Published: Wednesday, 28 July 2010 Written by Walter Marthaler

The Royal Bangkok Sports Club (RBSC) was hosting its 31st Annual Hockey Festival and thanks to some good fortune, the FLYING HOPPERS got INVITED and with some even better luck (and considerable persuasion power) STEFAN Leuenberger almost single-handedly managed to get enough people interested to go to BANGKOK!  “Enough” did not necessarily mean a full set of 11 players, but a very SOCIABLE lot assembled in Thailand.  The events did unfold roughly like this.  


On the 76th birthday of the King of Thailand, the HOPPERS started flying-in from all over the place.

As an early scout, PATRICK Stutz from New York was already a while in Bangkok and his instantly acquired THAI LANGUAGE skills did serve the purpose in the taxi fare negotiations.

From Switzerland (but with different airlines!) the body and soul of the HOPPERS made the transition to a slightly warmer climate.  All the names will appear in this little write-up…..

The scribe himself (WALTER) flew in from Kuala Lumpur and was just in time to go along with all the others to the opening party/reception at RBSC’s main club.  Being Swiss, we arrived “on time”, which for Thai standards was way early….  In fact we had to wait quite some time until we did celebrate the KING’s birthday with candle-lights, which proved to be quite a solemn affair.

Thereafter it was back to more earthly matters:  We started seriously drinking some beers in the main room and finally I was able to introduce the brains behind to the relevant Hong Kong POLICE officers, which were a little startled when SHOKO asked them:  Are you really POLICE??!!  After snacking quite a bit and a few more beers, it was decided to nevertheless proceed to a THAI dinner.  Here the stunning know-how of your scribe came into full play:

I suggested a visit to the TUM NAK THAI restaurant, which I previously had so gloriously described to Stefan as: “a UNIQUE place; big-spaced Thai Restaurant, where the waiters are serving the tables using roller-blades….!”.

Well, after touring inner-city BANGKOK for about 1 hour in several taxis, it turned out that the TUM NAK Thai Restaurant area had been transformed into a CARREFOUR – see what kind of mess globalization does to you….!!  Correctly, my guidance “skills” were getting some heartfelt critical acclaim…..

Luckily, all the taxis could at least find their way back to our REMBRANDT Hotel and WILLY Arber quickly suggested a nearby eating venue where we could sit outside and still (inspite of the restaurant’s name being “Admiral’s Pub”) enjoy some THAI FOOD.

Towards midnight, MIEKO and headcoach ROLAND Tartaglia and fan THOMAS Reinhard arrived from Singapore and found most of us in the lobby bar.  ROLAND did set a new speed-record for being asked if he already had checked out after being about 10 minutes in the hotel…..

P.S. Facts/learnings from DAY ONE (at least for me):

a)     You cannot just “go back” to an interesting restaurant that you visited a few years ago…..

b)     You cannot pay a Bangkok taxi by just singing together with the driver “The Royal Anthem” (see attachment) and clap your hands at the end……


The Tournament began for the FLYING HOPPER in earnest.  A heavy recruitment drive the night before did give us fantastic support from these THAI players, that got fully adopted by us:

The vital goalie position was filled by BIMBO.  A Thai Sikh named NAF and two young Thai boys called TOP (left defender) and DOM (attacker).  Later on we got even further additions by two more Thai Indian brother players, whose names escape me (but we just called them the MARX brothers for easy reference).

In the first game we looked a bit like “Sami-Chläuse” and conceded an early goal.  After trying very hard (and not being able to score for a while) a second goal against us sealed our defeat against the Malaysian Ipoh team.  Towards the end, we got a goal back (Stefan) and overall we were quite pleased with the way the game went, considering the formation was truly untested before.

Thereafter, our best two players (Patrick/Stefan) helped out the Hong Kong Football Club team to a victory, a gesture very appreciated by them!  (Thanks, Patrick for scoring the one goal).  Having thus warmed-up for the second Flying Hoppers game of the day, the match against the Navika-Yothin side became crucial, as the FLYING HOPPERS positively wanted a first victory on Thai soil……

Things started somewhat less than fortunate, as GRAUCHO Marx scored a stunning own-goal very early in the game.

Thereafter, the whole team worked extremely hard:  COEN van Rosmalen and RETUS Gieriet were driving the midfield.  Eventually, Stefan scored his second goal of the day.  Towards the end of the game, Sweeper Willy moved way upfield and backhanded in the WINNER!  Shouts of WASABI all around!!

