Posts Tagged ‘Selangor’

Kedah v Selangor, Saturday 15th July 2017, 9pm

September 12, 2017

Kedah play their home games at Alor Setar which is more than five hundred kilometres north of where we live. There are flights, but I thought it might be more interesting to take a train instead and so a few weeks in advance I booked seats online from Kuala Lumpur Sentral. They were less than twenty quid each way and in a modern train described on the website as ‘Platinum Class’.

The train was fairly full, or at least it was in the early stages of the journey and our ticket included biscuits, a sweetened soy milk drink and nut-numbingly cold air-conditioning. We even got to see a sub-titled film that, I think, featured Tom Hanks as some sort of Berlin-based spy.

Our hotel was just a five-minute walk from Alor Setar station and the Darul Aman Stadium was a further half an hour away. I got there early so that I could do a lap of the outside of the ground and get some photos whilst it was still daylight.

There were lots of stalls selling football shirts and food and I had some chicken in triangular-shaped pastry and then something that was claimed to be a kebab but probably could be more honestly described as a mix of unidentified meat and veg in a hot dog bun.

I’d noticed that the ends of the ground were open and as you never really know when it might rain in Malaysia I requested a seat with a roof above it. My twenty ringgit ticket got me into the covered section of the bowl, opposite the tunnel and the main stand.

By kick-off the thirty-two thousand capacity ground felt as if it was about two-thirds full. There were around two hundred Selangor fans in a section to my left, most of whom were wearing their team’s red colours. Kedah were in yellow and the majority of their fans also wore team shirts, not surprising I suppose when you could buy them for under a tenner outside the ground.

The noise was provided by four drummers to my left and a singing section straight across in the opposite stand. We also got three national and state anthems and then a short silence for someone or other just before the action started.

I’d checked the players out in advance and the visitors had a Spanish fella up front who had made a single La Liga appearance for Atletico Madrid. It was eleven years ago and at a time when I was living in Spain. I had a look at my records and discovered that I’d missed his day in the limelight as I was at the Boro’s FA Cup semi final against West Ham at Villa Park watching Dean Ashton elbowing Mark Schwarzer in the face and Pardew dancing his jig along the touchline. Twats. I don’t dislike many clubs, but West Ham are certainly on the list. It’s not so much for that semi, they’ve a much bigger rap sheet than the events of that day, but I’d be happy to see them relegated. Every single year.

I did see Atletico a few months later, whilst the impressively named Rufino Segovia del Burgo was still at the club. It was a pre-season tournament at Coruna and so I briefly had high hopes that I might have actually witnessed him turning out for Los Rojiblancos. I like it when I’ve seen a player before. However, If he was in that pre-season squad there’s no evidence that he made it onto the pitch.

I didn’t see a great deal more of the Spaniard on this occasion either as he was stretchered off in the twenty-fourth minute having contributed little to the game himself but with his team a goal to the good.

I had however seen one of the Kedah team play before. They had a Dane, Ken Larsen, who I’d watched at Home United in Singapore last season. I’d say that the Malaysian Super League is definitely a step up from Singapore football and it must be a lot more enjoyable to play in front of a well-attended noisy stadium. He scored in the game that I saw him play in last year. He scored in this one too with a very similar curling effort from outside the box that nobody got a touch on, including, most importantly, the keeper. Ken’s goal levelled the scores and that’s the way it was at half-time.

I was able to get a couple of orange coloured drinks at the break that I doubt contained anything that had ever been anywhere near a tree and, as I didn’t fancy squeezing past people to get back to my earlier seat, I made my way to the uncovered back corner of the stand.

Whilst I was now confident that it wouldn’t rain I hadn’t factored in the weird bugs that were dropping from the sky. They didn’t seem to have wings and so it was as if something bigger was dropping nits on me. I moved a little further over to a seat back under the roof.

Kedah, who had started the day in second place in the table, pushed hard for the win with a bloke from Kosovo, Lindon Krasniqi, running the show for them in midfield. Kosovo is considered a proper country these days. Who knew that? Or at least it is as far as UEFA and FIFA are concerned and that’s probably the criteria that holds the most weight with me when deciding if countries are real or not.

Selangor wasted time shamelessly and whilst Kedah went close a few times there were no more goals. The draw was probably about right overall but meant that both teams slipped a little further behind league leaders Johor Darul Ta’zim.

Horse Racing at Selangor, Saturday 26th May 2017

July 14, 2017

Malaysia has three racecourses. There’s one at Penang, another in Ipoh and one at Selangor which is quite close to us and on the road in to Kuala Lumpur. I’m surprised it has taken us as long as it has to have a day at the races as I’m quite partial to the combination of gambling and daytime drinking.

We stayed at a hotel right next to the track. The aptly named Palace of the Golden Horses. It might be considered a bit on the garish side, but there’s a place for that sort of thing and I’d suggest that fifty yards from a racecourse is exactly that place.

It was six ringgits to get in and then another twenty for admission to a lounge on the top floor of the grandstand. I’d hoped that our three quid upgrade would get us air-conditioning, but we had to settle for electric fans that did not much more than help to re-distribute the cigarette smoke.

