MEGA RED WAR DAY!!

Hot on the heels of my AC/DC experience, I'm keen to add some more thoughts and experiences to this wee corner of cyberspace. The beast within has been re-awoken, as it were.


And with the Big Game coming up at the weekend join me, if you will, on a business trip that I had a few months ago as I recount for you "Mega Red War Day"



Working as a prostitute who can type – sorry an IT consultant – you just never know what may be round the corner waiting for you under the guise of gainful employment.


In this career of mine I've experienced things such as a 36-hour shift in a freezing cold warehouse near Eurodisney, four months of night shift in a warehouse on the outskirts of Antwerp, a never-ending project at a chicken processing plant in the middle of the Australian hinterland, a nine-month stint in remote Central Queensland, a peanut processing plant in even more remote North Carolina and a project during the winter months in the Middle of Nowhere, Sweden.


Oh yes – it's a glamorous lifestyle.


But then occasionally some things happen which come as a total, pleasant, surprise and you end up packing up the suitcase and the laptop for a little bit of international travel that actually gets the juices flowing.


So it was, with great excitement, that I accepted an assignment which meant that I would be spending a week sampling the delights of "Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit", Thailand.


Or Bangkok, as we now (thankfully) know it.


Incidentally, the ceremonial name of Bangkok is officially recognised in the (pint of) Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest place name and translates to "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarm"


So there you go. Thank God (or Indra) for Wikipedia.


My flight was due to leave at midnight on the Saturday evening which kind of encroached on my hectic social life a little, which was a shame seeing as there was a street festival on in my neighbourhood that very day but I'm nothing if not adaptable and after having spent a few hours on the Saturday partying at the Valley Fiesta (http://www.valleyfiesta.com), I bid the party farewell and headed off to the airport around 21:00, a full 3 hours before the flight. There's nothing like the excitement of travelling business class on a long haul flight for the first time (apart from one lucky, unexpected upgrade on a flight back from Hong Kong), so I was determined to enjoy all the trappings that came with it, which basically meant free food and booze in the business class lounge. Lah de Dah!


Having been to very few parts of Asia and only ever seen the inside of Bangkok's airport, I was looking forward to this experience. Yes, I was there to work but scheduled to arrive on the Sunday at six in the morning as I was, I was hoping to at least have that day (and surely some evenings during the week) to see around me and to experience some of what Bangkok had to offer.


And of course - to find somewhere to watch my beloved Liverpool take on our most hated of rivals, Manchester United that evening.


Ah yes, here I was on my way to visit a world-renowned city and global tourist destination for the first time and yet here I also was, more concerned about making sure that I had a means of watching Liverpool v Manchester United that evening.


Some things never change – and not for the first time in my life have I questioned my passion/curse (delete where appropriate) for supporting Liverpool and the amount of my life I devote to all things Liverpool. I am reminded of a time when I went to spend the weekend in Paris with friends and instead of going to Le Louvre with everyone else, I found a British Pub nearby and settled down to watch Liverpool play Leeds. For the record, we won 2-0 and the queues to see the Mona Lisa were mind-numbingly long. (A bit like these blog entries!)


But, not for the first time, I digress.


Scheduled for a 9pm kick off (Bangkok time – not UK time – there's no way they could trust both sets of supporters to drink all day in the build up to a game between these two most bitter of rivals), I had plenty of time to find somewhere to watch the game. I also had a plan 'B' – an Irish bar 2 km from the hotel, if nothing else turned up.


Having slept like a little baby in the extremely comfortable environ of Royal Thai business class, I was then met and taken to the gorgeous hotel by a chauffeur-driven limo and checked in where I promptly took the opportunity to enjoy a little bit of 'me time', spoiling myself in the sumptuous bath and – bedecked in hotel dressing gown – fell asleep for a couple of hours whilst reading my book on the luxurious bed.


Oh yes – it can be a glamorous lifestyle.


Wakening up around midday, I was all raring to go and checked my Lonely Planet guidebook to see where I should go to experience some of the Bangkok sights.


