It was the story that rocked the league in 2015.
The Tropics were indulging a dynasty, and for the most part, living under the one ‘Stillman Drive’ roof. Life was simple, the boys would begin the week in the beach blue, sandy gold. Followed by a mid-week Gretsky game, they would then split off into their distint football clubs for a weekend run-around.
Cuthbert however would stick to the hoops, backing up a string of weekend games in the Big V (State League). Here he would meet an array of diverse team-mates, stepping in from all parts of Victoria to battle it out.
Often would be the case, that Cuthbert would lend out the sofa at Stillman Drive to his new-found representative team-mates.
Such a range of talents would grace the iconic mauve couch, from local heros to unsung international imports!
However…it would be a matter of time before Cuthberts generosity fell on abuse. This is where we pick up the story that rocked the league in 2015.
It was mid July, in the depth of winter. Cuthbert took to the courts on a Saturday night in Altona, he would put up a man of the match performance against the Albatross`. After the game he ran into an international import playing for the opposition team.
A 6ft springboard of a basketballer from the cozy mexican town of El Paso. He and Cuthbert hit it off in the lockerooms and after a big night out, Ruan would find himself surfing the couch of 35 Stillman Drive. From there, Ruan would seek transfer to the Whittlesea Pacers where he and Cuthbert went on to achieve great feats.
Life was at a peak for Cuthbert, until fellow roomate/landlord Josh Wanless would begin to notice something strange around the house.
“Yeah, I remember about a couple weeks into Ruans stay, through the night I would hear things outside in the yard”
“We had a spa at the time, it was out there and flipped upside down… a 12 seater, I could have sworn their were noises coming from within”.
After a couple more weeks Wanless would finally investigate it with the help of his working class friend Miller. They approached the spa with a couple of handtools and flipped it right-side up.
“I’ll never forget that moment, Wanless and I were frozen in shock”.
Peering back at them, under the winter moonlight were a group of mexican immigrants. Hunched right in there under the spa.
“We took them inside immediately, gave them some warm clothes and tried to ask them questions, but they didn’t speak english”.
Ruan had smuggled them in from his home-town El Paso.
Suddenly Wanless had a problem, with every room full of contracted Tropics Players, he had to think quick.
“I jumped in the Truck with Bryce and we got to work”.
Wanless and Miller would drive the streets until the early hours of the morning looking for hard-rubbish. The two would return by sunrise with five couches. For the following 2 months, Stillman Drive would be a coyote rink.
“We loved having the guys! They were a lot of fun and until no-time they were picking up jobs all over town!”
Things started to take a turn around spring when team-manager at the time Phil ‘The Textbook’ Voglis finally met the new arrivals.
“I’ve read a lot about international affairs, but never those of the Toltec kind, these guys were shady. I had a hard time trusting them”.
The Textbooks intuition led him on a background check.
But he found nothing.
“These guys were international immigrants, I don’t know how they made it to Joshs spa because non of their stories seemed to add up”.
The Textbook was too slow. While in the middle of his investigation, the Tropics would arrive to a lock-out for their round 1 fixture.
“Yeah so we get to the stadium and we see Rita and she tells us that we haven’t registered”
“She says the only other team playing tonight are the Tuscon Tropics”.
The team were sideswiped! Blake exits from the stadium to break the news.
Ruan and his mexican counter-parts had conned Stillman Drive. A plan weeks in the making saw fraudulent tax applications, pseudonym alias and false birth certificates. Ruan knew that if he could find a way to inject he and his friends into a local basketball team, that the federal government couldn’t touch them!
“It was brilliant. I mean here are these guys living under a hot tub with nothing, 3 months later they’re starring in Monday night ball!” (WCBA Sports-Journalist Tommy ‘The Vulture’ Voglis).
“Not only that, the second they registered, they were protected from any deportation clause…they were excempt”.
The Tropics were broken.
“I remember getting back to Stillman that night, we were so mad…we didn’t know what to do. We’d lost our team”
Wanless would quickly phone up his old pal Steve Pearman who happened to be a carpenter at the time.
“I said Steve. I need a wall, I need it built now! Can you get here”
While the Tuscon Tropics took to the courts, Wanless and the team would erect a giant wall in the house. Essentially dividing him and the Tropics from their new housemates.
The nomads would arrive home later that night to find a blockade between their rumpus room and the kitchen.
Architect and long time Tropics friend Ben McCann explains.
“We had to deter them, they took our team and we knew we couldn’t resort to violence”.
“We thought okay, maybe we can let nature do the dirty work…if we cut off their food supply they’ll have to leave”.
But they didn’t.
The Tucson Tropics would continue to hit the court on a Monday night. Playing under alias names such as Blake Cuthberto, Dan Romero, Josh Juanless, Paul Stelmacco and Steven Tsonara, the team would dominate. And under the recently passed legislation, they would continue to re-register.
The Tropics were shut out, it appeared that for all their history and glory, they would leave no legacy and fade into the background.
We continue the story that rocked the league, revealing how a chance encounter with THE FOSS WANLESS would turn the Tropics fortunes back on its head.
Brandera Milloocho – Tropicsofficial.com