Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

Vietnam v Singapore, Sunday 27th August 2017, 1pm

October 29, 2017

We’d stayed up in Kuala Lumpur overnight after the Thailand – Myanmar football semi-final and had a late night glugging back rioja in a Bukit Bintang tapas bar. It all worked out well though as next day there was a game in the SEA Games cricket competition soon after lunch.

The game was at Kinrara Oval, a venue that we’d turned up at for a game once before only to find nothing more going on than a few kids practising in the outfield. It’s a relatively new ground and if I remember my research from that earlier visit I think Australia once played a one–day international there. Still, I could have been as wrong about that as I was the date of whatever game I’d previously mistakenly turned up to see.

I wondered if I’d ballsed up again this time as the place was hardly crowded. We parked a couple of hundred yards down the road but if I’d tried, and been able to bluff my way in, there was still space for parking in the small area behind the pavilion.

We could have sat in the seating at the front of the small pavilion but there was a speaker close by that was blaring out music loud enough to make conversation difficult. Why do places do this? Supermarkets are as loud as nightclubs in Malaysia. There’s no need whatsoever to subject people to shite music at any volume whatsoever, never mind levels similar to an aircraft taking off.

To get away from the noise we headed over to a covered stand that ran parallel to the wicket. As play got underway we were gradually joined by another thirty-odd people. Hardly a great attendance for a free international fixture.

Singapore batted first and looked pretty competent as they tonked the bowling in all directions. Vietnam looked less capable in the field, with one experienced looking player bollocking his team mates just about every over for their inability to get hold of the ball. He quietened down a bit after letting one through his legs for a boundary.

Singapore knocked up a couple of hundred or so in their twenty overs. I’d be more precise but it really was irrelevant as they could have declared at fifty and still won. Vietnam, if my dodgy memory is anywhere near accurate, lost half their wickets before they even reached double figures. I think Singapore may have eased off at that point and allowed them to eek out a few more overs and get somewhere near thirty.

Despite the one-sided nature of the contest and the standard being somewhat similar to Norton Thirds, it was still an afternoon at the cricket and that’s always a decent way to while away my time.

Vietnam U21 v Singapore U21, Sunday 5th June 2016, 4.45pm

October 9, 2016

1-p1280202

I have to work Saturdays in my new job, although I’ve plans to change that. One of the drawbacks is that it tends to prevent us from going away for the weekend, unless it’s to somewhere close by. Fortunately Melaka is only about an hour and twenty minutes drive away from where we live and so we decided to spend a Saturday night there.

It was dark by the time we arrived and so there wasn’t much to see until the next morning. After breakfast we had a walk along the side of a river from our hotel to the main tourist area at Jonker Street.

That part of Melaka is a picturesque enough place, with a lot of multi-coloured buildings dating back to when the Portuguese were running the show. Jonker Street was busy, mainly with coachloads of Chinese tourists who all seemed determined to eat in the same café. Whilst the main street was bustling, all you had to do for some peace and quiet was to make your way one street back and if it wasn’t for the noise in the background you wouldn’t know that there was anyone around.

1-p1280184

It was a fair drive to the Hang Jebat Stadium on the outskirts of the city and as we had plenty of time in hand I called into a barbers. He did a decent job with the haircut before getting carried away with a head massage. I’m not sure heads ever need massaging and I’m certain that they don’t need the sort of massage that consists of violent slaps. As the barber had access to a cut-throat razor I just smiled politely as my brain rattled around in its cerebrospinal fluid.

We arrived at the Hang Jebat Stadium to find that it was as quiet as the areas off Jonker Street and it was apparent that the U21 Nations Cup hadn’t captured the public’s imagination. Cant see why, surely a double header featuring the youngsters from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore was just the way to spend a Sunday evening?

I suppose it’s possible that everyone was staying away until the later game featuring the host country, but as we waited outside until ten minutes before kick-off in the first match it looked as if the crowd for the first game of the day might not reach double figures.

1-p1280191

We bought the posh twenty ringgit tickets that entitled us to a seat in the main stand and were quite a good deal at three quid, especially when you consider that we could have stayed for the second game too.

We also bought a yellow and black stripey Malaysia shirt for our grandson, Harry. It was less than a couple of quid, which is roughly the amount of change that you get from forty pounds when buying a Boro shirt  for a five-year old at the Riverside Stadium shop.

