Saturday, June 12, 2010

Makan Bola, Minum Bola, Tidor Bola

A friend texted me yesterday about a ex-classmate of ours (UIA MBA Batch 10 2000-03) getting married this Sunday in my wife's hometown of Batu Kurau.

But instead rejoicing, I was lamenting to her, telling her what a shame that this friend of ours is getting married in the midst of World Cup fever. I thought it is not conducive to get married during this clash of school holidays and world cup, since the husband would probably be sitting in front of the idiot box all night long, instead of his new bride!

Sorry, mischievous me. ;-)

I am not too great a fan anymore - I can't take the stress of watching Manchester United after supporting them since my childhood days, and since I have removed Astro from the luxury items that I would have in my home, I have not been watching football at all.

But this time around, thanks to RTM, my telly would have world cup football match streaming in, and it has been ages since we last saw it in my living room.

We have no TV in 1974, so watching anything including world cup games would be impossible for us. But I do know Gerd Mueller scored the winning goal from what I could read in the NST.

I am not sure if in 1978 we have the privilege of watching the games on our telly or just reading about it in the newspaper. I remember though Argentina losing their opening game. I thought that would be the end of the host - that they would not be able to emulate the previous host's achievement in winning the tournament on home ground.

In 1982, when we had the privilege of watching live games on telly in Melbourne Australia, I was in the middle of mid-year exam, and since I was a struggling student trying to decipher the Ozzie slang and understanding engineering principles, I missed a lot of the games. I don't remember much of the 1982 World Cup, beyond Paolo Rossi that is.

So when I returned in 1986, and I was not working yet when the WC in Mexico started, so I guess I would have the opportunity to watch and I believe I did, if my memory serves me right. I remember the game England-Argentina game very well and of course who would not remember the Hands of God incident! Until today, due to WC '86, I still think Maradona is the greatest soccer player ever.

But to be honest, of all World Cup, the 1998 was the saddest one. For me, at least. This is one world cup where the game is played in daylight, and I would not have to bother burning the midnight oil, so to speak. I would have to, instead, watch it during office hours and for me to do that, I just have to make sure the bosses would not know.

And chances were, they would not even know that world cup was taking place in France that year, for for sure they were not soccer fans. Secondly everybody have their own office, and we were normally seated facing the door, so no one would be able to see exactly what we were doing.

I could have a fun day watching soccer in my office.

The catch is that I was in Houston Texas and there was no live telecast of the match whatsoever. The cable I had in my apartment did not offer such privilege either.

In the office, I was the only Malaysian and another Brit, Paul, would be my partner in crime in as far as soccer is concerned. We were the only two engineers at the office who would be exasperated in our inability to watch the actions.

There was one solution though.


Soccernet offer live telecast in 1998 and Paul and I would be feeding each other on the status of each game. Every five minutes, I would drop by at his office and he would do the same at mine.

The problem with that is that it was not live video streaming into our computers. It was live commentary - minute by minute, blow by blow.

It was like in the olden days listening to Merdeka tournament on radio.

"..dan Mokhtar mendapat bola, pemain pertahanan Korea menghalang, Mokhtar berjaya menggelecek dua pemain Korea. Cantik. Dari arah kiri pintu gol, Mokhtar.... menendang bola ketengah kotak, Isa Bakar berada di sana...dan peluang untuk Malaysia menjaring kan gol.."

"Dan Isa Bakar....terlepas!"

Actually it should be read "Terlambat". I am sorry, En Isa Bakar. I think despite my perception, we would probably be in the World Cup in South Africa if we ever have a striker half your stature again.

Sorry, I digress. That was what I can remember from the 70s Lenggong at Kampung Sira.

Beyond 1998, with the advent of Astro, I have missed it. I hate to have to pay to watch World Cup. I in fact had taken out AStro from things to have at my home, so it had been quite for me as far as WC in the new millennium is concerned.

I do remember reading in the news how Malaysians would set up the funds so that we could have soccer on the telly. Every Malaysian was required to donate RM1, if I am not mistaken. Was that in 1982?

Until this year, when RTM won the right to broadcast the game on terrestrial TV.

Thanks RTM for bringing back the game to the masses. I think you can all unsubscribe Astro this month. ;-)

Make that for good, please!

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