It has been my habit, in researching information on Port’s next opponents for my weekly newsletter to ex Patana colleagues and others, to make an often, bemused note of that team’s catchy nickname. Over the years, I have built up quite a collection, which, I hope you will find, makes a colourful, if slightly frivolous, addition to the literary treasures emerging from the Sandpit.
Saturday (or Sunday) Night’s Alright for Fighting
Thai football monikers are not without their aggression. In spite of Thailand’s smile-strewn image, an awful lot of teams seem up for a bundle, from the sharp-finned Fighting Fish (Chachoengsao FC) to the gory Southern Fighting Bulls (Songkhla Utd). Leading the charge into battle are numerous armies of valiant Warriors, whether of the Golden Rice variety (Ang Thong), emerging from a Golden Pagoda (Ayutthaya) or storming the beach from a Kolak Boat (Nara Utd).
In true, Tolkienesque fashion, their battlefield modes of transport offer a range of exotic possibilities. Will they charge in to the strife on trumpeting War Elephants (BEC Tero), ride sparkling Emerald Chariots (Lampang FC), sit atop of a herd of unyielding Iron Bulls (Bangkok FC), or spur on some galloping Wild Horses (Rayong FC)? Offering aerial support might be the stinging assault of the Killer Wasps (Prachuap Kiri Khan), or a coastal attack from the decidedly angry Raging Mackerels (Samut Songkhran – trust me, I opened a tin last night and they were more than a bit peeved).
If all else fails, it will be time, in true Rob Stark or Gandalf fashion, to bring in the heavy mob; perhaps the fiery Dragons (Ratchaburi), or the fiercesome T-Rex’s (Khon Kaen – back in the League just for this battle); the hissing Emerald Nagas (Kasetsart), or those towering North-East Giants (Udon Thani). Roaring, licking flames are a weapon of constant threat, either from the Fire Bats (Sukothai FC) or the Fire Dragons (Suphanburi).
The battle over, funded by the Oil Millionaires (PTT Rayong), the victorious army will retreat behind the Diamond Walls (Kampang Phaet ) of the Thunder Castle (Buriram), living to fight another day.
A group of animals that will most likely not see any action are The Dangerous Koupreys (Sisaket), on account of the fact that they are feared to be already extinct. The last one was reputed to have been seen in Cambodia in 1988. So, I have a feeling that the good people who run Sisaket FC had one of those ‘Lost in Translation’ moments. In a fit of conservationist zeal, and, alarmed at the plight of this gentle, forest dwelling bovine, they decided to call themselves, ‘The Endangered Kouprays’, in its demise-threatened honour, but didn’t quite get it right. Good try though, lads!
Opting out of the battle would have been the pacifist Angels (Bangkok Utd), while far too transparently fragile for the fight were the Glass Rabbits (Bangkok Glass), although their delightful Bunny Cheerleaders might have provided the mid-battle entertainment. Given that this is preference-diverse Thailand, the Hello Boys (TOT – I am assured this is true by my Ed) might provide some alternative distractions, as well as possibly the best nickname ever! I want to see that logo! Completely contrary to their probable job description, The Gentlemen Rangers (Army United) sound like they will stay aloof from any physical engagement as well. The legendary, Chinese Twin Kilins (Muang Thong) would have waited all day until they outnumbered their weakened opposition and then launched a cowardly attack from the rear.
The animal kingdom, cuddly and otherwise, is well represented in Thai football with a number of Eagles: ‘The’ (Ubon UMT); ‘Blue’ (Air Force), ‘Kings’ (Thai Honda) and ‘Andaman’ (Krabi). Keeping well out of their way will be the slightly less predatory Hornbills (Chainat). The Tigers roam in Ubon Ratchatani, while the ‘King’ version prowls in Nakhon Pathom. Our very own Port Lions (Thai Port) and the Pink Panthers (BBCU) complete the Big Cat set, as I am not quite sure what a Swat Cat (Nakhon Ratchasima) is, apart from, apparently, being a radical squadron from an animated American TV crime series. Can somebody illuminate? The White Elephants (Trat) add a touch of slightly extravagant uselessness to this eclectic menagerie.
Getting closer to the ground are The Roosters (Surat Thani) locking spurs with The Gamecocks (Nongbua Pitchaya) with The Beetles (Chiangrai) scurrying nervously between them. Meanwhile, The Sharks (Chonburi) and The Blue Dolphins (Pattaya) frolic beneath the waves. David Attenborough would be in his element.
Nicknames Coming Home
English football cannot quite compete with the sheer vibrancy and occasional lunacy of some the Thai club nicknames, but there are a few gems amongst the unimaginative City’s, United’s, Blues and Reds.
Many nicknames in the UK derive from local industry or history, the colours of the home strip, the club or stadium name and the club logo. This has thrown up one or two gems, such as The Addicks (Charlton Athletic), a derivation of, ‘The Haddocks’, a local Fish and Chip shop. Bournemouth’s Stadium was built on a cherry orchard, giving them The Cherries, while The Biscuitmen of Reading, was in honour of the Huntley and Palmer biscuit factory in the town, which provided much local employment. In the past, Middlesborough were known as The Smoggies, due to the smog produced by industrial, chemical pollution in the town, while The Baggies of West Brom once wore exceptionally roomy shorts.
One particular favourite of mine is The Mushrooms, a name given to the team by the fans of Hayes and Yeading Utd, on account of the fact that the Club’s Board kept their supporters in the dark.
But, perhaps, the finest of all, although maybe not so politically correct today, is Hartlepool’s The Monkey Hangers. This dates back to the legend, which many contend as being true, of a monkey, dressed in sailor’s unform, which was washed ashore in Hartlepool at the time of the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. The local people, having most likely never seen a Frenchman, or even wanting to, took him for a French spy and duly tried and hanged him; the monkey, not unlike Hartlepool FC itself, unable to mount an adequate defence. I would love to see the club logo for that one as well.
The Top Trump Nickname Play-Off
In conclusion, Thai Football nicknames would make a great subject for a set of Top Trump game cards, featuring attributes such as: Strength, Speed, Skill, Endurance, Intelligence, Fear Factor and just Sheer Wackiness. Imagine The Fire Dragons matched against The North-East Giants; the Killer Wasps contesting The Raging Mackerels or the Hello Boys standing erect against the Gentlemen Rangers. England, if you want to compete, even with your Monkey Hangers, forget it! The Biscuitmen would be dunked, The Mushrooms picked off, Bournemouth would lose their Cherries while the Baggies would be unceremoniously debagged!
Thai Football nicknames rule!