Published: Tuesday, 03 May 2011 Written by Walter 'WASABI' Marthaler

For the second year in a row, the HONG KONG FOOTBALL CLUB did invite teams from all over the world to participate in their Second EASTER HK Sixes Tournament. And, for the second year in a row, The Flying Hoppers showed up – not least to defend their “BOWL” winning performance from 2010.

The only sad note preceding this 24th TOUR of The Flying Hoppers since the initial one in the year 1996, was the fact that the only Hopper that did participate in ALL the 23 tours so far – the CEO of The Flying Hoppers, Sir Stefan – could for health reasons not partake this year. (But he shall be fine for the next tour later on in 2011, i.e. the Caribbean excursion!).  Hence, his record of participating in all the tours will start at ZERO again and if the past is any guidance for the future, the 48th tour should be in about 15 years’ time (unless, of course, the Hoppers will start touring a bit more frequently ??).


This year, most of the Hoppers made it to Hong Kong more or less “just in time”. The first one to put his Navyboots on the ground here was Toni on Tuesday night – but he was absorbed with business- and family-obligations during Wednesday.



WEDNESDAY, 20.4.2011  -  “New in town ?”  (Coen, Patrick, Roli)


The early arrivers Coen and Roli and thereafter Patrick all got into Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon/evening – Patrick even spotted Toni picking up Annika and the children at the airport. There is simply no secrecy possible in this small place called Hong Kong….

Earlier on, I went to see Grace to pick-up some chocolate bars to give away to the opposing teams and brought a first load over to the Cosmo Hotel for Roli to store. Roli and I had a hearty chat and we engaged in a first drink at the Cosmo Hotel’s bar. Soon we were joined by Coen and Patrick. Coen looked not a day older from a year ago and Patrick – who I had not seen for some time – was beaming as well.  The Glencore halo effect of good fortune coming his way? Well deserved, I am certain.

The four of us then walked over from the Cosmo to Times Square. The main difference this year was that NOBODY got lost unlike last year (Bruno/Lana)!

In a kind of “deja-vu” move, we visited once again a restaurant that Roli liked a lot last year. It is also one of my favourite restaurants, i.e. the HUNAN GARDEN.  (There is a separate “Restaurants & Drinking Places Guide – Edition 2011” posted for reference).


We were quite lucky to get one of the last tables available and had a nice Hunanese food dinner and great chatting.


Eventually - and with the night being still very young –  we left the Hunan Garden and walked a short while to take the tram for a quick ride into Wanchai.  We headed for the quite unique “Rooftop of The Hennessy”.  By sheer luck, a group called  “New in town?” had activated their numerous members to gather exactly on that Wednesday evening on that very rooftop for drinks. So, naturally, everybody assumed that we were just part of that slightly “cultish” group of people a bit desperate to meet/make new friends….Quite a funny scene in fact and hence we got to chat to some total strangers.

However, the main attractions were the perfect temperature to be sitting outside as well as the great views from that rooftop.


Towards midnight, most of those “New in town?” people started disappearing and we also called it a night.


THURSDAY, 21.4.2011   (Day of the Official Flying Hoppers Dinner)


It was just towards noon when my phone did ring in the office and Sacha’s voice urged me to come to lunch – “but a bit promptly, please!” (I do not recall the “please” in fact…). But first I had to know where “the boys” were and it turned out that they wanted to go to one of the restaurants that we visited last year in the TST area.


I jumped into a taxi and just caught the group that had increased now by Sacha to four in the process of finding the right elevator in that Peking Road number 1 building.  My suggestion to perhaps try something NEW did not fall on deaf ears. Hence we walked over to a more recently opened new mall named “iSQUARE” and there we went up to the 26th floor for a Dim Sum lunch.  Again, very pretty views indeed from this “Seaview Banquet Hall”.


After lunch we went our own ways as we knew that we would all see each other soon again in the evening.  I had an appointment to meet-up with Toni at the Cosmo a bit early to have a chat with him, i.e. around 18.00.  Slightly after 19.00,  all the other “boys” were also assembled yet again at the Cosmo bar and we together walked over to the HK Football Club for the Welcome Drinks event.  The great news we learned was that on the first playing day, our first game would only start after 11.00! Great to know when you drink beers/wines and are aware of the fact of a Hoppers Dinner ahead. As is usual on such occasions, we were all dressed in our classical Flying Hoppers “formal attire”, which always does attract some comments. And so it did again at the HKFC, of course….and more to follow….


At the Welcome Drinks venue we also met-up with our reliable Flying Hoppers goalie based in Hong Kong, Jeroen. All the Flying Hoppers were most pleased and happy to be able to rely on Jeroen’s goal-keeping capabilities yet again this year!


