Monday, July 23, 2012


The Thai Experience

Thai supporters groups at the smaller teams are a funny bunch. Thai Honda had a group of about seven people. One guy with a drum and a bandana over his face, probably been watching too many Italian games, tried to whip up some frenzy but the only guy responding was one geezer with a megaphone which he would use to tell what I took to be some pretty dreadful jokes judging by the lack of reaction of those around me.

Thai society doesn’t encourage people to stand out. All those uniforms are designed to develop the perfect Thai person with their respect for monarchy, religion and state overriding anything else. Being non conformist is seen as a bad thing.

Maybe that’s why football has proved so popular in recent years. Finally the exhibitionists can get themselves an audience even if just for 90 minutes. Fuelled by the odd sip of beer it is time to unwind and be, umm, different.

Some of these cheer folks don’t even watch the game. Thai Honda had a free kick yet a couple of their number had their back to the play and had no idea their team was even attacking. Not for the first time I wondered whether they even knew the names of the players on their team.

Thai football, like Thailand, is about fun. Sanuk. The cheer groups dress up at the weekend, put their replica shirts on, arrange a packed lunch, load up their flags and drums and head to the game. All half dozen of them complete with WAGS in tow. It’s all very relaxed and very friendly and very middle class.

There are times when it seems like most people at a game are just interested in taking pictures of other fans. I lost count of how many people tried taking pictures of me at the weekend but it ain’t just me. They are busy photographing themselves in silly poses, often with accompanying hand signals that, in certain manors, would see them end up the victim of a drive by. But this is Thailand and it’s all fun.

Second half things got worse. A woman turned up and proceeded to scream. A lot. Sometimes the screams were hollers, sometimes just raw screams. She would scream at anything and everything on the field. Yet it was all so detached. She would play with her phone, look up, scream, then return to her phone as if nothing had happened, as if she hadn’t nearly bust my ear drums. I couldn’t help but wonder what she did the rest of the week! And feel sorry for her neighbours...

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