American Revolution Trip Down Under 2002

A journal of the American Revolution Trip to Australia for the 2002 International Cup.

Day 1 - Thursday, August 8th, 2002 - Part 1 Tight Shorts Are Only Part of the Fun

Day 1 - Thursday, August 8th, 2002 - Part 2 The Calm Before the Storm.

Day 2 - Saturday, August 10, 2002 - One Man Down

Day 3 - Sunday, August 11, 2002 - The AFL is Real (aka Pasta and Pudding) 5

Day 4 - Monday, August 12, 2002 - Part 1 - A Windy Welcome

Day 4 - Monday, August 12, 2002 - Part 2 - Dear God: Are You Sure You Have the Right Guy?

Day 5 - Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - The Wa-aiting is the Hardest Part

Day 6 - Wednesday, August 14, 2002 - Giddy Up, Its Game Day

Day 7 - Thursday, August 15, 2002 - Tough Day at the Oval, Good Night Roving

Day 8 - Friday, August 16, 2002 - USA, Say Hello to the MCG

Day 9 - Saturday, August 17, 2002 - Long Ride, Long Ground, Long Day

Day 10 - Sunday, August 18, 2002 - Depredating Disciples

Day 11 - Monday, August 19, 2002 - O Canada!

Day 12 - Tuesday, August 20, 2002 - Dj Vu All Over Again

Day 13 - Wednesday, August 21, 2002 - Chatty Chaddy, and the Sweet Vocal Stylings of Pedro Ternes

Day 14 Thursday, August 22, 2002 - For the Love of the Gameand Chocolate Pudding

Day 15 - Friday, August 23, 2002 - One Match, Two Ass Whippings.

Day 15 - Friday, August 23, 2002 - Part 2 - Dj Vu All Over AgainAll Over Again.

Day 16 - Saturday, August 24, 2002 - Josh Loves Me, Josh Loves Me NotI Might Be Drunk

Day 17 - Sunday, August 25, 2002 - Dude, Wheres My Stuff?

One Week Home - Ear to Ear

One Month Home - Best Two Thousand Bucks Ever Spent

Captains Notes - One Month Later - Heady Thoughts Flow Through Philosophical Fingers

Day 1 Thursday, August 8th, 2002 Part 1Tight Shorts Are Only Part of the Fun

When I volunteered to write the first day's journal entry for the American Revolution's trip to the International Cup in Melbourne I didn't realize how hard it would be to put words to what it is we are about to experience.

For many of us we've been waiting for an opportunity like this since we were kids. Before we ever even imagined it would be Australian Football that would be our opportunity to represent our country on an international stage. Since I started playing this game in 1998 I've imagined what it would be like just to take in a game in Melbourne at the MCG, and now we stand a matter of weeks away from actually having the opportunity to PLAY a game at the MCG. So when I woke up this morning it was to the realization of the fact that this was actually going to happen.

I'd made it to August 8, 2002, uninjured and ready to finally experience something I only imagined. So when Griselda asked why I was driving so slowly on the way to meet up with the rest of the guys at the Furama Hotel, it didn't surprise her that my answer was, "I made it this far, and I don't want a stupid traffic accident to be what kept me away from Melbourne."

We get to the hotel, and the guys are already trickling in. In fact, most of the rest of the guys from around the country are already here and raring to go. It's the local boys who are the last to arrive. Some might say we are flaky Californians, we prefer fashionably late. At any rate we have a scheduled training run for 3:00 and it's only 1:00. Even still, you can sense the excitement in the air. Everybody's amped up and ready to get out of the hotel and do something, anything but just sit in this conference room waiting for the others to manage their way through the LA traffic.

By 2:00 we are fully assembled, and training jumpers are dispersed, and we're told to get ourselves ready for a training run. Evidently, this confused Josh Loring. While everyone else had their normal footy shorts Josh surprised us all with some dancer's shorts he'd stolen from a 14 year old. I don't know how he could breathe let alone run in those things. I just figure he's young, and maybe the good lord hasn't finished with Josh just yet.

We cross the street to Westchester Park for our first run as the 2002 American Revolution. Training goes well, guys are shaky at first, but we finish our first run with some really great teamwork on a pretty complex kicking drill. As usual the Revo guys take this thing very seriously when it comes to playing and training. It's a great start especially considering that Josh only had one fainting spell the entire run.

Now things are starting to gain some pace. We rush back to the hotel for a quick shower, and change into our in-flight garb. We actually look like a team. We have a quick meeting about our itinerary and such, and we're given our room assignments. My name is called along with......Josh Loring. I look around the room and see Josh, he sees me. I smile give him the thumbs up, while in my mind I'm hoping he hasn't stolen anymore of that 14 year old's cloths.

The meeting concludes and we're off to the airport. This is part of the whole experience. I'm expecting little kids to be clamoring for autographs and questions of, "who are you guys" and "what do you do." Unfortunately, Plugger informs us the school kids he had lined up couldn't get past security. Oh well, I've got my ticket, and I'm on my way to Melbourne. If only I could close my eyes and make these next 17 hours vanish. I guess this is all part of the experience.

Chris Olson

American Revolution

Orange County Bombers

Day 1 Thursday, August 8th, 2002 Part 2 The Calm Before the Storm

After a brisk practice in the beautiful southern California sun, we showered up quickly and headed for Los Angeles Intl. Airport. We met up with the rest of our group at the airport, including Kevin Fogelman and Scotty Nicholas. We all checked our bags, and proceeded to our gate. We dropped our bags and everyone found a place to eat. After filling up at either Cheers, Burger King, Starbucks or Wolfgang Puck Express, we boarded the plane bound for Auckland, New Zealand around 9:00 p.m.

Our journey began with everyone settling in, and listening attentively to the flight attendants as they gave us our pre-flight instructions on what to do if we crash into the ocean. The first couple hours people talked, read, or watched The Importance of Being Earnest, the in-flight movie. For the next 8 to 10 hours, most of us slept uncomfortably in our seats. We had three decent meals, but the only real excitement was Candys achievement of getting the number of our beautiful Columbian flight mate, Marisol.

We arrived in Auckland, New Zealand in exactly 12 hours and 10 minutes, according to Brad Rinklin, 10 minutes off the stated estimate by the pilot. Brad is looking into the discrepancy. We had a couple of hours to sit in Auckland before we headed to Melbourne. There were plenty of shops to keep us busy, but very few purchases were made. However, Candy did get Pope his sheep, a very touching moment for all of us.

We took the short flight to Melbourne, around 4:30 a.m. We had breakfast on the flight, and again were subjected to The Importance of Being Earnest as our only movie choice. As we descended toward Melbourne, we could see the rolling hills, replete with trees, which covered the countryside. The other most striking feature was the amazing number of Footy fields dotting the landscape. They are as common, if not more so, than baseball diamonds are in the States. It was our first taste of the Footy fanaticism we are about to encounter.

