|WINTER'S WORLD FEATURING THE FAR EAST MASTERS
25th April 2012
Dodgy shirt, but it is worn by the Crown Prince, as he awards Regi with the player of the tournament award in Brunei.
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Tuesday evening a drive to Manchester airport for a flight to Heathrow. Elsewhere Boro defy logic by failing to beat already relegated Donny Rovers. 15,000 - absolutely pathetic. As lamby once said, you get the team you deserve.
Not the away fans though - they deserve Barcelona. Season over now, they will get thumped by Southampton or knowing Boro they will actually beat them. Pity my charity bets are already on!
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Back to more important matters and the banter with the lads. Maysy is on form taking no prisoners. Transferred to hotel and a few sherbets, bed by 1.30am, others did 4.00am. Up for 6.00am. Happy birthday Jeff.
The photo before the storm. My new colleague Amiro on the left sin binned Regi Blinker and left us all gob-smacked.
Brunei is dry, as are their planes, but you can carry on, so we did. 14 hours via Dubai. Going to be a long day!
Just remembered as we landed at Heathrow I bumped into old mate/adversary Ian Wright, Wright, Wright flying home after golfing in Loch Lomond area.
10.30am Wednesday and spoilt for choice - the carry ons included vodka, Jack D, wine and whiskey. We also had the Rockettes with us for eye candy.
The Brunei Masters Grand Final was held up as a member of the audience won this star prize in the raffle.
Long flights can be boring but not with these lads, Maysy dressing up as a steward and serving drinks, Viv Anderson going for the non stop talking record, in reality probably the most entertaining birthday I could have had.
No one was spared, cutting comments and the banter of the dressing room of yesterday. Just how it should be, not politically correct but no harm done and no offence taken.
Seven hours on and with numerous empty spirits bottles we arrived in Dubai. Off the plane for an hour to enable refuelling and also to duty free to replenish the bar that was situated on the spare seat on row 32.
Scary but fantastic electrical storm below us as we headed away from UAE. Sleep, but first the bar reopened. The Leven lads would have loved this trip.
Brunei Referees, ready to take on board some words of wisdom from yours truly.
After the meal surely the plan was sleep? No way, the bar remained open and mayhem ensued. Former players but professional drinkers of the highest order.
We landed at 9.00am in new money or 2.00am in old. It was clear that everyone was going to keep going through the day. It was glorious low 30's, so around the pool before lunch at the very luxurious empire country club.
After lunch I went with Rufus Brevett and Kevin Gallen to the driving range. Golf is a sport I am shite at and a few drives confirmed this, not once getting the ball off the ground as Rufus skied 200 yard efforts and KG fell asleep, still recovering from the flight's vodka intake.
Another hour around the pool then the first sleep in over 24 hours, a two hour power nap before we all headed out for dinner with the sponsors. Brunei is dry but we managed to have private rooms where you can drink conservatively. Ahem!
Paul Jones, David May, Clayton Blackmore and Andy Cole enjoy a game of golf.
On the evening we attended a dinner hosted by the sponsors, a warning of what was likely at Friday's gala dinner. Coached there and back within two hours. No drink, flat atmosphere, handshakes and photos by the hundred. One, two, three, click, the locals love a photo!
Back to the complex and room 6504, Bob's suite and a fridge full of ale. Muted atmosphere, everyone tired. Good banter, my pals at home would be shocked, strong Celtic influence with PVH, Regi Blinker, Lee Martin and loyal supporter Kevin Gallen. Great company though. The foreigners did not enjoy the intensity of living in Glasgow - no respite, pure hatred!
Relatively early finish - 12.30pm then slept like a log.
Friday morning, did a tour of the 20 billion pound resort, searching for the monkeys. Regi said that himself and PVH were the only monkeys we would see! Typical of the banter in the game, no racism, just all pals together.
Saw a three foot lizard run across the golf course with its lunch, a whopping toad, in it's jaws. Robbie Fowler, Steve Mac and Barnsey arrived. More food then I had to attend a workshop with local officials.
