Published: Monday, 26 July 2010 Written by Walter 'WASABI!' Marthaler

The King of Thailand is reaching the milestone of 80 years of age and THE ROYAL BANGKOK SPORTS CLUB (RBSC) is hosting its 35th Annual Hockey Tournament.  And  guess what:  THE FLYING HOPPERS   W I N  the Tournament.

End of the report.

No surely not the end, rather just the beginning.  An emotional journey and very difficult for me as appointed scribe to put everything in the correct context.  But I shall try my best, and LUCKILY I got good quotes from several of the participants, which will be featured at the end, and will highlight the joy and happiness experienced by all of us !

It was the second time the Flying Hoppers participated in this yearly event which the RSBC has organized for the last 35 years, with help from many keen volunteers.  The LEGENDARY Thai friendliness is a fantastic feature of this tournament.

A few of us had been at the same event in December 2003, but at that time we only had a limited number of Hoppers and had to rely on the organizers to lend us some players. What a difference this time around !  With the exception of one MISSING Hoppers goalie, we had –  and this is strictly my personal view -  the strongest FLYING HOPPERS side I have ever played with.  And these Hoppers did indeed FLY-IN from all over the world.  For those who love their statistics, here goes:



7 x  Zurich – Bangkok – Zurich  at  11’234 miles each      =    78’638 miles


MARKUS (via Nepal) and SACHA from Sydney
2 x  Sydney – Bangkok – Sydney  at  9’336 miles each    =    18’672 miles
(Ruckli unlikely to go anywhere as he has new job in SOI 11 !)


COEN from London – Bangkok – London at                           11’856 miles


PATRICK Stutz from New York – Bangkok – New York at    17’312 miles  ( !! )
(Quote: After watching 3 movies I looked at the watch and noticed that there was still more than 10 hours flying time ahead)


WALTER  from Hong Kong – Bangkok – Hong Kong at           2’098 miles


Subtotal                                                                                          128’576 miles


3 x Zurich – Bangkok – Zurich at  11’234 miles each              33’702 miles


                                                                              TOTAL   of        162’278 miles

I now revert to my normal reporting style, relating the sequence of events from my personal perspective only.


Nobody knew that I was arriving a day earlier than originally planned, and I was minding my own business checking into the Rembrandt Hotel when suddenly out of NOWHERE RUCKLY appeared with the usual noise level…. This Nepali-speaking Biotech expert was informing me that I had to HURRY UP to make it to dinner together….

So, RUCKLY and SACHA and myself were assembling  and heading off to find the Thai restaurant – which we eventually did ! -  where SHOKO & STEFAN as well as PATRICK Huber were already awaiting us.  To make the full table a “lucky eight” , quite a while later (with 3 taxi changes !!)  RETUS and COEN arrived.  A very pleasant Thai meal ensued. Great ordering by SHOKO – many thanks !  Gossipy talking about a girl named “Fidelity” and also the naming of Sacha’s son  (WHY only three and not four first names, i.e.:  LUKAS,  Sidney, George, WASABI  Overhoff ??).  Moreover, Ruckli issued a warning that he was going to have a joint shower the next morning with Shoko and her MUM ?!!  The famous “shower à trois” scenario ?

A reduced group of seven went later on to have a quiet night-cap in SOI COWBOY. 

DAY TWO  (FRIDAY, 30.11.2007)

For me a working day in Bangkok – so I can only report about the evening activities…

All of us (more or less) had arrived by late Friday and we assembled in the lobby and after a quick drink across the street the main body finally decided to get going to the official function at the RBSC.  Sacha sprinted about 70 yards to grab a Mini-Bus which then got filled by our motely crew.  Having learned our lesson 4 years earlier NOT to be there exactly on time, we were in NO danger of that this time around:  Bangkok’s IMMENSE TRAFFIC JAM situation was experienced at its very best (that Friday was payday… a lot of Thais filled-up and drove again).

Somewhat miraculously (LEGENDARY ?) we managed to arrive at the RBSC just-in-time to witness the greetings of the visiting teams and also the drawing for the matches for the next day. Fantastically, we only had to play in the afternoon !!  This of course encouraged us all to enjoy a LONG NIGHT ahead – it seemed logical and an obvious solution….

COEN’s local guide and mentor -  “good” SASHA  (versus “bad” Sacha) had cleverly arranged for a great venue for dinner, not too far from the RBSC.  Our taxi crossed a red light without blinking an eyelid and got us to this trendy THAI restaurant in no time at all.  AMAZINGLY, really all the players showed up and a very pleasant dinner atmosphere ensued.