The ticket temporarily seemed less of a bargain when the stewards directed us into the section of open terracing behind the goal, but we eventually ended up in the upper tier of the main stand where we were able to find some shade.

1-p1280192

As the game kicked-off the crowd had swelled to about thirty, with just a couple of other people sharing our section. As the stadium has a capacity of over forty thousand that left plenty of room for stretching out.

Vietnam were in red, with Singapore in blue. Not a lot happened for most of the first half and whilst I like to think that I can appreciate teams keeping possession, it was all a bit tippy-tappy.

1-p1280199

Singapore took the lead just before half-time when a cross from the right was headed home from close range. There were some muted cheers from the section below us, suggesting that there might be some fans from Singapore in the ground. Although it’s probably more likely that it was one of the forty or so photographers and cameramen in attendance, grateful for something worth capturing.

When you added in the presence of the riot police, it did seem as if somebody, somewhere, had thought the Nations Cup to be an event that might just have been more popular than it turned out to be.

1-p1280201

Singapore increased their lead five minutes into the second half when a bit of skullduggery in a crowded box led to a penalty. It was slammed into the roof of the net, prompting  some chants of “Singer-pore, Singer-pore” from what sounded like six-year-old kids in the tier below.

Vietnam had a player who didn’t look much older than those fans. Maybe their kitman should have scoured the stalls outside for a two quid knock-off kit in the right size.

1-p1280204

A few minutes later we had a penalty at the other end and Vietnam pulled a goal back. This signaled the start of some impressive play-acting from Singapore to try to run down the clock. If ever there was an opportunity for the riot police to use their water cannon, then this was it.

It looked as though the time-wasting had been successful as Singapore were still in front as we started to make our way out on ninety minutes. I heard the shouts from the players and looked back to see Vietnam celebrating their equaliser.

1-p1280217

I wasn’t sure if they would play extra time or go straight to penalties, but either way I needed to be making tracks up the road. It’s busy on a Sunday evening, with people returning to Kuala Lumpur. I checked later and it turned out that the game went straight to penalties, although I can’t remember who won. Nor I suspect will anyone else.

Home United v Young Lions, Thursday 17th March 2016, 7.30pm

July 3, 2016

1-DSC02900

Jen and I ate pretty well during our time in Singapore. It would have been hard not to do so with Chinatown on our doorstep and Little India and Arab Street a short distance away. We had dinner with unlimited wine in a French place around the corner and tapas at a Spanish restaurant in a busy street at the back of our hotel that we didn’t stumble across until our last night.

There was also a food court nearby and within a few hours of arriving we’d already been told by two different people that there was one particular stall famous for its chicken-rice. As you might have suspected that’s chicken accompanied by rice. In this case, both boiled. The taxi-driver that took us into town from the airport claimed that he ate there every day.

With that sort of hard sell we had to give it a go. I can’t remember what time the stall opened, but fifteen minutes beforehand there was already a queue and apparently it sells out within a couple of hours. I think I’d be tempted to boil more chicken and rice if I were them, although knocking off two hours after getting to work does sound like an ideal shift.

1-DSC02780

Anyway, it was cheap, it was chicken and it was rice. No more than that. I suspect these things take on a life of their own and become self-perpetuating. They even had a photo of Gordon Ramsay eating there. I was tempted to draw a little bubble coming out of his mouth saying “Fucking fuss over fuck all” but I understand they have strict sentences for that sort of thing in Singapore. I didn’t see our taxi-driver having his lunch either.

Whilst the chicken-rice was a bit ‘meh’ I was much more impressed with the eggs that we had for breakfast. There was a café nearby that served uncooked eggs in a jug of just-boiled water. You sat around drinking your coffee for fifteen minutes whilst the eggs cooked in front of you and then you cracked them open and dipped your toast into the yolks.

1-DSC02874

Genius. Just enough arseing around to make it perfect for idling time away on your holidays. The café was opposite a temple that claimed to have one of Buddah’s teeth in a box. A Swan Vesta box I hope. It was very popular with the tourists and probably the tooth fairies as well.

As we waited for our eggs to cook we watched busloads of people photographing themselves outside a recently erected temple before going inside to gaze in awe at a box that may or may not have contained dental waste from someone who may or may not have existed.

1-DSC02777

I told my Mam about the eggs and she said “You mean coddled?” I’d no idea if I meant coddled or not, but it turned out that I did. Apparently it’s nothing special and everyone did it in the olden days when they weren’t busy having a bath in a bucket in front of a coal fire or treating rickets by wrapping cabbage leaves around their knees.

