Saturday, March 27, 2010



I've always maintained there is more to football than 22 guys kicking a ball around. Perhaps it's one reason why I started this here blog. To try and encompass the whole football experience. What boots Ronaldo wears or who do Real Madrid wanna sign just dumbs the game down even more. Maybe it's what people want but that's another story.

Football is a day out. It's about meeting your mates somewhere, having a few jars, bit of a laugh, bit of a crack before heading to the game where you meet the rest of the gang. At least that's what football used to be like.

Away days were always a buzz. Travelling round the country just to be called a cockney twat was fun. Unless you've done it I can't really explain it.

I see numptys walking round shopping malls in Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore, KL and they don't get it. They buy a rip off shirt and think they're a fan. Maybe the definition of fan has changed, maybe I'm stuck in a time rut and I'm wrong.

Since I've started this blog I think it's fair to say I've met some of the biggest names in South East Asian football. Players and coaches. But none of that has left me with a tingling sensation down my spine.

This morning I met up with Persis Solo coach Isman Jasulmai and we had a good old we usually do.

He took over the team for the second half of the season and he has yet to celebrate a goal. The story behind the scenes is better than any soap opera but one I'm not telling here.

As I was leaving the players hotel in Tangerang ahead of their game against Persikota this afternoon some of their supporters were arriving. You would think that three wins and eight goals all season, you would think the fans had given up. But not these guys. And despite what you may read in the Jakarta Post there were women in the group. And they did seem happy. And they weren't rioting.

500 fans, they told me, had made the 15 hour train journey from Solo for this game. A meaningless, pointless game of interest to saddos like me and gamblers. 500! Home games they have been pulling 15,000. This for a team that for all intents and purposes won't exist next season after being relegated from the Premier League. This for a team that boasted Greg Nwokolo, the Jakarta Casual Player of the Year 2009, just a few years back.

On the way home I drove past the stadium and there was the bulk of their support. Clad in red, sitting patiently outside waiting for the gates to open in another 4.5 hours.

Meeting them, thinking about their journey, thinking about their devotion to a team in terminal decline, that sent the tingles down my spine.

Brilliant. Spot on.

(You Cockney t**t)
Very nicely put. I don't really have anything to add except that - at the risk of sounding bigoted - I really think the reason that you or I feel we understand the culture of a 'true fan' (for want of a better expression) is because European football culture is where it all began.
i think every country has a different football culture. indonesia has one to be proud of, singapore is trying to find one as is thailand
Great post. I'm afraid though that we are all bourgeois now. Or at least, those of us not carrying torn off street maps and sketchy recollections of public transport routes to wherever the fixture tells us we're playing.
paul - first thing i did when i arrived in sydney was look at a street map to find out where the football grounds were..

sad but true
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