They Called Him Zico


Did you notice a story in the papers a couple of weeks ago about the Beloved Leader turning on the power line and water supply for a village in Sa Kaeo? Once the guardian of peace and happiness  and his entourage had left, the power and water supply were all turned back off.
It made me laugh – but relating the story to Thais they seemed only slightly amused and less than surprised. They even have a phrase for it “phak chee roay na” which means something like the coriander leaf garnish on top of a dish. And such places are called Potemkin Villages (sorry if you know all this). I’d always thought it had something to do with Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin but it originates from Grigory Potemkin, an architect who made fake, portable village facades to impress (and deceive) Catherine the Great while she was on a tour of Crimea in 1787.
There is, you may not be surprised to hear, a lot of that kind of thing over here.
Once a year I endure a day of suffering at Chaeng Wattana – Immigration Division. Emerging from that scary maze is passing through a looking glass and re-entering Potemkinland.
It s almost everywhere you look: from roly-poly  monks selling snake oil at you local wat that doubles as a money laundry, to  an apoplectic  university lecturer  putting a student in a headlock for failing to prostrate himself before a statue in yet another pathetic, made-up ritual. You know the place -Potemkinland’s highest seat of learning, the one that struggles to come bottom of Asia’s academic league table.
But we Sandpit-Farangs are too smart to be taken in by such things…we knew he wasn’t really Zico (or even Steve McClaren). He was a guy who’d spent a year at Huddersfield and didn’t get a game, and whose national side would hammer Burma & co only to get hammered by Japan & co.
We had no evidence he knew how to set up a team – and he probably thought catenaccio was something shaken in a glass full of ice and topped with whipped cream.
He was, for a few months, the phak chee on our Portemkin FC. The perfect garnish  for our equally photogenic owner. The two of them could hold hands, smile and put reality on hold.
Of course, after only 10 games the jury’s still out – was he totally crap or just a bit crap?
Ah well, as the guy with the megaphone in zone B keeps telling us:
‘We are Tarua…we cheer Tarua’!
David Brassington

David Brassington

David has been living in Bangkok for 4 1/2 years. he has acquired the art of football enlightenment (the cessation of suffering) by following Coventry City for 60 years - again through no fault of his own he has followed Eintracht Frankfurt for 25 years. David is an artist with a studio in Sathu Pradit soi 15. His work has been shown at the Royal Academy, England.

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