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The China Diaries - Day 14

Matt Burgan  October 23, 2010 1:31 PM

A 5 am wake-up call perhaps wasn’t the tonic for all, but it was much needed, considering the group was leaving the Kowloon Hotel for the Hong Kong International Airport at 5.45 am.

A 9 am departure from Hong Kong would result in a 9 pm return to Melbourne.

As the travelling party got smaller each day, due to some departing earlier and others moving on to other destinations, roughly 30 of the group headed back to Melbourne on this part of the journey.

Some of the senior staff members such as Cameron Schwab were staying on for a couple of extra days, as they met with key officials from club sponsor Kaspersky.

Some players and staff members were spending an extra night in Hong Kong, before returning for Monday or early next week.

Some took the opportunity to add their annual leave or time in lieu to extend their journey.

Opposition scout Dave Dunbar was heading to the United Kingdom and France as part of his leave, while some players added a side trip to Thailand. Some, like IT manager Richard Arnott, met his wife and daughter for a week in Japan.

But, regardless of the next part of the journey, all would take plenty from the trip.

Watching the players, staff and key supporters travelling together was a great sight.

Col Sylvia and Cale Morton were two just players who spoke about their enjoyment of spending more time with those from admin, or ardent supporters of the red and blue.

The trip was an overwhelming success from a bonding point of view, which was the key objective. For all who went, it was a privilege - no question.

It was fascinating to see people all connected by the Melbourne Football Club joining in and undertaking different activities - watching Cameron Schwab pick tea leaves with Adrian Anderson nearby was miles away from the two talking about list proposals for the new AFL clubs.

Seeing the likes of Max Walker give so much of his time to all in the group, particularly younger members, was a breath of fresh air.

The interaction and effort made by players was very good. Morton, for example, was particularly impressive in his role as team captain for the Flying Chopsticks. He showed genuine care and leadership on the trip.

Some great experiences were had - and some stunning places were visited over the 14-day trip. The Great Wall of China was testimony to that.

No other AFL club had taken 140 players/staff to China, and to achieve it successfully was a great reward for those with the foresight to pull it together.
Combine that with around 80 of the red and blue faithful in the supporters group - headed up by David Schwarz and his wife Karen - and this only swelled the numbers.

There has already been consideration given by the club to undertake another tour in the future.

The club is on a journey, and this was one special ride.

It will only continue over the next decade.