Incidentally – like a lot of people I know – travelling without a Lonely Planet book is regarded as nothing short of criminally insane and so it is that at this stage I'd like to tip my hat in the direction of Maureen Wheeler, the co-founder of Lonely Planet. A fellow Belfast-born person who now calls Australia her 'home' and judging by the crowds that were out on Saturday past for the St. Patrick's Day parade here in Brisbane, there are quite a few of us round these parts. But that's another story entirely.


As it turned out, there was a train station stop 100m away from the hotel, so I decided to take the train towards one of the main business shopping districts in Bangkok, called Silom, which according to the map was only one stop away. Hardly the stuff of intrepid explorers, I know, but it was enough to get me into the swing of things. (The golf-buggy taxi taking me the 100 m from the hotel to the train stop that reception insisted on organising for me was, quite frankly, embarrassing.)


Having negotiated a train ticket – a feat that I privately congratulated myself on – I waited in the very clean and quiet train station for my first experience of public transport in Bangkok. Promptly, a brand, spanking new train pulled up at the station and I got in. The train was busy but nothing compared to previous experiences in Hong Kong and Taipei. However what this train did have in common with my previous experiences in Asia was that it was another train in immaculate condition. Something of a surprise for somebody who used to travel by train from Antrim to Coleraine University back in the mid-90's, courtesy of Northern Ireland Railways.


Getting off at Silom stop, I walked out of the train station into what can only be described as a shopaholic's paradise. Designer retail store after designer retail store grappled for space with street markets and street vendors selling wares such as food (some of which looked very dubious indeed), trinkets (or 'pruck' as we would say back home), drinks and pirate DVDs. In fact, every street corner at the intersection I found myself at had stalls selling pirate DVDs.


Getting my bearings, I was not surprised to notice an "O'Reilly's Irish Pub" across the street. That would be handy for the evening's match, I thought to myself. No chance of me getting too lost if I was to choose that as my venue for the evening's festivities/hostilities.


Resisting temptation to see what the Guinness was like in Thailand (purely in the name of research, you understand), I went into one of the many shopping centres in search of some food that I could at least recognise and was of course greeted by McDonalds, Starbucks, Burger King and many other fast food joints. But I'm not that much of a heathen, so I settled for a pretty authentic looking restaurant and took my place at a table, trying to look like I did this sort of thing all the time.


After a while, when the waitress looked like she could be bothered serving me, she brought down a menu that was completely in Thai. Strange that, considering I was in Thailand. Thankfully there were some pictures and I ordered what looked like a Thai green beef curry and a glass of Singha beer to wash it down. Little did I know at the time that I should have asked for a gallon of water as well. Boy, was that stuff hot!


Having manfully finished my lunch, I set about trying to replace the skin on the roof of my mouth as I left the shopping centre and headed back out into the hustle and bustle of Sunday shopping in Bangkok. Hassled by street vendors at every step, I ducked into a sports shop to see if I could purchase a (yet another) Liverpool shirt. Somewhat disappointed by the ones on display, as well as the fact that they weren't considerably cheaper than back home, I decided to go with what I had brought with me – a blue polo shirt purchased at Anfield on a visit there many moons ago. Why blue you ask? Well – before I left for Thailand, Krissy, my well-travelled other half, had informed me that it was not wise to wear the colour red in public in Thailand. Or yellow for that matter – for fear that people would think that I was making a political statement - yellow for the royalists, red for the opposition.


Who would have thought it? Certainly not I! So, not wanting to make any sort of statement other than my allegiance to Liverpool, I was happy to go with the 'old faithful' for the evening and continued my walk around the shopping district.


Getting harassed for the umpteenth time to buy some pirate DVDs, I realised that I had walked round the block and had returned back to the same intersection. Spying the O'Reilly's pub across the street, and to be honest a little bit frazzled from the travelling, the extra hot curry and the volumes of people milling around, I figured I would go there on a reconnaissance mission to see what it offered in the way of being a base for the big match.