We touchdown in Melbourne, let the games begin.

Matt Jagger

American Revolution

St. Louis Blues

Day 2 Saturday, August 10, 2002 One Man Down

We arrived in Oz from LA after a long and tiring 15-hour journey from the states. Making it through immigration and customs was the easy part. Unfortunately, for one of our mates, it wasnt that simple. Team Co-Captain, Brad Rinklin, fell ill after departing the plane and was taken to the hospital for medical attention. Our prayers were with Brad as we boarded the bus to Macleod and our hotel, the Greensborough Motor Inn. The hotel was nice and completely at the disposal of the team. After being assigned rooms, we cleaned up and headed out to Eltham to experience our first footy match in Australia. The game was of particular significance because two of Americas own were suited up for the Eltham Panthers, Donnie Lucero and David Thurmond. We arrived just in time to see the 1s tip off. Eltham ran out to an early lead and was ahead by four goals after quarter time. Unfortunately, Hurstbridge ran out eventual winners with better team chemistry and talk. The country league atmosphere was great. It gave players a chance to mingle with the local folks who were out at the ground supporting their Panthers. Relaxing in the stands and enjoying a meat pie while watching footy on a beautiful Australian day sums up our first day in the land down under. Best wishes go out to Co-Captain and team leader Brad Rinklin.

Zach Holway

American Revolution

Orange County Bombers

Day 3 - Sunday, August 11, 2002 The AFL is Real (aka Pasta and Pudding)

After going to bed around 10 pm last night, most of us expected to get a solid eight hours of sleep, then go get some breakfast. Oddly, most of us had a similar experience waking up at about 4 am, having a feeling of not being able to get back to sleep, then sleeping soundly until 8. Many players also mentioned vivid and strange dreams, the details of which lie outside the scope of this journal. As usual, I dreamed of chocolate pudding.

We broke breakfast at the hotel dining room in two shifts; the size of the room requires that half the party eat at a time. As has been and will the case over all of our experiences here, some things seemed commonplace while others seemed out of place. For instance, eggs and toast, add individually packaged butter and honey sure. Vegemite to be expected. But, savory, yeast-based spreads not withstanding, the baked beans were a bit of a surprise. The hospitality could not have been better.

We arrived at the Eltham ground for a 10 am training. We worked on several strategies discussed at the team meeting night before. The play rarely went perfectly but when it did look good, it looked very good. Doubtless we will employ and refine these tactics further during the friendly match with Denmark tomorrow.

After a quick sandwich and fruit lunch back at the hotel, we hosed off and got ready to go to the hospital to visit Brad, on our way to Colonial Stadium (more on that in a minute). Brad is in great spirits. He seems happy to be doing better, though Im sure hes frustrated to be still in the hospital. He had an inflamed pancreas, caused by a couple of inconveniently situated gallstones. The condition was managed by not eating. He had been fed intravenously since the flare up but is eating again and, at least to me, seems to be back to normal. We all wished him well, and told him how important it is to the team that he get back on the field.

As promised, the next stop was Colonial Stadium to watch Geelong play Saint Kilda. It was an absolute thrill. For the first time, I was able to follow a particular player on the field of an AFL match when the ball wasnt nearby. Back home, we are at the mercy of the television director; but when youre at the game, you can watch the guy who plays your position through every aspect of the game, not just when the ball is around. The game looked like it might be a blowout in Geelongs favor midway through the third quarter. But, by the end of the game St. Kilda only went down by a point. It was a great learning experience, and an awful lot of fun.

After the game, we split up to explore downtown Melbourne four a couple hours and grab some dinner. I walked with seven other players up to the Parliament building, then back toward Flinders train station. On the way, we stopped at Pellegrinis Caf and had an outstanding Italian dinner. Its a beautiful city. The fact that about half the team played in London last year proved to have an additional advantage, above and beyond on field familiarity. Each group walking around had someone with experience to remind the other players to look right before stepping off the curb.

It occurred to a few of us that we did not see any homeless people. The reason will be the topic discussion over the next few days.

We met back at the stadium and returned as a team to the hotel. Another team meeting and its back to bed.

Jason Becker

American Revolution

Milwaukee Bombers

Day 4 Monday, August 12, 2002 Part 1A Windy Welcome

After two days of relative warmth today started quite cooler and raining. Roommate Dustin Jones and I, still suffering some jet lag, woke up around 5:30 in the morning and could not get back to sleep. It was OK as we had both hit the sack early and had gotten our 8 hours in. Since we were up we decided to go for a light run. We hit the road and picked up Tom Ellis and Chris Olson as well. After 10 minutes or so we ended up in front of the local shops and as luck would have it the Bakery was just opening. We each picked out something. Dustin and I had a hankering for fresh bread so we bought a loaf as well as some Nutella and Vegemite. Let me just say this, the bread here is fantastic.

Got back and had a great breakfast, the hotel has been taking care of us, baked beans on toast, bacon, sausages and eggs. Ironically, today's plans had us off to Essendon to see a dietician before our first test as a team, Denmark. Needless to say she went on to tell us not to have bacon or sausage for breakfast.

Windy Hill is Essendon's training ground and up to 10 years ago, was their home ground for VFL matches. It was an awesome sight to come down through the race and walk out onto the grounds. Denmark showed up and so the coaches brought us in to prepare for the game. Chad Martin had some new friends he had met the night before show up to watch the game and it was great to see how quick some of the locals were to support the US team.

The coaches set the tone early letting us know that this was to be a friendly match in name but to still play hard and be first to the ball. "Friendly" was supposed to mean two hand touch and no tackling but that went out the door as soon as Donovan introduced himself to some lucky Dane. We came out strong, took a commanding lead early and even though they put up a strong fight into the third we ran out convincing winners in the end. It felt good to get out onto the field as a team for the first time and see what we could do.

That night we had dinner at Essendon's rooms and we were honored to be spoken to by Kevin Sheedy himself. Coach Sheedy expressed his beliefs that it was the USA and not Ireland where the AFL should be looking for its next set of international players. He truly feels that the US has the most promise for expanding the game and from what he sees in us he has no doubts about it.

After dinner was done we had the Jumper Presentation ceremony and it felt fantastic to get our hands around the new jerseys for the first time. All of us knew we would wear that jumper with pride and passion for our game and our country. It was great to see some of the USAFL founders who had returned to OZ in attendance and cheering us on.

Matt Dainauski

American Revolution

Denver Bulldogs

Day 4 Monday, August 12, 2002 Part 2Dear God: Are You Sure You Have the Right Guy?

