Calvin Khaing completes another football fairytale for Bigger Croc;
Frankie pulls off heroic saves in shootout and keeps clean sheets all along the way.
26th June 2013 – Canterbury Field, Shrewsbury International School Bangkok.
CANTERBURY – No team has successfully defended the Alumni Football tournament since the competition was initiated in 2010. But today, history was made in style as Bigger Croc (Class of 2012) won all their matches in the group stage and emerged victorious in two intense penalty shootouts against Chayanan 14 and Beer Belly (Class of 2009). Bigger Croc also went through two tournaments without conceding a single goal, which is another amazing achievement. This time around, Big Croc played as “Bigger Croc”, and once Pipe and Ta-P showed some members of staff from the PE department how they had bigger biceps, the new team name was justified. Everything else about the team appeared to be similar to the squad that clinched the title in 2012 through a golden goal from the championship winning striker Chris Almeida. However, this time around Bigger Croc seemed to have more attacking flair and played even more beautiful football.
Bigger Croc began their title defence with a 2-0 victory against City, a staff team mainly comprising members of staff who were relatively new to football at Shrewsbury International School. Ta-P and Pipe got on the scoresheet, and after watching Ta-P dancing and performing stylish goal celebrations, the Bigger Croc fans knew more action was around the corner. In the next match, Big Croc launched a series of attacks on the Odd Balls within the opening minutes and could have scored several goals had it not been for solid defending from the Odd Balls. The Odd Balls were a talented team of Thai members of staff, and after a brilliant defensive performance in their goalless draw against Shrewsbury’13, held on well as Pipe and his strike partners surged forward in search of an opening. Eventually, Pipe scored to put Bigger Croc into the lead. This proved to be crucial as brilliant defensive displays from Khun Peh in goal and the Thai members of staff from the DT department maintained the scoreline at 1-0.
As the final round in Pool B approached, Bigger Croc had already secured qualification into the semi-finals, but it was from this point that their uphill task started to be more apparent. In Bigger Croc’s match against Shrewsbury 13, the defending champions were made to labour hard as Merck pulled off outstanding saves and performed superbly in goal. Bigger Croc managed to grab the advantage through a close range shot from Ball before a shot from distance by Ta-P found the bottom left corner.
Bigger Croc faced Chayanan 14 in the semifinals. Chayanan 14 played an exceptional style of defensive strategy and progressed through a difficult Pool A as runners up. The Chayanan 14 team faced challenges from United, a team of veteran staff footballers, Beer Belly and a talented Class of 2015 under the team name of Lazy But Talented. In the group stage Chayanan 14 defenders pulled off solid displays and made lots of brave tackles to keep their opponents at bay, and their high standards continued into their semifinal encounter as Bigger Croc were left frustrated at not being able to score from the numerous opportunities they had. Chayanan 14 created chances of their own as well and had fairly decent chances, but Calvin and Chai helped keep Bigger Croc intact at the back. Bigger Croc edged this encounter by winning 3-2 on penalties, and after the intensity of a penalty shootout gained more confidence that the trophy was definitely within close reach.
Beer Belly progressed to the final after overcoming the Odd Balls. After a long and difficult journey in the tournament, Chayanan 14 clinched bronze following a victory over the Odd Balls. This proved to be a memorable moment for the Year 12 students, and the success of the Class of 2014 in the Alumni Football Tournament should bring them plenty of confidence as they prepare for BISAC competitions next season.
On a more relaxing note, the playoffs for fifth to eighth place were also very exciting. Lazy But Talented overcame Shrewsbury 13 on a penalty shootout to achieve fifth, and United scraped a 1-0 victory over City. Staff football at the school has been developing new talent throughout the year, and it was a wonderful scene to see Mr. Dunn and Mr. Burleigh show the audience how proud they were of the City team. Mr. Tweddle used his skills to inspire City as they tried to move their way around United, who had Mr. Groves to thank for pulling off a string of fine saves. Mr. Holloway and Mr. Robinson provided the support for the rest of the team in what was a brilliant game featuring many teachers who love football and have enjoyed playing together on Thursday afternoon throughout the academic year The winning goal was scored by Mr. Paez when he found space to blast a shot home.
The final was the moment everyone was waiting for. Bigger Croc finally faced genuinely quality opposition by their standards. Led by their talismanic striker Boy-Boy and sharp shooter Oat, Beer Belly never seemed short of endurance and forced the best out of Big Croc by repeatedly launching well organised attacks and limiting the amount of attacking opportunities available to the defending champions. Chayo would often send decent crosses into the attacking third, whilst David saved stinging shots from the Bigger Croc strikers. In extra time, Direk and Pipe were denied by David as the atmosphere grew more intense each minute. The penalty shootout was inevitable. But the penalty shootout was the moment when Frankie truly shined for his team, and his spot-kick saving skills were evidenced as he pushed one penalty against the bar and dived the right way to punch another to safety. As Calvin stepped up and scored the winning penalty, Bigger Croc danced in jubilation and proudly celebrated a well-deserved title as they were presented with the prestigious trophy at the Alumni Reunion event in the evening.
Bigger Croc have been together for many years and their passion for football has brought them to new heights. Having won BISAC under the influential leadership of Mr. Squires some years ago, and having formed lasting and wonderful friendships off the pitch, they are certainly ready for more sporting success.
Report by Jinji (Class of 2012)