2020 Vision: Ratchaburi Mitr Phol FC

Our series of 2020 T1 previews continues with a look at perennial mid-tablers Ratchaburi, a club who’ve had more coaches than National Express. I have a bit of a soft spot for the Dragons due partly to their absolutely superb stadium (surely the best away end in the league) and the extremely friendly locals who looked after us very well on our weekend there last season. Take it away Ratch fan Neal Oliver

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BG’s Saturday Night Fever: Port FC vs. Ratchaburi (FA Cup Final Preview)


It has been a season of thirds. A triple layer hamburger, topped and bottomed by a light and fluffy, expertly toasted bap, laced with a tasty, tangy sauce and garnished with an innovative leafy salad, seasoned with a hint of balsamic. In the middle, though, an unappealing, flavourless patty, stodgy in places and miserably failing to satisfy that initial promise. This has been Port’s season in a cardboard box. An explosive start, a laboured, clueless middle, redeemed by a late, often thrilling bid for a first League title. And now comes the dessert, a dish to sweeten the Port season and one which they must devour with gusto.

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Here Comes the Fear Again: Ratchaburi FC 1-1 Port FC


Pulp’s underrated 1997 single ‘The Fear‘ is an exercise in paranoia, loss of confidence, sexual impotence, the sound of a man who made it to the top but found it impossible to stay there. Watching Port’s fragile, overly-defensive performance at Ratchaburi on Saturday was to see Jarvis Cocker’s words made flesh – back in April/May, Port would’ve swaggered into the Mitr Phol and breezed past these piss-poor relegation strugglers without so much as breaking sweat; July’s Port just looked terrified. And as for the line about having a monkey on your back, Dom knows exactly what that means.


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VAR for the Madding Crowd: Port FC 1-0 Ratchaburi FC



The first home game of the season is always an event to anticipated by the faithful for the entire off-season. We look forward to familiar faces in familiar surroundings with familiar sights, smells, and sounds. The day of the first match seems to drag on as we wait for the trip to the stadium. Driving the familiar route we reminisce on outings past and concurrently envision what the new season will bring. Arriving at PAT and crossing the bridge we hear the first sounds of this year’s pageant. The rumble builds as I walk through the gate and see and hear the Khlong Toei faithful eating, drinking, and laughing together. An excited calm encompasses me. The time draws near.


On a beautiful early March evening after a searing day, a breeze from the south east cools me as I take my place at the top of Zone A an hour before the match. The stadium is beginning to fill and the sounds of Paradox echo without the confines of the PAT. The tattered flags and signs have been replaced with new ones. The pitch, well, it’s the pitch. As the teams take the field one is taken by the size of Ratchaburi’s foreign contingent. Some “mighty big dudes” there and one, Boli, has already proven he can score. Without Go and Rochela the D will have to stand tall. Dolah and Todsapol will have to be in very good form. And tonight’s captain? Sivakorn, which is a bit of a surprise. Lined up next to him in the midfield is Sumanya, with the rest of the team exactly as one would expect.


Both teams appear relaxed and loose during the warm up and as they head to the dressing room, PAT begins to fill and fill. By the time the teams take the field the stadium is heaving with 7k plus fans awaiting that first kick. Port’s new kits are very nice, perhaps the nicest home kits I’ve seen since I began following in ’10. Ratchaburi appear in what can only be described as puce tops and white shorts.


In contrast to the relaxed warm up the game began with a very tight physical midfield centered contest. Ratchaburi were content to let Port posses a bit into their half before attacking the ball. With Boli and the equally speedy Langil, their hope seemed to rest on playing the long ball counter attack to catch the Port defenders flat-footed, which was not to be as Dolah and Todsapol were glued to the Ratchaburi strike force.

While looking quite lively and creative in the midfield, Port were having a tough time hitting crosses and passes into the box. All attempts were either too long or into the feet of a Ratchaburi defender.

Chances in the first half were few. VAR came into play in the 41st minute when the official reviewed a possible handball against Port. To the relief of the 7,000 plus, VAR did not overturn the decision on the field.

With the first half coming to an end, Port were indeed the better side in a very tight and cagey 45 minutes of football. The feeling for me was; first goal wins it.