That’s enough culinary stuff, time for football and the S-League game between Home United and Young Lions.

I took the MRT up to Bishan and then walked for five minutes across to the Bishan Stadium. There were a few fans hanging around outside, draining the last of their bottles of water before they were confiscated at the entrances. What’s the point? It turned out that they didn’t actually sell drinks inside, so it couldn’t be to protect their sales. In a climate where I’m likely to lose a couple of pints of sweat over the course of ninety minutes it would be nice to be able to replace some of it.

1-DSC02876

I bought my five dollar ticket and found myself a seat in the two tier main and only stand. There was a running track between the stand and the grass pitch and I had a small group of ‘ultras’ with a drum to my right and near to the half-way line.

1-DSC02878

There was a decent crowd when everyone eventually arrived with plenty of families and a few groups of young women, many of them wearing headscarves.

Home United were in red, with Young Lions, who are actually the Singapore U21 national team, in blue. It’s an interesting concept, letting a national development group play in the league. If it happened in England I imagine it would mean more game time for the young players and I’m sure their increased familiarity with each other would improve results in their age-group international games. It might even improve the prospects for the senior national team. I’m not sure what clubs and fans would think about it though. I’m not even sure what I think about it.

1-DSC02880

Young Lions should have been in front after thirty seconds but the straightforward chance was lifted over the bar. The miss didn’t prove too costly as ten minutes later the Home Utd keeper came out of his box in an attempt to head the ball away only to collide with one of his defenders and allow a visiting striker to turn the ball into an empty net from twenty-five yards.

1-DSC02903

The home side soon hit back when a fella with a top knot finished a cross from the left to equalise and then they took the lead with a left-footed free-kick curled in from the right that eluded everyone including the Young Lions keeper.

1-DSC02901

At half time we were all allowed out to use the drinks machine at the nearby leisure centre, on the strict condition that we drank it all before coming back inside. Nobody checked any tickets so unless the stewards have a fantastic memory for faces it’s easy enough to watch second half soccer in Singapore for free.

1-DSC02897

Home United increased their lead soon after the break with a strong header back across the keeper and then added a fourth close to the end after a bout of head-tennis in the box.

The grown-ups deserved their victory and the defeat kept Young Lions at the foot of the table and left me none the wiser as to whether playing age-group national teams in a domestic league was beneficial to anyone at all.

Tampines Rovers v Ceres La Salle, Tuesday 15th March 2016, 7.30pm

July 1, 2016

1-DSC02805

A week in Singapore works quite well for sightseeing. The Chinatown area was interesting enough with a decent museum that had plenty of olden-day photos. We went to the zoo, which was very good by zoo standards, but when you’ve recently spent a couple of years in Africa it’s hard to get excited by a pair of zebras in a pen.

Down at the harbour we took a boat trip past some of the older quayside areas and had lunch at a roof-top restaurant that gave us a view of most of the Singapore, including the Formula One circuit just below us.

1-DSC02911

Whilst all that stuff was very enjoyable, the sightseeing that I really wanted to do involved taking in a local game. The fixtures worked in my favour as there was an AFC cup match between Tampines Rovers and a team from the Philippines, Ceres La Salle, taking place during our visit. The Asian Federation Conference Cup is a bit like the UEFA Cup although it seems that rather than being for the not-quite top teams from the best footballing countries as it is in Europe, it’s for the best teams from the not-quite top footballing countries in Asia.

Jen and I had plenty of time before the 7:30 kick-off and so we took the subway to the Little India area and had our tea there before walking the remaining half hour or so to the Jalan Besar stadium.

1-DSC02796

I’d hoped to be following the crowd, but whilst the streets were busy it was with people going about their business rather than heading for the match. In fact we was almost at the ground before I spotted anyone who looked like they might have any interest in football.

1-DSC02799

There were separate ticket offices for the home and away fans and as we came across the away office first, that’s what we bought. Six dollars a pop and apparently at the swimming pool end.

1-P1270286

We were directed towards the swimming pool but ended up entering the ground a little too soon and we found ourselves among the home fans in the main stand. There were stands down both sides, with the seventy or so away fans opposite, the swimming pool to our left and a fence behind the goal to our right that didn’t really look suitable for preventing the ball bouncing across a busy road and causing an accident. I wonder how often an irate motorist threatens to “stick a knife in it”.

