And the Band Played On… True Devotion or Blind Faith? Air Force 2-1 Port FC (AET)

 

 

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Michael Corleone – The Godfather, Part 3.

 

I think this was the feeling most of us had after the heroic and totally unexpected 5-2 victory at Pattaya, after a run of games that highlighted just how frustrating being a Port supporter can be. I don’t think any of us in the crowd at Pattaya had contemplated switching allegiances, but we may have been thinking there were more pleasant ways of spending an evening in the company of highly passionate Thais, than watching Port let us down again. After Pattaya, there was a reason to believe once more.

Now, seven days and two, totally contrasting but still abject defeats later, I feel like Basil Fawlty about to take a large branch to his maddeningly unreliable 1967 Austin 1100 Countryman. For the car, substitute Tana (99), who I would willingly give a damn good thrashing with a large Cedar, or indeed, the sorry lot of them. It wasn’t as if we played that badly in conditions entirely unconducive to decent football, but this was Classic Port, albeit far less palatable than a vintage Ferreira, Duque de Bragança.

I really do not wish to say too much about the match; it is too depressing and mirrors a wash, rinse, repeat cycle. I don’t know if there is a collective name for the recently referenced furry rodent, but a ‘repetition of groundhogs’ sounds just about apt. Furthermore, we have pulled the trigger so often we no longer have a foot left to shoot, apart perhaps, from Tana’s. I really am not the best observer either to report on a match played in a stadium where the far goal seems to be in the next province; at my recent, annual medical check-up, my response to the instruction, “Please say the letters on the board on the wall,” was, “What wall?”

 

Pictures finally confirm that Tana plays for the opposition

 

However, if you must know, the flow of the game was interrupted by a rain-sodden pitch, with the ball difficult to move through the surface water and rapidly accumulating mud. Air Force sensibly made better use of the wings, as airmen should, and that is the only pun you are going to get, as this defeat is no laughing matter.  As a result of the conditions, chances were few and far between and it was felt that it would need a defensive slip to decide the game. As it was, when our goal came, it was the result of a rare, slick move down the left, which ended up with Panpanpong (19) setting up Suarez (5) for a simple tap-in. And that, my dear friends, should have been it, especially if Josimar (30) had not delayed his shot when bursting into the box minutes later. Air Force had really produced no threat of note and all Port had to do was use their T1 know-how (cough, splutter) to outwit their strictly second tier opponents.

 

 

All was going swimmingly, as it were, until Worawut (36), who had had a decent game, was too slow off his line, as a cross from the left caught both him and Jetjinn (51) napping. Air Force winger Yodsak (32) made them pay for their indecision as he darted between the defender and the goalkeeper to slot home the simplest of equalizers. And all this, in the 95th and final minute of the game. Bad luck, some might say. Luck has nothing to do with it – it is just shockingly bad game management and we have seen it on endless re-run from Port. Some of the fans around me were berating the Blue Eagles’ players for their time-wasting tactics at the end of extra time but this is exactly what we should have been doing near the end of the 90, not to mention lofting every clearance into row Z or amongst the watching Air Force cadets who looked more like a flutter of settled butterflies than blue eagles. They did a pretty mean Mexican wave though.

Extra-time, with Air Force rejuvenated, saw Port’s goal leading a charmed life, only protected by Worawut producing a thrilling Gordon Banks’ moment (Mexico 1970, for you juveniles) to keep Port in the game. At times Port’s defending was shambolic, with even Rochela (22) being caught in possession in the box before passing it to the nearest opponent.

Then, in the 109th minute, with Port recklessly committed to attack, Air Force broke free; Port were outnumbered at the back and despite further heroics from Worawut or the Post, insult was added to injury by Kayne Vincent (11) scuffing home what would turn out to be the winner. To be fair, Port launched a concentrated assault on the Eagles’ goal in the dying minutes only for Tana, Todsapol (6) and others to find only the goal-keeper’s flailing arms from point blank range; Tana, as usual, feigning injury to somehow excuse his miss. [Ed – Replays suggest he actually took a stray boot to the goolies. After missing, of course…] I can see the point of a left-handed screwdriver but what is the point of Tana?

Which brings me on to the main point in my piece, as suggested in the banner heading. As you may know from my previous articles, I am pretty loyal to Port and will stay loyal, but how much of this shit should we, all fans, put up with before showing some kind of displeasure? I didn’t stay after the game; I was very angry and had no desire to linger on and pay tribute to a team that should have been crawling on it’s hands and knees to the long-suffering crowd amassed behind the goal (and it’s a long way) to beg forgiveness, preferably with their faces plastered in mud to heighten their sense of subjugation.

I have followed Port now for over seven years and have the utmost respect for the loyalty and passion of their wonderful fans; they are to me the best in the country. But, sometimes lads, be a bit more critical. You deserve better than this. When you are in full war-drum mode, I often wonder whether you actually see some of the dross being played out in your name? On Sunday, just as on Wednesday, when your players surrendered meekly to, okay, a very good Bangkok Utd side, you were badly let down. The players need to know this. Don’t stand and applaud, don’t sing to them, tell them in no uncertain terms it is simply not good enough. And then come back and hope it will be better next time, just as I will.

Have a good day y’all.

 

Man of the Match

Worawut, because he was the only one I could recognize without a pair of binoculars. And he pulled off some decent saves.

 

Peter Hockley

Peter Hockley

Peter 'Hockers' Hockley is currently the School Librarian at St Andrews International School, Sathorn and has lived in Thailand since 1992. He has followed Port home and away since 2010, with unbridled devotion and his famous woolly hat. He is a co-founder member of the Sivakorn (is a football genius) Appreciation Society (SAS). At present, the Society boasts a membership of, well, two. Peter has written travel articles for The Nation and Sawaddi magazine, and once had a letter published in Charles Buchan's Football Monthly which won him 5 guineas.

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