As soon as the "not-so-friendly" match against Denmark was over, Plugger appeared to whisk Eric (the Danish Captain) and me off to a Captains photo/video shoot for the local media. It was raining off and on, so when we arrived at the photo studio, the three of us ran from the car to the lobby and proceeded to wait for the elevator for our ride upstairs to the studio. Within a few seconds the elevator doors parted, and there in front of us was football legend Robert "Dipper" DiPierdomenico! The DIPPER!! This is the man who once played a Grand Final with a punctured lung, and I got to shake his hand. A few quick words were exchanged, and I was lucky to get away from the encounter without any broken bones in my hand. Holy smokes that was a meaty paw!

When we got upstairs, we saw all the colors of the 11 countries. What a sight! All these guys from all over the world here to play footy...not bad. I went off to lose the street clothes in favor of the battle gear, and when I returned fully stripped (somehow, Aussies think "stripped" means "dressed"...still haven't figured out the logic there) to the room where everyone was waiting, the first thing I heard was a sarcastic "Well, I wonder where this guy's from?" out of the mouth of the PNG team manager. Nice! You gotta love the stars and stripes jumpers. American and proud!

As the afternoon went on, each Captain was pulled aside to pose for photos for various publications, and one by one the guys went outside to do video interviews with a Producer from SBS (Australian Television Station). Time was tight, so we planned to do my interview the following day at our match versus Samoa. In addition, we were pulled in to the main photo room by ourselves, and in various combinations of countries for pictures. At some point, Flash, the Canadian Captain pulled me aside to do a quick introduction and interview for the Canadian team's trip documentary. All the while the Australian media video cameras were rolling for behind the scenes footage, etc. A woman came in from Fox Footy Channel and gave each of the Captains a Fox Footy Channel hat. Then we did a bunch of video shots for Fox Footy Channel promos. The woman would feed us lines and we'd repeat them into the camera. "Friday, live from the MCG" hold the footy and say I'll throw you the footy, and then say it. Then, "Don't miss the Grand Final of the International Cup this Friday, live from the MCG on Fox Footy Channel!" You get the idea. It was actually quite fun. All the Captains seemed to get along well. Of course we had yet to play against each other.

The last shot of the day was the big group shot for the Herald Sun. We all walked to the park across the street from the studio in the cold, wet Melbourne weather. Side note: the British guy was shaking and shivering like crazy. You'd think if anyone could handle the cold and rain, he'd be the one. But on this day it was the underdog who came from the 110 degree Phoenix desert that braved the elements and stayed strong, never showing weakness. Another small victory for the Americans...and the tournament hadn't even started yet! Gotta stay strong for my teammates...Captain's duties. That one was for the Revo boys!! We took the snapshot huddled around the cup, and the shoot was done.

Then it was off to Windy Hill for the jumper presentation and a talk from legendary Essendon Coach, Kevin Sheedy. Just as Plugger and I hopped in the car for the ride to the home of the Bombers (after I walked to the wrong side of the car...damn right sided driver seats!), Plugger's cell phone rang. It was a writer from the associated press who wanted to do a story on the American Revolution. We sat in the parking spot for 10-15 minutes while he interviewed Plugger. Apparently, it's illegal in Australia to drive while talking on the phone. Then Plugger says, "I actually have the Captain sitting right here next to me. Would you like to talk to him?" He handed me the phone and we started off to Windy Hill. This guy had a lot of good questions. First there were the typical ones - "What is footy like in the States? How many teams? How does it feel to play for your country? Who do you think is the favorite for the tournament?" Then he got into some different ones - "What kind of jobs do the guys have back home? What kind of sacrifices have the guys made to travel to Melbourne and play footy?" He was getting in there pretty deep. I hung up the phone feeling like I'd gotten more attention in the past few hours than I deserved for a whole lifetime, and hoping that I'd represented my teammates well. Plugger assured me that I did well, and we proceeded to go over my duties for the jumper presentation. Finally, we arrived at Windy Hill with just a few minutes to grab a bite to eat while the rest of the team straggled in. Busy, busy day. Could this be more fun? Doubt it.

Jeff Fingers Purcell

American Revolution

Phoenix Scorpions

Day 5 Tuesday, August 13, 2002 The Wa-aiting is the Hardest Part

This was a cold and rainy evening as we drove to the Optus Oval to meet and greet with all of the other nations and the AFL. We received a nice and inspiring welcoming speech from an AFL executive, his name regretfully escapes me.

As for the atmosphere, the oval looked fantastic through the glass. The room was very crowded and pretty warm with 11 teams fighting over finger sandwiches and cold beer. And as I recall, there were some loud chants from Samoa during the speeches and then singing from the South African team after the speeches. It was a great night to come face to face with our competitors as everyone seemingly was sizing each other up.

Lance Van Putten

American Revolution

Nashville Kangaroos

Day 6 Wednesday, August 14, 2002 Giddy Up, Its Game Day

As we stood in the locker room before or first game, the electricity in the room was amazing. Guys were buzzing about, some jumping up and down with anticipation while others calmly listened to there CD players. We just wanted to get on the field. When Denis called us in to get our jumpers, a wave of excitement came over everyone. Wayne started to call out each name. When we all received our jumper and put it over our heads, I got a chill. Looking down on my jumper and seeing the red, white, and blue and the American Revolution across my chest makes you really appreciate where youre from and how you managed to get there. When we ran onto the field, we were excited that we were finally going to play. All of the work we did on and off the field to get here was finally going to pay off. As soon as the first horn sounded, we knew that the Samoans were not going to lay down and let us beat them. They came out hitting us hard, as we expected, but it was only a matter of time before we became familiar with each other and started to play together. By the third quarter, we began to leave the Samoans behind as we attacked the goal as much as possible. After the final horn, the American Revolution beat the Samoans

USA 7.10.52 to Samoa 4.7.31. It was the first victory for us on Australian soil and hopefully it will not be the last.

Pete Ternes

American Revolution

Chicago Swans

Day 7 Thursday, August 15, 2002 Tough Day at the Oval, Good Night Roving

This day was a very big day. We had just come off a well earned win against Samoa and we were about to face a very skillful and hard-hitting New Zealand side. We started the day off at eight o'clock and nine o'clock breakfasts with a team meeting at ten-thirty. We then had some time to ourselves until we had left for the Port Melbourne footy ground at eleven-forty-five. We arrived at the field around twelve-thirty which gave us enough time to watch the Ireland game, prior to ours, as well as warm up and get ready for our three o'clock game. The game itself was a definite must win game but, on the day, the better team had won. It was a tough loss for the Revos.

Later that night we were invited to a bar-b-que hosted by the Hampton Rovers, a local footy club in the suburb of Hampton, which is right along the beach of the Port Phillip Bay. The team from Papa New Guinea was there as well. It was good for the boys to see the sort of functions that routinely occur at an amateur level as well as seeing the team's own clubhouse, an item found rare in US footy. We stayed at the barbee for a few hours and after a brief team meeting most of the team enjoyed a night out in Melbourne, seeing as we didn't have a game the next day. Needless to say, the boys made the most of the evening, thoroughly enjoying all the night had to offer.

