Give LATW a chance lah…

LionsXII is going to kick off soon against Kelantan, but the thread on Kallangroar.com’s Facebook page about tickets selling out was kind of distracted by some comments about the LATW crew, which I first noticed from a tweet from @kallangfortis asking if past efforts had gone down the drain because the LATW crew’s focus on the National Team rather than on this LionsXII side was turning off some Singapore football supporters. My response: which effort down what drain?

Here’s my response on that thread, which through some late night e-diarrhoea became a full blog post’s worth of content…

‎@Muhd Khalis Rifhan you’re right… the passion is good news for Singapore football. Thanks for sticking with the S.League and going down for the LionsXII too.

But I feel LATW’s message is justified, even though I’m not part of them. I have to watch our matches via online streaming, and I think the LATW crew are doing a great job keeping the noise levels up in stadiums. Before they got together it was the usual songs and chants, and I tell you, for the past few years even in the Tiger Cup it was always the same few people singing, even the ‘die hard fans’ also a bit like punctured tire… sounded like 1 cheerleader.

@Rohaizat Talib: it’s good that you remember the Malaysia Cup days… I also miss paying $2 for a cup of coke behind the corner flag. But those days are gone. As are the fans from that era. I’ve seen it, painful to watch empty Kallang stands: friendlies against UAE, North Korea, draws in 2007 against Laos and Vietnam in the Tiger Cup group stages, but full house in ‘prestige’ friendlies like Liverpool, Brazil or Australia. And more cheering for Harry Kewell than Rezal Hassan in our very own Kallang Stadium. Why?

Sure, there was support against Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, but only during the knockout stages. Are our Lions only worth supporting when losing will knock them out of a tournament? Or have we grown so complacent that we expect to be in the knockout stages all the time, so we don’t have to waste time with the group matches?

Maybe the inclusion of foreign-born Singaporeans means we couldn’t identify as closely with the national team, and you might have a point there. But Agu, Itimi and Duric – even Egmar – aren’t to blame for playing in Singapore shirts. It’s FAS who hired them there (correct me if I’m wrong.) so their decision to turn up at all means they want, for at least a while, to be part of Singapore’s football destiny. Besides, we never really complained about Jang Jung, Alistair Edwards, Michael Vana, Abbas Saad turning up in red for Singapore in the 90s right?

Even in the recent World Cup Qualifiers we couldn’t always fill the Jalan Besar Stadium. How to talk about the Kallang days? One can’t knock the LATW crew for bringing life back to the stands, and singing at full volume even when we were down 4-0 and playing like crap against China. They are there through thick and thin, which is what football fans should do, regardless of whether they are imitating some songs from BPL clubs or imitating songs from S.League clubs.

If they are to be faulted, it may be for being a little too zealous in keeping the LionsXII separate from the national team, but at least they are there for the real Lions. I would urge the LATW crew to turn up for the LionsXII as well as the National Team… I know at least one of them is going to, just not in his guise as ‘LATWer’. Right Mervin UtdforUtd Tan? So it’s not like they have no semangat, it’s just that they recognise LionsXII for what it is – a club side. Of which the S.League has 10, not counting Etoile, Albirex, DPMM and Harimau Muda.

Back in the M-League days we didn’t have our own S.League to support, the Premier League was well-established but there was no competition with the Lions who played in FAM competitions back then because the Lions united the nation. This return to the MSL will probably have the same uniting effect, and the media is putting its whole weight behind this venture, but does that mean the S.League is to be relegated back to Premier League status? What is to become of the S.League that brought us to AFC competitions and was (for better or worse) one of the top 10 leagues in Asia for a while?

In the midst of all this hoopla over our “long-awaited” return to an FAM competition, let’s not forget that we have spent time and money trying to get our own professional competition up and running. And it’s S.League teams that brought the likes of Mohun Bagan, Arbil FC, Henan Jianye, Shanghai Shenhua and Suwon Samsung to our shores, so they deserve their fair share of credit, I think.

Sure, @Bobby Cheong brings up a good point that the older generation will be brought back to the stands, but my question to you – my own father included – is why did you guys leave the S.League behind? Standard not good enough? Can’t be right, our Lions frankly aren’t that much better. It’s never been about standard.

Basil Yeo while you do have a point, it’s kind of unfortunate that you chose to make it with a Milan jersey on in your profile pic. I’m not saying you left local football in the lurch or that it’s illegal to support overseas teams but it just seems a bit self-contradictory to call out the glory-hunters right?

I’m hoping the LionsXII do well in the MSL, but not at the expense of the S.League – already, captain Shahril Ishak isn’t setting a good example. Why? He mentioned in 2010 after his last match at Tampines Stadium that if he were to return to Singapore football (did he say S.League? I need to check) his first choice would be to return to Home United. Instead he has gone to the MSL for reasons only he knows and I shall not speculate here.

I will be happy if some LionsXII players could get signed by S.League clubs instead of transfers being only one way. Unfortunately I don’t think that would be likely, though I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I still think this Malaysian experiment should be kept short-term and while I do not wish for it to fail, I would like the S.League to benefit eventually from the LionsXII as well, because a home-grown professional league is, I feel, the long-term answer to improving local football.

Didn’t the likes of Quah Kim Song and Fandi Ahmad (sorry defenders, but strikers are more glamourous) play in local sides before they were picked for the national team? Wouldn’t putting more effort in developing local clubs give better chances of finding another star of that calibre than fielding a club team in another country’s competition?

This is why I think LATW has a point, and shouldn’t be disregarded or belittled. They are reminding us who we should be behind. Singapore.

Because if we don’t support Singapore, which other country will?

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2 Responses to Give LATW a chance lah…

  1. Basil Yeo says:

    Wow? Seriously? I do not have the choice to have whatever I want as my Facebook profile picture? I have watched the S.League longer than I have been watching AC Milan play. So please save your comments for elsewhere. Thank you.

    • icedwater says:

      I believe you misread it. I’m saying it’s unfortunate, since you leave yourself open to accusations of being a glory-hunter as well. Having worked with you before for sleague.com, would I malign you? Don’t get worked up for nothing. Good that you explain yourself here. I guess I should have replaced “seems” with “appears”.

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