Sunday, 30 September 2012

No replacement team

Last week's silver lining has been greyed over with the news that Ratchaphreuk College have been disqualifed from the Khor Royal cup after it was discovered they'd used players with professional experience.

The latest rumour is that Eka will be forced to participate in next year's Khor Royale Cup although there are still rumours that the club could "ask" for a "second chance" or register under a new identity.

Still nothing is sure at this time.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Another article

Forgot to mention I did an article last week for on Eka's demise. Bear in mind it was typed before the cautious good news of today. Read the article here.

**Edit: Yesterday was one of those days. I did already post the article here. Doh!

Some good news?

Ahead of our final game away to Chamchuree this weekend, there’s still absolutely no word on the future of Nonthaburi FC. There is however, some cause for cautious hope.

Thanks to Vinnie (Korat blog) Wolfman (TLF) and the Eka fan club, news has filtered through that Ratchapruek College have reached the finals of the Kor Royal Cup, meaning - at least, according to the most recent TFA statement - that they are already promoted to Division 2 for next season.

Ratchapruek is actually the main road that Eka home stadium is joined to. Yes, they’re that close, though the road is long and the college is actually further down.  It’s notable that all photographic evidence shows the College have no spectators stand at their ground, meaning they’ll either need to erect some or find a new home ground.

Several scenarios present themselves here. I’d be willing to bet that some kind of merger will take place, though it could be voluntary or not and official or not on behalf of either club or fan base. Quite possible, Nontahburi will offer their professional players to be drafted in to RC’s side (I understand that professionals are not allowed below league level,so RC will not have any at present), Ratchapruk could use the Nontahburi Stadium and absorb the Eka fan base. Basically, you have Nonthaburi V2.

It’s equally probable that Nonthaburi will be the ‘big boy’ of the merger, and the College simply becomes their ticket to a second chance at life, as unfair as that may seem.

There’s a whole range of possible permutations. It’s also possible that the rules are followed, Nonthaburi are banished and RC get a shot at making the grade in D2. THat’s how it should work, but this is Thailand. Decisions are changed and changed again, then reversed. Mergers, takeovers and partnerships are formed both officially, unofficially, ethically and otherwise. Sometimes they’re voluntary, sometimes enforced for no apparent reason. All we can do right now is congratulate Ratchapruek College for their successes well as Hua Hin, the other finalists (a city that deserves a football team) and hope that the TFA keep their word and allow both teams to play in D2 next season, allowing Nonthaburi locals a provincial team to support.

Perhaps next season this blog will make its third transformation and become an orange "Ratchaphreuk College FC" blog?

More to come as I hear of it.

Here's a clip - with thanks again to Vinnie who linked to it - of Ratchaphreuk (in grey) College playing in 2010.

Friday, 14 September 2012

To Kill a Crow

It’s highly probable that over the next few weeks Muangthong United will clinch the 2012 TPL Title, sending a huge majority of football fans in Nonthaburi into jubilation that’s sure to be well covered by local sports media. An event that will receive far less coverage is the relegation and possible closure of Nonthaburi FC.
I briefly covered the fortunes of Nonthaburi “Eka” FC in my “Life Outside the TPL” article earlier this season. I explained how the club’s purse strings had been cut and forced staff to work on a sponsorship-only budget. To their credit the staff worked hard to do this honorably (unlike certain British clubs) and assembled a squad of dedicated, honest players. Sadly it was obvious within a few games of the season’s start that this bunch of lads would struggle. And struggle they did, assembling a paltry number of points by the halfway season. Our only silver lining was that at least two other clubs had managed to perform equally pitifully.
To the immense credit of the club – and to my own cynical surprise – the staff didn’t simply turn a blind eye and let the club drift into the abyss but rather performed a few minor miracles in the transfer market, addressing many of our weak points as effectively as any side can do without cash to spare. A large target man – a player I’d been screaming for since the previous season – a midfield playmaker with excellent dribbling skills and the experienced former intentional defender Janewit (previously loaned out to Chiang Rai) were all drafted in to the side.
For a while it seemed like it had worked. The most remarkable game of the season occurred when we travelled to Samut Sakhon FC at a time when they sat atop the table while we sat at the bottom and achieved a well deserved 0 – 2 victory. It was a result so unexpected that one female fan was obliged to keep her promise of running around the pitch while removing her top after the final whistle. She did so, but with an opaque vest underneath.
From that boost we achieved a good run of results, mostly draws, that built confidence but failed to get us the results we needed to push up the table and close the sizable gap we’d already created. My only concern was that the gap was so steep that even a couple of slip- ups would throw us back to the bottom. And so it proved, the defensive lapses and lack of midfield control came back to haunt us and defeats became regular events again. The most recent home game was painful to watch and ultimately sealed the club’s relegation.
It’s not the first time I’ve felt the pain of the drop. I witnessed Southampton’s relegation from the Premier League several years ago and instantly burst into tears in front of my stunned son and wife. Not long after the club were relegated again, this time from the Championship after slipping into administration. The pain this time around was dulled by expectation and realism. The club was, at that time, in near-terminal decline. Nonthaburi’s fate feels closer to the second of my previous experiences. The writing was on the wall when the rich owner evidently realised there was more to overnight success in football than throwing a few wads of cash around and cut the strings.
However, what makes it all the more painful is the uncertainty. Anyone who knows anything about administration in Thai football or Thailand in general will tell you that nothing is certain or irreversible. The league can, and frequently does, reverse decisions about promotion, relegation and many other things. On paper, the current scenario – not confirmed by the league until well after the season started – is that two sides will be relegated from the Bangkok Division, meaning we are finished. With the obvious apathy from the owner of the club, it seems highly possible he will shut the doors on Nonthaburi’s seven year TPL plan for good. There has been no official comment yet.
The real losers then, are the fantastic group of supporters who have put so much emotional investment into the club since its formation just three years ago. The small but noisy, loyal and extremely friendly bunch who have followed the side home and away, created their own supporters group, fan club funds and run the club website after the people responsible grew tired of doing so. Will they simply dissolve and drift apart? Will they work to keep the original Nonthaburi FC alive and work to come back from the non- league sector? Will a new provincial club (Muangthong are not a provincial side) be formed? With just two games left in the season, nobody knows.
All we do know is that Nonthaburi has had a short but eventful history, missing out on the play-offs by the tiniest of margins in season one, setting out an ambitious but ultimately failed plan for last season and a hard-fought if utterly disastrous battle against relegation this season. Whatever happens from this day on, I’m proud to have been a supporter of the club from their first home league game to the last and I will continue to wear the shirt with pride.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Nonthaburi relegated

The latest round of results means Eka are mathematically relegated from D2.

What this means for the future of the club, or if it has a future atall, is still unclear. More to follow when I hear it.

I'm proud to have supported Nonthaburi FC from their formation three seasons ago to now.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Eka 1 Assum Thon 3

It was a new low for Eka as they slumped to defeat yet again at home. The first half was as bad as I've ever seen from the side with an incredible number of passes given away to the opposition. It didn't help that we had players out of position such as our target man Siroch inexplicably placed on the left of midfield. Bizarre.

One thing I've never faulted the lads for is effort and we deservedly pulled one back in the second half only to throw guys forward and leave ourselves open at the back. The Assum Thon goals were inevitable. The only bright point of the match was the second half appearance of a foreign (African) player who looked very impressive. I can only hope we'll see a lot more of him.

The final hope for Eka is that Central Lions are somehow managing to perform as poorly as we are, and are lying rock bottom  with us.

Table (