The story of the Jakarta Bintangs vs Myanmar Fighting Cocks battle for the inaugural Cocks Plate begins, oddly enough, 21 years earlier, as Detective David Mills (played by Brad Pitt) drives serial killer John Doe (played by Kevin Spacey, through the deserts of Lancaster California into a trap of Doe’s own making.
David Mills: [to John Doe] I’ve been trying to figure something in my head, and maybe you can help me out, yeah? When a person is insane, as you clearly are, do you know that you’re insane? Maybe you’re just sitting around, reading Guns and Ammo, @@@##ing in your own @@@##. Do you just stop and go, “Wow! It is amazing how crazy I really am!”? Yeah, do you guys do that?
John Doe: It’s more comfortable for you to label me as insane.
David Mills: It’s very comfortable.
John Doe: Nothing wrong with a man taking pleasure in his work. I won’t deny my own desire to see each sin turned against the sinner.
David Mills: Wait, I thought all you did was murder innocent people…
John Doe: [outraged] Innocent? Is that supposed to be funny? [his voice rising in anger] An obese man, a disgusting man who could barely stand up, a man who if you saw him on the street, you’d point him out to your friends so that they could join you in mocking him, a man, who if you saw him while you were eating, you wouldn’t be able to finish your meal. After him, I picked the lawyer, and I know you both must have been secretly thanking me for that one. This is a man who dedicated his life to making money by lying with every breath that he could muster to keeping murderers and rapists on the streets!
David Mills: Murderers?
John Doe: A woman …
David Mills: Murderers, John, like yourself?
John Doe: A woman, so ugly on the inside she couldn’t bear to go on living if she couldn’t be beautiful on the outside. A drug dealer, a drug-dealing pederast, actually! And let’s not forget the disease-spreading@@@##! Only in a world this @#%# could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that’s the point: we see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it’s common, it’s trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I’m setting the example. What I’ve done is going to be puzzled over and studied and emulated … forever.
David Mills: Uh… yeah. [to Somerset (Morgan Freeman)] Delusions of grandeur.
John Doe: You should be thanking me.
David Mills: Why is that, John?
John Doe: Because you’re going to be remembered after this. Realize, detective, the only reason that I’m here right now is that I wanted to be.
David Mills: No. No, we would have got you eventually.
John Doe: Oh, really? So, what were you doing? Biding your time? Toying with me? Allowing five “innocent” people to die until you felt like springing your trap? Tell me, what was the indisputable evidence you were going to use on me right before I walked up to you and put my hands in the air?!
David Mills: John. Calm down. I seem to remember us knocking on your door.
John Doe: Oh, that’s right. And I seem to remember breaking your face. [leans forward] You’re only alive because I didn’t kill you.
David Mills: Okay, sit back.
John Doe: I spared you.
David Mills: Sit back!
John Doe: Remember that, detective, every time you look in the mirror at that face of yours for the rest of your life, or should I say, for the rest of what life I’ve allowed you to have.
David Mills: Sit back! Sit back, you @#%# freak! Shut your @#%# mouth! You’re no messiah. You’re a movie of the week. You’re a @#%# T-shirt, at best.
John Doe: Don’t ask me to pity those people. I don’t mourn them any more than I do the thousands that died at Sodom and Gomorrah.
William Somerset Is that to say, John, that what you were doing was God’s good work?
John Doe: The Lord works in mysterious ways.
Like John Doe surrendering at the cop shop with his shirt stained in the blood of three different people, the Jakarta Bintangs came willingly into the lair of the Myanmar Fighting Cocks, vastly outnumbered, far from home and outgunned, but with a fixity of purpose that would brook no obstacle to its achievement.
As explained by well researched roving rickshaw reporters, Yangon is a city of hope and triumph, one that has flung its doors open after years of glaring over the parapet at an unfriendly world. This explains the invitation of the Myanmar Fighting Cocks to the Jakarta Bintangs to become only the third AFL Team to play serious football in Yangon since Bogyoke Aung San, and other members of the Anti-Fascist Peoples’ Freedom League, were gunned down in 1947 and the shutters went up. Bogyoke’s daughter is now 70 and about to lead the country. That is how long it has been.