There was just one problem though - getting across the street.


A four lane carriageway presented quite an obstacle between me and my pint of Guinness, what with traffic flying in all directions and not a pedestrian crossing in sight and it took quite a leap of faith and no little courage to try and get to the other side. Cars, trucks, taxis and the ubiquitous tuk-tuks flew past at breakneck speeds driving as if they were trying to avoid the end of the world.


Standing there, I could sympathise with Frogger.


Standing for over five minutes, I watched how other locals managed it, which as far as I could determine, was throwing the head down and just simply going for it - at least until the central reservation, before doing it all over again to get across the other side of the road.


Steeling myself – for I am nothing if not determined when it comes to my football and beer – I saw a slight gap in the traffic, took a deep breath and ran like a loon over two lanes and jumped onto the central reservation against a back drop of beeping horns, not all of which could be for me. I heaved a huge sigh of relief, as well as a lot of sweat – a combination of the humidity and nerves – trickled down my back. Another death-defying charge across two more lanes of traffic and I found myself at the entrance to O'Reilly's.


As déjà-vu engulfed me, I braced myself for yet another Irish pub in yet another foreign country. Another 'home from home' that I was about to embrace. Stepping into the dim interior, inside was a fairly peaceful, air-conditioned, sanctuary from the mayhem of outside and I proceeded to the bar to order a pint of The Black Stuff.


The Guinness, I can report, was not great and the atmosphere was deadly quiet. It did, however, have a big screen for sport which according to the sign "showed all major live sporting events." Indeed, that Sunday lunchtime, it was showing a round of the World Superbike Championships which about four people in the pub were watching intently.


And then there was me - The Only Other Punter in the Pub.


I supped quietly on my pint and flicked through my Lonely Planet guide as I did so. There were lots of things to do in Bangkok. Many sights and sounds (some of them of the ping pong variety) but as I sat there, a little bit hung-over from the festival, a little bit weary from the travel and a little bit on my own in a city of over six million, I decided to return to the hotel and enjoy some more of the facilities. Whilst there, I would also work out somewhere else to watch the football, for although I was sure that I wasn't seeing the bar in its best light, I was certainly hoping for something a little bit more of in terms of atmosphere compared with what it looked like they could offer for the big game.


Back on the train and back in the hotel, I approached reception to ask them how I could get to the Irish Bar that I had Googled earlier. At least I would have plan 'B' cemented in place. The girl behind reception – 'Daisy' according to her name-badge tried her best to understand my Irish accent as I asked her for help and I tried my best to understand her explanation delivered in very broken English but accompanied with a heart-warming smile. To say we were struggling to make ourselves understood would be absolutely bang on the money.


I tried a different tact.


"Football? Tonight Liverpool (my team – BEST TEAM) plays Manchester United (the enemy – BAD TEAM)"


"Ah the FOOTBALL! Tonight!"


I'd obviously struck a chord here. Buoyed by this, I proceeded to explain that I was thinking of going to that Irish pub to watch the football that evening.


"You want to go to pub to watch football? Please wait, I call my friend – he works in restaurant - and will get him to talk to you. I think he goes watch football"


And that's what she did. She phoned the restaurant and a young waiter, 'Life' according to his name badge (pronounced Leef-ah as I later found out), promptly appeared, accompanied by one of the concierges who had been listening intently to my conversation with Daisy.


"You go to watch football this evening?" he asked smiling broadly as we shook hands.


"Yes I am – I support LIVERPOOL" I proudly announced.


His response to this proudly delivered announcement wasn't quite what I hoped as he brushed aside my announcement of devotion to all things Liverpool and responded with "Me. Manchester United."


Seeing my obvious distress at this, the concierge joined in with a sympathetic back slap for me and a "Me. Liverpool. YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE", arms aloft with another of those award-winning smiles that I was beginning to fall in love with.


"Are you going to watch the match tonight in the pub?" I continued.