After 20.30 we all (except for Sacha, that was very clearly “under the weather” due to a sudden outbreak of a hefty cold!) jumped into a couple of taxis to head over to Wanchai to the “American Restaurant”, which is a totally inadequate name to use for a Pekingese restaurant – but so be it. For certain, the “American Restaurant” has been around for a long time and is frequented  by a lot of foreigners. We had a big table reserved for us upstairs and Katherine (Jeroen’s wife) same as last year joined us as did Annika as well as Jennifer.  During the course of the dinner, finally Keith also did show up (he just flew-in from Taipei that evening).  So, all told, we were ten fairly well-behaved Hoppers enjoying Peking-style food and minding our own business. A noisy table nearby was becoming increasingly curious about our origin. Suddenly, a lady from that table came over and asked (seriously!!): “Are you Mormons??” But – just perhaps – that good lady was/is dyslexic and in reality meant to say: ”Are you Morons??”.  Regardless, we should consider registering both the trademarks “The Flying Mormons” as well as “The Flying Morons” just to cover all our bases real quick. After that good lady, an elderly guy from the same table tried to guess WHERE on earth we were from.  Italy and fair number of  other countries in Europe were mentioned.  As he was so poor in guessing correctly, he left a half-full bottle of Johnny Walker Black label behind after we told him Switzerland (however, he proudly pointed at his watch…).  My conclusion is that our Swiss German must have been perceived as a kind of secretive Mormon dialect…. Whatever:  this group of Flying Morons did have an excellent time in the “American Restaurant” with good food a plenty.


Eventually, we left the place and went for the “one for the road” drinks to the nearby “Mes Amis” place.


After a while, some of us left from there to go home – but some most certainly did go on a bit. I am not in a position to comment about that latter group… DYOR!  (do your own research).


FRIDAY, 22.4.2011  (First day of the EASTER TOURNAMENT)


Nice, warm weather greeted us on that first day of the 2nd EASTER 6’s tournament. We were newly joined by Ralf.  Sacha was still not feeling his normal self in spite of a heavy intake of medicines (Panadol tablets/pills). We had long discussions about the extra benefits that taking Panadol suppositories would/will provide and somehow the number 140 always came up (I am not really certain about the context here, but certainly it could not possibly refer to the number of suppositories to be taken? For a viewing of those Panadol suppositories, please refer to the attachment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Panadol_suppositories.jpg

However, this does still give no clue in respect to 140?? Must be a special way of application, perhaps?).  Lacking the expert advice from a doctor (no Bruno or Willy around!) we did not really get to the “bottom of this” so to speak…  Incidentally, Sacha specifically asked me to mention in the report that he was consuming alcohol in extreme moderation (as per Willy’s suggestion).  I assume this had absolutely nothing to do with Sacha having a severe cold ?!!


Head coach Roli throughout the two tournament days did a stellar job to get The Flying Hoppers assembled for the games always in time. With our late start and the good rest (for most) the night before, a fit and keen Hoppers team took on in succession the following opponents:


a)  Flying Hoppers versus ASI Samurai    Result:    5  :  0

     Goals:  Toni  4,  Keith 1

b)  Flying Hoppers versus HKUST            Result:   4  :  0

     Goals:  Ralf 2, Toni 1, Sacha 1

c)  Flying Hoppers versus Usual Suspects  Result:   5  :  0

     Goals:  Toni 4,  Keith 1


Between the games we went and loaded up a bit with Nasi Goreng’s and Chilli con Carnes etc. in order to get fit for the most difficult last game ahead.


But in that fourth game of the day against Shaheen, we did not really stand a chance of winning against the team that was going to win this Easter tournament the next day….Whilst we lost  1 :  3,  Toni did score yet another great goal.


The superb form that Toni was showing on the pitch throughout the games got the attention of  “spotters”, who asked him to be part of that “International 6’s Exhibition Match” playing for the “International All Stars” versus the “HK Barbarians”.  We of course watched the game which the “International All Stars” lost in overtime. Toni had a good game among all those Olympic players – well done, Toni !!


Thereafter, the “Cowboys and Indians” Party got into full swing. The Flying Hoppers got all geared up as Cowboys…. A pleasant time was had by all, I believe.




SATURDAY, 23.4.2011  (Second day of the EASTER TOURNAMENT)


Overnight, the weather had suddenly turned cooler and there was a slight rain-drizzle during  most of the day.


On that second tournament day – after qualifying for the top CUP group – the Hoppers had to face the best teams around! First up were the future finalists, the KCC Zack Attack guys. We held them quite well during the first half of the game. Amazingly, nobody (except for Sacha, that revealed this piece of information in his half-time talk!) did notice that Zack Attack had for the most part of the first half only 5 players on the field !

In the end, Zack Attack did prevail and won the game 6 : 4.  Our goals were scored by Toni (3) and Sacha (1).