Pierre Van Hoydonk and Reggie Blinker, ex Celtic, but great company!
The people here are very warm, friendly and gracious in the main though they are quite reserved. Maybe alcohol would help them loosen up, but that ain't going to happen.
Working an audience is much easier if they giving something back. This year's meeting with the refs was better than last year's but they were reticent to volunteer to help with officiating at the tournament. I did get two though so it means I won't have to do all seven games.
The gala dinner was a bigger problem. In KL there will be a load of ex-pats and I can do my normal no-holds-barred routine. After circa 800 gigs it comes naturally but tonight will be different. Royalty in attendance, no drinks and a local audience all adds up to a potentially difficult evening. We will see!
Plan B, act the village idiot, perform prize giveaway and mini auction and it went down a treat. The locals thought perhaps I was drunk. Winged it and got a result. Back to private room to relax. The cameraderie on this trip is the best ever, everyone gelling together. Pity we have to play football tomorrow.
Our home in Brunei, not a bad gaff!
Saturday and the first of two successive tournament days with a flight thrown in, glorious sunshine and stifling heat as well. My room mate, Darren the stadium announcer and event host was again up early. Could have done with more sleep but too nice outside. Could always doze by the pool and fry in the proccess! Football back not really of too much interest!
Morning round pool, lunch and coffee with Liverpool's Stephan Henchoz, more pool trying to get past other than the easy Suzuki tasks. Reading excellent new book from local Boro author, Will Nett, 'You Are My Boro'. News breaking of Ched Evans' incarceration. Fuck me, I book hotels every week, does that mean I am planning rape??
Tales of yesterday are retold and in today's climate the girls would be kissing and telling and making money before launching on a career on Big Brother, etc, etc!
Rufus Brevitt tries to wake up Kevin Gallon but he is still recovering from the flight.
And so to the football, then despite a very late finish we face a very early start to fly to KL for Sunday night's event.
Don't know if I am repeating myself, but this is the best Masters I have attended. Great set of lads, fantastic accommodation, settings, etc, etc. Talk of five tours next year - count me in.
Had seriously thought about hanging up the whistle but I will keep going as long as they want me, especially as I can give added value by featuring at dinners etc. Also after last year's tour I received offers to host other events in the Far East, a phenomenal market. My book sales etc might not match the shirt sales of Liverpool and United but they certainly help me!
Liverpool are the most popular team in Malaysia and their fanatical fans brought colour and noise and they enjoyed the event, especially as their team won.
On the way to the arena I joked 'why did we have to spoil the trip with football'. Never a truer word. For the first time in ages it was over after four games, with EPL All Stars and Liverpool already in the final. With the remaining games meaningless, it gave me the opportunity to utilise my two local refs.
In Asia everyone claims to be a FIFA referee, even if it is only Futsal U14 level. The games didn't really need reffing but Amiro managed to make the worst decision I have ever seen. Twenty seconds from full time he harshly adjudged that Regi Blinker had handled the ball in the opposition half.
He made for the Dutchman and to my amazement and certainly Regi's he produced a yellow card, despite me screaming from the pitch side "No, no, no..." Regi served the last ten seconds of the game in the sin bin!
My head was bouncing as the Ultra's created a brilliant atmosphere at the KL Masters.
With legs seizing up we then all had to wait as the perimeter walls were dismantled and two cars were driven onto the pitch. One lucky punter won a car.
The final saw EPL All Stars retain their title. Back to the hotel, no drink and five hour's sleep before the trip to the airport. It was pissing down so a good day to leave.
At the airport I found out that Boro had beaten Southampton. Unbelievable - good for my charity bets and setting up final day dissapointment!
Tino all of a sudden starting talking English. Sat between PVH and Kevin Gallen, a rose between two Celtic thorns. KG started crossing himself as we took off!
Scotland's finest, the Rockette's add some glamour to the proceedings.
