My name’s Sam, I’m 30 years old and come from Leeds, England. As an Englishman, you can probably assume I love football, well you would be right. As an avid Leeds United fan, and a regular at the games back home, I used to live for the weekend and watching the Whites play. Having moved to Thailand over two years ago, this obviously stopped. I had seen some matches on True Sports, while out with my friends at a bar or a restaurant, but I had never really taken going to a game seriously.
However, this all changed after a recent trip home and a visit to my beloved Elland Road to watch Leeds play. What a game that was. Two late goals to beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 and stay top of the league. Now, you’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with Chonburi?”
Well, having moved to Bangsaen a year ago, I was aware of the popularity of Chonburi FC and had seen the many car stickers around. Having my appetite for watching live football back, I started to look into going to some matches, and it was to my delight that I found an English speaking fan page and discovered that the admin was from a town close to my own home city. He was really helpful with the information I had asked for and advised about a free friendly against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday 26th of January.
I did a little bit of research on both Chonburi and their Japanese counterparts, and was very impressed with both clubs. I was really looking forward to the game, but had the added bonus of taking my son to his first football match, a very proud moment for me, even if he had no idea what was going on!
We arrived at the stadium pretty late, due to my work commitments, but had no problem parking. In fact, the stadium staff were so helpful and advised us to park opposite the ground so that we could leave easier with our young boy.
We picked up the tickets for the match within five minutes of arriving, but, as a foreigner with not the best Thai, I was a little confused as to where to go. Luckily my wife (Thai) knew and we headed to the “Swimming Pool Stand”. My excitement grew as I saw the home and away fans chatting and having a “refreshment” or two outside the ground. Coming from England, the whole social aspect of the match is either in a pub or in the ground, so to see the stadium environs buzzing like this was an amazing experience.
We made our way into the stand and found some seats, about half way between the goal and the half way line, not bad. The match started soon after we were seated and again I was really surprised by the atmosphere. I noticed the chanting and drums being played by the boys behind the goal and they seemed to be “the voice” for the fans during the match, but not many other places, something I’m not really used to, but it was still good. Everyone was really happy and polite, I could even spot those maybe not so keen to be there (disgruntled partners or children, usually playing on their phones!) which is something I am used to seeing at any football match!
Onto the game. Great performance, great result. I was particularly impressed with Lukian and Park Hyun Beom. Lukian showing fantastic commitment to score his goal, after some brilliant and frantic closing down, while Park absolutely bossed the midfield.
Sanfrecce were a great team and you can see why they finished second in a league with Iniesta and Podolski in it, but we showed real quality to deservedly win. I’m hoping that this quality wasn’t a one off, but a precursor to a great season. So, in conclusion, all in all, a magnificent experience. I am very happy I bought a season ticket now and I really can’t wait for the season to get going. I will be attending this weekend’s game against Port and stating for the testimonial too. I hope to see you all there!