Jon Loring

American Revolution

Lehigh Valley Crocodiles

Day 8 Friday, August 16, 2002 USA, Say Hello to the MCG

Today was a welcome day off after a hard fought, physical loss to New Zealand. The game gave us lots to think about. It was a sobering experience after our win against Samoa the previous day. After some time to reflect on the loss, I realized our skills were not up to the level of the Kiwis and we need to play a much smarter game to be successful in the rest of the tournament.

We practiced at the local youth footy club field, which is right down the road from our hotel. It was a nice day. Sunny with highs in the low 60's and a steady breeze. We needed to get out, run a little bit to get the tightness out which was a direct result of playing two tough games back to back. Dennis and Scotty took us through our paces, but were careful not to overwork us with a match coming up against Ireland tomorrow. Keeping guys fresh during the tournament will be an important factor in later games. We worked on our set kick outs and center bounces after a brief warm-up. After the morning practice, we were free until 5:30 when we were to meet at the MCG for the parade of nations. There was palpable excitement from just about everyone for the walk-by in the MCG, especially for the coaches and Plugger. This is their Mecca of football. It's their Yankee Stadium.

We all met at 5:30 at the MCG. We were taken into the lower stadium entrance and all the teams were lined up in alphabetical order. We had about an hour to kill. The South Africans got a little amped up and started singing. The Samoans who were right in front of them chimed in with them. Both of these teams have great attitudes about being here. They love the atmosphere and are soaking it all in. After the singing died down there was a haka face off between New Zealand and Samoa. As usual the Samoans were more convincing. Finally, the time came to walk into the MCG.

As we were walking down the tunnel I got chills. I've been down on professional fields and been close to sports team, but this was amazing. There were at least 10,000 fans already in their seats for the AFL game after our walk by. People were yelling words of encouragement. Our guys were high-fiving little kids. It was a great experience. Chad got most of the attention from the women. As Chad walked out of the tunnel, I believe I overheard one woman say, "Now that's a man!!!!!"

I can honestly say this is one experience I will never forget.

BJ Gambaro

American Revolution

St. Louis Blues

Day 9 Saturday, August 17, 2002 Long Ride, Long Ground, Long Day

Saturday morning - the biggest game of our trip will be played today. We need to beat the Irish today so we can stay in the hunt for the cup. Early wake-up call today because we are playing in Geelong so it will take us about an hour or so to get there. We are playing at Skilled Stadium, which is The Geelong Cats home ground, which means that is a real AFL venue so everyone is pretty wired just to be able to play there let alone that we have to win. We all eat, get our gear together, and off we go. Pretty boring ride up - everyones pretty quiet getting ready for the game. I know Popey had a good ride up because we saw a lot of sheep farms on the ride up and we all know how he likes his sheep. We finally get there and we unload and take a walk around the stands and the field. The first game, Canada vs. NZ, is just getting underway and it doesnt look like Canada is going to help us out too much. NZ pretty much dominates the game from the get go. The one thing I really like over here is how between every quarter everyone piles out on to the field whether it be to listen to the coaches or just to have a kick. Its great to be able to get to a game early and check out the field and have a few kicks on it before we get ready to play. Also, its pretty cool to listen to the other coaches and hear their strategy and how they try to get their team motivated. The field is humongous - the longest one well play on in the tournament. You needed binoculars to see from one forward pocket to the other. When the third quarter of the Canada game started we went in to the change rooms and started getting ready. Myself, Zoolander, Davey, and Donnie were kicking the ball around in the change rooms. Of course everyone one of my kicks was on the money, but I think those three knocked out a light bulb, made a few dents in the lockers and hit Steve the trainer about 5 times. I bring this up because every ground we played on had a change room that was nice and big, with showers. So, it was great to have a place to kick around and actually sit down and get ready. It was defiantly a lot better then getting to a game a half hour before it starts, roll out of the bus, and start playing. So, after we got yelled at to stop kicking the ball, we got dressed, laced up and ready to roll. Denis got us all together huddled us up to say our pledge and hand in our states. We then got our pregame talk from Denis and the coaches. Everyone was ready to go and I thought there was no way we were going to lose this game. We got on the field, did our warm-ups, and stood for the two national anthems, and then it started. Ireland got out and got a couple quick goals on us, which proved to be the difference. Other than the quick start by the Irish, it was a very even match. The third quarter we pulled within a goal and had a great quarter. We came out in the 4th and they got a quick goal on us and that really hurt because after that we just couldnt get over the hump. It turned out to be a very tough loss in a very big game because that loss pretty much meant we werent going to play at the MCG. But, on that particular day they were the better side. We all did a cool down stretch and then headed for the locker rooms where Denis and the other coaches gave a post game talk. Basically, their biggest point was that we dont have a footy brain yet. A lot of us still have that mentality of American football where we try and break tackles and run through people. They were not displeased with the effort at all because that was definitely there. We just have to take that effort and bring the brain along with it. We all showered up and headed for the MCG to watch Essendon and Collingwood. Even with the lost it was a pretty cool day. Hey we got to play on an actual AFL ground - pretty cool stuff.

Jay Hunter

American Revolution

Baltimore/Washington Eagles

Day 10 Sunday, August 18, 2002 Depredating Disciples

Sunday morning the 9 of us woke early to endure the long haul to see the 12 Apostles via the Great Ocean Road. Our fearless leader Scotty Nicholas, my sister Ashley, my mother, Brad Pope, Olson, his wife and sister in law and the PT Steve Budrick all crammed into the rental van.

We decided to take the more direct route to the 12 Apostles, because the previous weekend's trip ended up short of the target, due to an early meeting time...

The drive there was a long 4 hours... but when we finally arrived, the scenic coastline was much better than the postcards... The park area was recently renovated and there was even a helicopter service offering the most expensive 10min of your life. For a mere $70 AUS (thank god) each, you could get the most amazing view of the 12 Apostles, now 11, and the surrounding coastline. Scott, Ashley and myself crammed into one, and Chris O., his wife and sister in law crammed into another. The spectacular photos taken were real specimens...

Once we left the 11 Apostles we were on the search for food. We had some terrible fried food to refuel us for the long journey back. The trip back seemed at least three times as long as the trip there, as there was little discussion or stories to be told. I think the trip there emptied everyone out. We arrive back at the hotel, after dropping the girls off downtown, which concluded our 10 hour journey of southern Australia....

Jason Amstutz

American Revolution

Orange County Bombers

Day 11 Monday, August 19, 2002 O Canada!

