Tom’s Transfer Talk: Silly Season Returns!

 

Look! A picture! Of footballers! At PAT Stadium!

I don’t know about you, but the mere sight of over-nourished footballers jogging breathlessly around the hallowed turf of PAT Stadium is enough to get my football juices flowing, and so after a lengthy hiatus I can now declare silly season officially… OPEN!

Let the pictures of mysterious unnamed footballers be shown to all, let baseless rumours of transfers that will never happen cover The Sandpit gossip pages, let us speculate about everything and nothing for no reason other than to quell our boredom. And let’s do it right now!

 

 

We start with pictures of a couple of myserious newbies. They look young, and our sources tell us that they’re Fox Hunt graduates, so we could have a couple of future stars if we’re lucky.

The fella on the right looks very much like 20 year old midfielder Jirattikan Vapilai, nicknamed Trunk, who played for OH Leuven and Leicester alongside last season’s success story Anon. His Instagram is here. I think the other is Nutchanon Sojit, who trained at Leicester and has recently been playing for Police Tero. His Instagram is here. We don’t know whether they are on trial with Port or have been signed already, so await further developments. In fact, I’m not 100% these are even the right guys!

Unfortunately, no non-Thai ASEAN players have been spotted yet. With the new quota allowing for up to 3 ASEAN players being used on the pitch alongside all other foreigners (as opposed to last season when your one ASEAN player had to be used instead of one of the other foreigners) Port certainly should be shopping around countries like Myanmar and Indonesia, while scouting for half-ASEAN players all across Europe. Think of last season’s breakout star Aung Thu, our very own Terens Puhiri, or half Danish half Filipino goalkeeping star Michael Falkesgaard. There are all sorts of options out there.

 

 

Now to pictures of people we know, but are not quite sure why they’re there. Former Port winger Pinyo Inpinit pops up in this category every year, as I’m never quite sure if he’s fit, who he belongs to or if he’s even capable of playing 90 minutes without shattering in to smithereens. If I had to guess I would say he’s about 62% fit, he’s a free agent and there’s absolutely no way he could last a full game without fracturing at least one vertebrae.

 

 

Moving swiftly along, we have some photos of Port players who were sent on loan last season. We’re delighted to see Yossawat Montha back with us. He didn’t have a particularly successful time on loan at Ubon and Prachuap last season, but then you don’t have to be particularly great to still be a whole lot better than Port’s backup left back Panpanpong (19). As a player who has played for Buriram and represented Thailand at youth level, you’ve got to think that a young Yossawat is a more sensible option to keep on than perennial backup Panpanpong. We’ve been wrong before, though. There is no indication whatsoever than Jadet even acknowledges Yossawat’s existence, so odds are that he won’t be with Port when the season starts. Apparently Port’s finest proponent of lulz and banter, at least he’ll be able to entertain the rest of squad until Nurul gets back from international duty. Judging by the picture, he’s got Suarez going already!

 

 

Then there’s one who did pretty well on loan last season, although he ended up suffering relegation anyway. Athibordee Athirat (l) slotted straight in to Navy’s midfield and his arrival coincided with a stirring revival of fortunes in Sattahip, although it was never likely to be enough to keep them above water. This solid, versatile fella is a decent squad option, although we can’t help but feel like we’re pretty well covered in central defence and midfield already. Could go either way, this one.

 

 

Here’s a surprise. Worawut Namvech (24) was on loan at Port from Chiang Rai last season, and despite appearing regularly for and even captaining the Thai under 23 side, he played just a handful of minutes last season, with Rochela, Dolah, Todsapol and even Athibordee being preferred. We expected him to be straight off back up North, but he’s still training with Port, so the possibility of securing a deal for the promising youngster must still be there. More news if and when I hear it.

 

 

Pummared Kladkleep (41) and Jetjinn Sriprach (15) weren’t loaned out per se last season, but both turned out several times for Port B in T4 while failing to make a single appearance in T1. They were both at training, but I expect to neither to still be on the books once the season starts. Jetjinn ought to be able to get a decent gig in T2, although Pummared may have to look to T3 if he wants to play regularly.