Frank Le B was easy prey for my cutting wit. He recalled how The Sun newspaper had suggested the French were dirty and only changed their toothbrushes every six months, but he didn't care because he was beautiful. I suggested the next time he changed his toothbrush, he should change his fucking mirror!
KG entertained myself and Pierre with his iPhone pictures of his mate's early morning ablutions freshly laid in the bowl. Charming. I responded with photos of trophies and scenes of final day title clinchers at Killie, Hibs and Tannadice!
We were scheduled to arrive in KL, transfer to hotel, lunch then straight to the tournament. No-one was too keen!
Great news, they haven't got me a local ref, so going to have to do all seven games myself. Marvellous. They are tired, I am tired, a recipe for disaster.
Waiting for yet another flight, Tino Asprilla and Kevin Gallon.
As it turned out it was probably the best tournament ever. Most goals overall, most goals individually by Robbie Fowler, Liverpool beating Manchester United on penalties.
Back to hotel and had a beer as I watched beginning of Liverpool on TV. Woke up as half a pint spilt over me as I fell asleep. My roommate commented that I must be tired cos I'd stopping talking!
Woken by housemaid just before 10.00am!! Fucked!!! Got up and we headed for Petaling Street market, the home of legendary real genuine fakes. Got some bargains and some shite as well!! Missed lunch and the sweltering heat of the swimming pool as I had to do a presentation to local refs.
The local people love their football and recognised everyone of us. Not these numb nuts, clueless, and to sum it up after 45 minutes one asked what my name was? Not being arrogant but that was probably the best question of the afternoon. No such problems on the evening though as I made quite an impression last year.
The evening went well to the uninformed, but behind the scenes the running order was constantly changed as we started late and were behind schedule. Things going on while people are still eating is not ideal but we got through and everyone enjoyed themselves. Most importantly we raised over £12,000 for a local charity with five auction items. Many thanks to Robbie and Macca for donating them.
For the second night running I opted out of the legendary Beach Bar. I really am getting old.
Time for goodbyes with Robbie Fowler and Steve Harkness.
Tuesday and the start of the long journey home. Leaving at 2.00pm to fly back to Brunei, another two flights to Dubai then Heathrow, transfer terminals then flight four to Manchester then the drive home. At least Darren the MC and I had only the company of the six lovely Scottish Rockettes. It's a hard life!
Before setting off we nipped back to Petaling Street, bought more crap and enjoyed a fish job plus a foot manicure/massage. Wish we had the time for full body because she was good!
Goodbyes at the hotel, the end of a brilliant trip and great banter and company, epitomised by Macca and Robbie who came down to see us off. Two genuinely nice guys, great company and a pleasure to be with.
KL's Twin towers.
Really didn't need the delays and missing my connection. Shit happens.
Wednesday, finally home but only for twenty four hours, enough time to sort out business etc then back to a form of normality.
Thursday off to the Midlands to speak, overnight, then up to Cumbria for another gig. Saturday undecided but a trip to Watford for the lunchtime kick off would be suicidal. Might go to Darlo and meet up with my mate George Rolls the owner of visiting Kettering Town.
Sunday it's up to Glasgow for the OF. After all that I will be glad of a few day's break before another double header of speaking engagements next weekend and the remote possibility of play off semi-finals. Unlikely, but you never know!
Anyone interested in booking me to host or speak at their event me can be assured that as well as speaking I will give maximum help to fundraising on the evening with my auctioneering skills. Contact me regarding availability by clicking here.
Boro's dismal showing against Doncaster Rovers meant that the chances of promotion had appeared to be all but gone, but then typically they do the unexpected and beat Southampton and in so doing bring a healthy profit as all my predictions came good. I have yet to work out the winnings but they will appear, along with this week's predictions, on the charity page of my website here.
Thanks to William Hills the monies I have raised this season help the Great North Air Ambulance. Odds are often better online than in the offices - click here to open an account.
Enjoy your football.
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