Dark, unseen forces were at work during the Southerners’ 2009 assault on the Pattaya 10’s Tournament.

Some suspected the Russian Mafia; others, the floating ‘Bermuda triangle’ of Horseshoe Point or Jap snipers. Regardless, several of the great men of the Southerners were struck down by forces unknown on what was an epic weekend…

With the swiftness of a tempered oriental blade, Belly was struck down by what sideline commentators described as “an outrageous display of how not to tackle”. In subsequent slow-motion replays, it was not the impact of hip on head that most assumed was the causative factor, but a dark shadow that flashed in and out of frame, felling the young man.

In what was a double-blow to both his chiseled good looks and general skeletal integrity, Calum was involved in a clash that left him with a minging facial cut and broken collar bone on an angle that only a Ramkhamhaeng maths teacher could admire. Conspiracy theorists contend it was all an elaborate plan to get some hot nurse-on-nurse-on-Calum action later at the hospital.

VICTIM NUMBER 3 – The Hatton-Pacquiao fight.
With Manny Pacquiao smashing Ricky Hatton in the 2nd for the IBO welterweight title – the Southerners, true to form, struggled to find a TV at the adjoining resort, were late and missed the fight. The highlights were terrific though.

That bloody calf muscle. Busted himself within the first couple of games of the tournament.

Was it his boyish youth, or something more sinister? Either way, Bell Jr required a nap midway through the Saturday evening, some say after a drawn-out conversation with Hooey, in a bar which certainly did not lack in sensory enjoyment.

VICTIM NUMBER 6 – Hi-ho Silver.
The mirrors of the aptly named ‘Beavers’ establishment positively entranced young hi-ho on the Saturday night. Last spotted with mouth agape, eyes fixed and salivating. Surely there’s got to be some form of inoculation for this…

Perhaps it was the quaint crimson velour couches, perhaps it was something darker…like Bell Jr, Glovebox was struck into a deep sleep (albeit with his eyes half open), clearly unamused by the nocturnal Russian culture seminar many of the tour party undertook late in the evening.

VICTIM NUMBER 8 – Hooey’s self-respect. Again.
Was Hooey really playing air guitar / air back-up vocals / air back-up dancer; naked in his hotel room late on Saturday night?

Extricated on the Sunday afternoon with the stealth and precision of a Martial-arts master, Jean reportedly flew back to Middle East less his supply of liquid speed. Others say he was abducted by group of gypsy bandits.

VICTIM NUMBER 10 – Belly. Again.
It wasn’t an agile 12 year old French girl that stepped outside Belly in the Sunday touch ‘exhibition’ match. It was a cloaked ninja.

They say singlet tans will be the next big thing on show for Milan Autumn ’09. The super-shielding forces of the singlet were well on show, the perfect complement to the new Southerners sponsorship from VB – thanks to B-Rad for his supreme admin and fashion acumen.

VICTIM NUMBER 12 – Democracy.
Thankfully the dark forces managed to keep any local elections and subsequent decrees for a dry-city away from Pattaya this year, meaning the Southerners were able to get out on the cans; not watch HBO and raid their minibar, as featured last year.

VICTIM NUMBER 13 – Results.
Whilst we know we lost out in the semi-final, specific game results and try-scorers for the weekend were tragically lost.

Several Southerners managed to evade the dark forces of evil rampant throughout the weekend:
• Laurent fought off his supernatural gothic French urges, keeping punching to a clear minimum at the tournament.
• Old man Steel, the fearlessly sea-faring, mutinous mass of a man showed he’s still a force unto himself, with his first touch of the weekend resulting in a try, seconds after running on.
• Baron flew into rucks with the same ferocity his namesake would have flown into a dogfight over 90 years earlier. No major scars this time though.
• Gearing played probably his best tournament for the Southerners yet, smashing anything that moved, scoring a couple of pies, and having a hand in some excellent team plays.
• Wazza managed not to get photographed and placed into the social pages of any newspapers or foreign chambers of commerce magazines.
• Cheers as well to the supporters who made the trip down to Pattaya to stir us to greater things.

Steve “Airlift me, I have insurance” Bell

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