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A Geordie convert

I’m a 40 year old Englishman from Northumberland. I’ve only lived in Chiang Mai since November but was lucky enough to attend my first CMFC game last week.

I’ve supported Newcastle United since the tender age of six when my Dad took me to watch a Second Division clash with Burnley (1-1) at St James Park in 1980. The only thing I can remember was the ball hitting a seagull from a goal kick. Since then I’ve seen them promoted thrice and relegated twice. They’ve finished as runners up in the Premier League (twice), FA cup (twice) and taken some notable scalps in the Champions League (Barcelona and Juventus spring to mind). Despite having won nowt in my lifetime there’s seldom been a dull moment. It’s fair to say that after eight years in Asia, football’s the one thing I miss about the green green grass of Blighty (along with cheese).

However, I may have found an answer. CMFC could be the nicotine patches to NUFC’s cigarettes.

In the early evening of a sultry Saturday in March I made my way to Chiang Mai’s 700 year Stadium about 15km northwest of the city. The stadium is surrounded by serene lakes and jungle-clad mountains. There’s a kind of Wembley Way from the main road affording spectacular sunset views – quite a contrast to England’s urban stadia.

 

1

 

I purchased a ticket for 120bt and took a seat above the halfway line eagerly anticipating this Yahama League One (Thailand’s second tier) clash between CMFC and the unbeaten, table-topping Saraburi FC. Around 4000 CM fans with flags and drums noisily welcomed a small contingent of travelling supporters. At 6pm the whole stadium stood in silence for the National Anthem.

2

 

Some fans on the opposite side of the pitch had unfurled a banner reading Pride Of Chiang Mai……..upside down!  They were still sorting it out when CMFC scored their first goal on 15 minutes – a powerful header from a Beckham-esque cross. They doubled the lead five minutes later after some well-worked passing cut open Saraburi’s defence.  They were certainly taking their chances early on. However, the league leaders were not to be under-estimated as they proved on 25 minutes when they pulled one back with a fantastic diving header. They continued to look the more dangerous side until just before half time when CMFC extended their lead from a well-executed set piece.

3

3-1 at half time, a cracking game and an electric atmosphere – I was loving it. An old fellow asked where I was from. He was staggered to hear that NUFC attracts 53,000 on match days and tickets are around 2,000bt. I told him not to worry – the prices and weather make CMFC a far better option. He said he’d love to have Alan Shearer playing in blue!

I watched, mesmerised, as bats swooped in to feast on the millions of insects hovering around the floodlights.  I managed to purchase another two cans of Leo-and-ice poured into a big plastic glass just before the second half began.

Before I’d had a chance to taste the suds CMFC had undone Saraburi’s defence again with another set-piece. 4-1 on 48 minutes – could this be a cricket score? I predict an increase in set-piece defending at Saraburi’s training ground next week.

Chiang Mai looked comfortable with their three goal cushion but the opposition still posed a threat. Saraburi missed a penalty on 65 minutes before grabbing a late consolation five minutes from time to leave the final score 4-2. I counted 13-11 attempts during this absorbing fixture.

4

 

Going off that performance one has to wonder if CMFC will be pushing for promotion to the Thai Premier League this season? I certainly hope so. The bad news is we have to wait until Sunday 20th April for the next home game against Phuket FC. Sanuk mac! Haway The Lads!

Stephen tutors maths in Chiang Mai: www.chiangmaimathstutor.blogspot.com


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