The Bintangs came to stretch the hand (or in Beau Temby’s case, the rudimentary flipper) of friendship to the Fighting Cocks but it was a hand (or rudimentary flipper in Beau Temby’s case) in a gauntlet because we had also come there to win. The MFC had won the Division 2 belt at the Asian Champs only a few weeks ago and had been unassailable in fortress Yangon. They were taller on every line, younger and we 12 doughty Bintangs were outnumbered two to one. Myanmar faced us with Pride.
But it is not the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the size of the fight in the dog, as Shannon Leahy can confirm as he used to fight and eat dogs when living in Viet Nam. Like John Doe, the Bintangs had come into the Lion’s den with an inexorable mission.
Let’s see how that played out.
Immediately, the conditions were showing themselves to be daunting and they daunted away all day. It was arid, blistering and blue skied. Some kind of proto-Cyclone Nargis simultaneously hit the ground with the first ball up and conditions were treacherous especially in the forward line. First play and a floater came out to Beau, as swirling, twisting and unpredictable as a Donkey dance move and Beau clasped it. The wind cramped up another notch on the Beaufort Wind Scale but Temby coolly slotted through his first goal for the Bintangs on a day where they were to become as precious as dragon’s teeth.
Myanmar was shocked by the rapidity. The goal was up barely 40 seconds into the game but they responded with like against like, hurtling away into their forward line even though the very act of doing so risked getting to within grabbing length of the embodiment of Wrath, Paul Halliday, lurking in the back line like a shark in dirty water. Myanmar bombed through goals this quarter, three of them in fact, and looked the real deal. Fortunately, JP was having his longest consecutive period without checking his phone since 1998, and managed to use this time to put Lust aside and to dob through his first goal for the afternoon to remind the team of how sad we will all collectively be if he missed out on the B. J. Morgan by just one game’s votes again this year.
Coach Butcher delivered an alexithymiac address to the troops, but we were pumped up already. Captain Dave O’Shea dropped more F bombs than a Quentin Tarantino box set. President Halliday had brought with him three of the gun Indonesian players: Bambang Suminarto, Rizal and Michael Laehutu and they are really coming into their own as accomplished footballers. If you could melt down Halliday and the three lads and then pour them into four molds and solidify them again you would have something roughly the same weight and age as a boy band but it is best not to continue the thought about the future of that band as it is overall disturbing.
Michael, in particular, was a marvel up back with Panther, fresh from his appearance in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaugh (the book), providing the tall timber and a healthy sense of Manifest Destiny having rejected the overtures of the Myanmar Fighting Cocks to allow himself to be successfully groomed by the Bintangs for his 10th game (and probably his all-time best.) He took on Rooster and won. Not flinching, and clearing time and again, the back line cannot be lauded enough. Vanders tore back the Walls of Twilight and unleashed a potpourri of his ball bursting clearances together with vigour and focus at the ball at ground level and overhead. Under constant bombardment, the back line stood up like Malta, the only island to be awarded a George Cross. They went for the ball with assurance and esurience. They showed Greed for it. So what. We are from Jakarta. There is a Deadly Sin on every street corner and we tolerate it.
In a much appreciated sporting gesture, Myanmar lent us some of their own to play for us as auxiliaries: The drummer from Queens of the Stone Age, Jamie “the Heat is On” Heaton (who goaled), a French guy Monsieur Montaigne (who, as far as I can tell, was a seminal French essayist who influenced Francis Bacon, René Descartes Blaise Pascal, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Nietzsche and Isaac Azimov and died in 1592), and the very embodiment of the Fightin’ Irish, Steve “The Decapitator” O’Keeffe, ready, willing and able to inflict footy damage with the enthusiasm of his distant ancestor Finn MacCool.
The second quarter turned it around. Dave O’Shea was playing like a Junk Yard DOS in his first international as Captain and attacking the ball and Fighting Cocks with the ferocity with which Boy Pasaribu fist-greeted new player Haykel on Australia Day. The reigning BJ Morgan Medallist gives his all for the Bintangs. He bleeds red, black and white. He should see a haemotologist.
