Here’s another article inspired by Paul Hewitt’s contribution to ‘Sniffin’ Somtam’. This time, Ratchaburi fan, Neal Oliver, describes some of his negative experiences following his team away.
Some Experiences As An Away Fan In Thailand
by Neal Oliver
One of the articles in Sniffin’ Somtam was about Thai football grounds. I love following my team – Ratchaburi – but the question has to be asked; why do we bother in Thailand, when visiting fans are treated like something that has been scraped off the bottom of the home team’s shoe?
In many instances, away supporters are still treated like scum of the Earth, and dumped in an abandoned corner of the ground, somewhere where you can’t really see what is going on during the match. Let me give you a few examples from T1:
Sam Ao Stadium, Prachuap (Prachuap FC): Supporters must be at least fifty yards behind a goal, on terracing that is fully exposed to the elements and gives absolutely no confidence it will remain standing if the stadium is full. The ground is less than two years old, but is already rusting badly. On a wet day, a telescope is required to see the play at the other end of the pitch.
Samut Prakarn (SAT) Stadium (Samut Prakarn City): Away fans sit at right angles to the pitch, behind the goal line. Not a bad view of the near side action, but beyond that, a waste of time. Also fully exposed to the elements.
PAT Stadium, Bangkok (Port FC – pictured): Visiting fans are herded into a minute section in a corner to the left of one of the goals. There were less than two bus loads of us in the ground, but it still felt crushed. Another ground where you are fully exposed to the elements.
I could go on, but I’m sure you already know what it’s like. Then clubs have the cheek to charge away supporters premium rates for accommodating them in sub-standard terracing. Why? Is it to discourage them from travelling? At least at Mitr Phol Stadium, supporters are given decent pitchside seats – unfortunately, still with no cover, and at exorbitant cost.
My T1 experience is only one season and most of my knowledge is from the lower leagues, where hospitality is often much worse than in the top flight. The worst being Samut Songkhram.
At the beginning of last season, two car loads of supporters travelled independently from Hua Hin. Neither was granted permission to enter the stadium. Our car was directed to a school car park nearby. A couple of groups of WAGS – who are usually given VIP treatment – had been directed there also. We did somehow get to see some of the match, standing under a large construction at pitch level. The other car load were on the opposite side of the pitch, watching through a gate. No explanation was given.
With thanks to Neal.