Friday, August 7, 2009
Thailand National Team v. Liverpool
Two weeks ago Liverpool, British Premier League football giant, came to Bangkok and took on the Thai national team. We were lucky to get to go see the match with the family here.They came all the way from Ubon to see Liverpool play. Pae's dad and brother P'Neung are huge fans, whereas Pae, P'Nut, mom and myself are Manchester United fans. But anyone here (football...uh, soccer... is huge here in Thailand) would go just to see a world class side in an exhibition.Steven Gerrard didn't make the trip because he was in court back in England. Big disappointment for the fans, but the stadium was still packed.Being an exhibition (friendly) pitting the home team versus a team that is like a hero side here, made for a very interesting experience as a spectator. for the first 75 minutes of the match, the crowd was absolutely silent. My fifth grade class is ten times louder than the 50+ thousand fans in the stands for this match! I was amazed! Part of the best thing about attending a sporting event is the atmosphere. This was certainly not Red Sox Yankees at Fenway...this was like 50,000 people studying for finals in a library!I think everyone was so concentrated on the actual game play, and really cheering for both sides, so there was no rivalry, no contention, nothing but kicking a ball around for a while...very little cheering, no booing, SILENCE!The first 75 minutes or so had perhaps two or three times where the sound level raised above a whisper, when we got a good wave going around the seats...but even still, you could hear an elephant fart...literally. At one point in the match, I could hear people across the stadium laughing...actual individuals laughing, not a group of 80 fans laughing, but two people sharing a joke and laughing! It was THAT quiet!The most noise, a good 15 minutes worth, came when Fernando Torres, Liverpool superstar slash heart throb was subbed in. From the first second that Torres began stretching on the sideline, to when he left the field after extra time, the pitch raised a few octaves as every woman to the woman got their 2,000 baht worth and voiced their shrill approval!Thailand and Liverpool drew 1-1. All in all it was a good experience, but I know now that these type of PR exhibitions are perhaps not as exciting as perhaps a Man U Liverpool tie. It was officially my first "real" football match, although I did go to a much more spirited and exciting tie between Thailand and Vietnam a while back.Left that one with no voice and lots of adrenaline pumping...of course the stadium was full of Thais who would die to see their team beat the Juan side. Much more exciting!