In with the Army ‘gentlemen’

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Updated: March 31, 2016
Army v Navy Teco

It dubs itself “The Home of Gentlemen”, and game day at Army United has more the feel of a leisurely evening in an exclusive private members club than a professional football match.

There is the pre-game boules (yes, boules) outside the stadium; the corporate looking club shop; the glistening offices and gym.

The place screams of money, though the revenue certainly isn’t coming through the turnstiles judging by the turnout on Wednesday night as my companion and I took in Army’s 2-0 win against a frankly ghastly Navy side.

But still, anywhere that sells (big) bottles of Chang for 65 baht a pop outside the stadium can’t be all bad, and my companion and I had a thoroughly convivial pre-game beer, soaking up the “atmosphere” in the almost tranquil surroundings.

We arrived about an hour and half before kick-off; one of the benefits of taking in an Army home game is that it’s relatively easy to get to from central Bangkok. In the Din Daeng area of the city, all it takes is a BTS ride to Aree and then a five-10 minute taxi ride to the ground.

But we’re in Bangkok and everything has to be an adventure. Those are the rules. So as we climbed in our taxi and told the driver sanaam footbon Armeeeeee United, even our elongated pronunciation of Army could not make us understood. Undeterred, my travelling companion, who claimed to know these parts, directed the taxi driver to our desired destination, his demonstrative arm gestures and few Thai words of dtrong bai (straight on) and saai (left) somehow getting the job done.

When we arrived, I was genuinely taken aback by how lovely and modern the whole stadium complex looks. We walked around the stadium surrounds to take in the offices, the outdoor swimming pool (right next to the stadium, but I got the impression it’s strictly no riff-raff) and gym (which apparently the players sometimes use). It really all looks very impressive. A truck blared out the new Armeee United song continuously, but there was barely anyone there to hear it, although various uniformed personnel could be spotted milling about.

We still had plenty of time pre-game, so enjoyed our refreshing drink of Chang (there is only Chang as they sponsor Army), and tried to sit down in a spot with some semblance of breeze. One enthusiastic boules player was more than happy to oblige for a photo.

Army v Navy boules

Small groups of green-clad fans began to arrive, enjoying the various Thai grilled snacks dotted around the stadium. To me, it had the feeling of a lunch break at Lord’s in a Test match; not exactly football as I know it, but not altogether unpleasant.

As game time approached, we took our seats in the VIP stand (yes we really were that important), and happily no security man this time swiped my bottle of water away from me.

Like a lot of grounds in Thailand, the stadium has a running track around it, and even though this was hidden by some kind of green-coloured covering, fans are some way from the pitch, which inevitably takes away from the atmosphere.

Still, the ground began to gradually fill, until before kick-off the main stand for home fans was more or less full. A small pocket of Navy fans commendably kept a racket up all game, despite the shocking performance of their team.

Army v Navy away fans

The small pocket of Navy fans

Not too much of note can be said of the game itself. Thai striker Tanakorn opened the scoring, glancing in a header following a good cross in from the right. Army were clearly the better side, though it looked like a battle between two poor teams. Possession was frequently surrendered, confidence low. However, it seemed only a matter of time before Army added to their lead, which they duly did through Brazilian Josimar’s decent finish. Indeed, Josimar frequently offered the all-too-rare flashes of class, one long, rangy run nearly resulting in another Army goal.

Navy only narrowly escaped going down last season, and will surely be in a relegation scrap again this term. Even their foreign players don’t look like they could pass muster; Paraguayan midfielder Muchacha, clearly a good player with a lovely left foot, looks like he’s had one too many pad Thais and could be charitably called “stocky”. He was hauled off second half, despite at times looking Navy’s best player.

Much more entertaining than the football was watching Navy’s Brazilian coach Teco, who was a bundle of angry, orange-clad energy all game, gesticulating wildly at every (perceived) injustice. He must have been knackered at the final whistle.

Army v Navy Teco despair

Teco in despair – again

The second half was a drab affair, Army, fragile in confidence this season, not wanting to concede, and Navy not having the wit to score. Watching the subs warm up was more fun, as they were put through their paces by a “specialist coach”. Clearly subs in Thailand don’t like warming up on their own.

Navy managed only a few shots on target all game, despite the fact the Army keeper, not the regular first choice, looked decidedly dodgy. It finished 2-0 Army, which was probably about right. A sedate end to a very sedate affair.

Factfile:

Stadium: Royal Thai Army Stadium. Capacity is 20,000 but was probably less than half full.

Tickets: 130 baht for non-members in the main home stand.

Atmosphere: The small group of hardcore Army fans (featuring some scantily-clad females) kept the noise going through the game; the rest of the crowd were quiet.

Getting there: Get off the BTS at Aree. Take Exit 4, turn right, go down the stairs and you will see a little arcade with a Starbucks. Grab a cab from there to the ground. Cost is about 60-70 baht.

Refreshments: Chang outside the ground is 65 baht for a big bottle. Thai snacks are available outside the ground. Shaded areas are available to sit under, but it’s still hot.

 

 

 

 

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Thai Goals, ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures, Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One

Thai Goals

Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup, AFC Champions League, AFC

ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures

Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One, Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup

ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures
Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup, AFC Champions League, AFC
Thai Goals, Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One, Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup< ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures
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