Teluk Kemang FC v Bandar Sungala, Sunday 15th May 2016, 11am

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The day after the promotion party and only twelve days after we’d left Australia, Jen and I went back around the globe to Malaysia for my new job. It’s a place that we’d visited before, during a Lunar New Year trip to Kuala Lumpur a few years ago.

This time though we are out in the sticks in the small town of Lukut. There’s just the one decent bar but it sells Tiger beer and lamb chops and I don’t need much more than that.

The drive to work takes me through some sparsely populated areas where monkeys sit under the palm trees and stray dogs loiter by the side of the road, causing my foot to hover over the brake. I saw a tortoise successfully cross the road the other day, albeit at a faster pace than I’ve seen one move before.

Not so lucky was a big lizard. A very big lizard. Big enough at three or four feet long to probably not be a lizard at all and to be something else entirely. Maybe his granny had got jiggy with  a crocodile. I imagine that this sort of road-kill will become commonplace before long but the first one was interesting enough for me to stop the car and take a photo. I suspect even the monkeys thought I was weird for doing that.

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Port Dickson is the next town along and a little busier so for my first day off we decided to check it out. As luck would have it we stumbled across a football game at the Padang Merdeka stadium. Or rather, an entire tournament.

The stadium had a 3G pitch as I think they are known. Or maybe I’m getting mixed up with phones. Who knows? Anyway, it was artificial rather than grass. There was a big stand down one side and a smaller one down the other. Both were filled predominantly with players from the other teams.

The odd thing though was that it was only nine a side. It was a full-size pitch and each team had subs. Why on earth wouldn’t you just play proper football? The quirk in the rules meant that I couldn’t count it as a stadium that I’d visited under my own ‘groundhopping’ rules which require it to be a ‘proper’ game. I agonised for a while over whether watching a nine-a-side game was any different from watching an eleven-a–side match where both teams had suffered a double sending off.

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In the end I concluded that it wasn’t a proper match and that it wouldn’t count. Although I suspect that my decision was heavily influenced by the thought that it would be easy enough to return in the near future and tick the ground off properly.

Teluk Kemang were in red whilst Bandar Sungala were in orange and blue. I only know the team names because I got a local lad to write them down for me. His act of kindness earned him a piss-taking from his mates due to him speaking English to me.

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When we return for a proper game, he’ll no doubt think twice about getting involved. For what it’s worth, Bandar Sungala clinched the victory with a last-minute goal and I squashed no lizards either on the way there or on the way back.

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