beers.

Well – what did you expect?

And with that, another fantastic Bangkok Tournament came to an end for most Lions, although some went on to play for Carnegies Ancient Team in the Masters Tournament.

On a personal note, I would like to thank every single player who was in the Lions squad for this epic tournament. I like to think that everyone got enough playing time, and everyone played their heart out. There was a fantastic team spirit all weekend, great weather, great food, great banter!

To those who came from so far away, thanks so much for supporting the Lions at all times. It’s people like that who make the Taipei Red Lions the best team in Taiwan.

And with that, your humble chronicler bows out.

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Taipei Red Lions – the Farewell Tour

It is probably no coincidence that one year after the GAS Easter Tournament was started, the Taipei Red Lions were formed. In a small pub, our founding fathers sat around a table, beers in hand, spouting the usual bollocks about how good they are at football, and thus began the oldest ex-pat team in Taipei. Thirty years later, the Lions are still going strong, testament to the fine spirit that has flowed through the veins of all Red Lions throughout the years. And still talking bollocks about their exceptional footballing skills.

Many Red Lions at this year’s Bangkok tournament are familiar faces, having played at this fine competition many times (many more times than they will admit to their wives). It is the one tournament away from Taiwan that has become deeply rooted in Red Lions history. Every year we make the pilgrimage to the holy land, superbly confident that this is the year we take the Masters trophy home. Although we are yet to achieve that goal, our confidence is still to be shaken. Perhaps it is the permanently high levels of alcohol in our blood stream which make our firmness of opinion unwavering, or perhaps it is the fact that this year we have simply slipped a nice amount of Baht to the referees committee. Should the whistle be blown for no apparent reason and a penalty awarded to the Lions, then you’ll know it was the latter.

In our thirtieth year so too comes transition. Veteran of the team’s finances, Paddy the Monk, has stepped down from his role within the Red Lions Politburo, and this tournament also sees the last action of Chairman Mao, before he steps down from the position he perceives as being just one level below that of God. Quite honestly most Red Lions will be pleased to see the back of him, having brought in a culture of fining a round of beer to anyone for no specific reason whatsoever, and the constant accusations of corruption within the Lions have been on a par with the talk about Lance Armstrong’s stash. We’re just hoping that there will not be another Oprah interview.

So, the Red Lions squad for the Red Lions 30th Anniversary Farewell Tour:

Chairman Mao: goalkeeper with Teflon gloves
Jan-Hendrik Meidinger: defender/attacker with a mean temper. Don’t make him angry
Andy “the Bear” Rooney: midfielder/attacker, who makes a dynamo look positively powerless
Paddy “the Monk” O’Sullivan: defender, always happiest playing beer in hand football
Mirko “the Carp” Messner: midfielder, the man who has never smiled. At least, there are no reliable witnesses
Volker Nagel: midfielder/goalkeeper, the only efficient Red Lion
Chris Grimaud: midfielder, locally imported to Thailand, but through and through Red Lion
Charles Watson: defender, assuming he remembers his passport this year
Tony Hewitt: defender, supporter of Man United and MK Dons. Although why he would admit to either is a mystery.

But don’t worry Bangkok. Just because this is the Farewell Tour doesn’t mean we’ve gone off the radar. We’ll be back next year to defend our title. No matter what title we win.

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Lions end season on a high with victory over Mitsukoshi

The Taipei Red Lions saw out the Mao era with another victory to end the season in 2nd place after Taipei City forfeited their game in valiant pussy fashion against Hong Min. Unless Hong Min loses by 17 goals to Fritz in their final game, they are champions. Thanks to City for not even putting up a fight, giving the BML less than 24 hours notice before requesting a cancellation of the game. Classy. Fickle nobends.

As the Lions assembled at the Bai Ling A pitch for the last time this BML season, the pitch being rolled, for what it was worth, the dust being compacted, only to be rechurned in to dust as the match was played, the mood was a little sombre. Some news had already filtered through about City’s toothlessness, and there were also several last minute absentees, including Clovis and Ginger Elvis.

For the record, the starting lineup was:

Genghis, Christian, Bryan and Greig as the back four, with Mirko the Carp, Joliet James, Darren, Jimmy Glass and Fred in the middle with Panda up front. Your humble chronicler, making his last BML appearance for the Lions, was in goal.

On the bench were Tetsu, Thomas, Kim Sun Il and Francois.

The Lions were in no mood to give the opponents any time or space as they rushed in to the game with controlled aggression, making some fine tackles and passing movements. After just 2 minutes they thought that they had taken the lead but Joliet James was flagged offside by the linesman, so the goal did not count.

It did not seem to matter though as Mitsukoshi’s defence was hounded continually, and as such was bound to make mistakes. And this is exactly what happened after less than ten minutes, as Jimmy Glass chased down his defender, stole the ball and tonked in to the penalty area unopposed. As the Mitsukoshi keeper came to close the angle, he unleashed a power shot low in to the far corner of the goal to put the Lions in to a 1-0 lead.

And the Lions were not stopping there – the midfield worked hard to hassle the opponents, trying to build on this lead and put the game to bed. The Lions midfield was working hard, laying off passes and moving in to space for the return ball, tirelessly searching for a way through the Mitsukoshi defence.

The knowledge that another 15 goals could secure the title did not really help though, and slowly Mitsukoshi also worked their way in to the game, playing on the counter with the pretentious, precocious twat of a number 29 up front leading the way, still needing his gloves in the arctic temperatures of – errrr – 27 degrees.

The Lions passing did become a little more erratic, and the precision that the Lions had seen in the opening encounters seemed to go AWOL as the half wore on. Having said that, Christian was whipping in some superb crosses from corners and free kicks, the most tempting of which was headed over by Darren when you really would have expected him to score. Perhaps he was trying to be like Bryan from the previous week by missing the target from point blank range. This miss could also explain why he decided not to turn up at Frankies afterwards, the knowledge that a fine of a round would be coming his way was something he needed to escape from. Or perhaps he just wanted to go home to watch Scotland lose to Wales at Hampden.

At the back, Bryan and Greig seemed not to have the same sort of level of understanding and communication as perhaps any combination of Charles, Ant the Mamil, Jose and Kim Sun Il would have had, but they still managed to deal with anything that the Mitsukoshi attack threw their collective way, the Red Lions keeper not really brought in to action except for some very basic stuff (which many will agree is more than enough for the man with the Teflon gloves).

Genghis and Christian were also getting in to wide positions to make sure that there was always a passing option available to the defenders and midfielders as the Lions pushed for another goal which would put to an end – they hoped – any thoughts of a resurgence by Mitsukoshi. And despite having so much of the ball, the Red Lions just could not find a way past the opposition keeper, with many players guilty of missing chances, hitting the ball wide or high when perhaps there was more time to compose a shot than they had realised.

In the midfield, Fred was getting in some strong, fair tackles, winning the ball and laying it off for Panda or Joliet James to run on to, but there seemed a little misunderstanding here too from time to time, the passer not anticipating the run and passing to no-one in particular, or anticipating a run that did not come, and thus laying off the ball directly to Mitsukoshi’s most grateful defenders.

So as half time arrived, the Lions could not build on the lead, but were looking comfortable all the same.