The second half began as a continuation of the first with Port controlling possession and very few good opportunities until the second VAR incident that saw Port awarded a penalty shot for a handball in the box. Lingal was incensed and a fracas ensued at midfield with ended with Boli on the ground after allegedly receiving an elbow to the face from Sumanya. Both saw yellow and then Dragan B converted the penalty shot to put Port up 1-0. Down a goal, Ratchaburi were forced to open up their game.  Bringing on their Ko….wait for it…rean, Kang Soo Il (no relation to the best of our knowledge) gave them another attacking option and put even more pressure on the Port defense. By the 70th minute, Port were having fun and playing like they were up by 3.  Corner after corner and shot after shot, Port were the dominant team. I fully expected that second goal, but it never came. The two best chances being Bosco from point blank and a Nittipong rocket from 20 yards that forced Pairot to make a most acrobatic save.

Ratchaburi’s two chances of the game came on a shot low to the right from Boli that was saved by Worawut and a blast from the left by the Kang that was also saved by Worawut.

Jadet’s three subs were all made quite late and neither Bodin, Pingkong, nor Anthibodee had an impact on the match.

After nail-biting 6 plus minutes of extra time the referee finally blew the whistle and the faithful celebrated a well earned home victory.


Port were good tonight; very good considering how young the season is. The fitness level is better than it was last year, the team appears a bit more disciplined and together, the defense is stout even without Rochela and Go, the midfield keeps its shape, Sivakorn has given two good performances, Worawut looks confident and comfortable between the pipes, Suarez is trying to create, and well, I’m hopeful. What’s lacking? Well, there is that goal-scoring thing. Two games with only a penalty shot to show for it and you could say the finishing is far less than crisp. Maybe, hopefully, if the team keeps playing the way they did against Ratchaburi, it will come.

After a short recap in The Sandpit, I’m walking amongst the fans, happy with the three points gained, and I head over the footbridge to my bike. The sounds of PAT fade and the din of the street rises to meet me and I think about how glad I am that football’s back!


The Sandpit Man of the Match: Elias Dolah

My man of the match is Elias Dolah. It was another gritty ballsy performance from the man who is the best Thai defender in the country at this point. Honorable mentions go to Selanon and Todsapol who were both solid.


Things Bodin’ Well for Port: Port FC 4-2 Ratchaburi (Friendly)


After watching Port crowned 2018 Futsal champions at the Thai-Japanese Stadium, we piled into a taxi and headed down to the PAT for the second friendly of the pre-season. It was good to see Port team win a trophy but there’s no substitute for real football and we were rewarded with a highly entertaining game.

Port began the game with pretty much a first-team XI, missing only Thailand internationals Kevin, Nurul and Sumanya, and more worryingly Boskovic, who was conspicuous by his absence. Dolah started alongside Rochela which suggests he is finally first choice in Jadet’s thinking.

Ratchaburi opened the scoring on 5 minutes when their very impressive new signing, ex-Auxerre, Nimes & NEC winger Steeven Langil teed up a perfect cross for Kang Soo-Il who headed past Rattanai. Langil looks the real deal and could be one of the signings of the season.

Port equalised a minute later when Rochela converted a penalty after Suarez had been upended by Ratchaburi’s keeper. The Spanish midfielder was as fired up as ever and showed that the word “friendly” isn’t in is vocabulary as, even after being awarded a penalty, he continued to get in the keeper’s face, followed by that of the referee. Don’t ever change Sergio.

With the Sandpit crew sitting close to the pitch we were able to, ahem, enter into dialogue with a few players, and whilst Ratchaburi striker Kang Soo-Il got some inevitable taunts about his use of moustache cream, the focus was on Port’s portly winger Pakorn. Dom gave him a bit of bantz about his selfishness and lack of teamwork; Pakorn made a “yeah yeah, keep talking” gesture, went down the other end, and set up a tap-in for a newly-shorn Bodin. Dom took this as evidence of his motivational skills, but really Dom, until Pakorn picks you out of the crowd, comes over to shake your hand and thanks you for inspiring him with your abuse, you’re an amateur.

