The Wild Tigers and Football

I have been reading Alec Waugh’s Bangkok: The Story of a City – he was the brother of Evelyn and also capable of a pleasing phrase now and again. He wrote about the Wild Tigers, which was the ‘army within the army’ established by King Rama VI on his coronation.

The role of the Wild Tigers in dominating the king’s affections is well known, since this was influential in prompting the 1912 Palace Coup – one of the many by the elite who were disgusted by the thought of common people having any form of power in Siam. However, I was unaware of the Wild Tigers as a football team. Waugh observes that (on p.98) the King organized a football league, presumably the first in Siam (the first in the Mekong region?) because he was, of course, a strong Anglophile. However, the legitimacy of this league was undermined by the King’s desire to see the Wild Tigers win all their games.

How many teams can have been involved in this? I cannot remember having seen a history of football in Thailand, although perhaps one exists in Thai language and I have just not come across it yet. The modern history of Thai football has its various episodes of skullduggery which are themselves worthy of retelling.


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