There were no half time words of wisdom from anyone, so we’ll cut immediately to the second half.
Essentially it was more of the same as the Lions pushed forwards, but the referee seemed to be a little strange in the second half, giving fouls against the Red Lions for the most innocuous of challenges. It almost seemed like someone had had a word in the ref’s shell like at half time, and suggested that he blew his whistle a little more often against the Lions. And fouls which would normally be given to the Lions, such as a blatant push off the ball, were simply waved on.

With perhaps a quarter of an hour played in the second hald, Greig was penalised for a nothing challenge just outside the box. With the wall nicely in place, the free kick came in, Mao failing to deal with it despite having a clear view of the ball at all times. Despite getting a touch, the ball went in for an undeserved equaliser.

Mitsukoshi now seemed to be fully content with a point and sat back a little, allowing the Lions to push forwards, as they looked for a winner. Kim Sun Il, Francois, Thomas and Tetsu all came on, pushing Bryan forwards but still the lack of passing precision hindered the Lions. But as has been shown all throughout this season, the Lions just don’t stop fighting and they pushed and pushed, and just when you thought that perhaps this time the Lions had left it too late, that there were no scraps left for the Lions, up pops Panda who – and I am sure he will admit this himself – had not had the best of games until that moment, turning on a $1 coin to slide the ball home out of reach of the outstretched Mitsukoshi keeper to give the Lions a 2-1 lead with just seconds left to play.

Mitsukoshi had no answer, the Lions gained possession once more and played down the clock as the season came to an end. The final position of 2nd is the best that the Lions have had since we won the competition in 1997, many years before the vast majority of current Lions players joined the team. So some fantastic results and performances, victories over City and Fritz, and a “close but no cigar” moment with the title.

And with this BML match report, your humble chronicler bows out of Red Lions league football action, and my role as Chairman comes to an end. It has been an amazing 11 years as a Red Lion, and the last 4 and a half as chairman have been most rewarding. It has been a privilege to run this team, and I hope that I pass it on in a better condition than when I took over.

I would like to leave you with these words, paraphrasing the legendary Brian Clough:

I wouldn’t say I am the best chairman the Red Lions have ever had…but I am in the top one.

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Lions maul Rogue FC in the final round 1 encounter

If ever there was a time to get over a poor performance, this was it. The Lions came in to the match against Rogue FC after a miserable and abject performance against Fritz. Indeed that was such a poor collective showing that not even a match report could be written that would come close to describing the game without thoroughly demoralizing the team for all eternity.

The Pitch of Darkness at Bai Ling, where half the floodlights are broken, and the other half point anywhere but the goal areas, was the scene of the resurrection of the Red Lions, against the team led by former Red Lion, the Gay Judas Polack. With the game being played on a Thursday night, both teams seemed to be struggling slightly for numbers, but for the Lions it was a case of quality over quantity, with the starting line up consisting of:

Christian “Scrachi” Peluso, Kim Sun Il, Jose and Genghis “Edwin” Khan in defence, Irn Bru Daz, Mirko the Carp, Andy the Bear, Fred and Spike in midfield, with Joliet James up front on his own. Your humble chronicler once more was in goal. On the bench, Mora and TB were ready and raring to come on.

In an interesting turn of events, the Gay Judas Polack managed to play because the BML ref had taken the wrong number down in the previous game when handing out yellow cards. Ant, whose appeal by the Red Lions was – in typical local fashion – completely ignored by the BML, after being yellow carded against Fritz for a tackle that the referee later acknowledged to be perfectly legitimate, was still suspended. Oh those joys of irony from the BML.

Kick off then, and the Lions showed their hand, to change sporting metaphors for a moment, immediately, giving the Rogues no time whatsoever to settle on the ball. Fair, but firm challenges were raining in from all players, as the Lions pinned down the opposition in their own half. When the ball was cleared, the respite was merely temporary, with the Lions mopping up at the back like a man in a restaurant would mop up gravy with his last morsel of bread. Nothing was going to get through. Not tonight. The Lions were possessed, eager to atone for Sunday, the smell of revenge in their collective nostrils. And Rogue FC was the prey.

In the centre of midfield, Scottish Terrier Irn Bru Daz was staking his claim to be the first Red Lion to cover every single blade of grass and every single speck of dust on both Bai Ling pitches, never seeming to tire, and shutting down the entire Rogue midfield almost singlehandedly. In fact, some could be tempted to say that he is more TB-esque than TB himself.

On the right wing, Fred was having one of his finer games, always looking for the ball and laying off an intelligent, simple pass, to feet or in to space so that Joliet James or whoever could run on to it. He and Scrachi Peluso were working together very nicely along the right, any casual observer would be thinking this Italo-Swedish combination had come straight from the catwalks of Milan or Stockholm.

Up front, Joliet James responded to some post-Fritz match accusations that he had not run enough by working his socks off, running on to any ball played forwards on the flank, and putting the opposing defence under the sorts of pressure that had seen the Lions undefeated until the previous encounter.

Despite the dominance, the Lions could not find their way past an inspired Rogue goalkeeper who made a string of fine saves to thwart the Lions attack, palming a ball over for a corner, or making one superb outstretched save when it looked as if the ball had gone past him.

But for all his fine work, Rogues were always on the back foot in the first half, the only action of note at the other end being a blocked shot by Kim Sun Il which had been struck ferociously, the Red Lions defender’s positioning absolutely spot on.

Genghis was also having a good game at left back, getting in some excellent tackles, and not allowing the Rogue winger in to any dangerous positions. In fact, having seen his performance on Sunday, the Lions defence was exceptionally wary of letting the ball anywhere near their goalkeeper, your humble chronicler making only one relatively simple save during the course of the first half.

The Lions pushed though, wanting to make this dominance count, and with perhaps a quarter of an hour left in the first half, the breakthrough came. Having won another corner after some excellent all round attacking work, the ball was floated in to the 18 yard box with pinpoint precision by Andy the Bear, where Irn Bru Daz rose like a Scottish farmed salmon to power a header past the hapless keeper for a fully deserved 1-0 Lions lead.

After taking the lead, the Lions were on the back foot for a couple of minutes as Rogues tried desperately to get back in to the game, but the Lions defence held firm, the improvisational back four standing firm to deny any goal scoring opportunity for their opponents. And gradually the Lions gained possession, and momentum, and once more the pendulum swung in the Lions’ direction, the pressure once more being mounted on the Rogues’ goal.

Yet for all the pressure, the Lions were unable to build on the slender advantage, and half time arrived with a slender 1-0 lead for the Lions, and both teams knowing that this game was still far from over.

Jose needed to come off, and was replaced by TB which meant that Mirko needed to drop in to defence for the 2nd half. Kim Sun Il mentioned that the Rogues had also brought on a sub up front, a player whose talent was his speed. And this was plainly seen within seconds of the restart, as the ball made its way in to the Lions penalty area, only for the aforementioned Rogues player to zoom through all the defenders and find his way to the ball. Thankfully his way to goal was blocked, so he was pushed wide, the danger being cleared finally by the Lions defenders.

For the first ten minutes of the second half, it seemed like the Rogues were the hungrier team, perhaps buoyed by the fact that the Lions had only scored one when in truth they should have been out of sight by the break. Yet the Lions, now kicking against the wind, gradually fought their way back in to the game, winning possession by a truly possessed midfield that just would not lay down. Tirelessly the entire outfield team fought for the ball, hustling for everything, pressuring and making sure that the opponents made mistakes.

