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Thai's The Limit

By The Cave Dweller
From Issue 53, Autumn 2001

Bangkok - the original Sin City. You need the patience of a saint even just to visit, one previous visitors obviously being singer/songwriter Joe Jackson. In fact, I can verify that 'Is she really going out him?' was written here. It's a sick place.

When you first see some 60-year old shuffle-arse walking hand-in-hand with a Thai teenager it really does hit the back of your throat! And no one can swagger quite like an old cunt who's boning a teenager. Now, the entire human race and Alex Ferguson knows that the girl is only there for the wallet, but deluded, coffin-dodging, Mr. Sad Arse thinks he still has the glint of Clint Eastwood in his eye, in spite of being about 100 kilo's, bald and sweating like a pig on a spit. Never underestimate the strength of self-delusion.

And of course there is worse. The paedophiles you cannot even have the pleasure of laughing at, as they slide slug-like through the gutters not daring to catch anyone's eye and drawing them from their cocoon of delusion. Why is scum like this allowed out to terrorise people whose only crime is poverty? Perhaps not surprisingly, it is so often the middle and upper classes who indulge in this part of the world. These are the people who are representing the British (and other) Government and our trade interests! To rub salt into the wounds, it is common knowledge who the offenders are and NOTHING IS DONE!

It was through this den of inequity that TTW&R's (erm) "Foreign Correspondent" found himself zigzagging between cars through the heavy traffic in a vague attempt to trace a ticket for the Liverpool - Thailand game at the Rajamangala stadium on July 19th. Take one of these motorbike taxi's and you are gambling with your life! In my usual stubborn way I noticed a MU sticker on the first taxi that came and gave him the choice, remove the offensive item or he would not get my fare. The next taxi took a while to arrive…………

Several smashed knee-caps later and I eventually found the school where a mate (cheers Steve, cheers Shawn) had left the ticket, but the girl in the know was out at a meeting. The envelope with my name on was found after much explaining and I was on my to the stadium.

The Rajamangala stadium sits a way out of town and once you get through the concrete is quite impressive, leastways when its full of 60,000+ Liverpool fans making a mural of red around the stadium. The press was beaming for a good week before with one particular article proudly claiming Liverpool as Thailand's team! "When Liverpool win Thailand feels the joy as a point of national pride, it is as if our team has emerged victorious". This would all no doubt change when the Devil's Own arrived in the next few days, and sure enough it did - with their sources claiming they had 46% of the total Thai support, compared to 30% for us. I read an article once comparing them to the Nazi's, a bit harsh I know, surely Hitler's boy's were never that bad! (Red, White and Black I notice!) - rewriting the facts and history to suit themselves! In actual fact Thai's are not so partisan many of them would try to go to both matches, tickets pending (more of that later)

Speaking with the fans was also fun: a guy in an Everton shirt (a real rarity in these parts) who told me "It's still Merseyside!" - a good attitude. Face paint was popular in the crowd (the Thai flag on one cheek and the Liver bird on the other - no, Kelly! On their faces!!) Some girls nearby chatted and when I explained where I was born they said "Oh so you're a Scouser! Scousers are cool!" The pre match handshakes etc was highlighted by the Liverpool squad turning to all sides of the stadium and giving a "Wai." This is the traditional/respectful greeting amongst Thai's and Lao - hands joined in front of the chest and the head is bowed slightly. Top marks at the club to whoever had the insight to find that one out - the roar from the crowd was special and appreciative. The Mancs failed to get it, but they did present the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin with a named and numbered shirt though. Strangely fitting that he is soon up on corruption charges and may be kicked out of office if found guilty - concealing assets in his declaration, no less. He 'forgot', apparently. (Update: since I wrote this the PM has been cleared, with one so adroit at dodging justice, his seat on the MU board now is surely guaranteed!)

The game itself was not much of a spectacle - a 3-1 win (Owen 2, Barmby), their goal being the pick of the bunch (likewise as they lost to the Mancs 2 - 1, their goal had a guy turn THREE defenders in one move and place a perfect shot!). There was the usual plethora of substitutions with Captain Bellcheddar erm Redknapp making an appearance, still resplendent with those trademark three yard passes backward, you can see why Hou was reluctant to splash the cash this summer. To quote Brick Top - "He's a useless shite that boy!" Riise looks good, with a killer throw on him. But overall there is still a lack of class, especially wide. Makes Houllier's decision to leave the Transfer Market with a near empty trolley all the more surprising. Still these fans deserved the day out and the highlight was the chants of "Liverpool / Thailand" in Celtic/Rangers mode!

So what is behind this clamour to get into Asia? Now there is obviously a passion for the game on the fans part, they are knowledgeable and they love it madly. It was reported that Liverpool FC were about to make 8 million out of the two games in Thailand and Singapore. A rumour that the club was very quick to deny. Thai's are known for being an extremely consumerist (gullible) society so they are ripe for exploitation. The modus operandi of the Mancs has always been "When I throw a dog a bone I don't expect to be told if it taste good or not". Borne out by the fact that in a stadium that holds over 60,000 only 4,000 tickets went on sale to the general public. The remainder went to 'Corporate Clients' so that shady business deals may become easier. At the same time there was blanket advertising of their game (but of course they are not threatened by us), a game for which they were denying their true fans the possibility of purchasing a ticket, all to sell their increasingly cheesy merchandising to an ever increasing market. What do their lemming-like fans do? Spend every last Baht on merchandising! Dogs and bones is right - Brick Top really ought to cut Edwards' 'Jacobs' off.

Liverpool had over 20,000 tickets on general sale but nevertheless it is an interesting dilemma they are faced with. Do they become a MU style self-publicising machine or can they compete and retain a little of the dignity they have not yet sold? MU prove it works, after all, lemming fans the world over all buying into the lie with hard earned cash. Would the fans be happy with the Mancs rewriting history alone and LFC unable to afford to compete on (and off) the pitch?

The fans here certainly deserve better than being treated as a wallet extension. I have travelled the world, being from Liverpool has always stood me in good stead (in everything except the job market) largely because of the good reputation of the club. I've had free beers, free meals etc (no free sex though!) always at the hand of some kindly folk who remember and wish to reminisce about more than one glorious moment from a magical, unrivaled past. Our fans the world over deserve better because they represent the real sporting fan as opposed to the glory hunting sheep who support the devil's own.

On July 19th, a young Thai man named Sakchai Sithichai leapt from his building and plunged to his death, distraught at the fact that he had been unable to 'afford' a ticket for the game (they seemed reasonably priced to me, about 3 quid) and would not get to see his beloved Liverpool team. He left a young wife and child behind. We MUST NOT follow the Mancs lead, surely both the fans and the club know better than anyone that one death over a game of football is too high a price?