 

 

And how about the ones who weren’t pictured? Bajram Nebihi has unsurprisingly made his way quietly out of the back door, having had underwhelming loan spells with Chiang Rai and then Chonburi. The battle for a place in Port’s 2018 squad was tight between him and Suarez, but the Spaniard well and truly secured his spot for 2019 with some superb performances in the first half of last season. Tatchanon Nakarawong is another who was not pictured in training. He made a daft sideways loan move to Chonburi, before seeing sense and dropping down a division with former club Army, for whom he apparently did rather well. He’s not on Jadet’s favourites list though, and the arrival of Anon (20) has probably put paid to any chance of us seeing this promising youngster get a run in Port’s first team. A shame, but with Port’s sights being trained towards the top of T1, it’s no surprise. Finally, Thanakorn Saipanya was also not pictured at training. And no, I’m not just making names up to test you. After spending part of the season with Port B and then being shipped out to a lower league on loan, there’s absolutely no chance whatsoever of us seeing him in our T1 squad in 2019.

 

Gossip

 

The only piece of real gossip we’ve had so far this off-season is the potential arrival of Bangkok United midfielder Sansern Limwattana. Wikipedia says the deal is done but we’re not so sure, although the rumours do seem to be pretty consistent. Sansern is a young central midfielder who played on loan at Sukhothai last season, and his brother plays for Muangthong. Sansern has been around the block quite a bit for a 21 year old. He started his career in New Zealand, and has been on the books at Buriram and Bangkok United, who have both loaned him out multiple times. he’s also represented Thailand at youth level. His arrival and retaining Anon could potentially pave the way for the departure of one of Port’s more established midfielders, but let’s wait for the deal to be confirmed before we go down that route. He’s also a right-footed free-kick specialist, so Pakorn had better watch his back!

 

Coach Swap

 

 

Port have also hired a new fitness coach, with Rod Pellegrino making way for an as yet unnamed compatriot. Apparently he speaks fluent Thai, and he was with Police Tero last season. Sounds alright. Our thanks of course go to Rod, who did a sterling job over the last 2 seasons with Port. It can’t be easy trying to whip some of our players in to shape, it must be said!

 

Wolfman & the Raging Mackerels: On the Bench at Samut Songkhram

 

Now the season the has finished, it always leads me into remembering the seasons gone by; my Port yesteryears and there is one particular Port experience that comes flooding back me each time and reminds me how much things have changed and developed since my early Thai Port/Singhtarua/Port MTI/Port seasons. Things happened back then that I really can’t imagine happening these days, despite how things are now; with the ever present routine, needlessly grossly over extended international breaks. Back in the day, when God was a boy, games were almost constantly re-arranged and making plans for watching a game just a week in advanced was a leap of faith, as some games seemed to have been re-arranged 4 or 5 times.

 

However, one of my best footballing Port memories was simply farcical and really shouldn’t have been allowed to happen if there had been even a single individual within the club structure and set-up with at least some sense of a hint of professionalism, but it does demonstrate the kind of devil may care, what the hell, attitude that was so prevalent in those heady days (in this example) of 2011.

 

It occurred at an away day game at Samut Songkhram, a relatively small trek from Bangkok, but a nice little day out from the big city. Myself and two other Thai Port fans (Hilton and Wolfman) headed there without really having an idea of how long it would take to get there, so we got there a couple of hours before the game and there isn’t much to do there, the ground is opposite what appears to be a huge ram-shackle fish market, which sets the scene nicely for the stadium. It’s a ‘rustic’ Athletics stadium with one concrete stand and had a feel that even when it had just been built it probably looked like it was visibly deteriorating.