Woke up, got out of bed to another Greensborough Motor Inn hot breakfast, eggs on toast, baked beans, bacon, cereal, and plenty of juice. The team seemed focused at breakfast, even though the game against Canada was not until 2:00pm. I was selected to dress for the game, and was eager to see some trigger time. We had a team meeting around 11:00 am. At the meeting the coaches discussed strategy and players' key points for the game. For the defense it was play touch and feel, defend first and run through the lines more. The coaches knew we had more skill and were more physical towards the ball than the Canadians. Alan seemed very intent on achieving the defensive goal of not allowing any goals for the whole game. The field was at Elsternwick Park, about a 45-minute van ride away, even with Rinklin driving. After inspecting the field and watching the end of the game before ours, the revs all went and got changed for the team photo. The sun was glaring right in all of our eyes, which probably explains why everyones eyes were closed, or they were looking away form the camera. At least in all the pics I have on my digi-cam. Warming up for the game right across from the Canadians, on the same oval, seemed to increase the intensity and focus of the team, everyone was ready to beat down the cross border opponents. The Revos took it to Canada like a red headed stepchild, by only allowing two shots on goal by the Canadians. I saw Chris Olson battle back from a bad ankle to humiliate his man all game, and Matt Jagger rise to the occasion and lift the level of play for the Revo's. I only played 10 minutes or so in the end of the 4th quarter when I took over for Olson at Half Back Flanker. After the game, the Canadians invited us back to their hotel for a BBQ. At least they sold beer there, because the kangaroo burgers and sausages left something to be desired. A good group of players decided to leave the BBQ, led by Zac Holway, who volunteered to be the designated driver, "go the Holway. The night led the players in separate directions, but it was definitely an evening of celebration. Marty Curry and Donnie Lucero even had a beer.

Andy Lindsey

American Revolution

Orange County Bombers

Day 12 Tuesday, August 20, 2002 Dj Vu All Over Again

After a much needed and hard fought victory over our North American rivals, we had our second full day of rest. Of course it would not be complete without our daily dose of logistics from Plugger.

The team decided to split up a bit and go their separate ways for a few hours, and I must say that ended up as the most frightening decision of my life, but we will get to that later.

Some decided to rent a DVD player and some movies for the room, some went into town to do some serious shopping in order to fulfill the demands brought onto all of us as soon as people heard where we were going. Requests ranged from magnets and post cards to trinkets and alcohol. None of which would be as impressive as the illusive swag that Pope managed to secure earlier in the week!

Well 12 of us decided to see the 12 apostles and drive along the coast and enjoy the view. We left early in the morning and decided to take the more direct, inland route in order to make up some time. We made pretty good time, and we arrived safely to the coast where there were a network of trails and sites to see. We were able to go into a cave where a couple of people were able to seek shelter after their ship perilously battled the tide and rocks. Little did I know at the time, this thought would later come back to haunt me!

We then traveled a little further to admire the 12 apostles, which were a series of pillars that had been formed from the tide and wind over the years, and there were only 9 left, with 3 falling to the constant pounding of the tide and wind. Some of the group decided to take a helicopter ride over the water to get a birds eye view of the pillars. It was awesome to see the power of Mother Nature and Father Time working in harmony to create these wondrous sites. At one time there was also a natural bridge from one cliff to the other, which has crumbled into the sea, again painting a virtual picture in my mind of what we were about to encounter.

We decided to head back so we could be in time to hear the logistics for the next day and prepare for our final regulation game against the very spirited team from South Africa. We agreed to continue along the coast to enjoy the sunset and the ocean breeze as long as possible. Unfortunately we also agreed to let Chris Olson drive the van.

This was by far the scariest event in my life. As the clouds continued to roll in from the sea, it suddenly was dark and raining very severely. Chris continued on his pace for the Winston Cup as we all held onto the O-SH@# bars for dear life. The van was sliding through the turns, as we all had to lean into the turns in an attempt to keep it on all 4 wheels. We were somewhat successful! I kept picturing the fallen ship and the cave may need for shelter after we slid of the cliff into the rocky water, if I was lucky enough to survive. However Chris was determined to keep our pleas from entering his thought process. Luckily, the beast within needed nourishment other than the cries for help and adrenaline running through our veins. Chris decided to stop and eat!!

We were safe!! Ironically we entered into the restaurant and ordered our food, sat down and laughed as we noticed Jerry Springer was on the television. This would have been a show reserved for sweeps week!

Fortunately I was able to wrestle the keys out of Chris hand and drove the rest of the way back. I could barely grip the wheel due to the fatigue in my hands and arms from holding on during the roller coaster ride we endured!

All in all, we made it home, and it was definitely a day to remember as we continue to battle the effects of the post traumatic stress we must overcome!

Marty Curry

American Revolution

Orange County Bombers

Day 13 Wednesday, August 21, 2002 Chatty Chaddy, and the Sweet Vocal Stylings of Pedro Ternes

We woke up for our last game of pool play against South Africa to a great breakfast consisting of cereal, mixed fruit, eggs, bacon, toast, and of course beans. Before to long we had our mini buses out front waiting, which fit 10 small people comfortably but crammed with 10 footy players and five or so bags left us fighting for leg room and elbow space. We pulled into the TEAC Oval at Port Melbourne and piled out of the vans gasping for fresh air because of the unpleasant gases created from protein shakes, energy bars and beans. Our pre-game behaviors our now kicking in with some guys sleeping, others listing to CD players, the crippled getting their rub downs and tape jobs and finally the U.S. Team is ready. In the mean time the highly motivated team of South Africa prepared for their last game after losing their first four by large margins by singing songs, dancing to their chants, laughing and just plain happy to be there to represent their country. The game was played in great spirits with the U.S. team running away with the score and the South African team running the field like Gazelles and Impalas showing no fatigue or a loss of morale because the game was such a blow out. That evening there was an official dinner for all the teams, their guests, and of course our very own Chad Martin (the Ugly American). Now Chad was already intoxicated from lunch, where he consumed seven or so Jack & Cokes and made some absurdly offensive jesters in front of Denis Ryan's niece. There were a number of different speakers at the dinner including Kevin Sheedy and others. They also announced the All International Cup Team which was made up of the 11 participating countries. The selected players were presented with their jumpers, Charley Ellis and Chad Martin were selected from the U.S. Team. We all grimaced as we watched Chad stumble and weave his way up on to stage. Fortunately, he was able to receive his jumper and pose for the pictures without actually falling down. After the dinner, teams conversed with each other, traded jumpers and other team apparel. That part of the evening came to an end, so most of the teams met up at the dance clubs in the notorious Crown Casino. By now Chaddy Boy was just this side of obliterated, and the door man would not let him in, so Chad began yelling at the door man and calling him a "TOOL". We then ventured on across the hall where they let us in with free drink tickets, and we commenced to drink the night away while Pete Ternes got on stage with the band and sang Jessie's Girl, and I will say he was GREAT.

Kevin Fogelman

American Revolution

San Diego Lions

Day 14 Thursday, August 22, 2002 For the Love of the Gameand Chocolate Pudding

Looking back, our toughest games of this tournament are behind us: Samoa, New Zealand, Ireland. We have one game remaining. It's against Great Britain tomorrow.