However, the evening got BETTER (and the next venue is referred to in some of the comments made by the different participants, all of which are mentioned at the end).

We went to that fabulous LEGENDARY BLUE BAR, an extraordinary experience for all !!  The BLUE BAR is situated next to the “Sirocco” restaurant, and this is what a travel writer had to say about it:

STYLE:   Takes alfresco Mediterranean to new heights

We like this place for the shock and awe. The setting is a cross between the film Blade Runner and the Las Vegas strip. With a Romanesque columned backdrop, wide illuminated steps, huge goblets with Olympian-like flames, a live jazz group and a 63 floor view of the city, this open air venue is cinematic.

Perched on the roof of Bangkok’s second-tallest building, the restaurant’s mainly alfresco Mediterranean cuisine includes a range of excellent salads, jumbo lobsters, thick, grilled lamb chops and several Thai-based dishes like the spicy pepper crab that is both fiery and flavourful.

Before or after dinner (obviously in our case this was AFTER dinner in another very chic Thai restaurant),  linger with a cosmopolitan crowd at the bar at the end of the sweeping deck jutting out into the sky. It is like being on the prow of a ship anchored 600 feet above the city.

Yes, indeed, LINGER we did and – for Bangkok standards – it was fairly cool weather and I shopped myself a little cold on that occasion.

After quite a few drinks and a lot of lingering and photo-taking, the more reasonable ones among our crowd did head back to the hotel, whereas the not as yet tired ones did proceed by taxi to SOI NANA.  This driver belonged certainly among the most deadly ones I have experienced throughout my entire life, and all of us in that taxi did count our blessings to arrive ALIVE at SOI NANA.  After a re-visit to Red Lips (not so surprisingly the staff had changed since our last visit 4 years earlier….) and a hop to one more venue, the lights went on sharply at 02.00 a.m., which did not mean the end of the night, of course !  We walked over to SOI 11, to a recommended place called “Spices” which was packed.  This place had clearly been designed for a capacity of around 500 people, but it was teeming with at least twice that number.  An unnamed Hopper lost his Blackberry in the middle of the place and - LEGEND has it -  Markus found it by chance…

Between Soi Nana and Spices, we had lost Retus and Sacha and were down to 5.  A bit later (but it was still dark outside), 3 of us left back to the hotel and the last two standing (dancing) stayed on….


The luck of our draw only to have to play two games in the afternoon greatly helped us, as a lot of us did feel “emotionally tired” after all those drinks the night before, which for some extended into breakfast time….

Your scribe will now give an assessment of ALL the games played during both Saturday and Sunday, and as my position (incl. Patrick Huber with whom I did exchange from time to time) was hardly ever really tested in the games, I believe that I can give a fair description of WHY we had such a successful tournament.

At the front,  we had two super-attackers in the form of Patrick and Toni.  The second line of attack and also defence - and also manned by extremely talented hockey players – was in the form of Sacha and Stefan.  Those two were ably supported by the other offensive / defensive mid-fielders,  i.e. Coen, Retus and Ruckli.

With so much ATTACKING POWER, the FLYING HOPPERS really dominated the play (territorial advantage) in ALL the games.  Should anything get through that wall, both Guido (voted best defender) and Willy would clean up.  All the goalies who were “hired hands” were hardly ever really tested.  The further we progressed towards the Tournament title, the more the goalies wanted to play for us and for the FINAL two of them had to draw straws to decide. 

What resulted on that first day’s afternoon were two wins.  And here I have to rely on information provided by Sacha (thanks), the only one taking down some notes ….

Flying Hoppers  versus  Old Satit Kaset    2 : 0
Flying Hoppers  versus  Singapore CC      1 :  0 

We then proceeded back to the Hotel and on for the evening.  We found a new supporter in Lemoine Lucas, who joined us for dinner.  Yet another lovely Thai dinner (ably organized by GOOD Sasha, who was a blessing showing up and taking the ordering into her capable hands.  Ruckly and bad Sacha were taking naughty pictures but we shall see if those get published…  Your scribe was responsible for some negative highlight, knocking over a wine glass which poured across the table onto mainly Jaap and Pat.

Pleasant eating experiences are becoming a kind of trademark for the FLYING HOPPERS on tour.  Certainly, a most enjoyable meal was had by all. 

