To date, there have been two letters in TODAY complaining about the number of “last games” that have been played at the National Stadium.
Reader Ng Woon Yang (see link here) said that he thought the Asean Football Championships final between Singapore and Thailand would be the Stadium’s last game.
He was thus was surprised when Singapore subsequently played Australia in a friendly to officially mark the closing down of the arena.
That surprise, he said, has however turned into disgust at the number of “last” games that have been played on that hallowed Kallang ground since.
“The closure of Singapore’s most iconic sporting structure has been handled poorly and points to poor planing on the part of all organisations involved,” he blasted.
“Let us alow this national icon to retire gracefully before more “mistakes” turn its last days into a farce.”
Likewise, Jason Chiam said (see link here) that he was appalled by the decision of the Football Association of Singapore to hold the friendly between a Singapore Selection side and the Brazil Olympic squad at the National Stadium.
“Since last year, we were told umpteen times, that a particular match would be the last at the Stadium, and the faithful among us have trooped to the grand old dame to soak in the nostalgia before she is pulled down to make way for the new sports hub,” he wrote.
“But time and time again, new matches have been lined up at the stadium…I think this has to stop…”
It’s quite easy to understand why some fans are complaining even though there is now yet another opportunity to watch Singapore (or in this case, a Singapore Selection side) play a potentially top-class game next Monday.
Much effort would probably have also been put into the act of going to that ‘final’ game (ie making preparations and plans with friends or family to head down to Kallang together, dressing themselves either in red or in old Singapore Malaysia Cup jerseys, with red scarves or bandanas tied around their wrists or heads, taking pictures of themselves on the terraces, cheering the Lions until they were hoarse, getting autographs from the players and taking pictures with them afer the game etc ).
For some, being at the Stadium for its last match would have given them bragging rights among their friends (One can just imagine them saying: “I was at the Stadium for the last game, you know?” to their friends and wearing that statement like a badge of honour).
And of course, there was that official song-and-dance closing ceremony in March this year which President S R Nathan even attended and which featured many of Singapore’s past and present athletes doing a lap of honour on the track. (See one young person’s emotional account of that event here)
So, to stage yet another game at the Stadium, would mean taking all that away from them, especially that sense of closure. Which, I am sure, can be very annoying.
Well, I didn’t bother to go down for what I thought were the last matches at the Stadium ie that friendly against Australia which was part of that closing down ceremony, and which ended in a 0-3 defeat for the Lions, and that 0-2 loss to Saudi Arabia just recently which ended Singapore’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
Nor will I need to go down to Kallang this Monday to watch the Brazilians in action so as to end my relationship with Kallang on a high.
I already have several fond memories of Kallang. Five stand out, in particular. And they are all I need to remind myself of all the great times I had on those terraces.
I’m going to share them with you in my next post as my way of saying farewell to the Grand Old Dame.
If you have a great memory of the National Stadium, do share it on this blog too. I’d really love to read about it.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan
(Note: Pictures taken from The Straits Times and Youth.sg)