Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reflections of a Singaporean after a soccer match

Hi Friends,

I answered the call of duty (from a radio announcement) to go to the National Stadium to support the national team as it plays Uzbekistan in its World cup qualifying match tonight. For me this match outing was memorable for more than a few reasons.
It had goals (10 in all including a penalty- photo left); noisy and boisterous fans ;a half-time marriage proposal (photo right) and … memories.


I watched my last live-match involving the Singapore national team more than 30 years ago.
Weekend Malaysia Cup matches were what many teenagers looked forward to in the 1970’s. We enjoyed watching Quah Kim Song, Mohamed Nor, Dollah Kassim, Eric Paine, Robert Sim, Seak Poh Leong, Syed (break a leg) Mutalib, Hasli Ibrahim, S Camel Rajagopal and others beat the stuffings out of minnows like Perlis,Sarawak,Negri Sembilan,Malacca. The only teams who provided some competition were Selangor , Penang and maybe Pahang.
The Kallang roar then was formidable and the football fever red-hot! I even remember being in a stampede during the Singapore versus Penang ( or was it Pahang?) match when due to an unexpectedly large sell-out crowd of more than 65000, riot police had to intervene and prevent disaster as crowds queuing for tickets at the back were lunging forward and pushing many of us towards the metal gates. To avoid getting crushed, some of my friends had to climb over the gates even though police and VC’s (Vigilante Corps) were swinging truncheons at them.
There was one unfortunate fatality of a fan who suffered a heart attack in the excitement. I cannot remember whether we won or lost but after that weekend, all match tickets had to be bought before match-day from community centres etc.
I thought tonight would be a golden opportunity to show my son what the Malaysian cup era soccer matches meant to my generation. Almost like National Service, it was a rite of passage.
So there we were seated at the grandstand at 7.30pm.
The Match
I am no masochist but I enjoyed the match. Yes, we lost. And yes ,the score was 3-7. Hand on my heart- Singapore played well (really!). But the Uzbeks played better. Their overlapping fullback ran through our defence like a hot knife through butter (ala Ryan Giggs of olde). I hate to say it but it was like taking candy from a child.
We were outclassed. Period.

There is no shame in losing to a better team. FYI, Uzbekistan beat Saudi Arabia 3-0 ( I am entitled to some sour grapes). Suffice to say that our attack was better than our defence.
Our goal-keeper Lionel Lewis kept out another 3-4 certain goals! We missed about one or two other chances. So the score could have been much worse- like 4-11! Thank God it was only 3-7!
The Singapore team ran itself to the ground and had no answer to offer and at the end, I was pleading with the ref to please blow the damned whistle to end the misery quickly.
Just in case you think I am less than qualified to comment on the quality of the game, let me state my credentials. I was my class goal-keeper during recess breaks (almost by default as I was not good at kicking); and still am a loyal supporter of Leeds United (can name most members of the famous team under Don Revie) ( Harvey, Hunter, Gray, Charlton, Madeley, Bremnar, Clarke etc)
The Aftermath

There was no sadness nor regrets. Just numbness.

With a halftime score of 2-6 ( or was it 2-5? ) the final score was almost immaterial. It was about trying one’s best in extremely difficult circumstances. And I think the Singapore Lions almost succeeded. The papers tomorrow may perceive this defeat differently but I hope that the reports are not too scathing!
I think I speak on behalf of the Singaporeans in the crowd that we felt proud to be Singaporeans tonight. I also sense that for the duration of the match, none of us begrudged the many
foreigners who wore the all-red strips to play for their adopted country. Whether they be from China, UK, Eastern Europe or Africa, we rooted for them as much as for those born and bred on our own shores.
Singapore, the nation, has not arrived yet but is an experiment very much in progress.

Singapore is not perfect but it is not as bad as portrayed by the Chee’s and one ex-Singaporean.
Perhaps watching a soccer match would change their minds – but knowing them, maybe not.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan


Anonymous said...

Well Remember that the ex Singaporean mentioned in his web portal that he has no respect for any Singaporean except Charlie Sirrea Juliet. And speaking of this, do contrast your post to a ST Forum letter today 03 June.


nofearSingapore said...

Hi JT,
Golf November has got what he wanted.
To call Bravo Alpha a street-walker is really unbelievable.
Can I call a American Judge the same and expect to walk away free?
I do not condone excessive suits in the political arena but Golf's blog is a sample of unparliamentary words and phrases!

You referring to the Angmo letter or the one about Sg's democracy?

Anonymous said...

The one about Sg's democracy? Care to see if ST is so willing to accept a rebuttal letter?

Oh food for thought, how come Aun San Suu Kyi gets a Congressional Freedom medal while our own home grown fighter doesn't?

nofearSingapore said...

I think sometimes people get tired with the bleeding heart liberals ( which sometimes I am) and how America is the saviour of the world and how we should only follow their footsteps.
No, the ST forum has rejected many of my letters and prefers to print pro-govt stuff now.

AASK deserves everything she has been given. Our "home-grown" fighter ( or even the ex-homegrown one) deserves squat. He is hitting his head against a brick wall and wants us to pay for the hosptilisation (so to say).

SHIMURE said...

Well the opponents were better....

However, singapore team needs to train harder on defence...

But it was a good match though we lost.

It reminded of the times of the olde malaysian cup....

But recently i was in Moscow for a holiday and i saw the enthusiasim of the English football fans....

Man U vs Chelsea.

They had an entire football carnival at the red square that day and a total of 36000 fans flew from england to watch the match..... total of 50 budget airline flights from hetro to moscow was flew.

compared to them singaporean fans are no compare but malayan cup times were good enough....

Compared to that

nofearSingapore said...

Hi shimure,
I think it is already commendable to get about 30000 fans turning up.

The level of support from Sg fans and Uzbek fans is totally different. Uzbek had about 30-50 fans but they came with war-paint on their faces and had a ringleader who beat the drums and chants/yells and had a giant flag which I am sure raised the morale of their team to no end.
We have a long way to go!