Monday, 14 June 2010

World Cup Fever: My Love Affair With Football

Hola!! Como es tas?

Well, if you saw this on my blog profile..:

The uninitiated ones might be wordering why the heck did I call, or at least, profile myself as a Red Devil. Red Devil is the nickname for Manchester United, and I'm a massive Manchester United supporter. I've been supporting them for a long time, since I was in school, since the days of Captain Robbo. I've watched them playing live a few times, when they came over to KL for their pre-season tours, and actually the main reason why I was close to doing postgrad studies in Manchester (tapi tak jadi, takde rezeki nak pegi sana, so offer tu burn je la...sedey weeyyy...)

OK let's backtrack to my love affair with football in the first place.

I was born into a footy-loving family. So since I was young, as young as 9 or 10 years old, my Dad (especially) and other family members have been taking us to the stadium to watch the game, the Malaysian league la so to speak (let's not get into the quality of the game right now ya) and so we've been exposed to the football culture early on.

I remember when we were living in the town about 3 hours away from Kuching, and Dad would take us on a return trip back to Kuching within one night just to watch Sarawak (our state team) play at the State Stadium. When it was about 5PM, Dad would quickly drive back home to fetch us and right away, after a quick refreshment, went on a long drive to Kuching straight to the stadium to catch the game, which always started at 8.15PM. Then once the game is over, usually around 10PM, he would drive back for another 3 hours, even on weeknights. Most of the time, one or two of Dad's collegues would come along.

Map of our long journey
Source: Google Map

English football is really big in Malaysia. Heck, even now, most of the time, football fans here could list the first eleven of say..Liverpool or Chelsea (in my case MU la) faster than they could name the players in their own state team (shameful I know). And I've been watching it since the Malaysian TV start showing it extensively in the early 90's. But even then, English football have been having big followings here. Families become divided, but basically, everyone loves the sport for its beauty.

I guess I was the only odd one out in the family, as most of them went for Liverpool, or some other teams, depending on their current performance in the league. But United, for me, is a team not only rich in great performance, great players and legendary managers, but mainly is rich in history. It is the team that has survived near backruptcy during ints infancy years in the early 20th century, and having its stadium, Old Trafford surviving the German bomb during World War II. Most poignantly, this is the team that rose from the ashes of the air crash in Munich in 1958 to become the first English team to win the European Cup (now known as the European Champions' League Cup) in 1968.

Thanks to Mr. Googs;)

This is the team that, in the 70's despite being in the second league, still could become the team with the highest attendance in its stadium, the team to first achive double championships (league and FA Cup) in 1994, and also Double double (1996), subsequently becoming the most successful English team so far (18 Championships). It is also the only English team to so far has done the Treble, meaning to win the League, FA Cup and European Champions' League within one season. Darn it, they won all these titles within one and a half week in May 1999!! ( Still is the best week of my life)

The big prize
Source: Wikipedia

Since then, United have won more and more championships and like any other teams, also experiences downsides, backlashes, and conflicts. But I stand firm by them, and hope to really make my 'pilgrimage' to Old Trafford one day. Next year possibly, insyaAllah...:)

Anyway, back to the World Cup.

Thanks again Mr. Googs;)

Like any other fans all over the planet, I'll be glueing in front of the TV to catch the games, even in the wee hours of the morning. I'll be sporting even more prominent dark circles under my eyes because of lack of sleep, and I'll be walking around like a zombie (hope not while driving) due to the erratic waking-and-sleeping hours.

Fret not, this is just a once-in-four-years kind of fever. Well, if you include the European Championships (European countries' tournament, not the club type), then let's make it a once-in-two-years kind of fever hehehhe...

But whatever it is, football has that special kind of magic that only true fans will know. And everyone's welcomed to join the club. This is the game that brings everyone, etranced in its magic, whether you're a monk at the top of Himalayan mountains, or barefooted kid in the slums of Rio de Jeneiro, or a kampung boy in Hulu Selangor.

This is the game that even united enemies waging wars, as happened Christmas periods during World War I between the British and German armies. Here's the story:
On Christmas Eve 1915, a peace overture came from the German lines. On Christmas Day, after a night of carol singing, Bertie Felstead, a private in the Royal Welch Fusiliers recalled that feelings of goodwill had so swelled up that at dawn Bavarian and British soldiers clambered spontaneously out of their trenches. A football was produced from somewhere – though none could recall from where. "It wasn't a game as such, more a kick-around and a free-for-all. There could have been 50 on each side for all I know. I played because I really liked football. I don't know how long it lasted, probably half an hour."
More info can be found here.

Here's my dedication to football, the beautiful game. I'll be cheering for the teams that have United players in them and let's hope the best team wins come July 12. Cheers!! Allez allez!:)

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