Earlier activities (the night before) started to take their toll on most/all of us and we retired to the hotel for an early evening, also knowing that the next day’s hockey games would start fairly early.


Two more wins saw the FLYING HOPPERS go through to the knock-out stage:

Flying Hoppers versus  Thai Elephant        4 : 2
Flying Hoppers versus  Satit Khonkkaen    8 : 1

Sacha had clearly instructed that if the Hoppers were leading in a game by two or more goals, then there would be NO need to keep attacking and tiring the bodies in vain.  Obviously, his instructions had fallen on deaf ears in that second game ?!!

In the Quarter-Final we met the guys who had invited us to the Jakarta Tournament, ISCI, which for once had a strong side at Bangkok.

Nevertheless, we won and progressed to the SEMI-FINAL, which proved to be the hardest game of all in my opinion.  We were cheered on by the DUBAI team, which had just been eliminated by that side.

A lot of chances were created by those supreme (LEGENDARY ??) attacking machines and we won 1 : 0.  

The FINAL was in fact an “easier” game but we still had to wait quite a while for a goal to go in….

THE last whistle and SUDDENLY it dawned on all of us:  The FLYING HOPPERS for the very first time on an overseas trip had WON a HOCKEY TOURNAMENT containing more than 30 teams !   GOLD !!

Suddenly, no more water drinking as during the whole day, but straight into beers.  A quick dash back to the hotel for a shower and back to the venue for the EVENING FESTIVITIES,  i.e. to receive that Trophy and those gold medals….

A LOT of pictures were taken, and you can certainly see all the happy smiles on those.

We were handed that BIG Trophy by a very high ranking Thai General, and he shook hands with each and every one of us and the gold medals were placed around our necks.

Later on, a small incident:  Stefan somehow had the bad luck to drop that huge trophy and slightly dislocate it, to the astonishment of a lot of spectators…

Well, the evening progressed and there were those among us who had to head off to Bangkok airport straight from the RBSC,  i.e. Guido to Zurich and Patrick to New York.

Willy went to celebrate with Irena, and Jaap went to do the same with Pat.  For the rest of us a LEGENDARY NIGHT of celebrations was about to start.

That group progressed from the RBSC to SOI 11, and after checking out Spices (too early, the crowds come late there), we found a kind of street-front bar, which soon had a new chef in the form of Tanga-Borat Ruckli,  who advanced to PAPA-SAN in a flash. 

A hell of a lot of beers went down to celebrate our HISTORIC WIN.  Hence my memory is somewhat limited.  One thing is for sure, none of the girls was named “Fidelity”, but I am certain that perhaps a “KIT” was among them and for certain a “KAT” or was that “CAT”??  Time was flying and I had to leave those great hockey mates behind, as I was to catch an early flight to Singapore and hence still wanted a few hours (or was that minutes?) sleep….

You will see from the different comments below that I could not cover all the angles fully.  But I have tried.

The following awards were made among the participating FLYING HOPPERS for this Bangkok tournament:


Best and fairest:            Stefan Leuenberger
Top scorer:                      Toni Haberthuer
Best social:                     Coen van Rosmalen
Best defender:               Guido Steiner
Oldest member:             Jaap ten Sijthoff


Quotes from emails received -  THANKS !!  (in no specific order – just enjoy the reading)

Guido Steiner:

Bangkok war nur kurz (speziell für mich), aber unvergesslich.

Meine Top 5:

- Die Top of the World Bar am Freitagabend
- Ruckli’s reduzierter Redefluss den ganzen Samstag lang
- Die Massagen (und das Trompetenverbot)
- Die Spiele und natürlich der Gewinn des Turniers
- Aber vor allem, mit Euch ein Wochenende zu verbringen

Toni Haberthuer:

Die highlights waren für mich klar:

- Turniergewinn (völlig verdient natürlich!)
- Papa-San Ruckli an der Bier Zapfmaschine in Soi 11 (bis 5 Uhr?)
- Rund 20 Massagen fast sämtlicher Körperteile
- Das Bier in der Welt aufregendsten Bar unter freiem Himmel
- Das Gesicht des Check-in Personals als Stefan seine Tempelspitze einchecken wollte
- Das Gesicht von Stefan, als ihm der Pokal vor rund 1'000 Leuten auseinandergeflogen
- Alte Freunde aus der ganzen Welt herkommend zu treffen

Jungs, es hat grossen Spass gemacht !  Bin stolz ein Gold Member zu sein !