On the plus side there was a tote window in the lounge and table service from a ten year old kid. Screens above the window overlooking the track were showing Australian and Korean racing which meant that the betting opportunities came fast and furious. There wasn’t a great drink selection, Carlsberg, Heineken or Guinness, but I worked my way through a steady supply of Heineken.

The first of the ten races went off at 12:30. In the second a horse suffered an injury that required it to be shot in front of the main stand. Although a screen provided notional cover we were high enough up and at sufficient an angle to see its demise. I’d expected the stricken equine to just crumple to the ground, but on the firing of the bolt it somersaulted backwards in a ‘best man dead’ for horses sort of way.

Most of the people present watched the races on the tellies inside. That was understandable though as it was pretty hot out in the sun. A few racegoers made the short trip outdoors to view the horses in the parade ring, whilst a handful watched in the open air from lower tier seating. A few even called them home from ground level.

As we approached the penultimate race it started to rain. Proper rain. It was sufficient to cause the early abandonment of the meeting, although nobody had any intention of heading for home until it had eased off a bit. Fortunately there were still a couple of televised races to be run in Australia and so I cracked open another can of Heineken. We hung about until the only thing going on was the sweeping up of the afternoon’s litter.

Selangor PKNS v Perak, Saturday 13th August 2016, 9pm

November 10, 2016

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One of the things that I needed to change at work was the Saturday working malarkey. Six days a week is too many, particularly when you are doing ten-hour days. Fortunately we were able to come to an agreement that gave me ‘proper’ two-day weekends and that allowed Jen and I to head up to Shah Alam for a Saturday night Malaysian Cup game.

Our hotel was only about twenty minutes walk away from the stadium and with the kick-off not being until nine o’clock we had plenty of time to find somewhere on the way to get something to eat.

As ever, there was a cat to feed and it was happy to accept whatever we dropped down under the table. We ate whilst watching people sauntering past on their way to the mosque, seemingly unhurried by the persistent call to prayer.

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PKNS, of the second-tier Premier League, were taking on Super League club Perak in the Malaysia Cup. It was supposed to be a home fixture for PKNS, but my understanding was that they usually played their games in Melaka. I noticed very few home fans in the area around the stadium.

Perak, despite being based a couple of hundred kilometres away in Ipoh, had lots of support. Maybe they are just a more popular team. I dare say that I’ll find these things out in time.

We opted for grandstand seats at twenty ringgits rather than general admission at half that price. The tickets appeared to back up my suspicion that PKNS didn’t usually play at this ground, with the Hang Jebat Melaka stadium named on them as the venue.

Mind you, the competition was wrongly listed too. Perhaps we could have got into the ground with old bus tickets.

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Everyone was searched on the way in, including girl who couldn’t have been any older than five. She had a packet of fags in her back pocket which she had to hand over so that they could be checked to see if a lighter was concealed inside. The lighter was found and duly confiscated.

I like to think that the stewards will have missed her Paw Patrol hip-flask of whisky.

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Odd as it might seem, we couldn’t find the entrance to the grandstand from the concourse and after doing half a lap of the ground too far we ended up in general admission seats on the opposite side instead. It was fine though as with there only being three or four thousand fans in an eighty-thousand capacity stadium we had plenty of space.

I googled the Shah Alam stadium and whilst I couldn’t be absolutely certain it looked as if the Boro might have played there on a pre-season tour under Robbo. I doubt he’d have been too impressed by the refreshment options in the area where we’d just had our tea.

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We had the usual state and national anthems and then with the game underway the noise continued with each set of fans having at least two drummers. My initial assessment outside had been correct and it looked as if the ‘home’ side had less than thirty fans, with everyone else originating from either Ipoh, Norton or Baton Rouge.

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Perak, in the white, took the lead mid-way through the first half with a glancing header from a floaty free-kick. PKNS, in an orange kit, were struggling. They had a player in left midfield who had a habit of mis-hitting his shots and passes and then apologising with a wave of an arm that brought nostalgic memories of Curtis Fleming flooding back.

On a similar Boro-related note, PKNS had a fella upfront who bore quite a resemblance to Jonathan Greening in his Jesus phase. Was that a phase? Probably not, as I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen him looking any different.

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At half time the only refreshments available were small cartons of water. Despite it being late in the evening the temperatures hadn’t dropped much and so I braved the scrum to buy a couple for a ringgit each.

We switched seats to behind the goal and one of the Perak fans came over for a chat. He reckoned a lot of the visiting support had made the short journey from nearby Kuala Lumpur rather than all the way from Ipoh. It’s similar, I suppose, to the make-up of a Boro crowd for London games.

He also mentioned that Perak had picked up a bit since they had appointed a German coach who was in his eighties. Apparently he was the bloke who had managed Malaysia to their greatest achievement, which was qualifying for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. I presume it was for the football and not three-day eventing or something. Their efforts turned out to be in vain though as the government then promptly withdrew them in support of the US-led boycott.

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The visitors equalised after the break with Jesus Greening flicking on a cross with his head into the corner of the net to make it one each.

Ten minutes from time Perak missed a sitter when the striker put his shot against the bar only for PKNS to nip straight down the other end where one of their players wellied the ball home.

The Super League side failed to force an equaliser and  finished the evening both short-tempered and short-handed with one of their players being sent off and their manager, who was certainly old enough to know better, waved away to the stands.