Remembering the Grand Old Dame of Kallang

The Grand Old Dame of Kallang

I stumbled upon this multi-media essay by Straits Times photographer Raj Nadarajan in the Straits Times’ website.

He went to take pictures of the Natonal Stadium being demolished and turned it into a multi-media tribute to the Grand Old Dame of Kallang.

Listening to the voices brought back a lot of good memories. Looking at the photos of demolition work brought a stabbing pain, a profound sense of  loss and a tear to my eye.

Click here for the link to the multi-media essay, then go to the essay “Rubble and Memories’ (the one with the picture of the National Stadium.

Here is also a link to a Wikipedia entry on the National Stadium.

And if you feel up to it, tell me some of your best memories of the Stadium.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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3 thoughts on “Remembering the Grand Old Dame of Kallang

  1. Gideon Sim says:

    Dear SSF,

    Thank you once again for a post that touches out to the heart of every Singaporean fan.

    Turning 24 this year, I was just a small kid when the curtain was drawn on our Malaysia cup days. My memories of players like Abbas Saad, Malek Awab, Lim Tong Hai, “the dazzler” V. Sundramoorthy and of course, Fandi, and co. are sadly limited to what I saw on the TV screen. It was enough though, to fire up the lion in me…

    I can proudly say that I have (as far as I can recall) attended all our home matches since I was 15. For me, as I’m sure it is for others, the grand old dame will always be the spiritual home of Singapore football. I have two distinct memories.

    The first of them is one I still remember with no little bitterness in my mouth. Yes, it is the 4-0 defeat to Malaysia on home soil. I was there, and it ranks as one of the most painful experiences ever at Kallang. I recall vividly the tears of anger – my own together with that of others, the frustration, the way we were haplessly beaten by our fiercest rivals. Many of us went home in a rage, to say the least. Many of them never came back. To this day that match still rankles my soul.

    I recall the crowds getting smaller and smaller after that match. A sad sight to behold. Come the 2004/5 Tiger Cup, and things had changed miraculously. We were 3-1 up from the first leg away in Senayan, and, sensing blood, the grand old dame was filled to the rafters once again. The kallang roar was back. Yes, for no few people that night, it was their first time watching a match in the stadium, but I hoped it would not be their last. For one night, the good old days were back again. The terraces reverberated with the familiar sound of a capacity crowd, our benches rarely touched as we rose to our feet urging OUR lions on at every attack, we wondered silently, ironically, if the grand old dame was up to the task of holding up 55,000 again after so many years. She performed admirably. For one night, I managed to experience a glimpse of what Kallang must have felt like, rocking during the Malaysia cup days. And as the final whistle blew, we rose in an almighty cheer. Couples locked lips passionately, strangers embraced one another like long-lost friends, high fives, tens and fifteens, for those who could manage it, were freely given and received. Nobody wanted to go home that night. The pain of 2002 could finally be put behind us.

    Sad to say, that sea of red was never repeated again. It has been painful to see our majestic dame sitting empty, forlorn, looking wistfully towards the population who used to fill her up. Unfortunately, we live in a country with little space for sentimentality. Our grand old dame held many other fond memories for me and in my heart, will never be replaced. Her little quirks and idiosyncrasies will always be remembered. Something newer, brighter, younger and perkier might come up in her place, but her soul, her grey concrete structure, will live long in the memory.

    Thanks for allowing me this little indulgence in wistfulness, SSF. And to our grand old dame, thanks for the memories…

    • singaporesportsfan says:

      Thank you, Gideon. I remember those two moments vividly too.
      I always thank my good fortune that i was able to be part of those crazy Malaysia Cup years. I realise that people who missed out on the Malaysia Cup, or have no inkling of what it all meant because they were too young would be between the ages of 17 and 21 today. Gosh, that’s a whole new generation. And Singapore sport is a lot poorer because of this.
      Yes, it may have been tribal/provincial football at best, but they were our Lions, our national team.
      I miss that deep sense of identity.

      Regards
      SSF
      SSF

  2. Adrian C says:

    stumbled upon this while browsing through the internet on the Sports Hub development and am glad I spent the last 5 mins reading this, especially the passionate post by Gideon. some of my best memories as a kid was spent at the Grand Old Dame catching the Malaysia Cup matches with my dad, before the divorce and his passing just over 2 years ago.

    it’s true that the passion for the national team died with the demolition but i see encouraging signs for it’s revival now that we’re back in the Malaysian Cup, which will blossom further for sure once the new National Stadium is developed.

    let’s not forget the great memories of the past, and continue to be optimistic for the future. we will all revel in the Kallang Roar again very soon.

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