Posts Tagged ‘Super League’

Pahang v Penang, Saturday 24th September 2016, 9pm

November 12, 2016

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Jen and I drove the four hours or so to Kuantan for this game in our recently acquired nine-year old Proton Gen 2 car. It seemed increasingly less of a bargain with each time that we had to stop and prevent it over-heating by adding a litre or more of water.

Our hotel overlooked the Darulmakmur stadium and if we’d wanted to we could have watched the game from our room.  However, with the ground just a ten minute walk away, I thought we’d have a better view from inside.

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At the ticket office we had a choice of tickets at 12, 15 and 25 ringgits. I assumed that the cheapest were concessions, the middle band terracing and the top priced tickets were for the grandstands.

I was wrong. The middle option that I’d chosen on the basis of it being terracing turned out to be upper tier of the grandstand. It was a mistake that worked out well though in that the seats towards the front of the upper tier probably provided the best view in the ground.

This was another game that would go a long way in determining the relegation slots from the Super League. If Penang lost they were down, if Pahang won they would stay up. Or maybe it was the other way around. I dunno, it would have been easier if they hadn’t had such similar names. A draw suited neither really. Surprisingly, for a meaningful game the crowd seemed quite small.

There were a hundred and twenty or so visiting fans on the far side, with a banner encouraging ‘Lobo’ to stay. I’d no idea at the time who Lobo was. Or if the banner was even football related. It could just have easily been something to do with the training of dogs.

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Penang were in white with two light blue stripes whilst Pahang were in yellow.

The visitors played in a similar way to the previous week, generally starting from the back via the big fella at centre-half. I looked him up later and it turned out that he was the Lobo that the fans were keen to see stay. He didn’t have much in the way of ball-control and often needed the extra space and time that hanging ten yards behind the play gave him. He could boot it a long way though and you knew that if he were a Sunday league player he’d be taking the goal kicks and launching them almost to the opponents penalty area.

When the option was there for a short pass, Lobo would play it to the Korean in defensive midfield who was putting in what’s often described a workman-like shift. The usual plan for the Korean was then to find the Argentinian bloke ahead of him who would try to play in the Nigerian striker.

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Despite its simplicity, or perhaps because of it, Pahang had little trouble foiling the plan and they went into half-time a goal up after Penang failed to clear a corner and the ball was whacked home from four yards out.

There was a choice of refreshments at the interval. I declined the luminous green drink and instead plumped for the King Cola at 2 ringgits a cup. It was a lot sweeter than my usual choice of diet coke and were I an expert on these matters I’d probably say that the complex light floral notes were finely balanced with lingering hints of Jeyes fluid.

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We moved to the end of our stand for the second half as it was less busy and gave us a view of the rest of the stand from the curve. As I could see down to the lower tier, I’d say that there were probably 1,500 home fans in the 32,500 capacity ground.

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Penang varied their approach a little in the second half by moving the Korean further forward at the expense of the Argentinian fella. It didn’t make much difference though and their job was made harder when one of the visiting players was sent off for lashing out in what seemed an obvious case of frustration at the scoreline.

Pahang hung on to their lead and took the three points. It wasn’t a result that finally resolved anything though and with one game of the season remaining there were still five teams in danger of the drop.

Penang v Police, Saturday 10th September 2016, 9pm

November 11, 2016

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Jen and I don’t live too far from Kuala Lumpur airport and so there are quite a few options for a Friday evening getaway. For this weekend we’d chosen Penang which is an hour’s flight up the coast.

We stayed in Georgetown, an old town that has a couple of interesting museums, a nineteenth century fort and a town centre that late on the Friday night seemed to be a magnet for travelling white boys with dreads. We didn’t stay out for long.

On the Saturday we had a look around the other attractions and then in the evening walked the couple of miles towards the Bandar Raya stadium. On the way we passed someone getting a massage. Nothing unusual there, I’m sure Georgetown has plenty of options for massages, as does most of Asia. What made this one different was that it involved a couple of meat cleavers. Not much prospect of a happy ending with that one, I suppose.

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We were still two hours or so early by the time we reached the ground but the floodlights were on and the gates open. We checked the kickoff time with a couple of coppers on the gate, whom I presumed were on duty and not waiting to get changed for the game.

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The ticket office was right next door to the turnstiles and there were already people milling around. It was a big game, in as much as Penang were in danger of being relegated if they lost, whilst the Police weren’t far enough ahead of them in the table to be considered safe from the drop either.

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Tickets were fifteen ringgits which is about three quid. I just asked for two, without specifying any area of the ground. It didn’t look like rain and so I wasn’t really bothered about where we sat.

With our tickets in hand we called in at a restaurant a minute or two away for something to eat. It was mainly outdoor tables but fortunately there was a light breeze to cool things down a little.

The place was filling up quickly, perhaps as a consequence of them having a telly that was showing the Manchester derby. We ordered chicken and rice which, when you aren’t confident in identifying the items on the menu, was a safe enough option.

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After dinner we popped into the petrol station next to the turnstiles to pick up a couple of drinks. We got as far as the turnstile with them, where they were confiscated for being potential missiles. The police couldn’t have been more apologetic though and suggested a compromise whereby we could leave them in the turnstile hut and, if we promised not to hurl the bottle at anyone, we could call in for a drink whenever we liked. Perfect.

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The stadium is the oldest in Malaysia, dating back to 1956 and with the usual uncovered bowl and one main stand arrangement. We just sat at the top of the terracing behind the goal, mainly because it meant a shorter walk to the turnstile hut whenever I wanted a swig of coke.

There was a decent turnout from the Penang fans and also a handful of ultras to our right who were supporting the visitors. They seemed well-organised and so I presume they were actual junior policemen who had been ‘encouraged’ to attend and offer some support.

Curiously, one of them had a scarf with A.C.A.B. on it. If it meant the same as it did on those knuckle tattoos in the seventies, it seemed an odd sentiment. Mind you, there was another one with a ‘Fuck The System’ scarf. Probably CID.

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At half-time we had a chat with the rozzer on the gate. After admitting to supporting Penang rather than his employer he expressed his reservations over their chances of survival. He had faith in the manager who had been recently appointed but was worried that the upturn had come too late for this season.

After finishing our drinks we moved around to the other side of the ground, passing a prayer hut where a few of the fans were doing their best to get some divine assistance for the second half.

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The prayers turned out to be in vain, unless one of them had put the game down for a one-all draw on his coupon. It was a result that didn’t really help either team out in a definite case of two points dropped for both sides.

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We made it back to the hotel without encountering anyone else waving a meat cleaver and had a few drinks on the rooftop terrace where there wasn’t a white boy dread in sight.

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.