Finding Time For Dinner
It was unexpectedly challenging to find a suitable date for the obligatory season-end dinner, what with various considerations such as the Bunnies' qualifier, various tournaments and trips cropping up, but a slot was found right prior to Grilled International's flight to the Dominican Republic to play Daniel Sanchez Ramirez Futbol Club.
There was no need for much adornment to make this edition special, with three trophies being the centrepiece - two Division Two championships, and the Emerald Challenger Cup. There would be no physical memento of the most exclusive accomplishment, the Birds' perfect league season, but Hovaness Noubaryan
would do it justice with his short speech.
"In addition to that, the team has also managed to score at least three goals in all our competitive games, including both cup exits." Noubaryan finished, to warm applause from those gathered. "The odds were entirely against it - surely it was more luck than mere consistency, over so many games? But we managed it!"
There was little competition for Chan Ze Han
as regards the Player of the Season honour, as the forward won it for the second year running with ease, having led the team with 17 goals from 22 starts, and 14 Man of the Match awards. Kalki Parvathaneni
was probably next in all-around contribution, with Vikram Mudaliar
having duplicated his national form, and Cyril Künzler
earning the league Golden Boot aided by his dead ball duties, but it ultimately wasn't even close. Au Lee Tian, an exciting winger with the Chicken Wings, won the Young Player version.
If the Farmer Bunnies didn't manage the Birds' invincibility, they more than made up for it in terms of silverware. Their POTS choice was unexpected, with Kwek Yun Jie
heavily tipped for a fourth one after unimpeachable performances for club and country, but Yemeni striker Mushtag Al-Nameeri
got the final nod in the end. This wasn't an entirely unwarranted pick either, with Mushtag having the most goals of all Buns with twelve from nineteen appearances - a commodity that they were very much in need of.
Former Rancher Rabbits Lam Leong Guang, who has established himself as a key forward for fast-improving Serangoon outfit Hyuga United since his transfer there, would be crowned Young Player of the Season. The Rabbits had several other very exciting prospects such as Alex Duffy, Wong Chun Chin and Poon Chao Ze on their books, but none of them had matured as much as Lam.
As for International, a largely-disappointing campaign still had its bright spots, with Bosnian star Ragib Banović
being once of them. Banović would complete the striking trifecta for Players of the Season buoyed by his support play, although there were quite a few other credible choices such as Wang Hanxuan
, Fausto Perono
and Didi Reidenbach
, all of whom actually had a larger raw contribution in terms of goals. The voting supporters, however, would not be swayed.
Mai Fulei, International's record youth transfer out and now gainfully employed in Hungary with V.72 club Love Message, was unfortunately unable to collect his Youth Player of the Season trinket, but it was not as if the rest of the Internationals were staying much longer either, not with a flight to catch.