"My dad is taking me to the game tonight."
August 28, 2007

I said to my classmate as I shove everything on the table into my backpack and rush out of the class, reaching the school gate before the bell even stopped ringing.

The year was 1992 and Malaysians had the privilege of enjoying the best football league in the continent, the Semi-pro League.

Federal Highway was flooded by cars, bikes and vans coming from Shah Alam and PJ, all sporting the flags of their teams. And those sporting the same flags filled the air with the ever so joyful noise of their cars’ horns.

The dwellers of KL city were smart enough to not congest the roads further by filling every inch of the Mini Buses. Screaming to the top of their lungs, they couldn’t care less if they’d lost their voices even before kickoff. All that mattered was that the rest of the world knows that they held nothing but pure devotion for their teams.

The Saturday nights in KL back then had certainly mirrored the celebration nights of London ’66, Rio ’70, Rome ’82, Berlin ’90 and Paris ’98.

One could only wish to get his hands on a ticket minutes or even hours before the game. Evening games usually have their tickets sold out by 6pm, latest. Nevertheless, sky’s the limit. Scalpers were usually seen wandering around the stadium’s vicinity to save the day. It wasn’t healthy business but it surely portrayed the love we had for the game.

Surrounding the scalpers are stalls selling all that a football fan could ever ask for. Scarves, t-shirts, jerseys, caps, bells, a variety of bands, masks, banners, flags, name tags et al; all covered in one distinctive smell. A sweet aroma you could only taste in football stadiums around the country. It was the scents of burgers, kacang rebus, chicken of all forms (balls, nuggets and fritters) and kebab mixed with the stench of cigarette and car smoke from the roadside. Playing in the background is the sweet rattling of the power generators.

It is also the only thing that lasted until today. We have, however, lost the heart and soul of the game: the players and the fans.

Prior to the shameful corruption scandal that destroyed the future of football in our country, we had something to look forward to during the weekends. It wasn’t flicking our fingers on the cell to vote for our favorite AF student. It wasn’t dressing up to go clubbing. And it surely wasn’t revving up our bikes before perusing for the latest girl to pickup in Pertama complex.

It was sitting in the stands overlooking the green battlefield, clad in our respective colors, and roaring alongside fellow advocates of our much beloved team. And deafening our ears were the relentless drumbeats coming from left and right; alongside the occasional rant coining the referee as non-living objects such batu, kayu, lesung and words of thoughts namely bangsat, celaka, bangang etc. The hum of incongruence never sounded so beautiful.

And what about the players. We had guys playing with passion that could match that of Gattuso’s. Life was so much simpler with only two leagues separating 14 teams, providing the utmost competition for every player to prove his worth. The locals, the imports.. they both treated every second on the pitch as if it was their last. All these, regardless of their earnings that may well allow them to play average football and enjoy good money. The spirit that they had on the ground drove the fans’ enthusiasm like a highway strip club does to a truck driver.

All too obvious that I’m bad at making metaphors.

I may be writing all these in an all pumped up mood coming back from our 3 – 1 bashing of Singapore last night. For all you know, we’ll lose in the final and I’ll be cursing the team like sailor.

Even so, I curse because I care. We are desperate for a good football team. And last night, after such a long time, I had the pleasure of reliving the days I had back in the early 90s. Didn’t really matter that it was just an invitational cup. The joy that I was longing had finally emancipated.

Our defense mimicked the present day Manchester City, strong and resilient like the Great Wall of China.. backing a very determined keeper. Our midfielders always alert, winning air balls and providing top class through passes to unleash our forward into causing massacre in the opposition’s penalty area.

Those, and the Singaporean team playing like our senior team.

Thought I’d share some pics from last night:

Oh, and how could I forget.. we met Robbie Fowler last night. And oddly, my Man U fan cousin gave a thumbs up his favorite player ever. How sweet.

Update (29.8.07):

Holy smoke. I just got back from the stadium.. we won the Merdeka Cup after 14 years. Below are some pics..

Have a great Merdeka celebration folks. I had mine a day earlier.

Malaysia 2007
August 22, 2007

Aahh.. the school holidays. What better time than now for the school kids to infest the floors of KLCC, swarming my path to lunch via the escalators, lifts, walkway and every other inch of the building.

Nah, I don’t mind the primary school kids, they’re adorable.

I’m talking about the high rolling super magical outrageously over the edge extreme living children of Chuck Norris that are the secondary school kids.. ageing 13 – 17 I’d presume.

Now, it’s not that they’re that much of annoyance, to me at least. No, really.. should they not have a major discussion in front of the escalators as people are going back to work, I couldn’t really be bothered.

