Thimphu City Football Club
Thimphu City Football Club was founded in 2012 as Zimdra. Our first recorded involvement in top-flight football in Bhutan was in 2011, when we finished as runners-up to eventual winners Yeedzin in a truncated season consisting of a single round-robin set of matches in anticipation of the commencement of a new Bhutan National League, which was eventually delayed for another season.
The following season was also reasonably successful. Zimdra again finished as runners-up in the A-Division, this time being beaten to the title by Drukpol, despite beating Drukpol in the final game of the season. During that campaign, we went through the whole competition unbeaten, dropping points only in a draw with Drukpol and two draws with Yeedzin. In finishing second in the A-Division, we qualified for the inaugural National League, though did not fare quite so well in this competition, finishing fifth out of six competing teams, winning five and drawing one of ten games.
For a third season in a row, Thimphu City, as senior team had now been renamed, finished as runners-up in the A-Division, winning five and drawing one of eight games, but finishing five points behind champions Yeedzin. we performed better than the previous season in the National League finishing in third place, comfortably ahead of Drukpol, with five wins and three draws from their eight games, but three points behind champions Ugyen Academy. Prior to 2013, Thimphu City had been in a difficult financial situation. Owner Hishey Tshering was spending a lot of his own money at the time, paying salaries and covering school fees for younger players in a football league where no money is generated from gate receipts and sponsorship is thin on the ground. A friend of Tshering’s and some other private sponsors contributed money so that the club was able to pay between 20 and 40 thousand Ngultrum to its players.
At the halfway point of the 2014 season, the Club looked like we might finally be able to go that step further and claim a first A-Division title, as we led by three points from Drukpol with five wins and a draw from six matches, dropping points only against Druk Star. However, we slipped up in the penultimate round of matches, losing 5–1 to Druk United. Thimphu City had played all the matches and led the league by a point. However, that loss to Druk United meant we were now only a point behind with a game still to play. Druk United thumped Druk Star 8–3 in this final game to take the A-Division title and consign Thimphu City to a fourth-straight second place, though we could take consolation in the fact that we had again qualified for the National League.
Thimphu City enjoyed a strong start to the 2014 National League season, leading the league at the halfway point, having dropped points only in an opening-day 4–0 defeat to eventual winners Druk United. The second half of the season was less successful. Although the Club achieved a season-high victory 16–0 against bottom-placed Bhutan Clearing, we only won one other game and slipped to a final position of third, behind Druk United and Ugyen Academy.
Joshua Stewart Shepherd