It was the final round of the Super League season and up until a couple of days beforehand the fixture between T-Team and Pahang had been one of those that would play a part in deciding the relegation places. However, in the run up to the game, the Malaysian FA belatedly awarded Pahang three points for something that had happened earlier in the season and that left both sides safe from the drop.
Jen and I arrived in Terengganu early on the Saturday morning, courtesy of fifty minute and twenty quid Air Asia flights from KL. We were greeted at our hotel by the sight of the Pahang team playing keepy-uppy at the entrance.
Terengganu itself didn’t seem like much of a tourist destination. There looked to be a few options for stuff to do in the surrounding areas but there wasn’t a lot going on in the town itself.
We were staying next to Chinatown. As an attraction it had some scathing Tripadvisor reviews, probably because it wasn’t limited just to restaurants. If that’s what people were expecting then I dare say the shops selling angle grinders were somewhat of a disappointment.
The butcher’s was of greater interest however, with a fine selection of pig tails on display.
We managed to resist the urge to stock up on power tools or porcine parts whilst in Chinatown and settled instead for a pre-match dinner. We sat outside the restaurant until our meal was interrupted by ten minutes of loud-speaker announcements in Malaysian which we were soon to find out were warning of the impending industrial-strength chemical bug spraying.
Despite having all day to get to the ground we arrived at the Stadium Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah with just a few minutes to go to kick-off. We splashed out on twenty ringgit tickets for the main stand and went in just as the national anthem was being played. As usual, it was quickly followed by the state anthem.
Less usually, the teams then remained in their lined-up positions whilst the away fans sang what I assume was their own state anthem. Or maybe, after reflecting on their team’s performance over the season, it was something along the lines of “You’re shit and you know you are”.
The stadium was a bit on the shabby side and whilst it didn’t have a running track there was enough space between the stands and the pitch to fit one in.
Our grandstand seats had the advantage of a roof, but the disadvantage of having a raised and fenced VIP section that obscured our view of a lot of the nearside touchline. We were sat behind the Pahang wags, one of whom I presume was with the Pahang captain as she was wearing a shirt with his surname on the back. Although to be fair, it may very well have been her own name too.
Mind you, it would have been so much better if she’d actually been wearing a shirt with the name of her favourite player rather than that of her partner.
Not much happened in the opening half hour or so, with the highlight being a cat wandering in from outside and then running along the front of our stand in a panic whilst trying to escape.
Soon after the cat had departed the visitors took the lead with a curling shot from the right into the left corner of the net. Pahang desperately held onto their lead until close to full-time and at which point one of the T-Team players skinned their full back and whacked an equaliser into the roof of the net.
Whilst the result of this game was of no consequence, similar late goals elsewhere resulted in the season coming to an end with the other Terengganu team and the Police slipping into the second-tier Premier division. It all starts afresh in February.