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.