The next game in line was against HKFC A’s.  This game ended in a  2 : 2 draw, but as our two goals were both field-goals (a stunning backhand goal by Coen and another hard shot by Toni from an acute angle), we became the somewhat unexpected winners.  This meant that we did progress to the Semi-Finals stage of the CUP competition, bringing us up yet AGAIN against “Hong Kong giants Shaheen”.


In that Semi Final, Jeroen had another great game in goal. Surprisingly, Hoppers did score first (Toni, again!), but in the end the better side did win with 4 : 1.


As Semi Finalists in the TOP competition, we did better our record versus last year. More important, however, was the fact that The Flying Hoppers were liked as a popular side. This was not just due to us handing out chocolate bars ahead of every game but certainly also because of the fair way and attractive manner in which we played all our games.


After watching the FINALS, we got prepared for another PARTY organized by HKFC, the BBQ Party.


Once again, a good time was had by all (I believe).  Ralf brought Xenia along. Jeroen and Patrick discussed Glencore matters. A lot of nice chatting was going on. Some young ladies approached our Hoppers table and wanted to know where that “very handsome Lindt technical manager” was this year, i.e. why he was not with us?!! (Yes, Guido, you were missed!!).

Our beer drinking racing team won the first round but got soundly beaten in the second. Time passed and eventually this party did wind-down to an end. Rumours have it that a few Hoppers went further to sample some more of Hong Kong’s nightlife and that some interesting new drinking places were discovered in LKF? 






Suddenly, the weather reversed to a fantastically sunny and warm day – a brilliant EASTER Sunday !


As discussed and decided with Head Coach Roli the evening before, Coen, Keith, Patrick, Sacha and Roli were supposed to meet-up with me at around 11.00 at the Airport Express Check-in in Central. More than a touch late, this motley crew arrived and some persons did show a hint of  “emotional tiredness”, which is a nice way of saying “suffering from hangover symptoms”….  Once the check-in procedures were done, we assembled straight away at the nearby Starbucks to drink some juices/coffees.


The original idea for the sightseeing part on this Easter Sunday was to take a ferry to Lamma island and do a hike over the island to reach a famous fresh seafood restaurant area and eat there. Doubts were raised by Sacha bout the necessity of a walk in “this heat”. But also for the rest of us, serious doubts about the viability of the original plan increased dramatically when we saw the huge number of people in line for taking ferries to Lamma!  Therefore – with that not so unusual amount of flexibility that should be inherent to any Flying Mormon or Moron – I did take action to change the plan partially:  Stick to the FRESH (LIVE) SEAFOOD but go to a venue on Kowloon side instead of Lamma.


Off we went by Star Ferry to TST. From there with two taxis to Lei Yue Mun, which is a traditional small fishing village. Here we walked around a bit, looking to find the best possible seating area. Finally, we found a really nice outdoor terrace, just right on the seafront in a restaurant called “Lung Tang”.


Roli, Coen and me were appointed to go to select those live fishes, prawns etc. etc. that should become our Easter lunch feast.


I believe that we all enjoyed the food. Moreover, we also had some animated conversations, not least the one about “rubbish”.  We got onto that topic due to the natural disasters that happened in Australia (floodings/bushfires and the like). I really do not recall the correct context of it all….. Maybe some of the others around might remember?


All told we did have a very relaxing time on that terrace but finally had to move along. From Lei Yue Mun there is a tiny ferry service over to Sai Wan Ho on Hong Kong island. From the Sai Wan Ho ferry pier we walked a while to reach the tramline and boarded the first tram coming (sitting upstairs, of course). This tram ride all the way to Happy Valley took quite some time – but it is such a leisurely mode of transport.


Once in Happy Valley, both Coen and Keith had to head back to the Cosmo Hotel. The rest of us were taking the MTR to TST again. All of us had a clear TARGET -  to arrive sooner or later at the OZONE Rooftop Bar, the highest bar in the world.  In TST, Sacha  -  as the excellent father and husband that he is -  excused himself, as he still had to do some shopping for gifts for his loved ones.


Hence, Patrick, Roli and me were the first 3 Hoppers to make it to that OZONE Bar on the 118th floor of the ICC. Us three were lucky to see the incredible views still during daylight. Eventually, Coen, Keith and Sacha and finally also Toni did arrive.  We had a splendid time drinking beers and admiring the – by now – night views with all those bright lights all over Hong Kong and Kowloon.  It is really very difficult to describe this fantastic scene. All I can say/suggest: Come to Hong Kong and take a look !


Those farewell drinks high-up above Hong Kong and in the good company of Flying Hoppers mates – how much better can it get ??


What a fantastic EASTER TOURNAMENT again this year and so very nice to meet-up with you all -  I had a fabulous time.


Long live The Flying Hoppers !


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