This letter was sent to us by a long-time S.League supporter who agreed to send this in to us on the condition of anonymity. We present to you this letter, unedited in its original form (We hate to edit things). Thank you for your thoughts, Anonymous.
First and foremost, I’d like to set the record straight. If you clicked on this post and hoping or anticipating that it will be another rant or criticism of the football authorities, then I apologize beforehand because you will be disappointed. In fact, scroll no further and do not waste your time.
After reading all those criticism and jibes at the football authorities, I can’t help but feel even more helpless and quite frankly, I have very little energy left to think of the “what could have been” or “what should have been done”. Instead, this post is simply a tribute to the S.League and how it has been so meaningful to me.
Football is my life.
As a Singaporean male adult in his mid-twenties, I am not able to describe to you the feeling of being in the “good old days of the Malaysia Cup”. Yes, I belong to that unfortunate generation who do not understand what it feels like to be in the Kallang Stadium, watching the likes of Dollah Kassim, Samad Allapitchay, The Quah Brothers or even Fandi Ahmad regularly. And so, I can’t exactly tell you which era is better or which generation of footballers is better.
But what I can tell you is that I grew up watching the likes of Zahid Ahmad, Azhar Baksin, Azhar Salleh, Tan Kim Leng, Goh Tat Chuan, S.Subramani, and Lionel Lewis grace the humble pitches of Bedok Stadium, Tampines Stadium or Woodlands Stadium. I was mesmerized by the skills of Egmar Goncalves, Billy Bone, Thersak Chaiman, Sutee Suksomkit, Mustafic Fahrudin and Aleksandar Duric working their magic at Bishan Stadium, Hougang Stadium and Queenstown Stadium. And honestly, comparing videos and pictures of the past and present, I’d have to say, I would have liked to experience what it feels like to watch a game at the old Kallang Stadium.
Nonetheless, those humble names of the S.League era are still special in my eyes. Up till today, I can still feel the magic when I turn up at those stadiums in the heartlands, whether the crowd is 50, 500 or 5000. I can still remember the excitement each time I queue up to buy those affordable paper tickets. I can still recall the times I bump into those players at shopping malls and the surreal feeling when players throw me their jerseys at the end of the season. Yes, those were not household names but then again, those guys were my heroes. I may have pledged my allegiance to one club but because the S.League community is so small, I can’t help but feel that the other clubs in the league are still so very important.
I remembered as a Primary 1 kid, I would save 20 cents each day so that I can buy a packet of S.League stickers to add to my collection of sticker book, which is sadly now missing. And when I started working, I remembered those times I would rush to the stadium after work just to catch a mid-week S.League game. Some of my colleagues laughed at me but it didn't bother me. I thought the S.League was something magic.
And so, for 19 years, the S.League has always had a special place in my heart. Honestly, on some bad days, I would reflect and think whether the time I spent supporting my club in the S.League was worth my money, effort and energy. But in each of those times, I would be reminded of the many good times I had. Moreover, I have made many friends because I support my club and because I watch the S.League. Some of those friends have become so close to me even. And for that, I am really thankful.
But surely, what I am grateful for is how my club and the league as a whole shaped me to be the man I am today. In many ways, football has showed me what life is all about. And the S.League in particular, has been my greatest teacher. This may sound ridiculous but we all see the world in different ways. For me, through watching the S.League and supporting my club, I understood what it means to be loyal and to betray. Through the players, I learnt that hard work is key to success. Through the players as well, I also learnt what can destroy your career in whatever your field of work is. Through the underdogs such as Balestier Khalsa, I learnt that you can tackle the impossible through smart strategic play. And through stories like Adrian Dhanaraj’s fight against cancer or even Asraf Rashid’s rise to prominence, I understood what the human spirit is all about. And all that would not have been possible if there was no S.League.
At this juncture, even at the current state of the S.League, it continues to be my teacher in life. Yes, at this moment, the S.League has taught me that if you do not treat yourself seriously, nobody will. And sadly, if your employers do not want you, then the only thing you can do is move on. And that is exactly what I will be doing. I will move on with my life.
Perhaps, this is the time in my life that I should look at other things that is more meaningful and more worthwhile. Maybe this is the time in my life that I should look at other places and things that can bring me joy and fill my heart with happiness. And being in my mid-twenties, perhaps, this is the point in time when I can start to spend my weeknights and weekends at home with my family and friends.
It is sad that it has come to this but I guess all good things have to come to an end. And just like all good memories, although it is a pity that it has ended or seems to be going to an abrupt end, I am just grateful and thankful that the S.League was present in my life.