I don't remember watching any exciting matches at the Kallang Stadium. My elder brothers probably did, when they were selling otah-otah and kueh-kueh in the stands back in the early 80's. By the time I was old enough, hawkers were no longer allowed inside and thus I missed watching the early Singapore teams live at the Stadium.
In fact I was never a fan of the local soccer scene. However, since the Gooners asked me along for this opportunity to see the inside of the Kallang Stadium for perhaps one last time, I tagged along for the experience.
We've all agreed to go in our Arsenal jerseys (Red mah). As expected there were the Man-U, Liverpool and a few Lions jerseys around the stadium too. The Chinese supporters were out in full force, some arriving by chartered buses. Many had their national flags draped around them. I overheard some boasting about how they were gonna score 4, even 8 goals against the Lions. Patriotic, yes. Arrogant, perhaps.
The atmosphere in the stands was friendly in the beginning. There were friendly jabs about the opposing teams from both sides of supporters. The main sponsor had opened up the upper gallery to some 100 fans if they arrived early, with the promise of free beers and snacks. Lucky it was only 100, else once the beer starts to kick in who knows what might have transpired between them and the Chinese fans.
However, it was rude for the supporters to be jeering while the respective national anthems were being played, more rude when I heard a few unkind remarks about the Chinese nationals from the Singapore supporters side. I'd have preferred that we saved all that voice to shout out support for our own teams. I felt that there should've been some sort of segregation, between the 2 teams' supporters. I know, it's not the Malaysia Cup of the heydays, but still safety has to be a concern at events like these.
Well, the Lions did well against the "Red Army". When I say that I mean that they kept a clean sheet against the China team. The Lions had no ideas up front, always pumping the ball high and hoping for the best. Many could see that they couldn't out-jump many of the Chinese players, so why they kept doing that I don't understand. My man of the match? Goalkeeper Lionel Lewis. If it weren't for his safe hands, and some bad luck for the Chinese team, we'd have been 2 or 3 goals down at the end of the evening.
As we ambled our way out after the final whistle, we took a last look at the Stadium, all lit up. For many it holds fond memories from as far back as a decade ago. Hopefully someday a new Stadium would be able to hold more fans and one may hear the Kallang roar loud and proud again.