But once more there was a lack of harmony within the team. Perhaps this slender lead just edging the Lions tempers enough. Mao sliced a drop kick direct to the opposing attacker, Mirko the Carp shouting out “Concentrate”. Thankfully the ball made its way back to the Lions keeper, and the next drop kick went way over Mirko the Carp’s head.

Shortly afterwards, Joliet James made a comment in his famous Sicilian dialect to Christian “Scrachi” Peluso, and whereas it was obvious to most that he meant to say “don’t worry Christian – the next one will be fine”, he mis-spoke ever so slightly, the translation instead coming across as “You paesano son of an Albanian whore”.

Needless to say, Scrachi was slightly upset at this.

Immediately after this confrontation, the Lions had a goal kick. Mao asked Scrachi to take it. Scrachi, the paesano son of an Albanian whore, refused. Mao took the kick.

Miraculously, whereas the kick itself was nothing truly special, it did actually make its way to Irn Bru Daz, who in turn passed it out to the right wing, where the ball landed at Fred’s feet, he went past his defender, played the ball in to Joliet James who tonked the ball past the hapless keeper, giving the Lions a 2-0 lead, and a bit of a cushion.

And still Rogues did not capitulate like they did against Hong Min. Instead they came out fighting, and put the Lions under pressure once more. They forced a series of corners, the Gay Judas Polack deciding that the weakest link in the Lions defence was the goalkeeper (God knows who told him that State secret), so he put the ball on the Lions number 17. Three times he tried, three times the Lions keeper punched to safety or caught the ball. Yea, how do you fecking like that you Judas tosser?

Somewhere along the line, El Frijolero had come on, and I have no idea who he replaced, but anyway this is not relevant.

With just a few minutes left to play, the Lions played some more sweet possession football, and finally the ball made it through the middle to El Frijolero who scored an absolute stunner. If his winner against Peacock a few weeks previously had been a tad fortunate, then this was anything but. The shot was hit so beautifully, it curled, it dipped, it looped over the keeper and in to the net. 3-0 and a truly unassailable lead. Rogues resistance was now completely broken, and there was no more action of note at the Red Lions end. Actually, there was also no more action of note anywhere, with Rogues not offering anything, and the Lions now knowing the game was done and dusted.

It really was a team performance to rival the one which saw the Lions beat Peacock a few weeks earlier and one which would definitely have those watching (not that there was anyone) worrying about how to beat them. The ghost of Fritz games past had been put to rest, the Lions were back, and the rehashed joke about the Rogues (see post passim) could once more be circulated.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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Preliminary Rogue report

TAIPEI TIMES (AP) – A seven-year-old boy was at the centre of a Taipei courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law and regulations requiring that family unity
be maintained to the degree possible.

The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him.

After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him. After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to Rogue FC whom the boy firmly believes are incapable of beating anyone.

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Last minute Frijolero fluke secures vital victory

A last minute goal that bobbled over the goalkeeper capped off an excellent all-round team performance from the Red Lions against a cheating, diving Peacock team that lacked any kind of ideas when it came to not blatantly trying to cheat their way to a free kick around the Lions penalty area.

Despite the absence of many players including Fred, Panda, Ichi the North Korean Border Guard, Jimmy Glass, Andy the Bear, Ginger Elvis, Joliet James and the only gay in the village, 16 Red Lions still turned up, the majority of them on time, with the exception of Scrachi Peluso whose tardiness was rewarded with a place on the bench. Those who arrived on time and started were:

Ant the Mamil and Genghis “Edwin” Khan as full back, with Kim “Token Black” Sun Il and Jose Roberto in the centre. The midfield 4 comprised of Mirko the Carp and Godfather in the middle, with Salah and Darren on the wings, and Tim “Brutus” Brown and Alonso up front. Your humble chronicler was in his regular position, wedged in between the sticks. On the bench were Greig, ready for his BML debut (oh – you think?), Sergay, Spike, Mora, Charles and Scrachi.

The lack of original ideas from the Lions opposition was evident from kick off, as they attempted a very poor shot on goal which went very, very wide. From the resulting goal kick, expertly taken by Jose, it was clear that the Lions were the hungrier team for the win, with Darren on the left shutting down the opposition and getting in some hard yet fair and well timed tackles in. Mirko the Carp was given a surprising amount of time in the middle, which he took full advantage of with some excellent short passes to Godfather, Darren, TB and Alonso.

TB was making sure that the Peacock defence had no time to settle, as the Lions took advantage of the short pitch to pressure the opponents at all times. Alonso saw a lot of the ball as well, and attempted a couple of pile drivers to test the goalkeeper, alas not hitting the target with them. On the right wing, Salah was combining well with Ant the Mamil, calmly bringing the ball from a defensive position to a more attacking one smoothly, then laying off a series of nice passes and crosses.

Despite the pressure on the Peacock defence, they were still able to break quickly on occasions, playing a long ball out side where the attacker sneaked past Kim Sun Il with only the keeper to beat. Thankfully Mao had narrowed the angle and got a decent enough touch on the ball as the attacker tried to slot it under the Lions keeper, Ant launching the ball to safety on the rebound.

At the other end, the Lions got a corner from the left wing, against the wind, so it was slightly surprising to your humble narrator that all the Lions attackers lined up at the far post. It was considerably less surprising, however, when Darren’s corner kick did not make it to the far post thus allowing the Peacock defensive team to clear.

There was one moment of indecision from TB, as Godfather called for the ball in the middle of the Lions half, only for TB to play the ball directly to the Peacock attacker who gratefully accepted before once more the Lions defence could regain possession and clear their lines. Strangely enough, Godfather decided to punish this one error, taking TB off the pitch shortly afterwards, and replacing him with Scrachi.

Peacock were not without their danger though, and a series of corners were won, although Peacock tried the same tactic every time of an in-swinger straight to the keeper. Perhaps the Peacock team was trying to play on the fact that the Lions keeper is crap with crosses at the best of times, yet still the ball was punched to safety and even – on one occasion – caught cleanly.

At the other end, only some intense defending prevented the Lions from opening the scoring, with at least three attempts on goal being blocked by a resolute Peacock defence, the ball finally being launched in to the Keelung River by Alonso.

Towards the end of the half, Darren was harshly penalized for winning the ball in the fairest of ways with an excellent yet hard tackle. The cries of “Ai!” by the player and – your humble scribe may well be forgiven for accusing – the Peacock trainer were heeded by the referee who looked like he might well change his shirt to a blue one for the second half.

Despite having most of the play, the Lions were unable to make the breakthrough by half time, Godfather giving the instruction during the interval to keep going, stay as we are.

Yet this was not possible as immediately after the break the Peacock trainer decided he did not like Godfather’s stitch work on Salah’s shirt, the 34 looking a little like… well… a 34, but let’s be honest, when you’re clutching at straws, then any straw will do. The referee decided – not for the first, nor indeed last time – that he agreed with the Peacock trainer, and so sent Salah off to get the number fixed.

Upon his return, the linesman thought that the number was ok, but the referee was still a puppet of the Peacock management regime, and used his FBI-esque communications equipment to convey to the aforementioned linesman that Salah could have ironed on an impeccable silk-lined number 34 on the back of his shirt, but he was still not coming on. So a 2nd Lions substitution was needed, Mora coming on in what would turn out to be a truly inspired choice. Scrachi dropped to the wing, leaving El Frijolero and Alonso up front.