"Er, Pub?"


"Yes – bar, cafe, pub – you know, beer?" I accompanied this last sentence with the world wide sign for beer, raising my right hand to my mouth in a drinking gesture.


"Are you Irish?" Life, rather unnervingly, asked next.


Is our reputation as pissheads something that defines us all over the world? Still – I suppose I wasn't helping my fellow countrymen in that regard. Perhaps it was because I wanted to go to an Irish Pub.


"Yes – I am"


"OK – we will meet here at 7pm and we will take you to watch Manchester win!"


Enjoying the banter and camaraderie that football supporters the world over share in – for it truly is THE WORLD GAME – I felt a lot better about my prospects for this evening.


"That would be brilliant – although when Liverpool win, I hope you will not be crying!" I replied and we bid our goodbyes and I retired looking forward to watching the game with a couple of locals – all be it one of them a supporter from the 'Dark Side'. I looked at my watch – just 3 short hours until the evening's entertainment was going to begin - plenty of time to enjoy the pool and get some sun.


And that's what I did – at least until the afternoon torrential downpour that apparently is the norm round those parts fell.


At 7pm sharp – I went down to the hotel lobby and sat waiting for my hosts for the evening to arrive. Shortly afterwards Life came over to me, smiling from ear to ear and looking very proud of himself as he sported a very RED Manchester United shirt. I wasn't sure if now was the time to ask him if he was an anti-Royalist, so I let it slide, cursing the fact that I hadn't packed my own BETTER RED Liverpool shirt.


We went to his car as he explained to me that we had to wait on his friend before we could depart. Getting into his car – a rather pimped up Mazda 323 – I got into the back seat and he proceeded to switch on a car stereo, the likes of which I had never seen before. Honest to God, this thing took up half his dashboard, had whistles, bells, graphics, light show – the whole kit and caboodle. I was half expecting a glitter ball to descend from the ceiling when he switched the monster on.


He inserted a CD, pressed a few buttons and before long the whole car, the underground car park and a few of my teeth were rattling to the wonderful bass tones of "Aqua – Come on Barbie Lets Go Party."



I kid you not.


It's not his fault I reminded myself – after all, he can't help it if he's a ManYoo supporter....


A few minutes later his friend arrived. None other than Daisy, the receptionist, greeted us both with a lovely smile and Life with a lovely, big kiss.


Oh Dear.


Perhaps this wasn't the night that I was expecting after all. Here I was, thinking I was going to watch the football with 'The Lads' but instead was going to be the third wheel on a night out with these nice, but very much coupled-up, people.


At least Life had turned the music down a little.


However, we didn't set off and the two chatted animatedly in the front seats as I sat in the back wondering what I'd let myself into.


After a couple of minutes, Daisy turned round and asked if I was looking forward to the game. In our broken English the conversation continued and it transpired that this was Daisy's first game of football, ever, and that she supported Manchester United because Life did.


Oh Dear.


"Why are we waiting here?" I asked, not too rudely I hoped, but keen to find out what the hell was happening with my evening.


"We're waiting on some more friends who are also going to watch the match"


"Ah, OK!" I replied, feeling a little bit better about things.


At least I wasn't going to be the third wheel for the evening - there was a crew of us going – and anyway, once we got to the Irish pub there'd be plenty of ex-pats to experience the match with if things got too difficult, I guiltily thought to myself.


Before too long, another car arrived, the inhabitants of which – 3 male and 2 female, looked almost as surprised to see me in the back seat as I was surprised to be meeting them. And so, with just under two hours to kick off, we set off into the Bangkok traffic to watch the game.


Apart from my limo ride in the quiet hours of that Sunday morning, this was my first experience of actually being in Bangkok traffic and it was quite the experience with Life changing traffic lanes, like he was changing ManYoo shirts and driving with the reckless abandon of a supporter who thinks every frigging trophy on the planet is their God-given right.