The second “third” of the game kicked off with almost identical lineups and Bodin soon made it 3-1 with an absolute screamer. The removal of his trademark afro seems to have given the lacklustre winger a new lease of life as he looked well up for it yesterday. Ratchaburi got a goal back soon after this if memory serves me correctly but I can’t remember anything about it.

The third third featured a reserve side, which unfortunately featured Yossawat, who must’ve run over Jadet’s dog or something as he is about as far away from the first XI as I am at the moment. The stiffs gave a good account of themselves and in the 82nd minute the Port Pele himself, Arthit, bundled in a bustling header to extend Port’s lead.

An impressive win then, and Port’s key men all look well up for the season ahead. With Nurul, Kevin, Boskovic (hopefully), Sumanya and our new mystery midfielder all to come into the side, the signs for 2019 are very positive indeed.

Man of the Match

Anon bossed the midfield like a seasoned pro; Dolah led by example, yelling at his teammates throughout; and Bodin capped a superb performance with two goals; but the MOTM was indisputably (apart from Dom) Pakorn. The Midfield Monk could’ve taken the day off like his fellow AFF participants, but he chose to show up and put in a very impressive shift, even chasing a long ball at one point. New season, new Pakorn? Let’s hope so.


Dragan vs Dragons: Port to Face Ratchaburi in Friendly


Port’s pre-season friendly campaign is now well underway, and following last weekend’s defeat to Guus Hiddink’s China U21 side, this Saturday Port face the somewhat less intimidating prospect of a visit from Ratchaburi Mitr Phol FC, aka The Dragons. As well as a chance to pay our respects to Sandpit favourite, the Moustache Cream Cowboy himself Kang Soo-Il, we may also get our first look at ex-PSG player (and nephew of former French international Basile) Yannick Boli, who joined the Dragons last week. We may also get to see new Port signing Sumanya.

Kickoff is a logistically tricky 16:30 (given that Port Futsal’s last game of the season finishes just before 16:00 and will hopefully involve some post-match celebrating), entrance is free, and, for those interested, alcoholic beverages are allowed inside.

Kong & Kang: Port Announce Two Friendlies


STOP PRESS Please note the Ratchaburi game on 29 August will now be played at the Mitr Phol Stadium in Ratchaburi, NOT at the PAT!

With yet another long break for the Asian Games (a month off, with Thailand likely coming home after the first week), Port have arranged a couple of friendlies to get the players back to match fitness prior to the 5 September restart.

First up this Friday (24 August) are Hong Kong Premier League side R&F FC, the B team of the more famous CSL side Guangzhou R&F FC. We know little about them beyond their Wikipedia page, but they did beat Chonburi’s reserves 5-1 in a friendly at the weekend, not that that is necessarily an indicator of quality given the current standard of Chonburi’s first XI. They also have former Scottish U21 goalkeeper Andy McNeil on their coaching staff.

Then the following Wednesday (29 August), Port welcome Ratchaburi Mitr Phol FC to the PAT. Port have already beaten the Sugar Boys twice this season, including that spectacular 4-1 demolition at the Mitr Phol Stadium back in June, and so whoever is coaching Ratchaburi this week won’t be looking forward to facing us again. It also gives us a chance to welcome our old friend Kang Soo-Il, the Moustache Cream Cowboy himself, back to Khlong Thoey, after he decided to spit water at the front few rows of Zone B on his last visit. I seriously hope noone tries to intimidate him by making moustache gestures at him, because that would not be funny AT ALL.

Admission is free to both games and the usual friendly beer amnesty applies.


Friday 24 August

Port FC vs R&F FC

17:00 at PAT Stadium


Wednesday 29 August

Port FC vs Ratchaburi Mitr Phol FC

17:00 at PAT Stadium


Dragan’s Boys Crush Dragons: Ratchaburi FC 1-4 Port FC


After consecutive defensive collapses against Muangthong and Sukhothai, Port responded in the best way possible by turning on the style and absolutely destroying Ratchaburi at the Mitr Phol last night. Solid in defence, dominant in midfield and absolutely unplayable in attack, this was by far the best Port performance I’ve seen in 4 years of following the club – and by far the best away following too.