Still the Lions pushed forward, winning possession and given a huge amount of time in the centre of the park. This gave the combination of Godfather and Mirko the Carp plenty of time to pick out the pass, either to the attack or out to the wing. Scrachi Peluso was getting nicely involved, making runs down the wing and inter-linking nicely with Mora and Alonso. Darren on the left was showing his highland terrier pedigree by not allowing anything on the left hand side of the pitch to go unchased, all the pressure now being exerted on the Peacock team which looked like it was going to capitulate at any given moment.

In one Lions attack, there were several intricate passes, with the ball finally being played to Alonso’s feet, the Lions attacker almost cracking the crossbar with a ferocious drive which – had it been a couple of centimetres lower – would have given the Lions a fully deserved lead. As it was though, the ball bounced down back in to the six yard area, before being cleared by the defence.

Midway through the half, a blatant foul on Godfather was conveniently given TO Peacock, before the referee changed his mind, obviously so used to blowing everything for the team in blue. Shortly after this, Alonso seemed through on goal just outside the area but was pulled back, the referee having no option but to give the Lions a free kick in a very dangerous position. Godfather’s attempt at a shot on goal ended up with a ball being lost in the car park.

Peacock was now relying on their usual “let’s dive around the penalty area and see if we can get a free kick” tactics, the referee being sucked in on more than several occasions by the blatant – that is blatant if you’re anyone but a Taiwanese referee – cheating. The Lions though had finally, after several failed attempts, worked out how to form a wall, and keep the opposition from taking a quickie. And from each free kick, the danger was cleared easily.

However there was one moment of danger where an in-swinger against the wind was hoisted in to the air, the ball bringing out what some have described as a “world class” save from the Lions keeper, as he tipped it over the bar for a corner. Your humble chronicler is much too humble to call it world class, but is not so humble that he is going to argue with the description.

Charles replaced the injured Jose at the back, heading to the right back position with Ant the Mamil being drafted in to the centre of defence with Kim Sun Il. Immediately Charles was penalised for a tackle which looked harmless enough, and shortly afterwards both he and Ant the Mamil were incensed by the referee’s decision to give a free kick just outside the area for the most innocuous of challenges.

Ant suggested to the player on the floor that he was a cheating, diving tosser, which somehow aggravated one of the Peacock’s midfielders, the referee jumping in between them before a fight ensued. The resulting free kick went straight in to the well-placed Lions wall, and – after a little scrappy defending – was cleared to safety.

Time was now running out, and the game looked like it could be heading for a goalless encounter, but there would be a twist in the tale. A Peacock attack through the middle was snuffed out by a strong Kim Sun Il tackle who then calmly played the ball up to Godfather who in turn laid a pass in to the path of El Frijolero’s run. As Mora ran inside his defender, Ant the Mamil was heard – with the most precise of calls – to shout “come on Mora, do some something special… one last time!”, a cryptic message if ever there was one, a distinct lack of clarity as to what “one last time” meant, yet it somehow seemed to work its magic.

El Frijolero cut inside his player then took what appeared from the location of your humble chronicler to be an extremely tame and most saveable shot, low to the near post of the diving goalkeeper who seemed to have had more than enough time to have it covered. But right at the last second, the ball hit a bobble which took El Frijolero’s shot over the keeper and it trickled in to the net to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. No one will argue that the goal was a touch fortunate, but then again there will be few who could justifiably argue that this goal was in any way undeserved.

Two minutes were all the remained between the Lions and 3 vital points to keep in touch with the league leaders Fritz, yet despite Peacock’s best efforts for diving some more, the referee seemed disinterested, and the Lions were able to play out the final few seconds of the game without any additional drama. Despite the lack of so many regular players, the Lions gave arguably the team performance of the season so far, and this must be a boost to the confidence for the show-down with Fritz.

Greig, who must have been relishing his opportunity to make a first Red Lions BML appearance before kick off, alas was not handed his opportunity, Godfather deciding that the sterling performance shown by himself and Mirko the Carp were just too much. Either that or he could not face the fact that 2 Scots would have been played in one single game.

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On a Mission from God – Red Lions end the run of poor results vs City

“If you say no, then Jake and I will come here for breakfast lunch and dinner, every day of the week.”

Recent history has shown that despite out-playing the opposition, the Red Lions just can’t seem to get a result against the team previously run by the Pikey. Even being 3-0 up a couple of seasons back, we still managed to lose 4-3, the memory of JH’s red card and a spectacular howler by a certain, un-named player still fresh and vivid in the memory. The Lions though, with Joliet James up front, are on a mission from God, and were desperate to stop the rot of successive defeats.

Yet despite being on their home pitch, Bai Ling’s B cow field, without puddles, without rain, without Tim “Brutus” Brown and “the only gay in the Village” Clovis, the Lions would still struggle to contain their opponents, who this season are looking a lot weaker than we have ever seen in the past.

The Lions had been talking this game up all week, and when it looked like City were struggling to even field 11, confidence was high that this was the time when the Lions would roar, and take all the points.

Mr Liu blew the whistle for kick off.

And the Lions, it seemed, fell to sleep.

For the record, the starting eleven were:

Christian “Scrachi” Peluso, Charles, Jose and Genghis. In the middle, Mirko the Carp and Godfather in the centre, with Ichi on the right wing and Jimmy Glass on the left. Up front, Panda paired up with Joliet James. Your humble chronicler, unsurprisingly, was in goal.

“No Sir. Mayor Daley no longer diners here. He’s dead Sir.”

Right from the off, the Lions looked lethargic, disinterested. Dead. Despite all the good intentions of a motivational speech by Godfather and Joliet James before the match, the Lions seemed almost not to have turned up. Not only did the Lions find it difficult to get the ball, when they finally had it, they had absolutely no idea what to do with it, much like Clovis when handed a naked boob.

And so, having celebrated their fill of Christmas spirit at the Fu Bar last weekend, they handed it back, straight to City’s most grateful midfielders.

Within minutes, City had almost opened the scoring, having had the ball gifted to them not for the first, nor indeed the last time today. The Lions midfield and defence seemed to be in disarray, with no organization there, and gave City all the time they needed to rifle in a shot past the statuesque Mao. Thankfully the ball hit the post and rebounded out. Alas it was only as far as Dan. The good news though was that as the shot was a fecking thunderbolt, Dan had no time to react accordingly, and the ball ricocheted off him for a goal kick.

Twenty minutes in to the game, and that was really all that either team had in the way of chances. The Lions defensive line had worked out after the early scare that they needed to close down City’s attack, but the midfield just wasn’t given the opportunity to service and support the attack. Indeed, so many passes were still going astray, the casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that the ball was a hot stone, which the Lions deemed necessary to hand straight over to City.

As the half wore on though the Lions found some rhythm, Ichi and Scrachi on the right actually stringing passes together, a true source of inspiration in our hour of need.

Joliet James and Panda were now seeing some of the ball, although they still had no clue what to do with it, Dale in the City goal not troubled for the moment.

On the left, Genghis was getting in some crunching tackles, which made him lose his elastoplast. But despite this huge personal loss, valiantly he fought on.

