In our final Crystal Balls for the 2018 season, we hear from long-time Chonburi fan Dale Farrington, who is fully forgiven for handing in his homework late as he’s been busy organising The Wedding Present’s first ever Bangkok gig (19 April). Dale, we salute you.
Despite not having the greatest of seasons, Chonburi managed to finish in 7th place and also did the double over Port (booooo). But they appear to have done little to strengthen their squad during the break and with Port, Chiang Rai, Glass and even Police improving their squads, they may find it difficult to reach those heights in 2018. Dale is certainly less than enthusiastic about the new season…
What was your highlight of the 2017 season?
Aside from the performance against Buriram Utd in the League Cup, there was very little for us Chonburi fans to get excited about. Therefore, the highlight was when it ended and we could look forward to our weekends again.
How will your team fare in 2018?
With a new (unknown and untried) coach, a whole host of new players and many others leaving, it’s difficult to say. I’d like to think we’ll improve on last season’s performance, but I’m not holding my breath.
Who is your most exciting new signing?
Centre half, Kim Gyeong-Min is the only one who has really featured in pre season and he looks to be a very solid addition at the back. I can’t really comment on the rest, as I haven’t seen enough of them.
Which departed players from 2017 will you miss the most? Who are you glad to see the back of?
Nurul will be the biggest miss. He had his best season for a while last year – so we sold him! No-one in particular from the second category. Apart from the aforementioned Nurul, all the other departees are pretty much of a muchness.
What changes would you like to see at your club? Or are you happy with the way things are going?
Far too many to mention here. The management has really lost touch with the fans – which is a shame, as we used to be a pretty tight knit club. Maybe if this issue was addressed, then things could start to improve generally.
Which teams will be in contention for the T1 title, and who will win?
Buriram Utd and Muang Thong Utd. The former, if they aren’t too distracted by the AFC Champions League. The latter if their rivals take their eye of the ball domestically to chase continental honours.
Which 5 – yes 5 – teams will go down to T2, and which 3 will come up to T1?
Down: Air Force, Nakorn Ratchasima, Navy, Prachuap and Sukhothai.
Up: Khon Kaen, PTT Rayong and Udon Thani.
Which fixtures are you most looking forward to in 2018?
Prachuap away. A new ground and the chance for a weekend break.
Thai football crowds are declining year on year. Why do you think this is, and what can be done to make the game more popular?
I think it was always going to be difficult to maintain the high crowds we saw during the boom period and, to a large extent, they have plateaued. I prefer to come at from the angle that attendances are much higher throughout the leagues than they were ten years ago. When you’ve sat in grounds watching top flight football in front of a few dozen people, anything else is a bonus.
Finally, give us your three wishes for the 2018 season.
No injury faking or time wasting.
No-one will buy our new THB2,200 shirt and the club will realise the folly of its deal with Nike.
Big thanks to Dale for sharing his thoughts with us, and you can follow Chonburi’s 2018 season on his website, which we believe to be the oldest English language fan website in Thailand.