The Sandpit crew rolled up to Ratchaburi to find that things have definitely improved since our last visit. No, the Dragon Bar still isn’t open, but they’ve added a new food & drink zone, and the chicken & chips immediately took pole position in the Sandpit Best Away Ground Food Awards for 2018. The scene was further enlivened by the presence of two leather-clad dancing girls, one of whom immediately endeared herself to us for two particular reasons. Never let it be said that the Sandpit doesn’t keep you abreast of the important matchday incidents, and this is one that will live long in the mammary memory.


“They’re real…and they’re spectacular”


This was potentially a banana skin for Port, with Ratchaburi just 5 points behind in the league and Rochela & Siwakorn both suspended. In came Todsapol (6) and Jack Russell Adisorn (13), and, in an inspired move, the captain’s armband was given to Boskovic (23), who provided the on-pitch leadership & motivation Port so often lack.

Banana skin? Bollocks to that said Bosko, and after just 45 seconds the big striker dodged a  Ratchaburi midfielder and floated a delicious ball up to Nurul (31) which was just a little bit too quick for the Midfield Marmoset to latch onto. But Ratchaburi had been warned, and on 8 minutes the floodgates opened. Kim (8), enjoying playing in a more forward role in the absence of Siwakorn, set Kevin (97) free down the left, and the young defender, inspired by the boos of his former fans at Ratchaburi, skinned a defender with some lovely footwork before driving the ball into the box where it was met by the inrushing Suarez (5), who couldn’t miss.


The best stadium in Thailand


Port were happy to let Ratchaburi have the ball for long periods, comfortable in the knowledge that they didn’t have the strikers to hurt Port’s defence. New signing Mark Hartmann is a real Brent McGrath of a striker, whilst big new Lithuanian striker Nerijus Valskis is so wooden and immobile one can only assume they picked him up at IKEA. Surprisingly, failed moustache grower Kang Soo-Il, who has already scored 10 goals this season, was left on the bench. Even when they did break through, they found Todsapol and particularly Dolah (4) in defiant form.

Port doubled their lead on 33 minutes with one of the best team goals you’ll see all season. In a move that started on the edge of their own box, Port worked the ball out to Boskovic, who left Ratchaburi’s left-back on his arse and fed a lovely through ball to Suarez; the Spaniard crossed into the box for Nurul whose sublime first touch took out the one remaining defender and left him with an easy chip into the far corner. We’re not used to seeing Port play on the counter-attack but they’re seriously bloody good at it, and Ratchaburi just couldn’t handle them.

It could’ve got much worse for the Dragons before half-time, with Suarez volleying wide when picked out by a lovely cross from Kevin, and a Pakorn (7) free-kick stinging the keeper’s palms; but 2-0 was a pretty fair reflection of the first half and it was a very happy bunch of Port fans who headed down to the concourse for half-time beers.

If the first half was good, the second half was simply stellar. Once in a blue moon teams suddenly get in the zone and reach a level of football previously thought impossible (England’s 4-1 win over Holland at Euro 96 for example), and that’s what Port delivered. Ratchaburi simply couldn’t get near them and it was as good a display of attacking football as you’ll see in Thailand this season. Kim shaved the post after being nicely teed up by Cap’n Bosko, and then fired narrowly over from 20 yards; A Nurul cross/shot was almost turned in by Suarez; a superb Nitipong (34) cross was almost headed in by Boskovic.

It was only a matter of time until Port went further ahead and on 76 minutes it was that man Suarez again, picking up the ball on the halfway line, running unchallenged into the box & smashing it in off the crossbar for 3-0, sparking mayhem in the away end. And it got even better 9 minutes later – Bodin robbed a Ratchaburi attacker deep in his own half, ran the ball up to the edge of the box and fed Boskovic, who curled a sublime shot into the top corner. The best goal of the night, and cause of some ecstatic scenes in the away end, including a certain Port fan waving a seat in the air.


Throw ya seats in the air/Wave ’em around like ya just don’t care


It wouldn’t be Port without a bit of late drama of course, and a defensive mix-up between Port debutant Worawut (24) and keeper Rattanai (17) allowed Ratchaburi’s MOTM Yannick Djalo to tap in a consolation goal. Clean sheets? Who needs ’em.