In midfield, Jimmy Glass wasn’t given the space to work his magic, and Mirko the Carp seemed to also be having an off day, his passing not quite the precision one would expect from the German. Probably made in East Germany. It seemed that we missed the magic of Salah in the middle of the park, but as he had turned up (a) late and (b) without boots, he was deemed surplus to requirements, and thus spent the opening period on the bench.

Both Panda and Joliet James spurned gilt edged chances in the latter minutes, Joliet James taking too many chances when he should have just shot the fecking ball, and Panda stretching the City defence but also unable to get the shot away. Dale was becoming the busier of the two goalkeepers, although the Lions were still not firing on all cylinders.

Still the Lions fought on, and by the end of the half had found a certain amount of rhythm that gave them hope for the second half.

“Do you guys know Minnie the Moocher? No, but I once knew a hooker named Minnie Mazola.”

The second half saw more fight from the Lions, with Fred and Mora slowly introduced to the fold, trying to bring a little more to the middle and forward lines. But the Lions were dealt a blow early on as Ichi had to go off injured, the Korean border guard being replaced by Salah.

By now, Dale was being forced in to some saves, and made himself big on a couple of occasions as the Lions once more failed to put the chances away. Joliet James was perhaps the most guilty of all. Not perhaps. Was. Definitely.

“If the shit fits, wear it.”

Although the Lions were still in the driving seat in the second half, Salah was not bringing the sort of width that Ichi had done in the first half, and so many of the plays on the Lions right wing just fizzled out. Fred was fighting hard, chasing down the opponents, winning the ball on more than one occasion, the Swede in a mean festive mood.

Despite all this possession though, it was City who took the lead when they broke quickly and launched a counter attack. With the Lions defence split with a delightful through ball, Alex the Mayan Midget lobbed the Lions keeper who had come out to narrow the angle.

1-0 City, but the Lions were not done.

From what looked like the best move of the game so far by the Lions, some sweet passing along the left wing brought out a fine low save from Dale who put the ball off for a corner when the ball looked destined to go in to the net.

“At least we got a change of clothes sucker – you’re still wearing the same shit you had on three years ago”

City too were still dangerous, and were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Lions penalty area. With the Lions ambling back, and Jimmy Glass not exactly being quick to react to the pretty clear instructions from the Lions keeper (which bit of “left” or “tight together” don’t you understand?), there was one player who did pay attention. Problem was, that player was in a City shirt. In came the quick shot, heading for the far post, the Lions defence not even ready yet.

Thankfully though, despite being described as an “old man on holiday”, it was your humble narrator who pulled off a decent save of his own to keep the score respectable.

“You are such a disappointing pair. I prayed so much for you. It saddens and hurts me that two young men whom I raised to believe in The Ten Commandments should return to me as two thieves with filthy mouths and bad attitudes. Get, out and don’t come back until you’ve redeemed yourselves.”

And Mao wasn’t finished there.

“New Oldsmobiles are in early this year”

What the Lions needed from this game was a Christmas miracle. And they got it in the most unexpected fashion. Totally against everything you would expect from the Lions keeper, when City broke and crossed the ball in, Mao actually took the cross. And HELD it. I’ll repeat it for those who can’t quite believe their eyes here. HELD THE FECKING CROSS.

Not only that, he then launched the ball upfield, which was nodded on by Fred to the left wing where Jimmy Glass was in enough space for once, the City defence disorganized completely, which is of course what you would expect with Chappy in the team, and with Dale going walkabout, Jimmy Glass delivered a cross that could tempt the devil himself, and not even Joliet James could miss this open goal. But he tried. The ball hit the back of the net, and the Lions were back in it. Redemption was found.

“What kind of music do you usually have here? We got both kinds – country AND western”

With the game evenly balanced, and both teams going for the win, the final 15 minutes saw the Lions push forwards, City countering but not really endangering the Lions goal. Darren was brought on for his debut in a Lions shirt, and found the game to be a lot different to the one you would play on the rain sodden, windswept fields of Glasgow.

City broke down their left wing, Dan cutting in from the corner flag and looked up for someone to pass to. Unfortunately for him, there was only one player available, and by this time the Lions defence had put him under enough pressure for him to try a speculative cross in to the middle, which was easily lapped up by the Lions and cleared.

Mora, Joliet James, Fred, Jimmy Glass, Salah, all got involved, trying to carve a way through the City defenders to get that winning goal, but were unable to do so.

And back in the Lions half, another dangerous cross was whipped in but another Christmas miracle was happening, as Mao not only called to take the cross, but actually jumped – according to Kim Sun Il who was still observing from the sidelines – 6 inches higher than usual. Which must mean he got 6 inches off the ground. The Lions keeper plucked the ball out of the air, off the head of Calvert who was waiting for the ball to come down to a suitable height for him to nod in for the City winner.

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses”

And that was essentially the end of the action. Despite having the Lions share of the ball, and the territorial advantage that goes with it, the Lions could not find that final winning goal, and with just 15 seconds to play, made their final substitution, Kim Sun Il coming on to the pitch as Mr Liu blew for full time. It should be said that not one pass did Kim Sun Il play astray, not one tackle did he miss. A truly awesome, inspirational performance from him.

The Christmas break now kicks in for the Lions, the Fritz game in January being the next fixture, and the Lions can take heart from the performances over the last few weeks. This was the first time the team had been behind, and it took a concerted effort, and a lot of fight to secure the point against the current champions. Despite not being at their best, the Lions showed the spirit that can only come from one place.

We’re on a Mission from God.

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Lions Christmas Cracker – with a good stuffing of the cheating Mitsukoshi

With a respite in the seemingly endless torrential downpour, albeit temporary, that has seen Taiwan become sodden and drenched over the last few weeks, BML action returned to the Bai Ling B pitch, despite a mail the previous evening saying the game was on the A pitch. The random words of “piss up”, “couldn’t”, “a” (twice), “organise”, “brewery” and “in” sprung readily to mind as the Red Lions assembled, looking like they meant business. The opposition, however, looked like they were Rogue FC, in that with just a few minutes to go before kick off, there were fewer than 9 players getting changed, including the old fat guy who makes your humble narrator like he’s been on a Slimfast diet for the last 6 months.

The starting line up for the Lions was Christian “Scrachi” Peluso and Paul “Ginger Elvis” Hemingay at full back, with Charles as one of the two centre backs. In midfield, Mirko the Carp, Salah, Ian “Jimmy Glass” Billett and Fred were chosen, with Panda and Joliet “Suck my balls” James up front. The other centre back was Ant “only if you stick them on my head” the Mamil (Middle Aged Man In Lycra). Your humble chronicler was once more chosen for his epic goalkeeping skills.

Despite the rain, the B pitch – at the beginning of the game at least – was surprisingly playable, yet as Mr Liu blew his whistle to start the game, so too did God see this as a signal to start the rain once more. Of these two unbeaten teams, it was the Lions who looked hungrier, dominating possession in the opening stages, the midfield looking calm and collected, given more time than perhaps a better team would have offered. Despite the possession though, there was very little pressure on the opposition’s goal for the first few minutes. Even less action, of course, was afforded the Lions keeper, who was well protected by the back four. Ant “only if you stick them on my head” the Mamil made some of his trademark crunching tackles to ensure the two decent (if they stopped cheating and blatantly diving) Mitsukoshi players on the pitch could not get through.

