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Official Review by Tarek Zohdi, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Considered the birthplace of Singapore football, Jalan Besar Stadium is located in the Kallang area close to downtown Singapore. It was first opened in 1929, and it currently offers a seating capacity of 6,000 but plans to increase the capacity by 2,000-4,000 in 2012 are in the works. Expansion works would be finished right in time for the start of the Malaysian Super League, in which the current tenant Singapore Lions will compete. The Football Association of Singapore is thereby hoping to relive the glorious days of the Malaya and Malaysia cup when some of the matches were hosted between 1932 and 1973 at Jalan Besar. The Singaporeans finished off as winners 24 times at this tri-nation competition between the Lion City, Malaysia and Brunei.
While the National Stadium of Singapore is being renovated, Jalan Besar Stadium serves as the temporary playground for the national football team of Singapore, as it is the only venue certified by both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation to host competitive international A-matches. Interestingly, those games are being played on an artificial turf which is still unusual for A-matches in the worldwide football scene.
Festivities, such as the first Singapore Armed Forces Day in 1969 or the 1984 National Day Parade were held in the pure football stadium as well. In 2010, Jalan Besar provided the stage for Olympic history in the making, as the inaugural Youth Olympic Games were opened with a girls' football match between Iran and Turkey.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are various food courts in and around Jalan Besar Stadium to choose from. Just to name one, Yam Hing Banana Fritters, just outside the stadium, is famous for its banana fritters (who would've thought?) but serves other hearty snacks and quick bites for reasonable prices as well. One thing is for sure, you won't ever starve around the stadium as food courts are plenty and open until late.
Do not make the mistake and compare a football match in Singapore with those in Europe or South America. Although the crowd can get truly excited and enthusiastic, it is still something vastly different, and I mean that in a pleasant way. You won't see any flares or fireworks, hear any abuses, or experience any violence. But isn't that a comforting relaxation for a change? And still, the 6,000 supporters can produce a surprisingly loud noise.
The stadium is part of the Jalan Besar Sports and Recreation Centre, a community sports facility that includes the stadium and a swimming complex. It is situated in the midst of a residential and commercial area surrounded by multi-storied buildings.
Singaporeans love football although it is more the English Premier League that they pay attention to. You see a lot of young fans sporting the Liverpool FC or Manchester United colors around town. In return, the Premier League pays tribute to their Asian supporters by regularly carrying out test matches in Singapore and neighboring countries before the season in England begins. However as soon as their national team plays, the crowd wears red and is giving their best to cheer their side to victory.
Besides the fans' solid support at matches of the domestic S.League it will be interesting to see how the fans will support the Lions after their comeback to the Malaysia Super League in 2012.
It is easy to access the stadium, as it is only a five minute walk from the next MRT station Lavender, which is only a nine minute subway ride from the downtown City Hall MRT station on the green line. There are a couple of opportunities to park your car, too. Head for the car parks at Lavender Food Square or Hock Seng and the ICA Building. But who wants to drive a car in a city with arguably the world's best public transport system anyway?
With ticket prices around 10 Euros in a rather expensive city, you can't do anything wrong. Jalan Besar Stadium is perfect for a night out at the football pitch, with plenty of dinner options to choose from and a nice and cozy atmosphere during the match. A visit to Jalan Besar can be either a perfect mid-week amusement, or a nice prelude before hitting the glittering Singapore nightlife.
One additional point for the long history of football in this stadium and in Singapore.
Yes, the atmosphere is not comparable to a European football match. And yes, the stadium is not an Asian Camp Nou. But this is not what you should expect when visiting this petite jewel box in the middle of a city of 5,000,000. A visit to Jalan Besar is rather a nice and pleasant pastime for the neutral spectator. It is something unusual for a change and it is easy to fall in love quickly with this new and different experience of watching live football.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Sep 01, 2012
The review here is right on the money. The renovations have been completed and a new seating section has been added behind one of the goals. The Lions are now called Lions XII with the additional bit representing the fans, who are the 12th man. With the Lions playing in the Malaysian Super League and Malaysian Cup, there is a definite nationalist feeling here and the fans are very into their team. There's even a Wendy's next to Lavender station if you get a hankering for American style fast food.
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