Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Stags, the Eagles and a Game

The green turf is flawless, except for the white paint along the perimeter; another spatter cuts the field in half. A box at each end marks by nets upright. Beneath the glaring floodlights, the grass glimmers with a majestic aura. The noble men in green, to our left, chant a prophecy of war, of bravery, in sync to a leader's drum. Passion is but another manner of nobility.

The air is sultry. A two-storey tall electronic clock tower across the field proclaims together with a customary whistle from the man in black, a flurry of battles to begin. Thus the soldiers cross swords. One side in yellow attacks from left to right, in organised waves - a breathtaking sight. My comrade is bewitched. Before long, the gritty defenders in green - under constant sieges – can only watch as their net is bulged. The inflictor-in-chief wheels away in ecstasy, while some in the gallery curse incessantly, others celebrate wildly amid the drums pounding. Neutrals like us applaud the execution of the attack, relish the sight and sound.

A period of total control, of neat, intricate passing follows – like needles strung together. We see that the green army has no answer, no cutting edge upfront. Then, a turning point surfaces: a feeble attempt of a cross; a mix-up in the yellow-shirted defence; a strike into an unguarded net. The crowd stands up in frenzy; more cursing, more drum roll, hands up in the air in victory, salute and clap. Now we know: a herculean struggle of muscles and guile is truly on.

The second half of the war came on, with the noble men slightly late. Two strikes followed, yet neither side gained an upper hand. Finally, the equilibrium was broken, leaving some with a bruised ego, an undeserved defeat too bitter to swallow.

And it was not without controversy. I say, the green army had earned a penalty with some intelligent passes and off-the-ball running, but alas, the man in black was unmoved. As play switched swiftly to the other end of the field, a cross was blocked; the instigator had another swing at the ball, which bounced across the box, eluding everyone, before landing in the net from the foot of the man of the moment. There was complete silence before it broke: more cursing, more drum roll, hands up in the air in victory, salute and clap. As the green army trooped towards the gallery after the final whistle, we couldn’t help but cheered for their courage and spirit, in making a close fight of it. With that, KL and I retreated for our supper.

Friday was my second S-league’s outing and my first time in the Jalan Besar Stadium. Both times, Tampines Rover, or the Stags, ends up victorious. I guess you can call me a Stags's fan. It is a sight to behold when the dad’s army shape up with one-touch passing, camp in their attacking half, forcing the opposition to crack under wave after wave of pressure. Hard luck Geylang United! In my view, you guys had acquitted yourselves well on the field and won over many hearts.

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