Mitsukoshi was essentially reduced to cheating by diving and the shouts of “Ai” which Mr Liu refuses to penalize, despite the fact that if he actually showed a yellow card for it, might actually stop these bullshit attempts at getting a free kick or penalty. Thankfully today Mr Liu was having none of it, and was heard shouting “Play” on several occasions. Several Red Lions were also heard to make comments to the Mitsukoshi players lying in “agony” on the floor along the lines of “get up you cheating tosser”.

The Lions were threatening more and using their width (that is the width of the pitch, not the collective waistlines) which has been the key element of many Lions victories over recent seasons. Ian “Jimmy Glass” on the left was asserting himself, looking for one-twos up the line, with Mirko the Carp and Salah snuffing out the Mitsukoshi midfield. Fred on the right made some sauntering runs, not allowing anything past him. Up front, Panda was looking to hold up the ball, and Joliet “suck my balls” James also made sure that the Mitsukoshi defensive line understood this was not just a game, but a true battle.

With perhaps 20 minutes gone, the Lions took a deserved lead, as a combination of Fred and Joliet “suck my balls “ James won the ball, the latter the delivering a cross so delicious, it could have come straight out of Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas Cook Book. “Jimmy Glass” it was who applied the finishing touch to the move, sticking the ball in to the net for a fully deserved 1-0 lead.

If this goal was expected to unsettle the opposition, then it had completely the opposite effect. Despite the fat number 7 on the Mitsukoshi left getting a yellow card for blatantly holding on to Joliet “suck my balls” James as he tonked past, it was now Mitsukoshi who had the wind in their collective sails. And with Paul “Ginger Elvis” Hemingay injuring himself, supposedly with a pulled hamstring although it could be suggested that he wanted to limp off at 1-0, he was replaced by Genghis “Edwin” Khan. As he left the pitch, Ginger Elvis could be heard singing “I’ll be home for Christmas”.

Mitsukoshi were now pushing hard, the Lions defence under some pressure for the first time in the game, and our opposition was winning a series of corners, which were dealt with by a combination of the non-calling Lions keeper and Ant “only if you stick them on my head” the Mamil.

From one such corner, the call was given “AWAY”, so Jimmy Glass, mere centimetres away from the ball with an easy clearance opportunity, decided instead to leave the ball to go in to the danger zone. From the ensuing scuffle in the box, the ball made its way to the byline where Salah and a Mitsukoshi player both fell to the floor, and as the attacker tried to get up, he tripped over Salah’s foot, Mr Liu awarding the penalty.

In the corresponding fixture last season, it was Mao who got sent off for a blatant foul, and Joliet “suck my balls” James who went in goal. Mao told the replacement keeper where the penalty was going, but this suggestion was, of course, ignored, and Mitsukoshi scored. This time Mao told himself where the ball was going, ignored himself, and Mitsukoshi scored. 1-1.

With game back on, it was end to end stuff, but neither team threatened the two goalkeepers, and each defence/midfield cancelled out the opposing midfield/attack. But there was a final twist in the tail for the half.

As the first half drew to a close, the Lions got a goal kick. With just 15 seconds left, Ant “only if you stick them on my head” the Mamil wanted to take the kick, but Mao assured him he knew what he was doing.

12 seconds to go, Mao was heard to shout “Mirko”. Mitsukoshi knew that this was the one player the ball was definitely not going to, and so left him alone in space.

With 10 seconds left of the half, Mao played the ball upfield with an inch-perfect goal kick to Mirko.

8 seconds remaining, and Mirko flicked the ball with a deft touch, offering a centimeter-perfect pass to Jimmy Glass on the left wing.

He ran for three seconds, before delivering the most millimetre precise cross in to the path of Joliet “suck my balls” James.

Mr Liu checked his watch, cleared his throat, and put his whistle in his mouth as Joliet “suck my balls” James powered the ball home to restore the Red Lions slender lead. As the Mitsukoshi players looked around for someone to blame, the net still rippling from the force of the ball, Mr Liu blew for half time.

The Lions made a couple of changes at half time, Charles being replaced by Kim Sun Il, Ichi the North Korean border guard (who was rather late arriving at the pitch) replacing Fred, and Mirko the Carp being rewarded for his vital contribution to the Lions regaining the lead by being brought off, Godfather his replacement. Mora also came on, Panda making way for El Frijolero.

As the rain got stronger, so too did the opposition, and with the Lions attacking, looking for a third goal to seal the game, Mitsukoshi was also dangerous, especially on the break. The cheating number 6 player took a dive outside the Lions penalty area, once again Mr Liu not interested in any of this bullshit.

At the hour mark, Joliet “suck my balls” James was taken off, replaced by Tim “Brutus” Brown. Standing on the sidelines, Joliet “suck my balls” James was heard whingeing about the lack of fire power up front, and questioning the substitutions strategy of Godfather, wondering too in typical brash, American loud fashion as to who from the Lions team was worthy and able enough to put the ball away.

As the Lions kept up the pressure, Mitsukoshi broke down their left wing, Genghis “Edwin” Khan initially playing the opposition onside, and in the confusion that ensued, both he and Ant “only if you put them on my head” the Mamil decided to go cover the left winger, that cheating tosser of a number 6. The only issue with this was that the same player that Mao hacked down (thus resulting in the aforementioned red card last season) was left all on his own in the middle. All the cheating twat of a number 6 needed to do was centre the ball. Which he did. Your humble scribe this time decided not to take him out in the one on one, probably because he was still sliding in the mud, and as the Lions keeper tried in vain to stop, and find his footing, the Mitsukoshi attacker had enough time to also position himself for a shot in to the open net, to level the scores once more.

2-2 then and for a moment it was looking like the momentum had shifted.

Mitsukoshi was now pushing forwards, and as the Lions keeper collected the ball, it was the cheating Mitsukoshi attacker who tried to kick it out of his hands. Mr Liu correctly blew for a free kick, Mao being protected also by his defenders who made it abundantly clear, as a scuffle broke out between perhaps 8 or ten players in total, to the uber-aggressive cheating Mitsukoshi tossers that they did not appreciate in any way shape or form any hassle of their keeper. Indeed, if anyone was going to hassle the keeper, it would be them.

Fifteen seconds after calm had returned, one of the Mitsukoshi defenders finally made it to the Lions penalty area, and restarted the hassle. Mr Liu motioned to the defender to shut the fuck up and get back to his defensive duties.

Shortly after this, Mitsukoshi played the ball down their right wing, and somehow the attacker ended up in a one on one against the Red Lions keeper, your humble chronicler this time making a reflex save from the powerful shot to turn the ball away for a corner.

Mitsukoshi still threatened though, and once more the Lions keeper needed to be alert as the ball was played in from the left. With Kim Sun Il and the cheating twat of a number 6 also following in, Mao slid in and cleared for a corner. As he was about to jump over his keeper, Kim Sun Il was pushed in the back, thus making contact initially with Mao, and ending up going arse over tit, landing head first in the mud. As he stood up, spewing obscenities and copious amounts of mud, he was most definitely black enough.