Nevertheless, they aren’t showering me with flowers and potpourris as I prance along a red carpet made out of their backs either.

So where do I really stand on this one?

It doesn’t matter. I can’t do anything about it.

Anyway, I was walking down the stairs to the train station and saw these three kids smoking. A glance at them, one couldn’t really give a damn. But seconds after passing through, I realized that they are the perfect representation of their generation. And I went back a few steps..

"Korang makan dah?"


"Aku tanya elok² nih.. korang dah makan lom?"

"Belum.. pehal brader? Tak nampak kitorang tengah layan rokok ni.."

"Korang nak makan free tak? Aku nak interview sket. Korang jawab soalan sikit² je.. makan aku bayo.."

Buggers nodded and followed me to the Burger King nearby.

"Korang nama apa?"

"OK.. Azim normal. E-one eh.. apsal nama kau macam formula matematik? Ada ‘e’ pastu tolak kat tengah².. boleh ada nombor satu lak kat belakang tu."

"Apa ni bang.. kamon la.. ni nama MySpace saya. Takkan la kat profile MySpace nak letak Iwan kut. Cemana awek nak lekat? Nanti saya hantar smile kang diorang tak reply lak."

"Ooh ok.. balik nanti aku bukak akaun MySpace letak nombor banyak² kat nama aku. Ni sorang lagi, Tarique.. nama betul ke? Takde rupa Arab pun ko ni nama ada -ue kat belakang?"

"WTF you talkin' playa? This be ma real name.. I'm Tarique Nashawn Prince III.. representin'! You don't mess with the prince or in your tears you will be rinsed. You feelin' me?"

"Allright.. Azim, apsal rambut kau macam ada ekor tupai kat tengah² tu. Memang ada bela sekor ke atas tu..?"

"Apa ni bang.. jangan la lekehkan rambut saya. Dekat setengah jam dok depan cermin pagi tadi nak bagi tegak macam ni. Ni la style zaman sekarang. Tak caya cuba tengok player bola Malaysia ke, artis² ke.. semua rambut gini bang."

"Semua ada bela tupai ye..? Ni kolar baju kau terangkat ni, butang semua bukak.. kenapa lak? Tinggi kemain.. macam Dracula lak aku nengok.."

"Ala.. abang ni kolot la. Zaman sekarang semua orang pakai kolar kena naik atas. Baru urban.."

"Urban hangguk kau. E tolak satu, apsal rambut kau tutup sebelah mata?"

"Saya ikut je bang. Tetiap hari Ahad saya bukak TV3 tengok Melodi band² Indon Peter Pan, Samsonite, Radja, Sofaz semua rambut macam ni.. nampak cool, saya ikut la.."

"Ooh betul².. aku pun rasa cool gak. Anyway, Tarique ma man.. how you doin' with that Whopper right there? Sorry I couldn't get no hot sauce for you man."

"Aight it's all cool aight all cool aight WHAT! WHAT! WHAT! aight cool aight no worries be AIGHT! eh silap.. WHAT!"

"Kelas BI kat skolah kau ajar banyak tu je ke?"

"Dah tu je yang saya reti bang.. belajar kat MP3."

"No hal.. at least you learn something. Ni pakai sweater skali ngan hood bagai, cap besar UFO semua ni, tak panas ke? Nak kata demam, atas tebal.. bawah pakai shorts je. Ni kasut ni betul ke saiz kau? Besar semacam.."

"Banyak tanya la abang ni. Ni la hip hop bang. Kalau Azim abang tengok dia rambut dia macam ada jambul, semua kumpul kat tengah.. tu Urban, dia suka Ruffedge ngan VE. Saya suka gak diorang tapi saya lebih pada hip hop bang.. macam Urban Method la. Ala abang apa tau.."

"Pasal tak tau la aku nak interview korang. Tapi sekarang aku dah tanya memacam pun aku still tak berapa paham lagi. Takpe la, dah pukul dua.. aku kena masuk opis. Belajar leklok.. selamat.."

And I walk through the tunnel, heading back, wiping drops of tears falling slowly from my eyes.

Welcome to the New City
August 11, 2007

An announcement. You may not need more than two hands to count the number of Man City fans in Malaysia. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure that me and my dad aren't the only ones. That said, if you are a Manchester City Football Club fan living in Malaysia, please do send me a note at asrifomar[at]gmail[dot]com. There's this project I'm working on and I would love to have you, yes the 3 of you, on board. For the time being, do enjoy this wonderful image and this super awesome blog by one of the greatest City fans ever, Ric Turner.

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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