More shouts of WASABI whilst a few beers were consumed before regrouping at the Rembrandt.

Having learned the hard way, we solicited the local know-how in the form of Mr. Schlegel.  He pointed out his favourite THAI Restaurant, which however was fully booked on this Saturday night.  On the other hand, his second choice – a very modern THAI eatery named MAHANAGA – turned out to be a perfect place for the whole group.  This delicious THAI meal was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone except for Patrick, whose upset stomach/fever caused him some strong temporary problems.

Later in the evening different groups went in their own ways/directions and so obviously I can only report on the small group led by Coen, who researched a very modern DISCO somewhere on Soi 11.


Careful negotiations with the organizers had led to a very comfortable playing schedule for us, i.e. not too early but rather around the noon-time heat.  This allowed us to have breakfast comfortably at the Rembrandt.  Amazingly, REINHARD Fischer met – by coincidence!! – his work-mate MARCEL Arioli, who became an instant FLYING HOPPERS supporter (we needed him, as the female supporters were busy with shopping….).

The games on this second day proved to be an easier task than the day before, and both games were won quite handily.  Many HOPPERS had scoring opportunities, including MARION Oehninger.  But it was our Thai contingent, that scored all the goals on the second day; i.e. 2:0 versus Khon Kaen and 1:0 versus Valley from Hong Kong.

This brought us to the number 2 slot in our group – high enough to win a trophy!!  Excellent coaching-work by Roland for sure.  Incidentally, the whole SINGAPORE group had to leave us that afternoon.

The shopping ladies IRENA and Shoko joined us for a snack and a few beers and then it was back for some relaxation at the Rembrandt.

In the evening we slightly overcompensated for the early showing on the first evening by arriving fairly late at the DINNER PARTY.  Food was plentiful and speeches soon as well…..  Having won a trophy at our first appearance in Bangkok, Patrick had to collect this and make a little speech, during which he strongly expressed the great appreciation for the Bangkok Tournament organizers.  This fact earned him an almost instant visit by the Singapore Tournament organizer, asking for some clarifications….

Coen meanwhile was up to much better things/tricks:  He somehow organized to meet-up with two ladies later on the same evening at the trendy DISCO place that we checked out the previous night.  Eventually, we saw the favourite re-appear again the next day.  Same as the night before, a fragmentation into smaller groups took place once we left the RBSC grounds.

Based upon a Hong Kong Police “insider tip”, I suggested to visit SOI NANA, which turned out to be quite O.K.   Thanks to modern technology (SMS) another group caught up with us just around closing time.


Precious little that I can really report, as this was a working day for me.

All (or most?) of the others did the “TOURISTY THINGS”.  Would be nice if someone could report about that separately??  Or maybe the pictures will tell the story??

In the evening everybody gathered in the lobby to walk over to the MAEDERS (an evening instigated by myself; Regine is a former/loyal Grasshoppers Hockey lady).

Having brushed-up on our Schaffhausen-dialect, we were ready to visit this modest abode of over 300 square meters with nice views.  Fantastic curry was served and for the home-sick some sausages.  The re-appeared THAI-Sasha was in full swing, receiving multiple phone calls and informing Willy that whilst she was no medical doctor, she did indeed own a car.

We took the occasion of this last evening to hand out prizes for the



Naturally, we also brought some gifts to our kind hosts.

REGINE and REINHOLD’s great hospitality was indeed inducing a very relaxed atmosphere (except for Retus, who had to leave for the airport early that evening).

Willy created immense laughter all around by telling a great elephant joke.

Regine firmly promised to play next year with the FLYING HOPPERS, should the RBSC Tournament date happen NOT to clash with her golf weekend at Hua Hin.  (And naturally – also – assuming that the HOPPERS will come back to Bangkok next year!)

After walking back through the ARTISTIC neighborhood, most of us retired for a few final “one for the road” drinks to a place just across the REMBRANDT, talking about the glorious time we just had spent and still were spending together in this nice country of Thailand.

I had to leave quite early the next morning, but a detailed report on DAY FIVE could possibly also be written by somebody else?! Or should pictures fill-in that gap as well?


Being one of the main instigators for the FLYING HOPPERS to come to this Bangkok Tournament, I am – naturally – positively biased about this event, which I think was in line with the best travel experiences made by the FLYING HOPPERS.

Please allow me also to quote Coen:

“Es war wieder ein super Hockey-Tournier und Bangkok hat mir sehr gut gefallen”.


Looking forward to EASTER 2004 in Hong Kong.  WASABI!!!

Walter Marthaler