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Ibrahim Corner And The "Curva" Culture in Singapore Football

Snapped this before I was ushered back to the main stand
Snapped this before I was ushered back to the main stand

No one, except for Sembawang Rangers fans, knows why it was called the "Ibrahim Corner" at this part of Yishun Stadium, where I took my place here prior to the start of the S.League match between Harimua Muda and Albirex Niigata (Singapore) back in March 2012.

But one thing is for sure, for many Stallions faithful in the past, this stand facing the main stand of the stadium holds many memories for them.

This was the place where local football used to have some of its most passionate supporters congregated during the Stallions' home games in yesteryears until the club decided to pull out in 2003 because of financial difficulties.

One of the things I remembered of these Sembawang supporters was in 2005 when they turned up in numbers at Ibrahim Corner to show their support to former Sembawang Rangers coach Vorawan Chitavanich, who was in charge of Tampines Rovers, at a league game against the Young Lions at this stadium which was the developmental squad's home ground for that season because of the resurfacing of the Jalan Besar Stadium pitch.

Since then, this stadium has seen other tenants such as Super Reds, Sporting Afrique, and Beijing Guo'an Talent after the Stallions' exit before Harimau Muda moved in to play their home fixtures in the 2012 S.League season under the controversial FAS-FAM joint MOU inked in 2011

Despite efforts by the league authority to establish a sustainable presence here, no other teams came close to match the legacy left behind by the Stallions with many fans still hope to see the return of the "black-white" one day in this part of Singapore.

According to one feedback, "Ibrahim Corner" was named after Ibrahim Noh, a former Sembawang Rangers player.

Replying to the Facebook posting that first shared this article in March 2012, 'Haizam Jdn' wrote: "The Ibrahim Corner was coined by the Rangers fans sitting at the open gallery stand opposite the grandstand in tribute to Ibrahim Noh running down the wings. One of the Sembawang legends whose hardworking runs up and down the flanks gave birth to the Ibrahim Corner stand."

Naming a spot at a stadium where home fans come together is a common practice around the world.

Some of those renowned ones are found in Europe, examples are those in Italian football where these spots are known as "curva" or curve in English.

The term "curva" derived from the curved stands of the stadium where home supporters, usually those passionate followers, would gather.

Some of those notable ones are "Curva Nord" and "Curva Sud" in both San Siro in Milan and Rome's Stadio Olimpico (Inter fans and SS Lazio fans are based in Curva Nord of San Siro and Olimpico respectively, whereas AC Milan and AS Roma supporters populated Curva Sud of the mentioned venues).

UltraSel Curva in action in Stadium Shah Alam
UltraSel Curva in action in Stadium Shah Alam 

In Malaysia, Green Curva Nord is the name given by Ultrasel Curva, a Selangor FC supporters group to their Gate 2 base at Stadium Shah Alam, the home ground of the Klang Valley side.

While known for their undying support for the "Merah-Kuning", the Ultrasel Curva members are also famous for their no-holds-barred approach in register their unhappiness if the team does not perform up to their expectations.

In the current local setup, the presence of the HOOLs (Hougang Only One Love) can be felt at Gate 3 of the Hougang Stadium during Hougang United's home games in the pre-Covid19 days.

"We chose Gate 3 as it was directly behind the home dugout in Hougang Stadium hence Gate 3 became a natural extension to our name, and that’s where we feel at home when gathering for our Hougang. And to us, Gate 3 is still where we belong." said a HOOLs spokesman in response to the question of why the name "Gate 3" was chosen.

Hougang United's players showing appreciation to HOOLs (file)
Hougang United's players showing appreciation to HOOLs (file)

However, since the resuming of the AIA Singapore Premier League season weeks ago, the HOOLS camped themselves outside the Hougang Stadium to catch their heroes in action.

"The main reason is we won’t want to be restricted with what we can or cannot do within the stadium, e.g. use our drums, sing for our players." explained the same spokesman on the decision to gather behind the open gallery outside the stadium.

Furthermore, there is another reason behind the move, when the spokesman added: "Since there is a cap on the maximum numbers, us staying outside gives other Hougang supporters the chance to fill the stands."

Meanwhile, the"Ultra Eagles" (UE) - the Geylang International's unofficial supporters group called the place where they once assembled at Bedok Stadium as "The Gallery" - the open-air stand facing the main stand of the former home ground of the inaugural S.League champions.

After moving into Our Tampines Hub (OTH) to ground share with Tampines Rovers, UE members cheer their team from Level 4 of the Hub where there is no specific moniker to that spot by them.

Besides the location that overlooks the corner, it was revealed that some UE members would voice their support from the running track which is located at the rooftop of the OTH due to the ongoing Safety Distancing Measures (SDM) implemented by the relevant authorities because of Covid19.

"Swan Army" is formed by a group of Albirex Niigata (S) fans
"Swan Army" is formed by a group of Albirex Niigata (S) fans

Likewise, a check with another fan group based in OTH, The Yellow Knights (Tampines Rovers supporter group) also don't have a specific name for their usual spot where they cheer for the Stags and the same goes to Swan Army, the Albirex Niigata (Singapore)'s fans group based in Jurong East Stadium.

This may be not a common thing for the local fans to name a spot where they assemble at their home games, but such practice should be encouraged in order to foster a sense of belonging among fans and forge a spiritual connection between them and the club they support.

PS: This article was first published on 18th March 2012 and is being refurbished with additional details in line with the content repurposing of this blog.


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