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Spit in the Sandpit: Overrated/Underrated

 

 

Every now and again I hope to share with you my personal list of underrateds and overrateds at Port FC…..

 

Underrated- Midfielder Rodrigo Maranho. #29. Wow. This Brazilian was dazzling to watch. He scored some of the prettiest goals I’ve seen in Thai football.  I guess he fell out of favour with team management but he can take a lot of the credit for Ports success in 2016.

 

Overrated- Forward Hironori Saruta (2014-2015).The chant “Sa-ru-ta!” was loud and clear at PAT stadium for two seasons. But I never drank the Saruta kool-aid. I ended up just shaking my head  whenever the Japanese forward would dippsy doodle just inside the box and then (if he didn’t dive to draw a penalty) he would hit a strike that seemed to always go wide or sail over the crossbar. Saruta scored just 6 goals for Port in 62 appearances. Maybe the chant should have been “ WTF Sa-ru-ta?”

 

Underrated– Defender David Rochela. #22 I know, I know, how can Port FC’s player of the year be underrated? I think I saw at least a dozen matches this past season where I’m sure Rochela was the only Port player who knew what to do with a football. I’m serious! He was always saving our butts.

 

Overrated- Muangthong United FC…..sorry I have to get in at least one obligatory poke at MTU.

 

Overrated- The new fancy video scoreboard in zone D. Yes, it’s a pleasant upgrade to the old  scoreboard that more than half the stadium of supporters couldn’t see. All the old scoreboard would give you is…time of day and home 01 visitors 00. The new video scoreboard will actually show you match time! Wow, technology! But where’s video replays, scores from other matches? or where are the close ups of Madame Pang?

 

Underrated- I can go to a Port home game at PAT stadium and pay 100 baht for my ticket, 60 baht for a large beer, and buy some delicious finger food for another oh let’s say 40 baht. Total cost for a Port FC experience…200 baht. That same 200 baht wouldn’t even pay for parking at BC Place stadium, home of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. A Port FC match is incredibly good value.

 

PAT’s the Way to Do It: How to Improve the Fan Experience

 

I have a confession to make; I’m a latecomer to “football” or as we know it in the US “soccer.” Growing up it was American Football, basketball, a bit of baseball, and when Dallas got the Stars in ’94 it was all about hockey. One of the things I knew I would miss when I moved to Thailand was sports, so I soon latched onto the EPL and became a raging football fan, watching a myriad of games each weekend.

 

Sports on TV are nice, but I really missed the live experience. Giving up my season tickets to the Stars was just about the biggest blow for me, well aside from forgoing good Mexican food, so I was thrilled in 2011 when my gal suggested we go to a TPL match. Truth be told I did not even know there was a league. We first went to a BEC Tero match at Thephasadin Stadium that was ok, but not that impressive. The next week we went to see Port vs Sisaket at PAT and we were immediately hooked.

 

I have really enjoyed these 6 seasons. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions with a cup final, relegations, promotions, road trips, and lots of new friends both Thai and foreign. I have never felt more connected and attached to a team.

 

For me the fan experience is really what professional sports are about. And it is one thing that American sports do quite well. From ticketing, to merchandising, marketing and what occurs each game day is well planned and thought out and most of it’s all fan-centric.

 

I would like to suggest a few things that would make the Port fan experience even better.

 

Ticketing

As a long time season ticket holder and Zone A denizen, I would like to have a reserved seat and be able to retain that seat season to season.

 

It would also be nice to have all the tickets ready at the beginning of the season for season ticket holders so that we don’t have to go to the shop each week to get our tickets. They could be labeled Match 1, 2, etc.

 

Merchandising and Marketing

Some years have been better than others. The years with Mizuno and Joma saw the shopped well stocked throughout the season with plenty of jerseys, t-shirts, and swag available. Other years have seen long waits for jerseys and a pretty barren shop. Port supporters buy a lot of merchandise, so ensuring that the suppliers keep the shop stocked and open during business hours is something all the fans will appreciate.

 

As I mentioned in the first paragraph; I lived in Bangkok, Khlongtoey specifically for over ten year before I even knew there was a league. I might have found the team a bit earlier had there been merch in the malls.

 

Game Day Experience

The atmosphere at PAT is great. Each year there is more food, more activities, and the supporters appreciate it. Last year the club sought out discounts on hotels for away trips and there were some buses. For certain effort is being put in by the club to make the game day experience better for the fans. I am hopeful we will have an even better atmosphere during the upcoming season with even more fan-centric events for supporters.

 

Again, just my two cents on some things I would like to see. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season. Hopefully we will field a competitive team. A mid-table finish would be wonderful!

 

Thanks to Landry Dunand for the photo