When a City is United
At the BEC Terro and Buriram game this evening there were plenty of Muang Thong United fans in with the Fire Dragon supporters. In England the mixture of two sets of fans from the same city would be a recipe for disaster, but in Thailand things are a little different…
Whilst some MT fans would want to support Terro to victory over their nearest league rivals it also showed the way that, in Thailand, clubs who are neighbours are rarely enemies. Harking back to the early days of Thai football, when the supporters of three or more clubs would come to a game when their own clubs were not playing, this still continues to a lesser extent (mainly because teams play so many games now.) Also, many of the people working in this country with one dominating capital city are from other regions in the Kingdom. They can’t travel to their home towns for games, so support the city team nearest to their temporary base. One of the main organisers of my local club is from Chiang Rai and happily wears his team’s colours to MT games whilst supporting his capital city team. I find it reassuring and nostalgic to look around our South Stand and see fans wearing shirts from Chonburi, Thai Port and Phuket without any concerns for their safety. Luckily in Thai football there are only about five songs, so the terrace chants all merge nicely in the same way as the fans. Thais are genuinely mystified when I tell them how my own team, Aston Villa, would never support their cross Second City rivals Small Heath, even if they were paid to do so.
Hopefully time will not foment the British sectarian hatred of splinter Christianity faiths that would shame a caveman. I remember taking my children to an Emirates pre season tournament and, on the tube, being forced to hear vile songs about German bombers and the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. Of course there is dislike for other Thai clubs, maybe based on some previous bad blood, but the good thing about political feuds in Thailand is that, after a while, most things can be finessed over. With religion, hatred feeds in on itself over generations that pollutes the beautiful game.
Earlier this evening MT fans also came to pay respects to their former club captain who, due to the story being leaked to the press, did not have time to say goodbye to his fans after three years of loyal service. Maybe Sol Campbell should take note. There wouldn’t be those vile songs and epithets if he had crossed this city.
There is plenty wrong with Thai football, but that is showered down from above. Standing in the throngs of a mixed terrace with a party atmosphere, fans show how a city can be united.