According to The New Paper (TNP), approximately 7,500 fans packed the Bedok Stadium to witness a star-studded Geylang United skippered by Fandi Ahmad taking on Johor SEDC on 12th of March.
|When was the last time we had scene like this? (credit: NLB archive)|
Geylang star defender Kadir Yahaya was quoted in the same article saying:"Although the turnout was great, it was a bit scary too ... the crowd shouldn't have been allowed to sit on the running track. What if the ball hit a child?"
Sharing the same sentiment was Eagles' goalkeeper David Lee who expressed his concern of having fans sitting near to the playing field and fear they "might get carried away" if there was a commotion on the field.
That fear of Lee who was capped 105 times by the national team from 1979 to 1996 was not unheard of when one long-time follower of the local scene witnessed some ugly incidents at the old Farrer Park Stadium because of such close proximity between the players and the spectators.
"It is always a concern if there is a close proximity between fans and players during a match, I remember there was a Business Houses League match being abandoned by the referee after incensed fans invaded the field as they were not happy with some of the players' conduct." recalled Adly Esmadi who shared this incident with me.
Similar problem was faced by upstart Woodlands Wellington at their Woodlands home ground where a total of 6,500 fans made their presence felt in two matches which resulted the northerners to charge admission for all their friendlies as a form of crowd control.
|Don't doubt at all, Geylang did request to have their games be played at Kallang (credit: NLB archive)|
GEYLANG WANTED TO PLAY AT KALLANG
Such a "boost in confidence" prompted the one of the most successful sides in the history of Singapore football to declare "Geylang United wants to play all its S-League matches at the National Stadium.", as read from the opening paragraph of the TNP article titled "Pleasant... but still a problem" (18th March 1996).
While acknowledged that such proposal may not be in line with the S.League policy to bring matches to the community, Geylang's chairman Don Ho felt this was the best solution to cater their growing legion of fans, a view that was supported by Sidek Saniff, the then Senior Minister of State for Education who was also the club advisor.
|"Portable Seats" came in to solve the overcrowded problem (credit: NLB archive)|
THOSE ICONIC "PORTABLE SEATS"
The installing of these seats was part of the interim upgrading program funded by the $10 million grant from the government and had largely altered the way how these neighbourhood stadiums looked in welcoming this country's professional football league when it was launched on 14th of April 1996.
Prior to their installation, those who are old enough would remember sitting on the running track at any stadium that circled the pitch to catch some "semi-pro" Premier League (not to be confused with the ongoing AIA Singapore Premier League campaign - SGPL) actions in the late 1980s to early 1990s.
|Match ticket to a semi-pro "Premier League" match in the early 1990s|
In spite of the up close to action on the field, the view from the running track may not necessary be an ideal one and like what Kadir mentioned there was always a tendency of having the stray ball coming at you.
One of the vivid memories I recall while sitting on the track was a linesman carried out his work with full concentration despite the endless taunting from those sat next to me.
"NOT COMFORTABLE, POOR VIEW": FAN
Soon with the transition into the S.League, I had my first opportunity to seat on those newly-installed seats to witness the first ever S.League goal scored by Esad Seljic for Balestier Central against Police FC at the Toa Payoh Stadium.
|Watching the match from the "Portable Seats"|
"To me, those metal seats tend to be slippery after rain and I also don't find it comfortable sitting on them, the view from the seats isn't that great either given the distance between them and the field at some stadiums." said Abdul Razak who used to stay in the western part of Singapore.
He added:"Personally, I prefer the sitting arrangements at stadiums like Jurong East and Jalan Besar because the seats are nearer to the field."
|Not everyone's cup of tea of this seating arrangement|
Nonetheless, it is, however, unlikely to see those seats being utilized for the time unless the boom returns like those early days that once saw lines formed outside the stadiums or having fans enjoying from spots overlooked the stadiums.
(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from NLB online newspapers archives, as credited, should anyone feel it's inappropriate to have any of the media shown, please kindly email me as soon as possible and I will remove them upon request.)
(P.S 2: I stand to be corrected should there be any mistake in this entry, please feel free to email me should there be any mistake, thanks)