Diary of a Thai football season

(2020/21) BG Pathum United v Samut Prakan

A trip to Pathum Thani and the chance to pit ourselves against the league leaders

The three-sided Leo Stadium, home of BG Pathum United. (credit: www.thai-fussball.com)  

So we're away to the league leaders?

Yes, and I saw this as Samut Prakan's first real test since the season restarted. BG Pathum are going great guns and at kick off, they were four points clear at the top of the table.   

Some background and facts about the club?

Founded in 2006, the club's nickname is The Rabbits (a rabbit features on the club crest in fact) and they are managed by BG Sports, which is a subsidiary of the extremely wealthy Bangkok Glass.

They were relegated from the Thai Premier League in 2018 (for the first time in their history) but bounced back at the first attempt. In that second division title-winning campaign, Barros Tardelli was the top goal scorer, hitting the net 18 times (Barros now of course on loan to Samut Prakan) 

BG Pathum (or Bangkok Glass as they were then) won the Thai FA Cup in 2014, beating Chonburi 1-0 at the old National Stadium. 

The Rabbits play their home games at the three-sided Leo Stadium in Pathum Thani, an hour north of central Bangkok. It's an iconic Thai stadium but a bugger to get to if you haven't got your own wheels. 

Key player?

I'll go for Andres Tunez, a hard-tackling Venezuelan defender who enjoyed half a dozen successful seasons at Buriram and made almost 150 appearances. 

Tunez is the classic 'Marmite player', a guy who can have home fans singing his name and visiting supporters booing his every touch.

Interestingly, Tunez went on loan to Elche in 2017 and played 17 times for the Spanish club, who were in the second division at the time. Elche is actually the only Spanish stadium I've watched a live game at, being a relatively short distance from my parent's home in Alicante Province.   

Any problems getting tickets?

The tickets went on sale on Thursday but only to personal applications at the Samut Prakan stadium. I was on holiday in Petchabun Province all of last week, so I frantically messaged around to find out who could pick up a couple of tickets on my behalf. 

Completely out of the blue, a gentleman called 'Arm', who I had never met before, contacted me to say he knew I was a big Samut Prakan fan and had 'put aside' two tickets. It was only when I met him at the Leo Stadium, an hour before kick off, that I found out he was the club's marketing director. What a lovely guy and what a great contact to have! 

Did the Leo Stadium live up to expectations?

The photo at the top of the page doesn't really do the stadium justice. It is superb. In fact, it's known among many Thai football followers as 'Thailand's Camp Nou' (its version of Barcelona's ground) Hey! I went on a tour of the Camp Nou a number of years ago and was bitterly disappointed by how tatty it was - but The Leo Stadium sparkled in the rain. 

As soon as you arrive, the organisation is first class. Away supporters are directed to their own car-park right next to the away end. I don't think I've ever been to a stadium with so many security staff but they were never heavy-handed or officious. They just nodded politely and let visiting supporters wander around unchallenged. Not that there was much wandering around to be done. If I had one criticism, it would be the lack of fan zone, coffee shops, etc (those welcome places to kill time before a match) I found the area around the stadium a bit bleak.    

To the game itself and a dream start?

Let's start with a well-worn football cliche - you can score too early.

Barely three minutes on the clock and it's that man Jaroensak, rapidly become Samut Prakan's 'Mr Assist', who turns goal provider again. His right wing cross is met by ex-BG Pathum player, Chakkit, who plants a firm header past the keeper to score against his old club. Cue an understandably muted goal celebration from the Sea Fang number 10 but there's nothing muted about the celebrations among the travelling section. Are we really one goal up against the league leaders on their own patch?

For the rest of the half - a long 42 minutes plus injury time - it's fair to say BG Pathum battered us. It wasn't difficult to see why they are top of the pile. To a man, the home side are well-organized, fit and strong, with plenty of technical ability. Chenrop sends a shot whistling millimetres over the bar, Saharat almost scores with a left-wing cross. It becomes a case of when and not if, and the BG equalizer comes mid-way through the half. Spanish midfielder, Toti, levelling affairs with a well-struck free kick.

The visitors, in their second change kit of grey and orange (which is starting to grow on me) manage to hold on until the break. 

An eventful second half?

This developed into probably one of the games of the season so far, with plenty of incident to keep fans interested on such a wretched rainy night. 

Samut Prakan defender, Jakkapan, already on a first half yellow, chops down BG's Chenrop in full flight and is pointed in the direction of the changing room shower. The visitors down to ten men and worse still, there's over half an hour to play. 

VAR makes an obligatory appearance in the 70th minute. Aris Jarifovic's scissor-kick clearance inside the box is adjudged dangerous play and Brazilian Victor Cardoza slots home the penalty-kick.

BG Pathum should be home and dry with a one goal, one man advantage but far from it. Samut Prakan get back into the game and the home side suddenly look nervy.  

With less than a quarter of an hour remaining, Jaroensak (who else?) delivers his second assist of the evening and Chayawat sticks out a right leg to steer it into the BG goal. A 78th minute leveller from out of nowhere, but it was Captain Peeradol who deserved the plaudits for his audacious scooped free kick that started the move and caught BG napping. 

We are going home with a point. (Match highlights)   

Good away support?

Considering the atrocious weather, it was an excellent turn out. It looked to be at least double the number of fans we took to Muangthong a few weeks back. And they were noisy throughout and really got behind the team.

Overall thoughts?

One of the best evenings I've had following Samut Prakan, despite being wet for most of it. 

We were not the better team on the night, but oh boy! we scrapped for everything. I was proud of every player who wore the shirt.

The fans played their part tonight, too. Who needs drums and megaphones? 

Who's up next?

We are at home to Suphanburi, this Saturday 24th October, kick off 6pm.

2020-21 fixture list and scores


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