Readers of this report may well think that it was one-way traffic, but this is not the case. El Frijolero was constantly looking for the ball, making himself available, yet when he had the opportunity to shoot, decided instead to lay off the ball. Ichi the North Korean border guard too was looking dangerous, bringing width to the game as the centre of the field became more and more bogged as lake size puddles formed.

Indeed it was the Lions who adapted to these conditions better, and when the ball got stuck in the water, they showed the skill to get the ball out of there much better than they previously had against Hong Min.

The game though was entering the final five minutes and it was beginning to look as though both teams would have to settle for a point each when another Jimmy Glass cross was met, this time by Godfather who rose like Jesus Christ at Easter to direct a power header in past the hapless keeper for the Lions to go in to the lead for the third time this match.

And the action was not over there. In fact, there was still time for a red card for what was probably the most innocuous challenge, Mr Liu’s patience finally tested as the Mitsukoshi player attempted to hold back Jimmy Glass. And with Mitsukoshi now down to ten, gone was their resolve.

But the Lions were not finished, and as Mr Liu once more counted down the seconds before blowing the final whistle, Ichi it was who scored a scorcher from distance, the ball screaming in to the back of the net like a North Korean ballistic missile.

4-2 the final score, the Lions getting ready for the evening’s entertainment at the Fu Bar for the Christmas party. And with the Dentway game cancelled for the Sunday, needless to say, it was an alcoholic affair. Ant the Mamil got his wish granted. It’s not yet been ascertained, however, if Joliet James got his.


And the moral of this story children is plain to see...

And the moral of this story children is plain to see…

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Red Lions 1 Hong Min 1

Some might see it as two points lost. Others may see it as a point gained, but whichever way you look at it, there can be no denying that the Red Lions were involved heavily in a battle with Hong Min, the champions of 2010-11. Many Red Lions will no doubt be waking up with battle scars after a hard-fought game, with each and every player in the squad playing a significant role in making sure the Red Lions remain unbeaten so far this season.

With Godfather electing on a 4-4-2 formation, the Lions starting line up was Christian “Scrachi” Peluso and Paul “Ginger Elvis” Hemingay as full backs, with Charles and Ant in the central defensive positions. In midfield, Ian “Jimmy Glass” Billett and Ichi took the wings, with Andy the Bear and Godfather in the middle. Up front were Jaime and Fred. Your humble chronicler was once again to be found in goal.

The rain was never going to make this game an easy or pretty one, but perhaps it did suit the Red Lions a little more, and with this knowledge the defensive line was pushed up to allow any through balls to – hopefully – be picked up by the Lions keeper. But for the opening few minutes, the Lions didn’t even get a sniff of the ball, Hong Min happy to play possession, passing it around at the back, looking for an opening on the wings. The Lions midfield and defence though were alert and waiting for the runs of the Hong Min attackers, and so very little action was to be seen in the initial period.

The Red Lions central midfield of Andy the Bear and Godfather was kept busy, shutting down the opposition and making tackles, forcing the opposition back to try to start another attack, Jimmy Glass on the left wing was making some excellent runs, and linking well with Ginger Elvis at the back. On the right, Ichi and Scrachi also seem to have developed an understanding, although perhaps one could suggest that they were a little too close to one another on occasions. Up front, Jaime was his usual no nonsense, gung ho self, making sure that his opponents were very much aware of his presence, with Fred also in no mood for generousity.

But the first goal mouth action of note was at the Red Lions end, after a good through ball on the Hong Min right wing allowed the number 33 to be played in for a one on one with Mao in goal, the Lions keeper making the save before the ball was cleared to safety.The Lions opposition was on the offensive now but Charles and Ant kept their concentration high, making important, strong and fair challenges to keep the opponents at bay.

The Lions attacking chances were few, but on one occasion half way through the first half Jimmy Glass whipped in a pinpoint cross from the wing to Jaime who rose like a salmon with what looked like a free head to power the ball past the useless hapless keeper. Your humble narrator is firmly of the opinion that he would have saved this one too. 1-0 Lions, and perhaps not fully undeserved.

Hong Min responded immediately, turning the heat up on the Lions midfield and defence, but with the Red Lions back line remaining firm and very well organised their opportunities too were limited and they quickly ran out of ideas. As the half started to wind down, off went Andy the Bear with an injury, his replacement being Mirko the Carp who slotted in seamlessly to fill the void in central midfield.

The Lions keeper was called in to action once more though in another one on one situation, again making good contact with the ball before collecting the rebound as it bounced and skidded off this most slippery of playing surfaces.

Hong Min now looked truly as though they had no more ideas as to how to wear down the Red Lions defence, and for the final few minutes of the half, the Lions were playing the sort of possession football that is such a joy to watch, with plenty of short sweet first time passes to feet, movement off the ball.

Half time came and the rain increased in intensity for the occasion as the Lions trudged off the pitch. During the break the playing conditions deteriorated and the puddles that had appeared in the first half had now become lakes.

As the floodlights came on for the second half, the lights having been turned away from the goal areas even more than previously to ensure good illumination in the middle of the park, and total darkness for the 6 yard areas, it was the Lions who once again dominated the opening seconds of the final 45 minutes, keeping possession and playing short, sweet passes on the sort of surface where – perhaps – it might not have been quite the right tactic to do so. As the ball got stuck in the water regularly, the Lions failed to change their tactics to playing on the right wing, where the puddles were fewer, or even to the England national team’s pastime of route one football.

And as such Hong Min took advantage on several occasions. Many times, the central defensive combination of Charles and Ant was called in to action, standing tall as giants to make sure that there was no way through for the Hong Min attack. Hong Min were awarded a free kick just inside Lions territory which was floated in to the area, and it looked as though the Red Lions keeper had perhaps come too far, and was about to be lobbed from 50 metres, but your humble scribe flapped at the ball, getting the slightest touch which just took the ball off its’ original course on off for a corner.

Mr Liu was doing a good job as referee, with Hong Min handling the ball, but the Lions in possession, Mr Liu shouting “Play” to keep the game flowing. The Lions then lost advantage, the ball then came off a Lions hand, but Hong Min were in possession, Mr Liu once more reiterating his desire to keep the game moving by the lack of whistle action.

He certainly was not going to be sucked in by the blatant dive of the number 33 once more as he entered the Lions penalty area, lost control of the ball under a little bit of pressure from Ant, and then fell to the ground demanding a penalty. Mao would have had it anyway, as the shot would have gone to the Lions’ keeper’s left. Mr Liu signaled goal kick for the Lions, the back four of the Lions all repulsed by the cheating tactics of their opponents.

The Red Lions however were losing composure at times, panic perhaps setting in as they tried desperately to hold on to this slender lead. On several occasions the ball was knocked off for a thrown when it could have been hit up the field, or even sliced off for a corner, but despite knocking at the door, the entire team played its own role in ensuring the ball was cleared.

This is not to say, however, that there were not a few scares on the way, with one cross coming in from the Hong Min right flank, Charles going in with a diving header but also flying in a little too low, the ball skimming off his head and was goal bound until a reflexive save from the Lions keeper kept the ball out of the goal, spinning off for yet another Hong Min corner.

Time was beginning to run out, Godfather’s energy had already done so as he lay in a puddle with cramp. To preserve this lead, time wasting tactics were now employed by the Lions, as a series of substitutions were made, Mora coming on, Panda coming on and leaving his mark on a Hong Min defender within a matter of 11 seconds.

