1) It may have taken until 15 days after Jesus and Paul Hurley’s birthday for us to realise, but yes, a fine 2023 for the Saints, with only two defeats in the calendar year, ended with the boys in blue on top of the pile and unbeaten since the opening day.
2) Speaking of the ever-in-vogue Paul Hurley. Coming from old-age obscurity to clear the benches with a crucial Bergkamp/DiCanio-esque left-footed worldie in the dying moments of the Sporting game will live long in Saints’ lore. As ever, Paul Hurley is so hot right now. And as always, the best goals are not caught properly on camera.
3) The Puska’s award may go to the Limerick man, but he has to settle for 2nd place in the song of the year stakes. The clear winner here is another cult hero who knows how to steal the limelight. Odhran McFeely’s tune has become a firm favourite, but with an iconic winner for the under 30s vs the oldies and a hat trick the following week. The Saints’ newest cult hero was also pretty hot in 2023.
4) The first and only silverware of the year came in September with a dominant win at the SIFL 7s. However, April saw an unexpected run at the Far East Tournament in Bangkok. With a small, drunken, injured squad, only ¼ inch of post kept us out of the final in an unfortunate semi-final defeat. Tomas, notably, managed to get attacked by an actual lion. We will go again with the same tactics that have hampered us for 15 years.
5) There were weddings a-plenty, with the Gaffer getting married over a couple of lovely weekends in Tay Ninh and Dalat, Keith Way getting hitched down the coast, and Saint in New York, Richie Blain getting married Manhattan style.
6) Iaiain Campbell ingratiated himself to a new generation of Saint over kit colours and then the wider Irish population of Saigon during the World Cup quarter-finals. He remains one of our best.
7) As SIFL rebuilds, 2023 saw the Hanoi and Saigon international football leagues agree to a new annual national competition between the top three teams in each, starting in 2024. Saints’ spot is safely booked already.
8) The kit competition came back and was controversially green all over, much to the subject of #6’s chagrin. Seeing through Jacob Spong’s over-the-top clovered appeal to the Irish contingent, voters opted for some less monstrous options, and nice as they are, the question remains: is green a Saints colour?
With training resumed, Sinners poised for Division 2, and Saints on the trophy hunt, an interesting few months lie in wait. If you are looking for a club that plays competitive amateur football in HCMC and enjoys icy beers after games, get in touch through the web, email or social media. #ohwhenthesaints