I was nervous but I didn't want to seem too ungrateful, so I kept quiet in the back seat as Euro pop 'classic' after another polluted my ears. This was a journey that I wasn't going to forget.


And so we travelled, through congested street after another for over twenty minutes before I started to wonder just where in the hell we were going. My life was in Life's hands I ironically thought to myself and it was around this stage in my Bangkok Magical Mystery Tour that I asked my hosts for the evening where we were going, knowing that the Irish pub was a lot closer to the hotel than we had travelled thus far.


Daisy, who spoke slightly better English than Life, proceeded to explain that we were going to a disused amusement park.


WHAT THE F**K??!


I thought to myself.


"Erm – we are going to watch the match aren't we?"


"Yes, yes of course" came the response.


"Is there going to be beer?" rather disturbingly, was my next question to which I was greeted with good-natured laughs and a placating "of course there will be"


It was only then that I realised the stupidity of my actions. Here I was in Bangkok for Chrissake riding in the back of a stranger's car
going to a disused amusement park to 'watch the game.' I always thought that Liverpool would be the death of me – but funnily enough, this wasn't how I envisaged it.


We drove on for another ten minutes, Daisy and Life chatting amicably and me in the back seat trying to fire off text messages to Krissy on case she never saw me again, with a phone that I new had no reception in Thailand.


And then the traffic ground to a halt. Literally. The traffic – heavy as it had been – became even more intense and we just simply stopped.


"Perhaps they're all going to the match" I sarcastically offered to the front seat.


"Yes" agreed Life.


"What?! How many people are going to go to this game?"


At this point Daisy had to translate, a combination of my Irish accent and the high-pitched squeal of a nervous foreigner making my question too difficult for Life to understand.


After a brief conversation, Daisy happily informed that there would be about Seven Thousand going to the game.


WHAT THE F**K??!


I once again thought to myself.


And just at that point Life pointed up ahead to the right in the distance where I saw three massive screens showing Liverpool and Manchester United highlights. I then noticed the people walking along the footpaths as well. All decked out in the VERY RED colours of Liverpool and Manchester United. I even noticed two guys in Arsenal shirts, which were, of course, in RED as well.


Just what in the hell was all this?! - some kind of football-themed, Royalist convention?


After crawling along for a while longer and as we got closer to the venue, I spied a massive banner proclaiming it was "MEGA RED WAR DAY" (see above for picture), with larger than life photos of Steve Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, the two most famous Liverpool-born players that play for the teams. (Ironically – in the one-eyed world of the Man United football supporter, Wayne Rooney, does not qualify as a "Scouse Bast*rd")


Absolutely gob-smacked at what I was witnessing, I couldn't wait to get inside to see this first-hand.


This was going to be one hell of an experience.


After what seemed an age trying to find a spot to park in and with Daisy using her undoubted charms with a car-park attendant, we parked, blocking around one hundred cars and four hundred scooters in the process and walked out into the middle of 'Mega Red War Day.'


Literally thousands of people were trudging through the dark and puddles towards the three massive Jumbotrons that were broadcasting pictures of previous clashes between these two Titans of the English Premier League. As we made our way through the hordes trying to find the rest of the gang who we had lost whilst trying to find a parking space, I surveyed the scene around me.


Temporary stands had been erected to house the fanatical supporters but by the time we had arrived, they were packed to an almost fear-inducing capacity with the rest of us trying to find a spot on the wet, muddy grass from which to watch the show unfold.


Life tried to make contact by mobile phone, endeavouring to be heard over the almost maniacal commentary from a guy in a white suit and shades on stage who was competing with the equally maniacal screams of the thousands that were surrounding us.


This was intense.


Eventually, contact was made, and we forced our way through the throng towards the three screens and stage at the front of the venue. It looked like we had ring-side seats for this one. Having found our friends and Life explained just who in the hell I was, we all made seats on bits of plastic that randomly happened to be available. As my friends made their spots and offered me some plastic to sit on, I looked around me and took in all that I could.


It was mental.


