Port end their home season, in what has been their 50th anniversary year, with a fixture against newly, and sadly, relegated Sisaket.
Equally disappointing, is the fact that, apart from the odd souvenir in Port’s dismally run shop, and some independently made t-shirts, there has really been nothing of note to mark this very special year. Perhaps Madame Pang is saving it up for a final shindig – our loyal fans deserve nothing less.
Port’s form at home has been equally underwhelming, with 7 games won, 5 lost and 4 drawn; 26 goals scored and 26 conceded – there has, at least then, been some balance to our play.
We started with some really tight, scrapping thrillers against Suphanburi (3-2), Navy (1-0), Ubon (2-1) and, despite a lack of goals, probably the best of all against Buriram (0-0), in front of another packed house. Defeats against Bangkok Glass (0-3), Pattaya (0-2) and Bangkok Utd (0-3) kept our feet on the ground as the boys failed to fulfill their early season promise.
Our opponents today, Sisaket, will not be short of support; a good number of their fans live in the area, certainly judging by the number I met on the way home from the last encounter. They have a short, but controversial history.
The club was formed as Sisaket FC in 1999 and won the Provincial League that same season. By 2010 they had improved enough to gain promotion to the Premier League and it is shortly after this that it began to get messy. What follows is a story which will sound depressingly familiar to regular followers of the dark side of Thai football and, like most of its controversies, has more twists than a pig’s penis.
In 2012 the club were relocated to Ubon Ratchatani after the local Sisaket government decided to back the newly formed Sisaket United F.C., which then promptly changed its name to Esan Utd. There were, naturally, loud and vehement protests from the Sisaket fans at the prospect of losing both their team and its name. The BB-CU FC v Esan United match had to be interrupted for five minutes after Sisaket fans invaded the pitch in protest. Local Sisaket fans were also on Zone B, in force, at an early Port game to make another protest and were loudly cheered by the Klong Toey faithful. Sisaket fans were to pay this back in 2014 when Port needed to beat them in the final game of the season after a 9 point deduction by the League put us firmly in the 5 team relegation zone. Port won that game 4-1, I believe, generously applauded by the sympathetic Sisaket fans, the only ones ‘officially’ allowed in.
Back to 2102, and despite the protests, Esan United carried on and finished the season in 6th, a record for the club, in that guise anyway. Did you get all that? There will be a test later.
Keith and I traveled down to Ubon for the Port game in early August 2012, the only two farang Port fans at the game and watched in dismay as Port threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to a ten man Esan Utd, (not much has changed!), featuring former Port keeper Munze and, quite possibly, Tana! Efforts to find out if he was on the score sheet have floundered.
If you thought 2012 was dodgy, the scandal deepened in 2013 when the Football Association of Thailand found Esan United guilty of forging documents, causing the club to return to Sisaket. It then descended into farce when, due to legal conflicts, Sisaket were suspended for the rest of the season after only playing three games, but were not relegated. The club returned to the Thai Premier League in 2014, returning to their old name of Sisaket F.C and using Sri Nakhon Lamduan Stadium as their home ground, where they play to this day. So, Port fans of long standing will have a certain fondness for Sisaket and their welcoming, lovely fans and their presence in T1 will be sorely missed.
The reverse fixture this season was notable for an excellent away social weekend and the first of a double header of Port giving up a two goal lead for a dismal draw (the next was Navy) – goals from Leroy Lita and Leandro Assumpcao (a penalty in the 95th minute) cancelling out efforts from Pakorn and Siwakorn.
Assumpcao is now at Muang Thong and Leroy Lita is also missing so a quick glance at the current squad on the transfrmarket site lists their three most valued players as Mariano Berriex (20, Argentina) – 250,000 Euros; Isaka Cernak (32, Australia/Uganda) – 200,000 and Denis Silva (2, Brazil) – 150,000, the latter featuring in Tom’s ‘players to watch’ earlier in the season. With the first two down as attacking midfielders Siwakorn may have to get in early. Incidentally, all Port’s players, in a post-Brexit homage, are listed in pounds sterling, with Josimar topping the pile on 360,000 quid. Tana is 68k.
Having not seen the game against Muang Thong or tonight’s match at Super Power, I will leave the potential line-up to Tom.
Whatever it is, Port should have enough for a win, added to the three points gained in Samut Prakarn, to help in that push for 8th place.
Tom’s Predicted Starting XI
Two changes are possible from Wednesday’s win against Super Power, with Rochela (22) and Siwakorn (16) missing through a leg injury and suspension respectively. Rochela wasn’t in the match day squad, but is recovering well and hopes to be fit in time for Saturday, and Siwakorn should come straight back in to the team for Piyachat (88).
The match will be shown live on True Sport HD3 at 18:00 on Saturday 11 November, 2017. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount while you’re at it!