Game 9 - AGGM O/65's. v. Singapore - Sunday 26th May 2013
Level 53 on Swissotel Stamford, Singapore - views of multi-story offices and apartment blocks for miles - small, patches of green are seen in the foreground adjacent to colonial heritage buildings, a legacy of British imperialism of a bygone era. It's time to change for the final game, physio Nigel provides an appointment schedule for those that need therapy but his list of 65's is generally short and straight-forward, being predominately confined to match days. In contrast the 70's physio, Elena, appears to have an ever-lengthening appointment list of septuagenarians who claim to require massage and strapping to keep themselves running. The skies over Singapore change, storm clouds gather and the tropical rains are back as we head for the impressive Sengkang Hockey stadium and a three o'clock start. The rain is light, there are a few distant rumbles of thunder and an occasional lightening flash but compared with our Asian introduction in KL this is a breeze - one problem, there's a red light flashing at the stadium gate and the lightening warning siren is droning on, and on, and on. The Indian players that make up the bulk of the Singapore team suggest it will be turned off at the match time of 3pm and that, in these conditions, they'll probably make a start shortly afterwards. We complete our warm-up and stretches by ten past the hour, although who knows why we need warm up anything in such a climate where we are constantly warmed up to thirty-four degrees and ninety percent humidity. As the red light siren goes relentlessly on and on, the start time becomes progressively more delayed by the Ground Manager, and our serum frustration levels climb to a toxic range. Finally we're on the ground by half-past five and not without some negotiation. Singapore are short of players and want nine-a-side hockey so that the 65's and 70's can play at the same time. After a clear indication of a preference for 11-a-side teams we consider offering them the ham-strung Rod and physio Nigel who's never picked up a hockey stick in his life, but apparently that suggestion was just not 'cricket' !!! With some further negotiation, we lend them two regular players and it's back to 11-a-side hockey, although in other respects there's a feeling of deja vu, giving away one or two decades to the opposition who are again quick around the ground. But spare a thought for Rod "the Rocket" Dyson who is again frustratingly confined to observer status. While tempted to try the dodgy hammy, Rod decides that discretion is the better part of valour and stays on the bench. Macca is playing some measured hockey for the hosts and Kenny Walter, in the role of Singapore central striker, is thriving on some good through passes. There's an early shot swept off the line by Thommo, which Brian claims he is covering, but it's not long before Kenny has put Singapore one in front with a well-taken goal deflected off a defender. Lunger works forward with the ball on the attacking twenty-two and gives a short backstick pass to Tony who bursts into the circle and strikes to the lurking Warren inside the left post. It finds a defender's foot and from the ensuing penalty stroke, the cool-headed Billy Osborn bunts the ball low and just inside the left post for the equaliser. The posse of blue supporters in the stand are on their feet and cheering. Harps makes a stupendous Mark Schwarzer-like save with his left hand glove in the third quarter, but the rebounding ball is picked up at the top of the circle by the ever-eager "Seagull" Walter to score his second. Len, Laurie, Don and Simon are working hard in the humid conditions, and Anton is firing Exocet missiles out of the right defence and has Lunger ducking and weaving to avoid being a casualty !!! Singapore score a lucky third goal but we pick up the pace in the last term with Eric bursting though into the circle where the bouncing ball eludes him before he can make the shot. Doug "Fiery" Truman, strong as ever over the ball leaving opposition players trailing in his wake, he makes a penetrating run towards the danger zone and passes to Tony "Mick" Rodgers who rockets the ball to the backboard for his first Aussie goal. The game is on the line as we make more forays forward and we sense that the Singaporeans, who thought the game was in the bag, are now feeling a little rattled. But the clock runs down, time runs out, the whistle blows, hot bodies head for hot showers, and then upstairs for an even hotter curry.
Singapore 3 [Goal scorers - Ken Walter "Singh" (2), "ANOther Singh" (1)
Australia 2 [Goal scorers - Bill Osborn (penalty stroke), Tony Rodgers]