Breath takingly so.


We always hear about the popularity of our football and our teams within Asia but I really did not expect anything like this. All around me, men, women and children were bedecked in their red and I am not too pleased to report that the (slight) majority of them were wearing the red of Manchester as opposed to that much finer red of Liverpool. But everyone was there and everyone was in great spirits. Even the damp conditions underfoot did not curb the enthusiasm of the masses as they tried to find a spot with the game fast approaching.


"This is amazing!" I announced to nobody in particular as I stood there applauding anyone that took an interest in me which, as it happened, were many. My applause was reciprocated with many cheers and smiles. It was no great surprise either.


As far as I could see, I was the only westerner in the crowd; and being head and shoulders above most of my Asian cousins, I can safely say that if there were any other westerners there that evening, then they must have been members of the Liverpool Leprechauns Supporters Club, for I saw no other person looking anywhere near as out of place, nor bewildered, as I undoubtedly looked that evening.


Having regained my speech and train of thought, I asked my hosts for the evening where I could go and get everyone a beer or two in preparation for the game, as well as to thank them for their hospitality.


My hosts looked horrified at my suggestion and I wondered if I had said something offensive. Looking back, I suppose in a way, I had – because the Thai people are famous the world over for their hospitality and they as my hosts for the evening would not consider for one second that I could even consider suggesting going to get them drinks.


"Sit, sit!" instructed Life and after a bit of polite disagreement and being slightly outnumbered, I took my place as off he set with one of his mates for beer, allowing me to sit down facing the screens and stage and immerse myself in the entertainment.


Ah yes, the entertainment.


I looked at my watch – 45 minutes to kick off. I looked at the stage where old mate in his white suit and shades was still whipping up the crowd into a frenzy but who, by this stage in proceedings, had been joined by a sexy female co-host wearing a very skimpy outfit.


I watched some banter between the two hosts, totally non-plussed by what was going on when - all of a sudden - a bunch of guys – obviously Bangkok's answer to Boyzone hit the stage to some pyrotechnics accompanied with much bass-thumping Euro pop (Asian Style) music. They proceeded to do their thing on stage – the same as any other boy band the world over, as far as I could make out – for three (I think it was three) songs and left the stage to tremendous applause. These guys were definitely well liked round these parts.


Rather worryingly, and with less than half an hour to kick off, there was still no sign of Life and his mate. I voiced my concerns to Daisy but she just smiled, saying it was ok and I went back to watching the stage, having no clue what to expect next.


Ah. That would be the Beauty Pageant, of course.


Yep – about 20 scantily clad girls in swimsuits and high heels came on stage one by one, strutted their stuff and then said something into the microphone which, on occasion, was greeted by cheers, but for the most was subjected to jeers, cries of derision and boos.


Tough crowd.


Eventually, through some sort of voting process that I was not privy to, a winner was declared. After they contestants strutted off stage, old mate came back on stage sporting a ManYoo shirt whilst his co-host wore a Liverpool shirt and nothing else, as far as I could make out.


Never have I seen a Liverpool shirt worn so well.


Right on cue, with less than five minutes to go until kick-off, Life and his mate arrived with a couple of carrier bags full of beer for the gang and with huge grins – which by now I was thinking was some sort of plastic surgery that all of the Thai people are subjected to at an early age - on their faces.


Just how far did they have to go to get these beers, I thought to myself but didn't have time to dwell on this thought for long as we all said our cheers, our "LIVERPOOLS" and our "UNITEDS" (ably assisted by many from the crowd in our nearby vicinity) and settled down to The Main Event.


I had long resigned myself to watching the game with Thai commentary, but as the big screen switched to Anfield and the crowd settled into an obedient hush, I heard the dulcet tones of Sky's Andy Gray and Martin Tyler talking about the team selections for the match. Never have I been so glad to hear those two voices and it's not often I would say that about Andy Gray.


