Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Lok's Journey From Eastbourne to Malaysia

Two years ago Darren Lok was signing a new contract with Eastbourne Borough, scoring goals for them at the weekend and earning his bread working as a support worker for psychiatric patients. Now he appears to be on the verge of a call up by the Malaysian national team. It sounds like a story straight from the Jamie Vardy Book of What the Fuck Happened In My Career.

Lok came through the ranks at Eastbourne, a club based in a town more famous as a destination for old buggers looking to tinkle their tootsies in the freezing waters of the English Channel before heading to the Bingo. He played his last game for the club away to Ebbsfleet United, you really do need Google Maps to understand English non league, where his team lost 4-2. In front of 1400 fans! Lok however apparently played a blinder, if the match report can be believed.

The guy writing said report named Lok man of the match, adding ' – this week as every week, a man with Borough in his bones. Best of luck, Darren!'

In a 2014 local newspaper article (it is worth pointing out to people in South East Asia England has thousands of football clubs across the country, not just four or five, and they all receive column inches in the local media) Lok was described as At under 6ft tall, Lok might not strike you as your archetypal non-league centre forward but he was busy last season carving out a reputation as an energetic, lively striker, who makes up for what he lacks in physique with a presence beyond his stature.

The article says nothing about his Malaysian heritage but early 2015 Lok was 'discovered' and featured in the local Four Four Two where he said he loved Chinese food, loved Malaysia but couldn't speak the language! When asked whether he would like to play there he replied 'I would love to play for Malaysia one day. Giving up my English citizenship is something that I would have to give great consideration, but if the chance ever came up to represent Malaysia, I would jump at it.'

Last September national team coach Ong Kim Swee said he was aware of Lok and was open to having more mixed heritage players in the squad...subject to their ability of course. Others who have made an impact in recent times include Brendan Gan, Matthew Davies and Junior Eldstal. 

One time St George legend Scott Ollerenshaw has known about Lok for a while and he is impressed saying 'Darren is potentially the diamond of the lot. He's powerfully built and can score goals.'

Now it appears his chance has come. Lok is currently trialling with Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Ta'zim and their feeder side Johor Darul Ta'zim II and he could be called up by the national side for their AFC Asian Cup qualifiers against Timor Leste early in June...if he receives his Malaysian passport in time.

OKS is more cautious. 'Darren still has to prove himself ... no one’s guaranteed a place in the national team. I will have to assess his condition first,' he said on Tuesday. 'I won’t need long to see if he's good enough for the national team ... maybe one or two days. I’ve also received good feedback from JDT.'

If Lok doesn't make the Timor Leste squad it is likely he will be heading to Oceania for friendlies against Papua new Guinea, Fiji and New Caledonia later in the month where he will be enjoying beaches far different from the pebbles of Eastbourne.

Forget Jamie Vardy having a party, this is Malaysia and Darren Lok could be stirring the wok!

God knows Malaysia need strikers. From the squad that was called up for the Myanmar friendly later this week only Amri Yahyah (10 goals) and Safiq Rahim (15) had reached double figures...and Amri is 35 years old! That squad didn't include Norhsahrul Idlan who has six goals or 32 year old Safee Sali who has scored 23 or Indra Putra Mahayuddin (17). And they were held 0-0 by Macau in their last friendly. 

A coach can only draw on what is available to him and with absolutely no disrespect to Lok who is only taking the opportunity that has been offered to him the mere fact a player from Eastbourne Borough could even be considered for the national team says much about the quality of young players coming through and, I guess by implication, the failure of the Harimau Muda projects of recent years but that is another story.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?