DOS had goaled after stealing a Myanmar handball, icing the cake of a second goal by Beau bombed in from the David Smith Memorial corner of the goal square. Those without astute pellucid tactical football insight have suggested that Sloth or indeed (get this one) pace deficit may have contributed to the small number of microns covered by veteran David Smith in the first three quarters. Others with more perspicacious nuanced understanding of the subtle employment of the “Sleeper Cell” tactic may have inkled that the Myanmar Fighting Cocks were unwittingly being taken in by a player willing to sacrifice (selflessly, for the good of the team) many marks, kicks and goals in order to drop the other team’s guard sufficiently low to be able to pull off an entirely unexpected match winning play when needed. What forces were at work here? Sloth or subtlety? Only the last quarter would tell.
Myanmar burst out of its Cock cage intent to end the game in the third quarter by burying the Bintangs and damn near would have were it not for the aforementioned constant saves by the backline and what was shaping up to be one of the greatest games ever by a Wodonganese player in a country emerging at first timidly and then with understated Pride from over five decades of military rule. Put aside what was seen on the Yangon dance floor two days previously, in fact stop mentioning it. This match is about football, hard edged competitive football and that is what Simpson brought to the field at Star City that day. Tenacious Tim Simpson as he is known in the Myanmar Times, divested the opposition players of the ball when it barely seemed possible, took on heavy traffic and won every time and delivered quality passes in the monsoon conditions all day. Myanmar couldn’t tackle him; it was like tackling a greased pig and who would have experience in that.
It was a massive long bomb by Donkey to Butcher for a goal that kept the Bintangs fingernails on the ledge of the precipice but it was 3 goals to the MFC and one short quarter to drag the game back.
The untiring Butcher was a fulcrum for this quarter and a Glutton for the ball, and Rizal and Bambang gave unstintingly. We had the wind but a spiraling changeable Wind of Treachery it was and the Myanmar players had seem to have gotten taller (except for those near Panther). JP slotted a nice 6 pointer but the Bintangs were still a goal down, there were minutes to go and Myanmar was adept at keeping it off us and they were so charged to win at home when they had us under the pump. So what happened next?
What happened next is best told in the short work by key forward, celebrity chef and urban guerilla John Paul Kenyon of Adelaide in his gripping piece “One metre from Hell: A Survivor’s Story”:
“We were at threat, and if anyone knows a threat when he sees one, it is I. The ball was held up in the Myanmar forward line which was about a hundred metres away and if anyone knows a distance when he sees one, it is I. There were only a few minutes on the clock and everything was going Myanmar’s way. But then a glimmer of hope appeared. Future Dancing with the Stars contestant, tenacious Tim Simpson, cleared the ball and kicked it to the new captain, the one that swears a lot, who booted it in the air towards the forward line. It was too far off for me as I had to stay within Starbucks proximity of goal and the ball was heading to this absolute giant of an opponent, one I knew I, and almost no one else on the team would be able to best in a one on one contest. He was enormous and really fast and basically a cut above most elite footballers. The pendulum had swung back to Myanmar.
But no. There was this red, white and black blur sprinting towards the giant, gaining on him, who then leapt, centimeters high into the contest for the aerial Sherrin. My gosh, it’s Smithy. He must have been cannily preserving his energy in a selfless manner for when the team really needed it. Smithy wins the spoil and slams it down between me and the giant but the giant has recovered and is sprinting towards the ball and me. I was literally One Metre From Hell. But then, with the loping speed of some kind of Kodiak Bear but fearless, it’s Smithy again interposing with a full on shepherd to block the charging giant. I was safe. I grabbed the ball and kicked the winning goal.
To have been in such danger twice in a month, and survived, has taught me true thankfulness.”
Next: “One injection from Rabies: A Survivor’s Story”
Thanks, J.P. I’ll take it from here.
So the game was ultimately won by the Jakarta Bintangs, after another huge sealer from Temby to bring up his third. It was one of the great games and indeed one of the great tours and any side would Envy the Myanmar Fighting Cocks to be able to put on a team and a tour like this after only a few short years of existence. Well done and looking forward for the rematch in Jakarta or at the Champs.
David Smith. Yangon.
Jakarta Bintangs 9.9.63
Myanmar Fighting Cocks 8.5.53
Temby 3, Kenyon 3, O’Shea 1, Butcher 1, Heaton 1
Donkey, O’Shea, Butcher, Michael Laehutu, Panther, Kenyon