Markus Ruckstuhl:

Was soll ich denn dazu direkt von Trat’s grösster Zapfmaschine antworten, wo ich nun seit rund 24 Stunden den Laden schmeisse ????

Vielleicht etwa, dass

- Ich stolz darauf bin, in Toni’s Hitliste aufgenommen worden zu sein?
- Ich mächtig viel Spass mit Euch allen gehabt habe?
- Ich fest daran glaube, dass ich die besten Freunde der Welt habe, mögen sie auch
  noch so zerstreut an allen Ecken der Welt leben...zumindest solange ich Papa-San 

Stef, Sacha und wer auch immer noch bei der Organisation mitgeholfen hat:  Keine Worte genügen, um mich bei Euch zu bedanken. Hoffe einfach, das auch ich mich mal irgendwie revanchieren kann.

Patrick Huber:

Ich kann mich nur anschliessen: ein wirklich aussergewöhnlicher Anlass in jeglicher Hinsicht !   Und dass ich nach mehr als 20 Jahren Hockey auch mal noch einen Turniersieg erleben durfte, das ist dann einfach noch mein ganz persönliches Highlight....

Patrick Stutz:

War Klasse Jungs, echt.  Meine persönlichen Top 5:

5) Die 465 Bier am Freitagabend/Samstagmorgen (kann mich zwar nicht mehr erinnern
aber ich glaub es war super)
4) Die 9 Stunden Schlaf vom Samstag auf Sonntag (nachdem ich über der Tom Yum
Suppe eingeschlafen bin)
3) Taxi „fahren“ (stehen?) in Bangkok
2) „Borat“ im Zimmer 1915 (Wir haben auch die Schlafzimmer-Szene des Films 
erfolgreich nachgespielt)
1) Klaro:  Titelgewinn !!!!

Coen van Rosmalen:

Als Einer der Letzten bin ich dann auch heute morgen angekommen (und erstaunlich wach im Buero!). Nur Papa-San zapft irgendwo in Thailand noch ein wenig Bier für den König da er heute 80 Jahre alt wird !  Die Top 5’s geben mir einen Riesen Big Smile ! Es war wieder (!) super und ich bin noch nicht klar wie meine Top 5 aussieht (wahrscheinlich ist Nummer 1 meine 2. Medaille!). Gestern Abend war ich noch mit unser „FH-local contact“ am Weihnachtsapero auf der Australischen Botschaft.... Und wir haben bereits einen Rabatt in einem anderen Hotel für nächstes Jahr/Mal bestätigt bekommen !

P.S.:  Toll dass wir jetzt auch in Horgen einen Thai Tempel besuchen können !

Retus Gieriet:

Gute alte Freunde sind wie guter alter Wein – unbeatable !

Mit den guten alten Freunden Hockey spielen und mit den guten alten Freunden dabei gewinnen. Und mit den guten alten Freunden speisen – Bier trinken – Wein geniessen, diskutieren – Aussicht geniessen – an der Bar hängen – Badehose aussuchen....was wollen wir mehr?

Und man kann auf sie zählen !

Solche Freunde sind nicht einfach nur gut – sie sind einfach die Besten !  Oder ?

Stefan Leuenberger:

Ueber die Wahl zum „Best und Fairest“ Spieler habe ich mich natürlich sehr gefreut. Von vielen, vielen „Brainstormings“ weiss ich was für grosse Hockeyexperten Ihr alle seid, und dass gerade Ihr mich gewählt habt, macht mich wahnsinnig stolz. Ausserdem gibt es in unserer Mannschaft ausserordentlich viele grossartige Hockeyspieler, die diese Wahl ebenfalls verdient hätten. Also, merci vielmal !

Es war für mich ein absoluter Highlight meine besten Freunde in Bangkok zu treffen und dann noch zusammen das Turnier zu gewinnen. Nicht einfach zu übertreffen!


Hallo alle,

Auch wenn ich nicht spiele hat mich euer Sieg sehr gefreut (wie auch die ganze Atmosphäre) und ich war stolz auf euch. Es ist auch sehr schön euch so zusammen zu sehen und eure Freundschaft zu spüren. Es ist lustig mit euch und man fühlt sich wohl mit euch.

Gratuliere nochmals zu euerem Sieg und hoffe bis bald.

Liebe Grüsse Irena.


Irena, I allowed myself to HIGHLIGHT in bold the sentence that I really did like so very much in your very kind and thoughtful comments – I am sure you will not mind !

Walter 'WASABI!' Marthaler