Over the next 3 weeks in the lead up to the AFL Asian Championships in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, AFL Asia will be having a closer look at each club as they prepare for the biggest date on every Asian footballers calendar.
First up is last year’s Division 1 Champions, the Hong Kong Dragons:
Team Name: Hong Kong Dragons
Year team formed: 1990
Best finish in Champs: Winners 2003, 2004, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2015
Coach: Garry Wines
Captain: Tim Smith
Brief Club History:
The Dragons were formed in 1990 by Ray Wood when challenged by a bunch of rugby players that it was not possible to get enough support to establish an Aussie Rules team.
The first ever game was held at Stanley Fort between two expat teams in front of a solid crowd of 2,500.
The club’s first international was in 1992 in Tokyo vs the Goannas. The Dragons walked away with a solid win.
Since then, the club has continued to be a force in Asian football and has won six Asian championships as well as numerous other fixtures over the years.
The 2016 Season sees the Dragons defending their title once again. Plenty of match practice has been had courtesy of a robust South China League and a HK 10s tournament against Singapore and Philippines. New this year is the dynamic and varied leadership group who have their work cut out for them as the contest gets tougher and tougher each year.
Players to look out for in 2016 include:
-New midfielder BJ, who’s pace and engine should provide much run.
-Ballarat lad Cobys size and skill set makes him able to play almost any position on the ground.
– Returning to the dragons fold are the seasoned campaigners Chrisian “the Spinkler” Cook and Liam “Guido” Ginnivan who show no signs of slowing down.
-Backing up a second champs is Sammy “The Difference” Agars who will be looking to make good his promise of 4 more titles.
Throw in All-Asian Jock Auld, New-Dad Darren Brakenridge and in-form captain Tim Smith and the side looks set to take whatever is thrown their way.
The View from above:
There is no doubt that the Dragons know how to win Champs. Anyone that saw the last year’s final against a cramp-effected Malaysian team knows that they are the masters of getting a large squad through the rigors of a long day out in the sun and still firing in the Grand Final. Fielding two teams for the first time, the Dragons will not have the luxury of rotating as many players as they have in the past, but the jury is still out if this will be a hindrance or an advantage, now that they don’t have to find somewhere to hide AFL Asia President Darren Whitfield for a few quarters… The loss of spiritual leader Bowski cannot be underestimated and its yet to be seen who will step up and fill the void (and wet earlobes) left by this giant of AFL Asia. Traditionally slow starters, their first game against the Philippines who beat them in the Manila Cup final should test them but you know they will be coming home strongly and will rightly go into the competition once again as hot fav’s.