To be honest, I have always seen them in action. Since the days of watching Malaysian football games with Ash at the Kelana Jaya Stadium, to the Shah Alam Stadium and finally the Bukit Jalil Stadium and we both watched in awe in front of us, on how the Ultras just kept cheering throughout the game. Even in packed stadium, every single time they sing they will always be the loudest among all.
But unfortunately over the years, a lot of people associate them with hooliganism in Malaysian football, the ugly side of Malaysian football (among many). It could be probably because of their anti-authority stance in the group. It could also be probably social stigma dictates that because they look as they are, they must be hooligans.
Not wanting to judge them from what is said about the Ultras, I decided there is only one way to find out their real nature.
I was going to join them and chant.
[Meeting point across the street of Tesco Extra]
That Sunday, we had a game between the Vietnam team for the AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 Semi Finals and myself, Ash and our mate Rafie (who wrote a great article on the Ultras here) got the information to join the Ultras for a rally march in to the stadium at about 5pm. We memorized the songs in our head, got our black shirts on, brought our scarves and we were on our way there.
Upon reaching, there were hundreds upon hundreds of people showed up, with banners and flags proudly waving at the meeting point. There were some uneasy moments when the flares were put up but I guess its more about the unfamiliar sight being among the crowd.
[Marching towards the stadium, singing proud]
As we made our way to the stadium, we started singing songs that made this group popular. The songs of "Kau Kebanggaanku" and "Demi Malaysia" were some of the songs chanted during the march that damn neared stopped the traffic and everyone joined in. We were determined to let everyone know that we were coming in.
[picture credit to Shafiq]
[picture credit to Yuzairi Yusof]
Once we were in the stadium, we got ourselves seated at the lower corner of the Curva Ultras Malaya (stadium section where they were seating). At that point, Rafie and I were just soaking in the atmosphere and Ash were doing what he can to take a picture of the scene.
[click on the picture to see a panorama shot of the stadium that day]
We saw the Viets were already there and were making alot of noise. The guys that was sitting around us were nice enough to explain how everything works, seeing that they realized we were new. They told us about the chants and when is it going to start. We started talking about why the Ultras do what they do best and frankly, the only thing they want in return is to see the National Football team succeed. Nothing else motivates them to sing apart from than.
When I heard his answer, it kinda dawned to me that everyone in that Curva was there in their own accord. No one paid for their tickets to be there, no one offered any incentives of being there on a Sunday evening, knowing full well that it was going to be a working day the next day and no one was there involuntarily. And yet, the entire curva was jammed packed with people.
[Apologies for the hand, the glare was a bit too much for my crummy phone camera]
Once everyone settled down, we began our chants. And believe me, we never stopped cheering once we started...
[At this point, we waited for the right time to start chanting. The Viets were impressively loud...]
[Until we decided to start singing]
[Video credit to Rokok Daun & Materazi Muhd]
[The unveiling of the Mega Tifo during the National Anthem]
We threw everything we got in our chants. We kept singing and clapping throughout the game, regardless of what was happening on the pitch. The one that got me the most was when we were singing "Demi Malaysia" and the entire crowd first clapped, bounced and finally did the Poznan, the sheer wave of us doing it together was giving everyone goosebumps.
[Photo credit to Famous Zack]
[picture credit to Fashran Fauzi]
[picture credit to Fashran Fauzi]
Quoting what was said by Rafie to me before going for the Poznan, it was overwhelming to see how Ultras has become over the years and to see what we were looking at when we were about to start, a sea of people jumping in unison while singing their hearts out.
As the game ended, the football team did poorly. Yet the Ultras kept singing. Until we were told to leave, to which we complied accordingly.
This is the honest truth about this guys.
The Ultras Malaya are people who decided that they needed to do something to get the Malaysian team up and running. For so long, the memory of Malaysia being one hell of a team in the past is something that these people long to see once more, rather than scrap heaping ourselves trying to get something out of a game.
There was no hooliganism in the midst of our crowd, despite the media trying to portray the Ultras as the main cause of the violence among the Vietnamese fans. Heck, there was not even a single person that booed during the Vietnamese national anthem was played, unlike what was done to us by the country across the straits.
Looking at the video above, one would be able to see the sheer distance of the Ultras Malaya stand from the Vietnamese supporters and yet looking into social media, they still blame the Ultras for beating up the Vietnamese supporters. Logic?
What I have observed in that short period of time I was with these guys was just the sheer passion that was driving them to continue doing what they do best which is to get behind our national team no matter what. Their only reward is to get to be part of the moment where our team succeeds, and believe you me that is seriously motivation enough for these people. In the span of a few hours I've spent with them singing and cheering, I was exhausted and it was only pure adrenaline that was driving us to keep going. I am pretty sure I speak on behalf of Ash and Rafie as well.
For Malaysians who condemn the Ultras yet was not there, remember that you are condemning those who did nothing wrong and in fact is the driving force behind a national team that needs to wake up.
For those outside of Malaysia that equates the Ultras to gangsterism and hooliganism, your rudeness and foul mouthed behavior only makes the Ultras Malaya sing louder. With all the videos circulating around the net today one would be able to see, the Ultras has no time fighting as they rather use that time to sing.
For the Malaysian National Football team, see for yourself what your fellow countrymen is doing for you from the Ultras Malaya. If that is not a motivation for you to push yourself to get the results that we all deserve, I feel sad for you to waste the kind of support that you are getting from this people.
I don't know if I would be considered as part of them but I would hope that I would have another chance to sign and chat with this group. Come at least I get to write the real nature of the 12th member of the Malaysian team.