 

 

We were able to get really close to the running track to the side of the stand and gazed out in wonder and admiration over the pitch and the stadia and breathed in deeply the atmosphere and the ambiance of the place. Then we noticed some tubby looking Thai guys dressed in Thai Port polo shirts chatting on the other side of the fence. One of us (Wolfman) was able to communicate in Thai, and we found out that they were part of the Thai Port coaching staff, (I want to say one of them was a Fitness Coach but that didn’t seem believable) they came over and chatted with us (well, with the one of us who could speak Thai anyway), they chatted very openly and in an amazingly relaxed manner, for the training staff of a team about to play a Premier league match. In fact, they invited us over the fence and offered us the opportunity to hang out (and I feel slightly uncomfortable using an Americanism, like hang out, I apologize profusely) in the dugout with them and some of the substitutes. Not a single steward or Samut Songkhram official was to be seen to obstruct us. It was very odd and also very amazing and not something that I could ever imagine happening, even at (my lowly and beloved) Aldershot Town level football.

 

Substitutes and players came and went, we mingled, I’d like to say we chatted but that wouldn’t be strictly true (and not that convincing either, so I won’t). We sat on the seats in the dugout, with not quite the comfort level of the seats of Old Trafford or even Thunder castle, but it was still magical. One of our group (Hilton) had a Port shirt and asked one of the players we were hanging out with (sorry there’s that phrase again) (I think it was Wisarut, a fullback who joined the club in the mid-season break and then left at the end of the season) if he would mind signing the shirt and he very, very generously offered to take the shirt back into the changing room to get other signatures for him. He came back with well over 10 signatures, which was a stellar effort. We continued to sight-see on the bench and enjoyed the perplexed looks of the Samut SongKhram fans in the stand behind, clearly wondering who the hell these 3 (deeply unprofessional looking) white guys were in the Thai Port bench area, the amount of serious, aimless pointing and gesturing we did to try and look important and significant was possibly embarrassing but irresistible.

 

 

We also witnessed the then Thai Port manager Thongchai chatting on his mobile phone on the pitch which just appeared really strange to see the team manager seemingly so uninvolved in the preparation before the match, he seemed less approachable than the rest of the set-up and barely gave us a second look, which again seemed something that wouldn’t happen in a more organized setup. Professionalism didn’t seem to be a watchword of anyone involved. But possibly one of the weirdest parts was that at no point did anyone tell us to leave, I’m pretty sure that if game time had come around we could possibly, have blagged it and stayed in the bench area for the whole game, such was the Thai embarrassment in causing a scene, no one said anything about us getting the hell out of there and letting them get on with preparing for the match. So being the true Brits that we were (and possibly still are), our sense of politeness and social awkwardness got the better of us and we voluntarily left the area and made our way round the ground to where the rest of the Thai Port fans were, to stand on possibly the worst cobbled together, rickety, insecure, balsa-wood, ice-lolly stick stand I had ever been on. Until of course I experienced the away stand at Sri Racha’s stadium a couple of weeks later.

 

We lost the game 2-0 and sadly Moise (God I miss him, so much) was red-carded, it was a deeply forgettable game and I can only thank God that we didn’t score because if the Thai Port fans had had any reason to celebrate at all, that stand may not have stood up to the task. Although I did see Thai Port and Singhtarua beat Samut Songkhram in 2012 and 2014 and the stands were still standing each time, so maybe its significantly stronger than it appears. But that experience of being invited to hang out (oh God, there it is again) in the bench area and meet players was so surreal, Wonderful disorganization and lacking structure, couldn’t be any better or more Thai really!

P.S. Apologies to Wolfman as he is actually from New Zealand and not Britain.

 

High Hopes: Dom’s 2018 Season Review

Goal of the Season

Boskovic 1st goal vs Pattaya

A clockwork orange n’ blue goal, vintage 2018. This goal sums up Port’s season, when everyone does their job well we can slice teams apart. Nurul, Suarez and Boskovic are all involved, if Nurul and Suarez don’t get injured and Bosko found form a bit sooner we could’ve seen a shed load more of these goals being smashed in. Nurul throws the ball in tees up Suarez, he turns freezing two defenders gives himself the platform. Suarez knows where Bosko is, finds him with a bit of space. Bosko chests the ball down and bang he’s thundered it into the top corner. Keeper stood no chance, suddenly the rain doesn’t seem so bad and the journey out to deepest darkest Minburi is well worth it. We’re all singing in the rain.

