23 October 2009 was my first Thai Port game. I had previously seen Muangthong United play Chonburi during that season but the striking similarity of image and presentation with Man U really put me off. So when I went to watch the FA Cup final between Thai Port and BEC Tero, I was unattached and ready to be wooed. I made my Dad become a BEC Tero ‘til he died fan as I couldn’t possibly support a team in a rip-off Arsenal strip, so I was left with the team in the Shrewsbury Town colours. While the Brazilian Port striker Edvaldo probably garnered much of the attention and headlines, for me it was the Cameroonian man-mountain in Port’s central defense that impressed me – the one and only Moudourou Swa Moise had caught my attention!
Now if you were to ask the question, who the hell is Moudourou Swa Moise? I would strongly suggest you don’t ever do so within my earshot as it would likely result in a deeply embarrassing hissy fit of epic proportions with lots of crying and insane accusations. For me, Moise is a club legend, a behemoth, an icon, the best player to have pulled on the orange and blue (or blue and orange) ever. Whether it’s his majestic swaggering running style that seemed to make it so easy for him to gracefully glide around the pitch with such speed at almost no effort, or his (as far as my memory recalls) having nearly never put a foot wrong in any of the 30 games he honoured us with during the 2010 and 2011 seasons that I saw him play in. Or maybe it was his thighs that would have made Roberto Carlos envious (alright calm down Andy – Ed).
While I understand that many present day fans regard David Rochela as one of our finest defenders, and yes I would agree he is certainly up there on the list, I would say sorry David and all his supporters; Moise was and will always be my first name on any Port team sheet (he is still only 31 you know). There have been other central defenders who have glittered, maybe sparkled but mostly faded from the memory, but Moise still holds firm.
To provide some examples; there were players like the South Korean Whoo Hyun from the 2012 season, who seemed solid and competent. Also Moise’s long-time defensive partner, the (overrated, in my opinion) Brazilian Mario da Silva, who certainly got way more plaudits than Moise ever did, probably largely due to his playing to the crowd and his attempting to not only play in games but referee them also, which were lapped up by the Khlong Thoey army. But while Mario never looked as assured without Moise, Moise could always take Mario’s absences easily in his enormous stride.
While Todsapol Lated’s initial performances for Port would often provoke such anger within me, almost to Kim Ba-We levels of vitriol, his development into the solid defender we have now has pleased me, but again, he’ll never fill the coloured boots of Moise. Jerry Amari in the 2013 season was injured too often to be fairly judged. And the quite frankly mental Lee Sang-Hoo in 2014 was way simply way too mad to adequately fill Moise’s calm eminence. I still remember him being dragged off the pitch during a loss to Chonburi only for the changing room door to fly open and him to reappear and then be subsequently re-restrained and manhandled from view. A moment of comedy gold! A few other Thai centre backs have impressed along the way, such as Narat Munin-Noppamart (2013) Suradej Saotaisong (2014), and Natanchot Pona (2015) but none looked as assured as Moise.
Maybe my respect and reverence of Moise is also partly because I also managed to meet the great man on two occasions and on both he was a mild-mannered and humble individual, certainly nothing like his fellow countryman Ulrich Munze, who was, how shall we say, slightly more bombastic in his approach with fans. I met Moise after a Toyota Cup 1st Round game against Ayutthaya in 2011, and he very kindly allowed me to take a picture with him, which I still venerate with almost religious high esteem. The second time I met him was at a game at Airforce (I think) after he had left us for Suphanburi, and he (unbelievably) may have been between clubs and was slightly less dignified. While chatting with him, unashamedly and totally lacking in any sense of self-respect and in gushingly sycophantic manner, which even a One Direction teenage fan meeting their idols may have dismissed as over the top, I begged him to rejoin Port, maybe even going down on my knees at one point. Moise, with all the class he amply had, politely glossed over my desperate request and continued the conversation.
So, when it comes to discussions about club legends I will continue my fight to have the name Moudourou Swa Moise immortalised and remembered for the great player he was. His name and the number 36 are still the only ones I can ever think of putting on the back of my Port shirt. I would wear it with pride and dignity, in the way that Moise did on countless occasions.