Understandably, the drive home was 2 hours of drinking, singing (including a couple of ditties for absent friends who had inexplicably chosen to go to Chonburi for the futsal) and improving Anglo-German relations – “I just want you to know I don’t mean any harm” said a well-oiled Keith to the backseat German contingent, after a chorus of ‘Two World Wars & One World Cup’. “I’M A GLOBAL CITIZEN!!!” Hands down the best away trip I’ve done in 3 years of travelling with Port.

As for the football, what can I say? This was a stunning win for Jadet’s team, and one of those nights when everything comes together. Dolah & Todsapol made a mockery of our worries over Rochela’s absence; Adisorn & Kim are a much better midfield pairing than Kim & Siwakorn; Nurul & Kevin tore the full-backs so many new arseholes that the proctologists of Ratchaburi will be doing a roaring trade for weeks to come; and Bosko & Suarez were just unplayable, their race for the Port golden boot becoming increasingly fascinating viewing. This wasn’t a 7-1 win against a joke team like Navy; this was a composed, organised, dominant dismissal of serious top 6 contenders, and sets Port up nicely for what should be a thrilling second half of the season. And a special note about the Khlong Thoey Army who turned up en masse tonight, filling the away end and creating a deafening din throughout. “Absolutely amazing support today!” Dolah messaged to me after the game, commenting that they couldn’t hear the Ratchaburi fans at all. One of those nights when being a Port fan is simply the greatest feeling in the world.




The Sandpit Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez

So many excellent performances I hardly know where to start. So let’s do a top 5 (with honours also going to Adisorn, Dolah & Todsapol). In 5th place, Kevin, who shoved the home fans’ boos right back up their arses with a fantastic performance. In 4th, Nurul – the little winger was at his cheeky best and scored a lovely goal. In 3rd, Boskovic, clearly revelling in his role as captain and scoring one of the goals of the season. In 2nd, Kim, who is a much better CM than he is a DM, and one can only hope that the Adisorn-Kim pairing becomes Jadet’s default setting.


Men of the match


And in 1st, yet again, it’s Suarez. The Spaniard has had his critics this season and last, myself amongst them, but when he focuses on playing football he’s one of the best players in T1 and tonight Ratchaburi just couldn’t get near him. I had a very tasty serving of humble pie on the bus home.


Sandpit Songs of the Season Week 19: Ratchaburi


Port travel to the Sugardome tomorrow to face Ratchaburi, and after a couple of emotionally exhausting matches at the PAT (thanks to the wonders of the smartwatch I can report that my wife’s heart rate was up to 138 during Wednesday’s second half), fans will be hoping for a more comfortable win this time – especially with Ratchaburi having exited the League Cup on Wednesday to T3 side Ranong Utd.

Previous visitors to the Mitr Phol stadium will have been impressed with its stunning design, its well-appointed away end and its beautiful sunset views over the hills. But we were less impressed with its catering facilities, with little food available, just a couple of beer vendors (selling that foul secretion from Satan’s anal glands, Chang), and a much-anticipated stadium pub which turned out to be closed.

So this week’s song pays tribute to said pub, in the hope that we might actually be able to get a pint there this time round. “There’s nothing so lonesome or morbid or drear/Than to stand on the roof of a pub with no beer“, as the song almost goes.



Dragons’ Lair or Sweet Shop? Ratchaburi FC vs Port FC Preview


Port head off to Ratchaburi this Saturday looking for another three points in T1. With two wins and a draw over the last two seasons we can be fairly confident of getting something from the Dragons. Before we get too cocky, both of the Port wins have been hard fought 3-2 victories which could have gone either way. Port and the Port faithful have to be on a high after Wednesday night’s 4-3 display of what can only be called fantasy football.

Ratchaburi’s new stadium is purpose built – no running track nonsense just football here my friend. For me it’s one of the better away trips because of the stadium – it’s even got a dragon shaped into the corner of the ground. Rather disappointingly it’s call the “Mitr Phol Stadium” after the sugar sponsor, when it should be called something like the “Dragon’s Lair” or the “Fire Nest”. It will be interesting to see if they’ve finally finished the promised “Dragons’ Bar”, which was a roof top bar without the bar at the end of last season. Ratchaburi like the Thunderdome is a Chang-only zone so stopping off to stock up with Leos or high quality Amaretto is advisable. Its newbuild look is not to everyone’s taste – the shell of the ground looks a bit plastic, and I think it was Gareth who said it looks like the local Giant Kwik Fit store has screwed a Dragon and this is their bastard stadium of a son.

