“Football is a working class game, where everyone or anyone can beat anyone on a day, and its that that made it the global force that it is today.” – James Corden.
Those are the words by James Corden, a popular night show host in America.
We can’t help relate to it when we saw what he had to say about the ‘Super League’ fiasco in Europe.
If James is as passionate as we are (and we see he is), he would have understood how some of us are feeling since last year.
Picking up Sarawak football
Before we go on, we would like to state clearly that this post is not to condemn anyone. We are just stating how we feel, and hence why this post is a personal one.
Most of our loyal readers know SarawakCrocs almost never did an anniversary post, but this year, we felt we should because of several reasons, one of which is our decline in doing what we used to enjoy doing.
Some may say we are new fans to the game, because this website started in April 2013, the same year Sarawak FA won the Liga Premier. In fact, we already started posting on the team in 2012, but on a different website.
However, the fact remains that we have been following Sarawak football since young, much because Sarawak FA, the team that carries the Sarawak flag, is ‘sort of’ our national team.
So when we noticed the Sarawak team wasn’t having enough ‘media coverage’ as opposed to Selangor based teams and JDT, we decided to do something. We started SarawakCrocs.com.
Our aim was simple, we wanted to provide more coverage about Sarawak football, and we did.
It was done with passion, and we ran on a shoestring budget. In fact, we still do so.
However, we felt proud that SarawakCrocs was able to put Sarawak football out there, with the site reaching places like Europe, Australiasia and even America.
We continued on because we love the game, and we loved what the team represented. We also liked how the management then, supported our effort and the then president of FAS, Sudarsono Osman, was supportive of us, calling us every now and then to clarify things without just blasting what we write.
Sudarsono didn’t try to control what we had to say, and seemed to understand that we have the same goal, which is to highlight Sarawak football.
Sudarsono’s support was not perfect, but we felt appreciated, and we still keep in touch with him to this day.
How things started to derail
If you have also been following SarawakCrocs, you will also know we started to become slower in our updates in 2017.
Soon, we found ourselves being threatened by individuals who are from a certain organization, and ‘the cherry on top of the icing’ would probably be the threat by someone important in FAS, which wanted to sue us for reporting about a news report, which we actually obtained from another newspaper.
Ever since 2017, we found it harder to really get behind a team we used to really support.
It wasn’t because the team was not performing, but rather due to the fact there was way too many ‘off field’ incidents which seemed to derail attention from the game.
Apart from what we write, we also have a lot of ‘untold stories’ about plenty of things we had chosen not to report because it was just ‘unbelievable’.
However, we held on because we still love the game and a small piece of us still believed that ‘this is our team’.
We shouldered on despite the fact we became less popular with the current FAS management, and we can’t see this bridge being mended anytime soon as well.
We are on a decline
And then privatization kicked in the Malaysian league.
With the Sarawak FA team not doing so well in the league both in 2018 and 2019, more and more ‘side news’ took centre stage.
The team struggled both on and off the field and Sarawak FA was then booted to the Liga M3.
Frankly speaking, while some were sad, we felt otherwise. We saw this as an opportunity and hoped that the whole football system in Sarawak could be rebooted for the better.
This comes as we felt that the team had so much off field problems, that being semi-pro (playing in the Liga M3) would enable the team to restructure itself and come back stronger.
This was if they (the management) still didn’t like the idea of having smaller professional teams in every division as we would have much preferred.
Regardless, we were ready to embrace the Liga M3 because there is no shame going down, regrouping, and coming back stronger. The saying goes “It’s not about how many times you fall, but how many times you get up.”.
But we all now that didn’t happen with the FA choosing to forgo tradition and history by buying another club and rebranding it to Sarawak United instead.
Changes came and soon, we were forced to start banning readers and fans who started igniting vicious and negative comments on our Facebook page. These comments were not only hurtful to many, but also our writers who felt that they couldn’t write if everything that was written was taken negatively despite it being otherwise.
Banning our follower, although necessary, was demotivating for us because we personally felt football should unite the community and not otherwise.
The lack of motivation was reflected in our articles and our updates which became less by the week or month.
Finding the spark again
This brings us to what James stated above.
As he said, “Football is a working class game, where everyone or anyone can beat anyone on a day.”
James comments reflected how he had supported a team from scratch.
Similarly, we had supported a team which was built in Sarawak, to represent Sarawak since 1974. It is a team that had been representing Sarawak in tournaments since we were little. The history it owns, does not belong to Sarawak United, but belongs to Sarawak FA, a team under FAS.
So when we were told that there was a need to save Sarawak football from being embarrassed, and hence the need to purchase a new team, we felt rather betrayed.
We believe people misunderstood the reason why loyal fans like us stayed loyal towards a team. Why we did what we did since 2013. Why we find it rather ‘hard’ to get behind this new team.
You see, like everyone, we have aged. We are sentimental. We have no stake in Sarawak football as regular fans, and the only joy we have from supporting a team is when ‘our team’ gets ‘something’ after its long hard struggle.
We know this team as a team which is built from zero and has over 47 years of history.
A team which uses red and black as its main colours, black and red for home, blue for away, and Sarawak colours for its third kit.
A team that won the Borneo Cup, Piala FA, Liga Perdana, Piala Sumbangsih, the the Liga Premier.
A team that had never won the Piala Malaysia.
A team that had heart every time they played on the field, and played for Sarawak.
So if this team was rebranded from Sarawak FA to Sarawak FC (or Sarawak United) and played in the Liga M3, we would have no shame nor problem supporting it because this was ‘our team’. Even if they didn’t have the results on the pitch.
So when someone told us, they had to get a new team to not embarrass Sarawak, we felt it was just not right because we were never ashamed of getting booted to the Liga M3, but we were more ashamed with the cases of unpaid salaries which flooded local news.
Although Sarawak United is currently free of any salary issues and is top of the league, it feels like a foreign team.
This feeling has nothing to do with the fact it had a lot of non-Sarawakian players.
However, it has everything to do with our relationship and how tied we are to the old team we used to support.
Some may argue that you can leave out the history of a club when you purchase it, but we beg to differ, and so Sarawak United felt very foreign to us despite the fact it had the ‘Sarawak’ brand.
Again, we are not condemning anyone in this post, but rather pouring our heart out as we head into our 9th year in operation because…
….people should know, we really don’t need a team which will be champions every year, because if we wanted that, we would have opted to support JDT.
Thank you for following us, and we hope we can find our passion again, and hence bring more news on Sarawak football.