Anticipation (n): A feeling of excitement about something which is going to happen.
Delusional (adj): characterized by, or holding idiosyncratic beliefs or impressions that are contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder.
Anyone who has followed Port over the past few seasons will recognize both states of mind, and, as the new season approaches, will no doubt be embracing the first, while waiting anxiously for the alternative to rapidly kick-in. You have to be mental to follow Port at times.
And, to be honest, there does seem something not quite right about the coming season. It all started when news of Port’s new signings filtered through. Boskovic? Didn’t he score 38 goals last season for Bangkok Utd, the same Utd who stuck 11 goals past us without breaking sweat? Then, to follow: an imperious Korean midfielder, a 2010 AFC Champions League winner to boot. More impressive signings followed, amongst them, Nurul, a budding Thai International winger. Then, this week, came the bombshell; we had pinched Kevin Deeromram right from underneath the noses of the MuangScum to solve our problem left-back slot. What started off as a worrying trend had become a full-blown epidemic.
Even more significant for denizens of Zone B, we now have a ready-made song to replace the popular, and ever so catchy, “Gen-ki Na-ga-sa-ko.” This new one is inspired by a 1963 Crystals hit, ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’. Sometimes it pays to be old.
Dee Rom Rom, Ram, Ram, Dee Rom Rom Ram
Saw him on a Sunday; my heart missed a rev
Dee Rom Rom, Ram, Ram, De Rom Rom Ram
Someboy told me that his name was Kev
Dee Rom Rom, Ram, Ram, Dee Rom Rom Ram
Yeh, his name was Kev,
Yeh, and it rhymes with Trev
He said F**k Off Muang Thong
Dee Rom Rom, Ram Ram, De Rom Rom Ram.
It needs a bit of work. Here’s the original.
Then, with Port in the throes of building up a decent team, it got really weird. The fixtures for the whole season were released in one go. Altogether. At once. February to October, with seemingly minimal interruptions. 7, A4 size pages. No shit.
Imagining this was all a bad dream, I wandered down to Port for a couple of friendlies and I was IMPRESSED. For the first time, in my now nine years as a Port fan, I thought I might be witnessing something special. This was confirmed this morning with a Bangkok Post article proclaiming Port as potential title contenders. Next thing we know, the season tickets and new strip will be available for collection on Sunday!
And this set me thinking about what this might mean for me, and my fellow Sandpit correspondents.
WTF are we going to write about now that we might actually be good?
Will our pens be dipped in sickly honey rather than essence of deadly nightshade? Will our bitter barbs become sycophantic superlatives? Surely, they couldn’t do it to us. Then I noticed that Tana was still on the teamlist, at 11. That’s not 99, in numerical pecking order somewhere down the Sukhumvit Road towards the Cambodian border, but 11, about as close to the first 11 that 11 can get. And then it dawned on me; this was Madame Pang’s comic gift to the Sandpit. The venerable bard, Shakespeare, had moments of comic relief in his tensest dramas, so why shouldn’t we? Tana could be the Falstaff to Rochella’s Prince Hal, the Malvolio to Boscovic’s Duke Orsino. He might even take to the pitch in a pair of yellow stockings or one of those floppy hats with bells on to confirm the analogy. When we are 6-0 up against Muang Thong in yet another, crushing, processional victory and yawns are spreading across Zone B like a blanket of fog, on will come Tana to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and all will once again be well in Klong Toey. Pencils sharpened, the words will flow in a venomous stream of invective. So, to the game.
Things That Have Impressed Me
Dragan Boscovic has added pace and power and will be a go-to man to relieve pressure through the occasional long ball, expertly delivered by the impressive, classy Kim. Josimar was at his best with his back to the goal, spreading it wide and getting in the middle to knock in the resultant cross (sometimes). ‘For a big man’, Boskovic is quick and will chase the ball down, at the same time scaring the shit out of most Thai defenders, as he did with Bangkok Utd. Backing him up will be Suarez and Siwakorn, who bring different strengths to the game, but both looked sharp pre-season, with Suarez always capable of goals.
On the flanks, Nurul (and Terens) look tasty, whilst I confess a growing admiration for Pakorn, now that he has improved his decision-making. I hope I’m not being delusional when I say that I think we will score goals.
At the back, Worawut is in mostly by default; the full backs and Rochela pick themselves, while I feel Todsapol is solid on the ground and in the air and can sneak a goal at set-pieces.
So, my preferred starting eleven in 4-2-3-1 formation is:
Dolah, Terens, Bodin amongst the subs.
Our opponents, Pattaya Utd, enjoyed an excellent 2nd season back in TI finishing a respectable 8th, just one place above Port after losing only 3 games of the final 17, the most memorable from our point of view being our ‘phoenix from the ashes’ 5-2 victory heralding Jadet’s welcome return.
Pattaya’s Sandpit correspondent Robin Lennon, optimistically predicts a top six finish, an accomplishment widely associated with Port in these heady, pre-season days. A key battle will no doubt be between the Dolphins’ twin Brazilian strikers Lukian and Rafinha and Todsapol/Rochela. The Samba strikers are a bit of an unknown quantity even for Pattaya fans but they are Brazilians for Chrissakes so it’s sure to be fun. Siwakorn’s battle with Peeradol Chamratsamee, who after a 6-way swap period with Muang Thong is now a Dolphin player, should also be interesting. Boscovic’s tussle with the Dolphins’ Korean captain, Lee Won-yeong could be bruising.
This will be my eighth full season as a Port fan and the excitement as match day approaches never really diminishes. Last year I wrote a personal reflection on the opening day and I am hoping this year will be much the same, apart from the result!
The match will be shown live on True 4U and True Sport HD2 at 19:00 on Sunday 11 February, 2018. 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. For those who are coming along, remember to get there early as we’re expecting a full house!