Dragging Along

Ratchaburi have had a half decent season – they sit in 7th place looking like a side that will comfortably be in the top ten this year. They’ve had a similar budget to last year and put together a solid team. Kang Soo Il (10), Chutiporn (7) and Sami (3) all impressed me last time out. There’s quality through the spine of this team but they are lacking the all-round depth to put them in the top tier of T1 teams. Ex-Port player Sompong Solep (24) is still getting a game there so they can’t be that good (see Tom’s Frankenstein’s worst player comments).

This transfer window has seen a few changes down Ratchaburi way. Big Brazilian “Bill” has gone off to Chiang Rai. It’s being reported that the Thai/German Phillip Roller is not back training with the team after the international break. To make up for this and other losses they have brought in a clutch of new players. Praweenwat Boonyong, a Buriram regular in the first half of 2018 has come in and is being played as a defensive midfielder to offer a bit of protection for the reasonable but leaky back four. Nerijus Valskis is their new Lithuanian striker who comes from the Israeli League where he got 6 goals and 3 assists in 19 starts. Doesn’t look like he’s going to set the game on fire, but he might well get his first start on Saturday so he’ll be looking to impress fans on his debut. They’ve also brought in Yanick Djalo on the right wing from Guinea Bissau, and as their new Asean quota player Philippine/English striker Mark Hartmann. Hartmann has just come from Ubon where he got 5 goals 2 assists in 14 matches so he’s not just there to make up the numbers.

Difficult to know exactly what Ratchaburi 2.0 will be like. A slightly weakened squad were put out of the League cup on penalties by the sharks of Ranong F.C. on Wednesday night, so things are not looking good for the new bunch. Saturday will see them trying to make up for their loss in front of their loyal home support. Remember the old saying “Beware of a Dragon that’s just been screwed over by a Shark”. I think we’ve all heard that so many times before.

Port Life

Well Wednesday, what can you say? There was everything – goals, drama, revenge, comically poor refereeing…it was all there. One thing it did show is this team looks a bit more confident, unfortunately at 2-0 up a bit too bloody confident. Port’s form has been top notch of late, but an inability to put a game to bed reared its ugly head again. 7 minutes vs Muangthong and letting Sukhothai back into the game on Wednesday show Port need to be more clinical when they are on top. Muangthong and Sukhothai are decent sides and we can’t give teams like that chances.

Port’s Starting XI

With four games in two weeks we might see some variation from our friend the ultra-consistent commissar of the cream pies. Jadet might give a couple of first team players a rest but I can’t see too much change happening. Rattanai, Kevin and Dolah should be back in the squad after a rest on Wednesday. Port have got four games in two weeks but the 4th match is against a T5 side Tha Muang, a team who shouldn’t put up that much resistance (famous last words).


Kevin, Rochela, Dolah, Nittipong
Nurul, Siwakorn, Kim, Suarez, Pakorn

Terens Trouble

Yet again Terens was passed over for a place on Wednesday. I really can’t see him staying if he’s not playing in the Cups. He’s shown he does have the skill to play in T1 at least in bursts. It would be a shame to see him head back to Borneo without really being given a chance to shine. If he’s not getting regular time on the pitch at Port I can see him heading home. He needs to be playing regularly for 10-15 minutes as an impact substitute to make his time in Thailand worthwhile.


Boonyong may well be told to shepard Suarez out of the game. It’s exactly the role he’s been brought in to do and he has the quality to trouble Suarez. Which of these midfield minders will stamp their authority on the game? We will see. Sami vs Boskovic could see a few fun tussles in the box, a bit of elbow fencing and arm wrestling. I like this matchup – both tough but not dirty players and both with a bit to prove to set themselves up as top T1 players in 2018.


2-1 win for Port with Dragan defeating the Dragons.


Ratchaburi FC vs Port FC. Saturday 16 June 17:45 at Mitr Phol Stadium and on TrueSport 2.