Several niggly tackles were now being committed by both sides, some poorly timed, some just because Hong Min are a bunch of uber-aggressive cheating twats.

With just minutes to go before the final whistle, and the Lions hanging on in there, Hemingay was penalized for a push in the back just outside the area. Mao in goal arranged the wall where he wanted it, but instead of staying where he was told to be, Ichi instead got pulled to the right by Jimmy Glass. The Hong Min attacker took full advantage of this gaping hole with his free kick. The ball was bent like Clovis round the wall and hit the inside of the post before rippling the net.

This seemed to affect the Lions, the heads seemed to drop for a moment, Hong Min now looking the more likely of the two teams to get a winner, but Genghis was brought on for the final two minutes, Tim “Brutus” Brown for the final 60 seconds, as the Lions stood firm for a most hard fought of points.

Paddy the Monk sizes up Clovis’ boyfriend

After the game the Lions headed to Frankies for post match drinks and banter, Paddy the Monk sizing up Clovis’ new boyfriend by giving him a good squeeze in the crotch. Mike Leonhard also turned up – his first public appearance in Taiwan since getting hitched. Somehow too Judas was invited to our sponsor, where he failed miserably to buy a round, the cheap Polish bastard.

Up next, Taipei City, and the Lions can expect another hard game against the current champions who once more dropped points at the weekend. This season’s BML is truly wide open, and there is no reason why the Lions should not be right up there in the mix at the end if they can produce splendid team efforts like this one throughout the season.

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The Ichi and Scrachi Show


Before the game started, your humble chronicler went and had a quick chat with Ichi.

“You need to score a goal,” he said, “so that I can use the headline ‘The Ichi and Scrachi Show”

Little was anyone to know just how literally Ichi would take this command.

To the game then, and the Red Lions assembled at Bai Ling B pitch, also known as the dust bowl, with a changed side from the previous weekend which had seen the Lions stroll through to a 2-0 victory. Despite scoring the season opener for the Red Lions, Tim “Brutus” Brown was relegated to the bench. The starting line up saw Christian, Ant, Charles and Jose at the back, Salah, Ichi, Ian “Jimmy Glass” and Mirko the Carp in midfield, with Jaime and Fred up front. Your humble narrator was in goal, although for all the action that would be played in the Lions’ half, it may as well have been Krusty the Clown.

Dispelling any thoughts that perhaps the Sanchong boys had progressed during the off season, the Red Lions once more didn’t have to get out of second gear for this game, and the first few minutes emulated the previous game with lots of passes going astray on what has to be acknowledged by all as a seriously bumpy pitch that does not allow nice football to be played. Obviously the BML organizers have taken inspiration from Wall Street, making maximum profits their top priority. Thankfully though Sanchong were having enough issues of their own regarding the retention of the ball, so to say those first 15 minutes or so were not exactly top quality is not a million miles from an accurate description.

Several players found their passes – short or long – head straight to the opposition, and it seemed there was a distinct lack of concentration within the Lions ranks. One such case was evident when the ball was played to Jose, but Jose was not looking. It was only after a gentle reminder that he noticed the ball in his vicinity, so he chased off to go get it. Thankfully for the Lions, Sanchong also was not paying attention.

But gradually the Lions took control of the game, all inspired by the Lions right back, Christian. After having had a rather slow start himself, he found himself in some space on the right wing, made one of those trademark runs to the byline, delivering a powerful that evaded all touches until it reached Ichi at the back post who slotted the ball away in a fashion that had more than a passing resemblance to Rob Edwards’ goal at Wembley in 2008, except it wasn’t a corner, and it weasn’t Dean Moxey delivering the cross. Anyway, 1-0 Lions and this seemed to settle the team.

Shortly afterwards, the Lions got a free kick just outside the Sanchong penalty area, Christian stepping up to take it, firing a breathtaking and unstoppable (unless your humble narrator had been facing it of course) thunderbolt in to the back of the net to make it 2-0. Now the dreams of Taiwan’s youth were truly gone, destroyed within just a few first half minutes.

But the Lions were not finished for the first half, and the Lions were passing with a lot more confidence, Ian and Salah working hard in the middle of the park, trying to find space on this pitch which was as narrow and short as it was bumpy. Now passes were finding the intended recipient, Mirko the Carp making some well timed tackles, the entire back row of the Red Lions defence not allowing the ball or what may once have resembled the Sanchong attack any time or opportunity to bear down on the Lions’ goal.

Christian – or Scrachi as he will now be known – also was not finished, as he delivered one final pass to the far post which looked like it may have gone in off Fred’s shin, but in it went anyway, and the Lions led 3-0. A true showing of men against boys, and among those men, Scrachi stood tall.

Half time came, Godfather deciding not to sub the back row, mainly because they had yet – with the exception of Scrachi perhaps – to break in to a sweat. He did, however, bring himself on, at the expense of Mirko, if my ever so hazy memory serves me correctly.

It was always going to be difficult to follow up on the wondrous first half, especially with the Red Lions entering a secondary phase of complacency. Sanchong, for their part, looked like they hadn’t got a clue what to do any more. Having been shouted at through their half time break, they just wanted to go home to watch Doraemon reruns on TV. Football? Bollocks to that, said the expressions on their poor collective faces.

Within a few minutes, Godfather showed why he had rested himself in the first half by scoring a scorcher from distance, the goalkeeper once more miles away from a veritably unstoppable (although once again your humble scribe is firmly of the opinion that he would have saved it) tonker of a shot. 4-0 Lions and if the Sanchong boys heads had been down before, now they were in total despondency.

But they did break once down their left wing, with Ant shouting to Scrachi to cover him in the middle whilst he personally went in with a crunching tackle (and also most fair) to put the ball in to touch.

And after that, there was no more real action to speak of. Subs were brought on, including a cameo performance by Andy “Dude” the Bear. You will, dear reader, forgive me if I don’t list all subs, especially not in chronological order, but it was quite honestly rather tedious to watch. Sanchong had no fight left, the Lions weren’t really that bothered about scoring more goals. The game was done. Had the referee blown his whistle for time after just 65 minutes there would have been no complaints from either side.

Still there was time for some Red Lions BML debuts for Spike and Alonso, both of whom spurned spectacularly easy chances. First up was Alonso who was played in to a one on one situation with the Sanchong keeper. Alonso perhaps with a little too much cockiness and confidence tried to take about 600 touches more than he really needed, and instead of actually taking a shot, decided to take on the entire Sanchong defence, before taking on the entire Sanchoing defence again, culminating in a save by the keeper.

And if that was bad then Spike’s chance was just desperation on a stick. Also in a one on one, all he had to do was shoot the ball in the general direction of the goal. To say he fluffed it is like saying Mitt Romney screwed up the Presidential election. With so much time and space to place that shot, Spike sliced it, the ball looking as though it may well have gone off for a throw. Certainly the ref and lineman had a good look at each other trying to work out whether to award a throw or a Sanchong goal kick.

Thankfully though missing these opportunities did not matter in the end, as the Lions didn’t exactly romp home, but did what was needed to be the only team left in the BML yet to concede a goal this season.

But the next game… well that’s Hong Min. And the Lions will not be allowed any complacency there!


Oh, and Clovis managed to avoid getting kicked in the face this time. Bitches. As he himself would say, “Jajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajaja”

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