Hong Kong diary: Fan fervour on display as Soccer Sevens begins
19th May 2012
Although our campaign didn't get underway until the afternoon, there were claret and blue shirts and flags on display around the stadium from the first whistle.
And the level of devotion for the club in this part of the world never fails to amaze.
Among the Villa fans in attendance was Jason Quek, who travelled from Singapore to see his beloved team in action.
There were a couple of Support Stan t-shirts on show with Hong Kong fans keen to let club captain Stiliyan Petrov know he is in their thoughts despite being halfway across the world.
It was great to catch up with some of our expat devotees too.
Richard Lee and his family are Soccer 7s regulars with children Seb and Lella once again relishing the role of handing out water to the Villa players during breaks in play.
Hong Kong Lions Club chairman Daniel Watts was also among the familiar faces in the crowd.
Let's hope they are all in for a memorable day tomorrow when Villa enter the business end of the competition.
And the award for technique of the tournament so far goes to.....
Coach Sean Verity got a huge cheer from the Hong Kong Football Club crowd after launching himself into a header when a wayward clearance flew towards the technical area.
Judging by their reaction, the spectators felt Sean's perfectly-executed header was a pretty impressive piece of touchline tekkers!
There were three new faces on the Villa bench today, all of whom were selected by the club's top talent spotters.
Following Thursday's coaching session with youngsters from Nike's Elite Performance Unit, Poon Tik Wah [aged 16], Wong Ka Shing  and Chan Wai Lok  were chosen as standout performers by academy director Bryan Jones and coaches Sean Verity and Ronnie Sinclair.
The trio were rewarded with an opportunity to join the squad on day one of the Soccer Sevens.
As well as being granted access to the warm-up area before all three of Villa's matches, they sat on the subs bench and even posed with the players for a team photograph.
There is something special about watching a legend that still has the old magic in his boots.
The Soccer Sevens Masters tournament attracts some illustrious names from the football world and today supporters were treated to the sight of Teddy Sheringham in full flow during a guest appearance for Discovery Bay.
The ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United forward was always known for his remarkable footballing brain.
At the age of 46 he is still the thinking man's player.
Sheringham had extra reason to turn on the style today with $2,000 being donated to charity for every goal he notches in the Soccer Sevens.
He set the ball rolling nicely with a classy penalty in his team's 3-0 win over Yau Yee Select Veterans.
Once again the Masters competition has an interesting cast.
Brian Roy and Jon Bosman are among the star names in the Ajax All Stars team, while Citibank All Stars has a distinct Glasgow Rangers feel to it with Ally McCoist, Alex Rae, Andy Goram and Lorenzo Amoruso in their ranks.
Maybe player power isn't always such a bad thing.
I found this out when presented the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens equivalent of a 'golden ticket' at the start of the trip.
Because of the strict membership rules in place at Hong Kong Football Club, every player, coach and official from the competing clubs are given a distinctive purple 'Player' pass which must be produced when arriving at the main entrance or accessing pitchside and dressing room areas.
It is undoubtedly a privileged item and one that will be kept alongside other mementos from Villa adventures.
However, the sight of an out-of-shape twenty-something with a laptop bag wearing a 'Player' pass has produced a few looks of scepticism!
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