Manchester United. Ling. Aksa road, Bangkok. 2014.

Manchester United. Ling. Aksa road, Bangkok. 2014.

Why Man united? I asked.

“I’ve been watching football from when I was very young. This is when Cantona played, and I fell in love.”

Okay, that is possibly the most normal of all the answers to a question asked but, honestly, I didn’t expect to hear it. If not made clear, Ling’s bright red shirt, one of about a thousand at Aqsa road just outside Bangkok that morning could have suggested something else – perhaps affiliation to “red shirt” movement that, in Thailand’s color coded politics, fights for what they believe is right wearing all sorts of red clothes. Football jerseys included.

But, no. Ling said his Man United shirt has nothing to do with protests and that he is visiting a friend near the area where red shirts have been gathering for weeks. He just likes Cantona and his moves with the ball a lot, that’s all. Fair enough. Football uber alles.

A day after, Thailand’s mighty military staged another coup d’etat and immediately desaturated the streets of its protesting colors. Reds and others were sent home. Military fatigues are dominating again in a country in whose turbulent times you better be careful what color of shirt you wear.

Thai soldiers man a checkpoint near pro-government "red shirt" supporters encampment in suburbs of Bangkok

The same day, not far away.



Manchester United. Jonathan. Queen-Mary / Coolbroke, Montreal, 2013

Why Man United? I asked.

“Because I’m half Japanese and the best Japanese player Shinji Kagawa plays for Man United.”

When I spotted Jonathan walking down the street I debated if I should approach him since he is not wearing a jersey. But there was something about him so I couldn’t let him pass by. Jonathan was born in Montreal after his father came from Japan and settled here. His answer mirrors that of many Bosnians who support Manchester City only because Edin Džeko plays there. And I wonder what happens when Džeko, or Kagawa, finally change the club. I’m not sure I care to know.


Manchester United. Dario. Sherbrooke/Regent, Montreal, 2012

Why United? I asked.

“I started supporting Manchester United because of Rooney, but now I realize every Manchester United player is as important as him, and the manager is outstanding.”

Dario, even if only 15, takes football seriously. After a short conversation I knew he is a fan for life. He was born in Zagreb, Croatia but is growing up in Brossard, near Montreal. There, he also plays soccer in a Brossard junior team, AA level. All these kids falling for Man United lately, but who can blame them considering the success the club’s had in the last couple of decades. Dario’s father, who is a doctor of chemical engineering and mostly does what doctors of chemicals engineering do (teaching and research), doesn’t follow football as much but follows on his son’s interests. He was kind enough to join Dario for a picture.

Manchester United. Saša & Dario. Sherbrooke/Regent, Montreal, 2012


Manchester United. Kiernan. West Hill/Biermans, Montreal, 2011

Why Man United? I asked.

“I like Rooney.”

I might not like Rooney but I understand how a kid growing up in the last decade would start supporting Man United, considering all the success the club has had. Kiernan plays hockey, and plays it well, but he also follows soccer. I would never swap my shirt with him but I would definitely trade my hair for his.



Manchester United. Corey. Saint-Denis/Émery, Montreal 2011

Why Man United? I asked.

“I studied in England and a local friend was a supporter so I got into it as well.”

Finally a day when I had time to purposely hit the streets in search for the people in their jerseys. It was a beautiful day, perfect for showing the colors of one’s favourite team. But they were nowhere to be found. More than two hours into my walk, as the frustration was building up, finally I met the first, and the only, footballist of the day. Corey is from San Diego and only visiting Montreal. While studying in England a friend worked on his footballing innocence and got him into the Manchester United colors. Can’t blame him really.