"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.


sapa pergi stadium weh?nate sungguh aku xleh pegi...

robbie fowler lak tu..all time favourite striker aku tu.jumpa kat mana?

not to forget the awesome mexican wave in the fully-packed shah alam stadium, and everyone's singing selangor team song, back in the 90s.

merah kuning lambang kebanggaan siot.

singapore lauk!!

wey aku pon pegi tgk final smalam.. best laa msia main up to 3rd goal.. pastu sume kememeh asyik jatuh je, ref pon agak bias so aku agak disappointed di situ.. apsal aku x nampak ko menjerit2 dgn rempit nye eh.. hehehehe

(this joyous feeling is sooo unfamiliar.)

oih dinna.. aku ada ah kat gate c kut, aku tak sure. best siut mlm tadi.. riuh gila. sayang tu je la team lawan main kasar cam haram. hats off to the fans though, dari awal sampai abih menyanyi tak berenti.. abih sora aku arinih.

best dow..aku tgk kat internet pn dengar penyokong bising gile.wish gile aku kat stadium smlm...

aside from the bola,

"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."


alos la.. ambo tok leh gi tengok final sebab keno kerja... tp kejap jah nih team malaysia ni.. lepas tournament ni player jadi terkenal.. jadi cover urtv ke mangga ke... kena gosip dengan artis sikit abih la budak budak nih...team berebut amik nak bagi gaji tinggi.. dia rasa besar kepala..tengok tengok lepas tahun depan jadi macam team piala asia ari tu la.....

oppssss terlupa pulak..FUCKKKKK FOWLERRRRRRRRRR

if it ain't jeepin', it ain't creepin'

berat mung ni roy keane.. dah la winning kalah nga aku..

kalah lagi man city..pecite tu??mmg x lama dh tu...kene jual micah kat lvpool dah kot pasni..

blackburn kuat bro.. players dia pun semua dah lama main sesama, cruz sorang je kut baru team semalam, aku tak sure.

next few games, villa, boro, newcastle, fulham aku rasa bleh kutip a few points to stay in the top half ni.

kalau lu nak micah, trade boleh la.. for gerrard + torres cukup la, tak mintak lebih haha..

amazing stuff thanx :)


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
Published Travels
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Malaysia License.