Game of the Season

Muangthong Away

It’s the start of the season Port’s players are looking good, but can they stand up to a genuine test?

Yes they bloody can, the 2-0 win that left the North, South, East and West stands very, very quiet. Kevin slotted right into the team, Worawut pulled off some great saves. Everything was good with the world. Top feeling, top match, joint top of the league, on top of the world.

Player of the Season

Nittipong Selanon. He’s not a superstar of Thai Football, but in 2018 what we needed was a bit more of Nittipong’s attitude. Turn up and do a great job week in week out. Other players raised their game for some matches and randomly went missing in others. We have seen some great skills at PAT this year, but skill with a bit of consistency was missing. This is why I have to go for our right back, possibly the best right back in the league. The hardest working man in Thai Port.

That 2018 Look

Milan, Paris, London, Thai Port, it’s the fashion hub of the Bangkok Metropolitan area so I give you the 2018 top merch. awards.

T-Shirt of the Season

This is the most hotly contested section of these awards. Port has always had a ton of different T-shirts made by different fan groups. This year “Nig” in Zone B has outdone himself with the “Port Hub” shirt. You know it’s a top T-shirt when every time you get it out of the cupboard it raises a smile.

 

Cap of the Season

As someone who wears glasses I’m always on the look out for a Thai Port cap to keep the rain off my specs. The previous 2017 one was cheap, plastic and poorly designed. My decent 2015 orange cap was lost a long time ago after a very long away day. I only saw this 2018 cap for sale on the last day of the 2018 season. Still it’s a good simple design silver on black, comfortable and it was on 30% discount.

 

Key Ring of the Season

Everyone’s there nice portraits of all the star players. I wish it was commemorating silverware of some sort, but anyway here’s the commemorative being a decent T1 team Thai Port key ring.

Port Family Portrait

 

The Orange n’ Blues 2018

Since Pang took over in 2015 I’ve been saying she should be spending more on the squad, relegation in her first season in charge was hardly a great start. In 2018 finally a war chest arrived at PAT. A decent enough budget for a good T1 season. We stole Nurul away from Chonburi, we brought in the 38 goal hero Bosko. Then we found a decent Korean player to stabilise our midfield. As the transfer window was closing we snatched Kevin away from the jaws of Muangthong. We assembled the best squad we’d had 10 years.

To start off I didn’t think we had a chance in the league, I thought a top 6 finish maybe. Then slowly the hope creeps up on you, coming up to the two Air force matches we had 11 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw in 14. What kind of super human form is that? That’s unheard of, could we possibly challenge for the top spot? Nurul and Suarez are both back and on form. Maybe Chainat was just a blip, maybe this is our year in the league. As for the Cup, well we got to a league cup semi-final when we were in T2, with this team we must be able to…

Maybe this is our year? Maybe not, the league cup and league losses to Air Force were crushing. After these games we really had to face the fact that on our day when we really tried we could manage to lose to anyone. Chainat was a terrible game, but I thought maybe it was just a one off. After seeing lightning strike twice in the same week; I much like the lightning crashed back down to earth.

There’s no shame in losing to Buriram in the FA Cup quarter final. Finishing 3rd shows good progress; it’s our highest finish in 15 years. We beat Muangthong away, so why does it feel a bit hollow. We ended the season on a high with three brilliant results. I’m still left thinking it would’ve been nice to be going to a Cup Final in 2018, and it wasn’t too far from our grasp. In the end as always it’s the hope of something greater that kills you, the forlorn fan thinking if only those 17 results when the other way it was our year.

2018 was a great year at Port so good it made me hope for some silverware not fear relegation. Anyway there’s always next year, I think if we strengthen the squad with three more quality players. I think we really can… here we go again looking forward to High Hopes in 2019.