DEZ CORKHILL is:
SOMETHING WORTH SINGING ABOUT
It was a noise I hadn’t heard before. A rumble of sound emanated from a group of KL fans to the right-hand side of the MBPJ Stadium. “Come on KL, Come on KL”. First it was 10 fans. Then 30. Then a couple of hundred.
I’ve lived in Kuala Lumpur for 11 years and been to Kuala Lumpur matches a couple of times a season over the last 5 years. I had never heard proper vocal support for the team in this way before. It was Beautiful.
“Come on KL” isn’t the most poetically pleasing line. Nor is it the most original. The chant first became audible midway through the first half of KL City’s excellent 2-0 victory over Selangor in the first leg of the Piala Malaysia Quarter Final. By then, Romel Morales had headed KL City into a 1-0 lead as well as having a goal disallowed, and Kevin Mendoza’s goal was coming under pressure for the first time in the match.
And then we heard the fans. “Come on KL, Come on KL”. KL City survived the 5-10 minutes of sustained pressure.
Football followers of Kuala Lumpur have not had it easy over the past 30 years. After the great triple Malaysia Cup winning squad of the 1980’s there have been a couple of FA Cup triumphs and some level two Titles, but nothing – really – to shout about. Indeed, there have been events surrounding the club in years gone by so disgraceful that many fans who wanted to support the team felt that they would simply be betrayed if they did. And so, they stayed away.
Even during successful promotion seasons from the Premier Division, KL home crowds rarely passed the 1,000 mark. There was a die-hard element of 300-500, but they had very little to sing about. Meantime Selangor were winning Trebles; Kelantan had a period of glory; Kedah, Terengganu, Negeri Sembilan, Perlis, Pahang and even Fandi Ahmad’s Singapore Lions won titles and made finals before the Johor domination of Malaysian football.
All the while the football fans of Kuala Lumpur – Capital City Kuala Lumpur – were having this success thrown in their faces. There was nothing to look forward to in a football sense. Now there is.
The Malaysia Cup run might end at Cheras tonight. Or at the semi-final stage. Or even in the November 30th Final. But Bojan Hodak has achieved something in his short tenure as Coach that most Kuala Lumpur fans, I’m sure, thought was impossible. He has put together a team that has got fans believing that they can compete. He has put together a team that has broken Club records along the way. He has got the fans singing again after a long, long time of having nothing to sing about.
There were many more Selangor fans at PJ on Sunday night, but by the end of the game – and especially after Hadin Azman’s wonderful second goal – all the noise was coming from fans of Kuala Lumpur City football Club. Desperately trying to ensure they maintained social distancing and that masks were properly covering nose and face, the tone coming from the growing crowd wasn’t a meek “Come on KL, come on KL” – it was a full-throated BELLOW.
It was a statement of belief and support. An acknowledgement that Bojan had put together a team about whom they – the long-suffering and often-mocked Kuala Lumpur fan – would be happy to talk about the following morning at work or in coffee shops or on Zoom calls. Or even to their kids as they the put them to bed that night.
Football is nothing without the fans.
Bojan has started something this season that KL City fans can be proud of.
The KL fans at PJ Stadium recognized that on Sunday.
It started with a “Come on KL, come on KL”.
How far can the fans enjoy this ride, and how loud can we make that “Come On KL” sound?