My joy was short-lived however, as a spotlight appeared on the stage, illuminating two hitherto previously un-noticed (at least by me) middle-aged men sitting at a table watching the same pictures as we were on a small monitor. Immediately the crowd went ballistic and the two of them started to commentate their own version of proceedings as the game unfolded. Judging by some of the responses in the audience, their approach to the game was – at best – irreverent.


And so the game unfolded before my very eyes – me straining to hear Andy and Martin's insightful comments whilst being deluged by comments from these two clowns on stage whilst thousands of Thais screamed, hollered, booed, applauded and laughed their way through the game. It was infectious. Everyone was having an absolute ball of a time whilst I, your intrepid explorer, kicked and headed every ball and coloured the air blue with a few insightful comments of my own in my own wee bubble.


Leading up to this game and after 4 straight defeats, Liverpool were on their worst run of results since 1987 and although we had dominated the early exchanges, we were still searching for the opening goal and with Manchester United so lethal on the counter attack, there was no way anything could be taken for granted.


0-0 at half time and I took the opportunity to stand up and take a breather, as well as to ease my aching back, having sat staring up at these screens fraught with tension as I watched the game unfold. More entertainment came on stage to more ear-splitting applause, this time courtesy of Bangkok's answer to Girls Aloud. A few of the locals came up to pose for photographs with the "Weird Westerner" who had been howling at the moon for the first half but I didn't care - there was a game on. Un-noticed by me (for I had been sat in front of my hosts) Life and his mate had gone for – and subsequently returned - with more beers. I have no idea how much of the match they had missed to manage that but I was eternally grateful – my throat was dry from nerves and my voice hoarse with my shouts of 'constructive criticism.' Then, all too soon but not soon enough, it was time to settle in for the second half.


Ah yes – the second half.


Cometh the man, cometh the hour and up stepped Fernando Torres as he demonstrated his world class with a 65th-minute opener, comfortably shrugging off the attentions of Rio Ferdinand before powering an unstoppable finish high past United keeper Edwin van der Sar at The Kop end.


I went nuts.


Jumping up from my spot in the mud to start dancing and screaming like the lunatic that supporting Liverpool seems to turn me into, I was suddenly surrounded my loads of other happy Liverpool supporters all dancing to our own Liverpool-inspired beat.


Even the ManYoo supporters in our vicinity seemed to enjoy our happiness - it was that kind of occasion.


But there was still a game on - plenty of time for ManYoo to get back into the match. Unless of course Vidic was to do his usual party trick and get sent off against us? Surely a third game in a row would be too much to hope for? Not a bit of it. Cometh the hour and cometh the lumbering eejit in ManYoo's defence and sure enough – cometh off he went.


Things were tense but in truth (trying to be unbiased here), Liverpool seemed in control. At least until our own eejit – Mascherano got red-carded as well to set up a thunderous finale to the game.


But, as the clock wound down, substitute David Ngog raced on to Lucas's pass to wrap up a fully-merited victory with what was practically the last kick of the match. We didn't even wait to see the rest of the game. Everyone knew it was over.


And so it came to pass, that the thousands of us in that muddy field on the outskirts of Bangkok made our way home (or to their hotel) into the balmy evening night. The slight majority disappointed with the result, the rest of us elated but everyone that I saw on that way home sported that famous Thai smile; even those owners of the 500 vehicles that we were blocking their way out of the ground.


Why couldn't watching football always be like this?


Good luck Liverpool this Sunday – and to Life and Daisy and the rest of those people that made my first ever night in Bangkok so memorable, a very big thank-you. I hope you enjoy (but not too much) the game on Sunday and no doubt what will be another 'Mega Red War Day.'


Me? I'll just have to make do with watching it in the wee hours from my couch wearing my colours and howling at the Southern Hemisphere moon.


YNWA


This blog was brought to you on my St. Paddy's Day afternoon off, drinking a few bottles of XXXX bitter whilst listening to a St. Paddy's playlist. Now I'm off to join the throngs in Brisbane city. Perhaps I'll see you there?

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