At the Istana, the memories came alive — Dan Guen Chin
JULY 14 — It was a gathering to celebrate the achievements of Singapore football and it brought together many of those whose contribution big or small have made it all possible.
Some no longer sport the physical shape they had when marauding up and down the fields in their heyday, and though their hairlines may have receded, none have forgotten what it was like those years ago when nothing else matters, except football.
There was Samad Allapitchay, the skipper of the 1977 squad that lifted the Malaysia Cup. Though his hair is greying, he carries himself with the dignified air of a man who once ruled the heart of the Singapore defence.
There was Leong Kok Fann, the effervescent figure in the Singapore midfield whose penalty sunk Malaysia in the semi-finals of the 1985 SEA Games in Bangkok.
There was Malek Awab, a central figure of the Lions of the late-80s who went on to find fame and fortune with Kuala Lumpur in the Malaysia Cup.
When the legion of Lions gather, on occasions such as the launch of 50 Great Moments in Singapore Football at the Istana, the conversation would naturally turn to football, and what it was like in the good old days.
Good times, as they all say. And though some may gripe about the past and how they could be treated better in the present, others were contented to take things as they come. Whatever their grouses or praise, they long for the days when Singapore football was at its dazzling height — when Selangor were King and Singapore the old enemy from across the Causeway.
There were some who did not make the gathering, such as Mohammad Noh whose marriage to popular songstress Rahimah Rahim caused a few heartbreaks among his female fans, predating the David Beckham-Posh Spice coupling by two decades.
Syed Mutalib, whose duel with the late Mokhtar Dahari of Selangor was the stuff of headlines, was nowhere to be seen.
Notable for their absence were Fandi Ahmad, Singapore’s biggest name in football, and Quah Kim Song, the terrier on the flanks of the late-70s. Perhaps the absentees had prior commitments to attend to, other interests and priorities. Or perhaps they were simply happy to have moved on, content to leave the past behind.
Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin, said this was an occasion to ignite the passion for football. And for those fortunate enough to be at the Istana yesterday, it was instead an occasion to ignite memories of the good old days, and celebrate the success of a glorious past. — Today
* Dan Guen Chin is a correspondent with the Today Sports Desk
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.