We had training today on an oval near Greensborough. Some guys were banged up a bit, but overall we seemed in pretty good shape. The square in the middle of the oval was taped off due to landscaping of the cricket bowling area. We took this as cultural insight into why these ovals are really here.

It was cold and windy. Training was light; mostly skills work. Some good drills to take home. We Americans need to do some work on the fundamentals at every training. What we really need, evidenced by our style of play against New Zealand and Ireland, is a footy brain. But that only comes with growing up with the game. It's not something we're going to get at this or any training run.

I thought about how much time I'd spent over the past three years trying to get better at this sport I love. And I wondered how good I might have been if I had found the game at 3 instead of 30. It's hard to call all the hard work a sacrifice. It's too much fun.

The only way the USA is going to develop a footy brain is by getting people into the game at younger and younger ages. I decided to volunteer to sit out the final game in the interest of giving a younger guy one more game's experience. Coach Ryan respected my decision.

Don't think I'm being selfless. I'll tell anybody I meet that I've had the time of my life. I had a great game against Samoa: a couple of goals, one of which was the first ever in International Cup history, a few great passes to Big Pete in full forward, created a few turnovers and was awarded some free kicks for playing the ball while the opposition played the man. Exactly what I had trained to do. And I feel great.

But you're never bigger than the game, any game. And it's ironic that I feel I can make the game just a little bigger back home by not playing. I'll be there for my team, tomorrow. And we will beat Great Britain.

Jason Becker

American Revolution

Milwaukee Bombers

Day 15 Friday, August 23, 2002 Part 1One Match, Two Ass Whippings

Day 15 was our game against Great Britain. I remember us all gathering in the locker room as former Hawthorn Hawks coach Allan Jeans gave us the up-front in your face pregame talk. He was very inspirational and got us all pumped up for the big game. We hit Great Britain hard the whole game and with our spot-on kicks and great hand-balls we came out victorious. We all ran into the locker room celebrating and were soon hushed by the voice of Ron Barassi. He gave a post game talk that was brilliant. I remember how proud I felt as he spoke so highly of us and let us all know that we were the only 30 guys picked in the whole United States to represent the country. When his speech concluded, we all hit the showers and cleaned up.

While I was taking my shower I guess Wayne decided to hand out his 2 foot long "gummi snakes", because as I walked out of the shower (feeling fresher than a hand tossed salad) I was whipped across the ass with one of those gummi snakes - thanks to Donovan Trost. I had a welt across both cheeks I might add. I guess what goes around comes around, ha ha!

Chad Martin

American Revolution

Phoenix Scorpions

Day 15 Friday, August 23, 2002 Part 2Dj Vu All Over AgainAll Over Again

Our last game day in Australia began just like all of the others, with a traditional baked bean breakfast. When we arrived at the oval, all of the Revs were feeling some disappointment about playing our last game of the tournament, knowing our best finish could be no higher than 5th. Nevertheless, we took our frustration out on Great Britain, with Tommy and Donnie controlling the back line and Marty's dominating performance. Even with a 5th place finish, it felt great to leave the International Cup on a winning note. Our defeat of Great Britain was that much sweeter after the Revolution received an intense speech from one of footy's greatest legends, Ron Barassi.

Following our defeat of the British, we were on our way to the MCG to watch the Grand Final of the International Cup between Papua New Guinea and Ireland. We watched Ireland dominate from the bounce. During the game, the stands turned into a trading post. All players from all teams in the tournament were looking to trade all sorts of gear. Following the Ireland-Papua New Guinea matchup, we witnessed a live AFL match between Hawthorne and the Roos. We left the game at the beginning of the 4th quarter, in route to a local pub called the Elephant and the Wheelbarrow.

At this time, all of the footy was over and we began to reflect on our time in Australia. Then, in a sportsman-like fashion, all of the Revs players began to focus on the rest of our seasons in America, and setting our sights on the Nationals in Kansas City.

Charley Ellis

American Revolution

Denver Bulldogs

Day 16 Saturday, August 24, 2002 Josh Loves Me, Josh Loves Me NotI Might Be Drunk

With the thrill of Crushing Great Britain fresh in our mind and the stagnant smell of alcohol on our breath, we set out to enjoy our last free day. As one might imagine the team was a little slow out of the blocks. It took several Revos two hours and three cups of coffee to get through the continental breakfast.

Everyone dispersed to enjoy various activities. I set out to see Kangaroos on the Angelsea golf course and take a refreshing dip in the ocean (***Jay and Pete please destroy those pictures***).

Before long it was time to report back to town for our awards banquet. The awards banquet is summarized below:

- Scull your beer
- Gag Awards
- Scull your beer
- Give Chad an award
- Scull your beer
- Talk about the tournament
- Scull your beer
- Sign Scott's book
- Scull your beer
- Josh is an attractive man
- Scull your beer

The last memory I have of Day 16 was swaying back and forth at the bar holding a phallic ring in one hand and a beer in the other. I muttered to myself, "Who in the hell would have thought we needed our state." A quick look around and I knew the party was about to come to an end. Scott was screaming bloody murder as six Revo's tackled him. Chad was standing in the corner trying to piece together his trophy. Everyone else was clutching their awards eyeing the crowd suspiciously. I summoned all the strength I had left and uttered one last feeble cry, "Lets seeeee some Dick."

Brad Pope

American Revolution

Phoenix Scorpions

Day 17 Sunday, August 25, 2002 Dude, Wheres My Stuff?

For most of the team today is our Last Day in Australia. We are up at 5:30am (except one person) to take a final search through the hotel room before heading to Melbourne International Airport. We arrived with plenty of time to check our baggage and do some last minute shopping. Most people were very tired either due to the early wake up, or from partying through the night.

The first flight was to Auckland, New Zealand, which takes about 3 hours. Everything went as planned and we arrived on time. At this point our trip was on schedule and we were waiting to depart for LA. The most excitement happened when Petey was pulled aside while going through security and was searched. They did not detain, beat, or even take him into another room.

The flight to LAX went very smoothly. We were on time and arrived Sunday morning. They showed several movies on the flight and kept feeding us as well. I guess those are the only things you can do on an 11-hour flight beside sleep. Overall, the flight back to the States seemed to be easier to handle than the flight to Australia. Either way we had a long day ahead of us, and I mean that in more ways than one. With the time changes I figured out that my Sunday would last approximately 38 hours. The other reason it became long was that a bunch of our luggage did not make the connecting flight or never left Melbourne. The airline could not give us any information except to say that there was no more luggage on this flight and we would have to file a report. Hopefully they will locate the lost goods and return them to us in the next couple of days. Now its time for everyone to go their separate ways until we see each other at the National Tournament in October.

