Toby Time Wins: Port FC 1-0 Sukhothai FC

The pioneering 20th century social anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard conducted most of his early research on the Azande, an indigenous African tribe living primarily in what is modern-day Democratic Republic of Congo. His fieldwork formed the basis of his classic text Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. Published in 1937, the book champions the relativist theory of psychological attribution. Are you still following me? Well here’s a good example from the book; 8 Azande people die when a termite infested door frame causes a house to collapse. Evans-Pritchard clearly sees evidence of termites in several areas but the Azande dismiss this notion and conclude that it was caused by witchcraft and start conducting elaborate ceremonies and rituals to regain the favour of the spirits and deities they worshipped. So who is right? Rational thought would automatically conclude that the termites caused it, but what if some higher power could control or effect them to carry out this whole episode that we know nothing about? Evans-Pritchard concluded that both were right; if your personal belief system convinces you it is true then it is true.

Cut to a Saturday night in Khlong Toey, Bangkok. A man stands outside the PAT Stadium at approximately 8.15pm and hears the roar of the crowd as Sumanya (11) delivers a pin point corner for Elias Dolah (4) to head home and sets Port on course for their first league victory since mid-June. He smiles to himself, finishes the last of his Leo and returns to Zone B greeted with the approval of his fellow farang fans; Toby Time has happened yet again. The transcendental  mysticism has worked countless times over the last few seasons and my, our, belief systems have been rewired to conclude that, by staying outside of the stadium at the start of the second half, Port have a better chance of scoring goals. Of course this has backfired several times (Muangthong last season springs to mind) but the beauty of relative thinking is that the result isn’t as important as the actual theory. You know, some people actually believe there’s this old guy with a big beard who lives in the stars and is watching every one of us all the time. Crazy huh?

 

The author’s view of the goal

 

It was a cleanish slate for Port with a new coaching team on the training ground and a chance to impress for a group of out of sorts players. Madame Pang’s Choketawee Promrut’s first starting XI didn’t spring many surprises at first; both Sumanya and Suarez (5) kept their place but Josimar (30) was in for Rolando “Tony” Blackburn. The real surprise was apparent after a few minutes; Josimar took a wide-right attacking position and Suarez played up front. This tactical decision showed all the signs of an angry toddler trying to smash a square shape block through a triangular hole; Josimar did the best he could but there was nothing more frustrating than watching him track back and cover the right back position when Nitipong (34) made a lung bursting run.

 

The next fan whip-round should be for this

 

The football was much better than recent weeks and, after Sumanya’s over-hit free kick prompted wild celebrations of a ghost goal, Port slowly grounded down Sukhothai’s defense. Go’s (8) thunderbastard had just a fraction too much backlift and smashed against the crossbar, then Suarez’s flicked on diving header went narrowly wide of the post. Sukhothai’s Kabfah (24) was a constant threat with his niggly play but Baggio (10), arguably the most Jogo Bonito player in the league was completely out of sorts and our defensive players did a great job snuffing out his threat. After Port took the lead in the second half it was Sukhothai who played the more aggressive football. Herrera (9), their Salvadoran striker who looks like he was made for the nightclub, started playing more directly and, combining with Ramsay (7) and Baggio, started testing Worawut (36) more. Thankfully our Hollywood goalkeeper had brought his “A” game and wouldn’t be beaten. Josimar had a good chance with a few minutes to go but his first touch was poor and he brought out a smart save from Kittikun (14). After a very drawn out injury time the referee finally blew his whistle and everyone could relax and enjoy their post-match beers.

 

Enjoy that Leo!

 

On reflection today it had been a much better performance but most of the credit must go to the back four of Steuble (15), Tanaboon (71), Dolah and Nitipong, and also the second half performance of Worawut. The formation selected was classic early Jadet so I’m not sure exactly how much input Choke and Spencer Prior had in team selection and tactics but, from an armchair manager point of view, playing 2 identical attacking midfielders and a striker out of position is going to have as much success as Vanessa Feltz in Hole in the Wall (Little cameo from Dale Winton too. I always thought his best work was Supermarket Sweep.). Next up are 2 potentially tricky away games at Trat and Prachuap before an FA Cup quarter-final with Chiang Rai, certainly our best chance of glory this season. Given that I have seen the good, the bad and the very ugly from Port this season, only the gods and spirits know how this will turn out but my advice would be simple: keep believing in what you believe! Respect the black cat, throw salt over your shoulder, pray to whoever brings you happiness and I’ll keep staying outside stadiums slowly drinking delicious cold beer.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match: Elias Dolah

 

 

A magnificent, no-nonsense, vintage Dolah performance. Opponents were dealt with, balls were booted out of the stadium and the clean sheet was achieved thanks to his match-winning performance and a beautiful bullet header. I wish I had been there to see it.

 

Toby Knight

Toby Knight

North Londoner, Arsenal fan and believer in lucky cigars, Toby decamped to Bangkok 2 years ago and happily stumbled upon Port FC last season. The rest, as they say, is history.

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