We will never know how many tickets the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) would have been able to sell if they actually had a 55,000-capacity stadium to house the recent clash between Singapore and Malaysia.
I would like to think it would have been a sellout, as Causeway derbies usually generate huge interest in football-mad Singapore, but the fact only 300-odd fans travelled up to Kuala Lumpur for the second leg of the World Cup qualifier makes it a little unclear.
While there has been criticism across the Causeway over the behaviour of some of their own fans, and rightly so, I was impressed by the Malaysians who packed Bukit Jalil Stadium. The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) said 85,000 tickets were sold, I swear there were more than 90,000 fans squeezed into the arena. The home fans sang as one, they hissed and groaned as one, and the roar they threw out when Safee Sali scored the opening goal was something I will never forget.
Jams formed from 3pm, the Malaysians didn’t care that it was an 8.45pm kick-off.
How’s that for passion.
Instead of the silly, maddening clappers that dominate all our sports arenas – football matches, world netball championships, world short-course swimming for example – the Malaysians sing unique songs as one, they co-ordinate, they unfurl a huge Malaysian flag.
Singapore’s sports fans must ditch the tired old songs. They don’t have to mimic the terrace cheers of fans from England.
I remember FAS general secretary Winston Lee once telling me they wanted to get a proper cheer group going. It is a great idea, if they are allowed to bring in drums, for instance. Wearing red is a start, but how about a bloodcurdling roar that pays homage to memory of the Grand Old Lady of Kallang.
How about a hair-raising roar worthy of the Lions, and this Lion City.