Kyle Strenski

American Revolution

Cincinnati Dockers

One Week Home Ear to Ear

Well its been a week since we returned and its still very fresh in my mind. It has taken about a week to get over the jet lag. I still do not know what I did for my first 2 days back at work. It was really nice to get back home and see my family. My two kids really missed me, I think, but wanted to know where their gifts were. I tried to explain to them that the airlines had lost them and were trying to get them to us as soon as possible. So the next two days were filled with where are they, why did they lose them, and so on. Family, work and friends wanted to hear everything about the trip. Now they run from me when they see me because they know they are going to hear more. My wife is still wondering why we are eating beans in the morning now. I went to the park on Saturday and thought, hey where are the goal posts? It is like Christmas every time I go to the photo shop and pick up new pictures. I look on the web sites everyday to read updates and see more pictures online. I see the piece that Ferris wrote and it really said everything I wanted to say. But I have my own version

I think back about the trip and smile. I cant help but smile. A group of guys going on a trip to the other side of the world. We hardly know each other. We all got together and just played. It is something I will never forget. And along the way, everyday, I smiled.

Brad made me smile when we went to the hospital and saw his ass thru his little dress. Here is one of the captains who I thought I would not see again during the trip, never mind playing a game, in a dress smiling and telling everyone he was fine and going to play.

Fingers standing with the American Flag in his hands just about to enter the MCG in front of thousands with the biggest shit eating grin on his face. I smiled.

Candy getting ready to play Samoa and practicing not his kicking, but a few choice words in the Samoan language to throw out if needed. I smiled.

Donovan having just thrown down the biggest and best player that Samoa had and getting up ready to go again. Sure he got a whistle. I smiled.

Zac coming to my aid when I was surrounded and being punched in the face by about 5 guys. I smiled as they all backed off.

Todd looking down at the Kiwi he had just knocked out, who seconds before was running at him full blast yelling and trying to lay a shot on him. I smiled.

Pluggers face was that of a child or school girl, I am not sure which, as he was frantically trying to get film in the camera so he could get a picture with Kevin Sheedy. I smiled.

The look of pure wonder in the eyes of Scotty looking at a teammates choice of date. Smile.

Lance who had a joke for every occasion. At every quiet pause, lets go US was always heard. I smiled.

Becker who was the most laid back guy on the team, who I still do not know if he was joking or not every time he spoke. He kicked the first goal of the tournament and began to run back thru the wave of players high fives. I smiled.

Alan informing us that the forwards are cock heads and we in the back lines have to win the games. Smile.

Denis who almost killed me when he was so pumped up and telling us to get in there and kick ass, grabbing me by the neck. He lets go, and I smile.

Marty getting a ball bounce over the wall at our first game at Colonial Stadium. Getting it right back to the official with a perfect handball (his only one of the tournament) and looking around the crowd, with the yea, I am an American, but I am good look on his face. We all smile.

The look of fear on all our faces when we are called out to sing something, anything by the Samoans and the South Africans in the halls of the MCG. We all turn and look to Heath and we are off singing. The Samoans and South Africans smile.

Hearing a scream of pain and turning to see Chad has just been whipped with a candy python. Cant hurt that bad. Then I see the huge red mark across his ass. Cant help but smile.

Chris Olsen standing with the elders of the Eltham football club with a VB in one hand talking about the game. Thats when I think to myself, man we are in Melbourne. Smile.

Dustin being chased by the Irish. Cannot seem to get him. I think it must be his lucky charms. Funny the things you think of during a game. I smile.

Kevin knocking down a South African. Gets a penalty. Knocks out the next one. Gets up ready to do it again. I smile.

Ferris standing next to his opponent in the ruck against South Africa. He is a little taller than his opponent. I smile.

Matty standing next to Luke Darcy at Pelligrinis talking about Denver, footy and life in general. I smile.

Going thru the first run in L.A. and seeing Country with that look of utter delight and desire. Its the same look we all have at that age. I smile.

Meeting Jagger for the first time and thinking what a quiet shy guy he is. Later I find out otherwise. I smile.

Against the Kiwis I remember at the end I had nothing left. Then Josh came running by me talking and telling me to go for it. I suddenly had some gas left in the tank. I wanted to throw up but I smiled.

Jason Amstutz, Zoolander as he has come to be known, smashing into the back of the largest of the Kiwis. Was this the same guy wearing the eye cover on the plane? The same guy that has more clothes than my wife? That guy just spoiled a certain mark. I smile.

I almost fell out of my chair when I was listening to the radio and hear Petes interview. He went on to tell the Aussie host how much he rooted for a team. They asked if he knew what that meant. They told him. Two seconds later he was saying something else about rooting. Big smile.

Bruce and Paul, two who went just to be part of the team and enjoy the experience, are quite the pair. Too de do de do de do delee do. Smile.

Pope doing his patented roll for the ball in front of the fence and Eltham elders. I believe they call him Spiderman now. We will always know him as Pope. Smile again.

Donnie playing against the Kiwis and getting the dreaded squirrel grip put on him. He let them know that we dont play that game. Ouch, then smile.

Faffy is a man of few words. Smile.

Kyle played with a lot of heart. Against the Danes he made an unbelievable save on goal. He does that a lot. Smile.

BJ showed up to every game ready to play in the ruck. He took a beating over the 7 games we played. He gave a beating too. I smile.

I see Jon right when we get to LA. So where is your tooth? I ask. Lost it after the trip from London. He smiles I still have a lot more. I smile back.

Rich Mann shows up. Smile.

Dave is our rock. He is always there and ready. Need a volunteer and hes there. Want to stay out till 6 AM, hes there. Smile.

My little baby brother being named to the International Team. What does he say? Wish you were up there with me. I say Man, we all are. Biggest smile of the trip.

There are lots of other things that made me smile and I could go on but Plugger needs this now. I just want to thank everyone that went and made this a memory for the rest of my life that I will always honor.

Tom Ellis

American Revolution

Denver Bulldogs

One Month Home - Best Two Thousand Bucks Ever Spent

I was asked to do a one-month revisit of the Revolution's trip to Australia. When "volunteered" to do this by Plugger, I wasn't to keen to do it, but now I think it's cool that I get to do a little recap of our trip.

Since I've been back, I've caught up with a couple friends and talked to them about the games, what it was like being in Melbourne during the winter (since I've only ever been there in the summer) and what I did traveling Melbourne to Sydney to Surfer's Paradise during the 2 weeks I stayed on after the games. And you know what most people said to me was, "So for $2,000, you got banged and beat up for two weeks, got sick, lived off bread and Sunkist for the last 2 weeks, and came home with only $4 in your account? Why the hell did you go?" So I thought about why I went and what I got out of the trip.