1-DSC02804

Tampines had Jermaine Pennant playing on the right of an attacking midfield three behind a lone striker. Yes, that Jermaine Pennant, he of the electronic tag, the spouse who poses in her smalls and the former owner of the car found at a railway station covered in five month’s worth of parking tickets after he had forgotten that he’d left it there.

The ex-Liverpool player certainly put the effort in, although at times he must have wondered what was going on as the standard of football was, unless he had ever turned out for his prison team, way below anything he would have encountered elsewhere.

1-DSC02803

At half time the drinks options were lychee juice or chrysanthemum tea. Wonderful. Don’t they know I’m on my holidays? I’ll never complain about the John Smith’s Smooth at the Boro again, or at least I won’t until I next order a pint of it.

Pennant dropped a lot deeper after the break, possibly hoping to have more of an influence by starting moves off, rather than waiting out wide in the hope of a pass. The change might very well have made a difference as midway through the second half the home side took the lead when the Ceres keeper fumbled the ball and someone was on hand to knock the loose ball in to the net.

1-DSC02801

It all looked to be in the bag for Tampines until a couple of minutes from the end when a floaty cross wasn’t cleared and one of the visitors stabbed it home from close range. The point apiece seemed fair and left both sides with a decent chance of qualifying from their four-team group.

 

Horse Racing at Singapore, Sunday 13th March 2016

June 30, 2016

1-DSC02772

One of the best things about my current job is that I get every fifth week off. That means that Jen and I can pick somewhere to visit and clear off for a holiday.

As it takes around four hours flying to get from Darwin to most of the places worth visiting in Australia, I had a look at the options to the north and for this trip we headed off to Singapore.

I’d read mixed reviews of the place, most of them mentioning that it was a bit dull. Sterile was a description that seemed to crop up. These people have obviously never been to somewhere like Billingham.

We stayed in Chinatown in an old hotel that tried to give the impression that its décor was based on a brothel. A sumptuous establishment from a century ago, that is, full of red velvet curtains, rather than the back room of a modern-day massage place with plastic covered mattresses and trafficked Chinese farm girls. I doubt the latter would go down well on Tripadvisor.

1-DSC02921

We landed early in the morning and after dropping off our bags took an MRT train to the north of the island and the Kranji racecourse. It was six dollars to get in to the general admission area, which is about three quid. That got us everywhere apart from the Gold Room, which requires a collared shirt and so ruled me out on sartorial grounds.

1-DSC02755

It was busy inside, with most of the punters choosing to watch the races on the televisions rather than through the windows of the grandstand or from out in the open air. It was amusing to watch people shouting home their horses on the televised races from Hong Kong and Australia that filled the gaps between live action, although I suppose that’s no different from me exclaiming “FFS” and yelling my disagreement with something someone has said on the news.

1-DSC02768

I started off by trying to do things properly and bought a form guide, before watching the horses make their circuits of the parade ring. I may as well not have bothered though as I’ve no real idea what I should be looking for as they walked around. None of them had an obvious limp, which would probably have been sufficient for me to rule them out, but apart from that none of them looked as if they were any faster than the others.

1-DSC02759

My selection process changed when I spotted that Alan Munro was riding. Maybe some of you remember him, he was the young lad who rode Generous to victory in the Derby back in the days when Colin Todd was in charge at the Boro and ‘ooh’ Andy Dibble was in his initial clean sheet spell on loan rather than the less successful return some years later. Does that seem a long time ago? It does to me. That’s because it was.

Anyway, on the basis that I couldn’t be arsed to read my form guide, I decided that life would be simpler if I just backed whatever horse Mr. Munro was riding. I realise he’s knocking on a bit but he must still be agile enough to ride horses or else he’d be doing something else by now. I’m sure Lester Piggott rode until he was about sixty and I doubt Alan Munro’s quite that old.

1-DSC02775

The racing was a mix of grass and polytrack. I watched some from outside and others from high up in the grandstand where I could benefit from the air-conditioning and take advantage of the food court. It was all cheap enough, with spring rolls for a dollar a go and coffee and coke not much more. There wasn’t any beer for sale, which seems strange for a race meeting.

1-DSC02771

We made a rare profit on the day, or at least on the six races that we stayed for, with Munro winning one and then coming in third on a sixty to one shot. As we made our way out, there were still people coming in.  Perhaps they had just got out of church.