Sunday, January 15, 2006


Siriwijaya At Home

First home game of the 2006 season sees Persija playing Sriwijaya from Palembang up on Sumatra. As with any good football day out we started in the pub where pasty n chips and some crap shots on the pool table set us up nicely
We ordered a taxi from the pub and just as it turned up the heavens opened and we got deluged. We had half a mind of knocking the game on the head but as we neared the stadium all the old feelings returned. Public transport heading to the ground was crowded with people hanging on the sides of buses and angkots and sod the bloody rain while others walked through the drizzle. Sod it, we had to go. Luckily the skies cleared and by the time we were dropped off outside the main, the only, stand it was nothing but a fine drizzle.
Just like games in Europe vendors had claimed the pavements to sell shirts, scarves, bobble hats in the garish orange and white colours of the home side Persija Jakarta. we didn't have time to do a reccy, we needed to source the tickets and finally were directed to the office. 'Cos it was raining we got seats under cover for 30,000 Rupiah, about 3 dollars and headed up the stairs.

There's always a buzz the first time you see a stadium and this was no difference especially as it was my first game in about 8 years. We walked through the entrance and looked out on an open terrace that was alive. It was crowded over there and the humanity was swaying first to the left, then to the right in a wonderfully choreographed display. They weren't put off by the rain and to be fair back in the day neither was I. Behind each goal were other smaller terraces, one end had a scoreboard. We were in the stand as I said before, the only part of the ground undercover. I'll get the stats later but the crowd made some noise, aided and abetted by bloody drums that rattled and banged during most of the 90 minutes.
The away fans had a small part of the main stand and I clocked the Persija fans behind the goal nearest them but they weren't interested. I'd heard much about the famous 'bonek' or hooligans but certainly they weren't too interested in the visiting supporters, all 100 of them!

There was a tinny loudspeaker announcing the teams but it was indelible to us in the stand. All round the ground attached to the high fences were banners declaring the fans devotion to their team and the mighty
Jakmania , such as Cempaka Putih Jakmania. Football eh? What else inspires such devotion? I couldn't help but compare this pumping atmosphere where the fans themselves were the pre match entertainment, and during the game they were most of the entertainment as well, with games in Thailand where supporters for some reason find it hard to get excited by Siam Commercial Bank playing against Provincial Electricity Authority. Football is about identifying with your team. Persija with their massive fan base are sitting on a marketing bonanza if they can only tap into it.
The game itself wasn't the most exciting we've ever seen. The pitch didn't help being bumpy and cutting up easily but what can you expect when you start the season in the rainy season. It would be interesting to see what the groundsman of the billiard smooth surface at Highbury would do this this one! Siriwijaya started brightly but failed to make their possession count, not really threatening the keeper and slowly Persija got more involved. A goal from a corner for the home team divided the teams at half time. Second half and Persija took control and scored a second, also from a header and looked to be cruising. Somehow the visitors got their act together and they too scored a header to make the closing stages quite exciting but in truth a draw would have been unfair on the lads in orange who got off to a 3 point start under their new manager.
It was good to see the Siriwijaya players made their way to salute their fans and it would be interesting to know how many of them had made their way by bus and ferry down from Palembang or how many were exiles in Jakarta. They kept singing and dancing throughout the whole game and while a few Persija fans were by the dividing fence there were no signs of trouble. We had to get to the pub after the game so didn't stick around so cannot say if anything happened but I did have a quick glance at their exit and there didn't seem to be any lads looking to send them on their way as it were.
Next up, Padang at home on Tuesday which is a bummer, some of us work for a living but it's live on TV. Never as good as being there no matter what country you're in but it's the best I can do. I'll get the stats and other results up as soon as I get them!

For pictures from the first game please go to

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