And this is what I came up with:

1. I got the honor to represent my country for the 3rd time in a sport I love.

2. I got to experience the crap weather Melbourne has in August.

3. I got the thrill of watching an AFL game live, not by video which is how most Americans only get to see a game.

4. I got to catch up with old friends and meet new friends in Australia.

5. I got to kick a goal in an International match.

6. I got to talk footy to people from Ireland, England, Denmark, New Zealand, Somoa, Canada and Japan.

7. I got to see a haka.

8. I got a life lesson, hard work pays off.

9. I got to listen to Kevin Sheedy talk, in person.

10. I got to see dolphins swimming in the ocean at Surfer's Paradise.

11. I got a pair of Blundstones.

12. I got to drive on the left hand side of the road, legally.

13. I got to drink VB and Bundy (again).

14. I got a friend from Boston to Baltimore/Washington to Nashville to Chicago to Milwaukee to Cincinnati to Denver to Orange County to San Diego to Phoenix to St. Louis who whenever I'm in town, I can go get a beer with them and talk about our trip.

15. And lastly, I got the chance to experience all this with my brother and 2 friends; who if you told us we'd be going to Australia as part of the American team to play in the first International Cup of Australian Football when we had our first kick 4 years ago, we'd have said, "Yeah, right!" But we did it. And that's what I got for a bargain at $2,000.

Josh Loring

American Revolution

Lehigh Valley Crocodiles

Captains Notes One Month Later - Heady Thoughts Flow Through Philosophical Fingers

One month removed from the International Cup in Melbourne, "Captain Fingers" gets to offer up his thoughts on the experience. Ha ha, it's good to be the Captain. Kidding. To be honest, I was never really quite sure why I was named the Captain. It's an incredible honor, and a huge achievement in my life, but I'm a little uncomfortable with the designation and the attention that comes with it. I'd rather spread the attention around to everyone, so everyone gets rewarded for his achievements. My intent when I train and play football is to play as well and as smart as I can, and do for my team whatever is necessary to win matches. I never expected it to get me as far as being named the Captain of the American Revolution. That wasn't the goal. The goal is to continuously improve my game, support my teammates, and try to make them better, so we can win matches. Somehow, I ended up the Captain. Bonus, I'll keep doing what I'm doing, and do my best to carry myself with strong character and integrity on and off the field, and lead my teammates by example. So, let the fun begin. Here are some thoughts from an American Australian Football player's mind. I think that no matter how well you play, you can always be a little bit better, so we all need to work a little harder and get a little better for the next tournament. After we've done that, we can do it again. The following is something that I wrote before our trip and didn't share with anybody, but I'll share it now. It's what I thought about before every match in the locker room, when I put on my guernsey, as we warmed up, when the Anthem played, when I stepped on the field to play...

I play the best sport in the world -

Australian Football.

My body is my instrument.

My mind is my guide.

I am a warrior.

I am a thinker.

I give my thoughts, my skill,

My blood, my tears,

And my courage- for my teammates,

And for victory.

I do not tell my opponents

That I am great - I show them.

I do not flaunt my triumphs

And successes - I share them.

Bathe me in red, white, and blue.

Bedeck me with stars and stripes.

Surround me with my teammates,

And I will fight for them.

I will fight for my country.

I play the best sport in the world -

Australian Football.

I am honorable. I am passionate.

I am courageous. I am proud.

I am American.

I am a part of the Revolution.

That's the Fingers creed; my own personal Haka that I do in my head.

As for the performance of the team in the tournament, I had hopes that we would fare better. We certainly didn't underachieve, but I had hoped (along with many others) that we would overachieve. Our team was the biggest, strongest, and fastest team in the tournament. In Ron Barassi's words, as he spoke to us after our last match (how cool is that?), we "had the most muscles per square inch of any team in the tournament." Where we were lacking was in skill and experience, and the inability to train together before we took the trip. We had probably the hardest draw of any team in the tournament. We started with our toughest three matches in succession, over the course of only four days (Samoa, New Zealand, Ireland). This was not the best scenario for us, as it was clear that we were a much stronger team at the end of the tournament than we were at the beginning. Over the course of two weeks, our coaches had made us smarter better players, and it showed in our final match against Great Britain. We were running through the lines, moving the ball up the field quickly, and running to the right spots to receive the ball. The 93-15 result was a testament to the resolve of our coaches and players. Too bad we didn't get another crack at the Irish or the Kiwis toward the end of the tournament. No excuses, we still could have done better. Like I said before, you can always do better, but mark my words, next tournament the Revolution will do better.

What an incredible experience it was to participate in this trip and represent my country. Here come the thank you's. This is where it does pay to be the Captain. I get to indulge a little and recognize the people who have played a part in giving me, and the rest of the Revolution, a great experience.

First off, thank you to our devoted staff - Andrea, Rich, Paul, Bruce, Kristine, Steve, Jeff, Andrew, Wayne, and Mark. You all worked very hard to take care of all the extras, so that we could focus on playing. You were an extremely important part of the team.

Denis, Scott, and Alan, you guys did a brilliant job coaching. I think I speak for all my teammates when I say that you made us all better players. Additionally, you set great examples for us to follow off the field - with the exception of Scotty. Scott may have actually caused a few of us to take a step backward in maturity level! In fact, that last night in Melbourne may have been a step back for all of us! Ha ha!! Kidding Scotty. "EAT MY..." You fill in the rest. Thanks for an incredible effort and a good time guys.

Plugger, thank you for your tireless work behind the scenes. Not enough people get to see how much you actually do for footy in the U.S., and how much you truly love the game. Without you, none of us would have had this opportunity. You work your ass off, so that we can have a great experience, and you don't always get the credit you deserve. Thank you for doing the work to provide a forum for the rest of us to play.

Thanks to Tommy Ellis and Brad Rinklin for being great Vice Captains. I think we made a great threesome...uh, I mean team (shoot, I promised I wouldn't say anything about that). My apologies to your wives. In all seriousness, the Captaincy was a great collaboration (just as long as everyone knows that I was the brains behind the operation). Thanks Brad and Tom. To my teammates - Brad, Tom, Chad, Kevin, Donnie, Chris, Jon, Heath, Dustin, Candy, Charley, Pete, Faffy, Josh, Matty, Dave, Jagger, Stutzy, Zac, Country, BJ, Marty, Donovan, Todd, Kyle, Lance, Becker, Pope, and Ferris - you are the reason I play football. Thank you for fighting with me. If you haven't read Jay Mueller's "International Cup Lessons", please do. He says it much better than I do. I can't wait to play with you guys again. Also, thank you to one teammate who couldn't make the trip, but was definitely with us in spirit. Jared "Kaiser" Schrieber, thank you for pushing me to work hard for the last year, and for making me a better player. I wish you could have been there man.

Last, but certainly not least, thank you to Kevin Sheedy and the Essendon Bombers for hosting the Revolution, and to the AFL for hosting a great tournament.

Weve all done a remarkable thing competing in the first ever International Cup. Dont forget to take some time to think about what this means. What a wild ride. I could not have shared it with better people. Here's to 2005!

-Jeff "Fingers" Purcell

Captain - American Revolution

Phoenix Scorpions

- Revolution Team

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