The Revival of the Kallang Roar

By Ariffin Sha

The Kallang Roar. You could almost imagine a middle aged man saying those three words with a sigh and a glimmer of wonder in his eyes as he recalls the glory days. The glory days, where teams who stood in the tunnel of the old National Stadium waiting to face the Lions were genuinely scared. They were scared, as they knew they were in the Lion’s Den. Forget the 12th Men, the Kallang Roar was a different entity altogether.

Quah Kim Song and Uncle Choo
Quah Kim Song and Uncle Choo

The 2008 film entitled ‘Kallang Roar‘ did manage to capture some of the sheer brilliance of the Kallang Roar during the 1977 Malaysia Cup triumph when our Lions were lead by arguably the best Singaporean coach in the history of football, Mr Choo Seng Kwee, or Uncle Choo as he was more affectionately known as.

Our former National Stadium
Our former National Stadium

Many say the Kallang Roar is a thing of the past. There are a few reasons for this assertion. The demolition of the old National Staidum and the decline of the state of local football are a few popular arguments. Prima facie, this does seem to be true. However, a group of fans beg to differ.

ExcluSinga out in full force to spur our Lions on
ExcluSinga out in full force to spur our Lions on

These fans do concede that support for our Lions have dwindled, but they do firmly believe that the Kallang Roar can most certainly be revived. I had a chat with Norman, one of the founders of ExcluSinga recently and he shared with me more about the group.

Origins

ExcluSinga in 2012 at the Jalan Besar Stadium
ExcluSinga in 2012 at the Jalan Besar Stadium

ExcluSinga’s founding can be traced back to 2012 where a group of about 30 fans travelled together to support the Lions XII in the Malaysian Super League (MSL). These fans had the back of the Lions, even in the most hostile of stadiums in Malaysia and their support never wavered.

Most of them travelled with the Lions as they wanted to relive the “romance of the Malaysia Cup.” As their numbers grew, they also began to support the Courts Young Lions in the S-League and the National Team in international friendlies and tournaments like the AFF Suzuki Cup.

From a small group of 30 fans, they now even have a Facebook Page with close to 20,000 followers. Go to any game and you’ll never fail to spot them. With their banner being displayed prominently and their never ending vocal support, they really do create a great atmosphere for the Lions. When I watched our Lions beat the Philippines during their first match of the SEA Games at Jalan Besar Stadium, I couldn’t help but bob my head and sing along to their extremely catchy chants which put many recent national day songs to shame.

“Red is my Blood, White is my Soul”

When he saw videos of ExlcuSinga’s chants being circulated around Facebook yesterday, Mr Subramaniam remarked:

“Spontaneous ground up initiatives like these somehow have more spirit in them than the soulless top-down attempts at imposing national ‘songs’.”

My personal favorite cheer from ExcluSinga. A simple, straightforward and fun cheer. I sincerely hope that this cheer is spread far and wide as it undoubtedly be inspiring, both for us and the boys, to hear a whole stadium sing this together.

This second cheer, entitled ‘Satu Singapura’ is also a pretty fun cheer. The cheer is in Malay but we have provided an English translation which can be read at this link. As you hear the beat of the drum and the unity in their voices, it is close to impossible not to sing along in the Stadium. For even the most cynical amongst us, it is hard not to be moved by such powerful chants.

I do hope these cheers spread far and wide as it is certainly an effective way to spur Team Singapore on. If you have the privilege to attend a football match live, you’ll learn that ExcluSinga does have an entire arsenal of chants which can be deployed accordingly depending on how the Lions are playing on the pitch. The have chants of celebration, chants that remind the Lions to keep their chin up when things aren’t going so well and chants that inspire the Lions to go that extra mile. The only thing that is out of their reach, is silence.

Even when the Lions are defeated on the pitch, these fans will never be defeated in Spirit.
Even when the Lions are defeated on the pitch, these fans will never be defeated in Spirit.

Even when the odds are stacked against our Lions, these fans are out in full force. The Lions may be defeated on the pitch, but these fans will never be defeated in spirit. When I asked Norman what keeps them going even through the darkest of times, he proudly replied:

“In order for a ream to excel in victory and rise from a defeat, they need motivation. They need that fire to ignite their determination to perform – to go at it again. And thats exactly what we are here for, to be the catalyst for our boys to fight for the badge and fight for the flag that they represent.”

To the inevitable question of whether the Kallang Roar can be revived, he responded confidently without skipping a beat:

“The Kallang Roar is an urban legend, and it’s about time for it be reincarnated. For years, the Lion of Kallang has been asleep. The Kallang Roar shall return and we must make it happen.”

Win, Lose or Draw, ExcluSinga will have the Lions' back.
Win, Lose or Draw, ExcluSinga will always be behind the Lions

I was in full agreement with Norman on the fact that if the Kallang Roar was to ever return, it is Singaporeans who must make it happen. The FAS and the players have a role to play but we too must do our part. From the smallest of ways like encouraging our kids to play football to supporting your local team at S-League matches and the national team, we can make the Kallang Roar return. We can awaken the Lion of Kallang.

We do seem to be heading in the right direction and the future definitely does look bright. Two weeks ago, the LionsXII team beat Kelantan 3 – 1 and made history by being the first foreign team to lift the FA Cup in a match where they fought real hard for victory. On Monday, when the Lions opened their SEA Games campaign with a victory over Philippines where a young Irfan Fandi dazzled the crowd, Jalan Besar Stadium was a sea of red as the stadium was sold out.

I also note with pleasure that when our Lions take on Myanmar tonight, it will also be in front of a Jalan Besar that is packed to the brim. The match will also be broadcasted live so do catch it from your homes if you can. I also can’t wait to experience the atmosphere when we pack the National Stadium, which has almost seven times the capacity of the Jalan Besar Stadium.

On a parting note, Norman had this to say to the players and Singapore at large,

“You are not a Lion just because you look or play like one but because you roar like one. As the late Uncle Choo once said, “A lion can never be defeated, and you shall die fighting. Roar for Singapore!””

And Roar for Singapore, we shall.

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The Lions thanking the fans at Jalan Besar Stadium (Photo: Liew Tong Leng/Yahoo!)

TOC would like to wish our Lions all the very best for their SEA Games Campaign and we hope that more Singaporeans, following in the trail blazed by Exclusinga, will step up to support our Lions in full force. And one day in the near future, Kallang will roar again.