Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Singapore Diary Day Two

For more Singapore stuff, read

July 26, 2009

Got up at 730am. Kinda woozy from the lack of sleep but up I got. Cleared the cobwebs from my mind before heading for the bathroom for some freshening.

I had a couple of things I needed to do before the match.

One, go to an internet café to email the draft of my Monday column (the one titled “Bogs) that I saved in my gmail. I finished that story about a ticket scalper last Thursday since I wouldn’t have time during the weekend to write.

Two, I needed to buy some things for some people. I wasn’t really sure about going around on my third day so it’s best to get it done now.

Third, I was thinking of watching the Ateneo-UP game at a friend’s house but the time of the match was cutting it too close to being at the Kallang National Stadium. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t watch the UAAP match for obvious reasons.

As hilarious as it sounds, thanks to Miko Samson for even (jokingly) postulating that next time I decide to go abroad during a match, maybe we should put up a cardboard cutout of me so we don’t lose. Even my friend Eddie Ching who is writing for UP jokingly said the same. Bwhahaha. C’est imposible!

Anyways, I went to Borders where I picked out a few books by Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) and JK Rowling (Tales of Beedle the Bard) for gifts. Got my requisite shirt at Giordano.

I should have gone to an internet café in Bugis. Instead I’m here at Orchard Road looking for one. I find several inet shops at Lucky Plaza where there are dozens of Filipino stores and is the main tambayan of Pinoy OFWs and domestic helpers. Every shop was full of Pinoys chatting with family and friends back home. Some joyfully; others tearfully. I didn’t want to eavesdrop but when the distance between computers is an elbow then I don’t have a bloody choice.

After 30 minutes, I logged off. I was starving as I skipped breakfast. The culprit was my sore throat made it difficult to speak and eat (it’s been that way for two weeks now as I have a wound inside). Even if I’m hungry it’s not exactly easy to eat. When I do, I kind of gulp and suck in the pain.

So noodles and soup are the easiest to digest. I have some minestrone soup in a Greek resto that not only warms my throat but puts something inside me stomach.

I love Greek and Mediterranean food! It’s a favorite along with Persian cuisine.

I still have two hours before I head to the Stadium where I’m supposed to link up with Carl Ng and the others. I head on back to the hotel for a shower and a change of outfit. Hahaha. It’s hot so I went out this morning wearing my Kobe Bryant purple Lakers jersey and shorts. Outside, almost everywhere I go there are people wearing LFC jerseys. It’s a fashion statement I tell you.

I’m kind of bushed from all that walking so I take a cab to Kallang ($5.20). And the first thing I see are a bunch of ManU fans outside singing their team’s finer praises. It pisses me and a few other LFC fans off and we proceed to tell them to pack it in or get their asses kicked (in not so friendly words). Where’s this violence coming from? Must be all that heavy metal I’m listening to bwahahaha!

Around 430pm, the gang’s complete (Carl, Leo, Leah, Palle, and Nicky. Song was late) so we take pictures outside after which we enter the stadium through the western side (our tickets were at the Grandstand seats that are literally the best in the house).

We purchased some LFC merchandise. I got the Asia Tour scarf, the souvenir program, and a horn (that is close to being outlawed by UEFA).

By the time we settle intro our seats, Carl appears with cups of… ahem… Carlsberg. Its tough sipping the beer as well but we chug a couple of glasses.

The stadium breaks out into cheers, chants and the wave. There are interesting theories as to where the wave originated. Some say Mexico while others point to Washington State. Whatever wherever some 47,000 people launch into it. The most the wave went around without getting cut was four times. On its fifth lap, one section didn’t get up. It can be quite breathless to see all those people moving like a tidal wave.

Behind us in the skyboxes are some Brits who are so game into the singing and chanting. The problem is that without one huge contingent to lead the singing, not many get sung in unison.

The people around us are from England, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, India, Iran, and Israel to name a few. The only color that binds us is red. The past few days, some quarters have expressed concern that more Singaporeans are rooting for LFC than their own National Team (more on this in my next Business Mirror column that will be out on Monday titled “East of Anfield”).

By the time the team takes to the pitch for the inspection then the warm-ups, everyone’s going crazy. LFC Assistant Coach and Anfield icon Sammy Lee gets a huge ovation when he comes out of the dugout.

When the game starts, both squads try to feel each other out. Singapore’s National Team behind manager Raddy Avramovic battles LFC to a near standstill. They have a few scoring chances. Their best is when midfielder Shahril Ishak beats LFC defender Philip Degen but his blast goes straight to Diego Cavalieri.

Liverpool, wearing their new black away kits, clearly dominates the game but David Ngog and Ryan Babel, despite numerous scoring chances fail to find the back of the net.

That is until Andriy Voronin launches a rocket (shades of Steven Gerrard) from 20 feet outside the box to beat Singapore keeper Hassan Sunny who dives helplessly at the ball.

In the second half, the Reds discombobulate the Lions at the midfield as they control possession and unleash a withering barrage at the Singapore goal. With chants getting louder for the insertion of Xabi Alonso (who is being linked to a move to Real Madrid) and Fernando Torres, gaffer Rafa Benitez obliges and goes through a platoon substitution. And in no time, they ratchet up the score to 5-0.

After the match, the Reds are presented a trophy. The fans stay on for an hour more waiting for an opportunity to meet their heroes.

Since the others want to take their chances, I sit down and review the shots in my digital camera.

There’s a mild commotion when an overzealous security cop sees a Singaporean flag fall to the ground below. He quickly grabs this young boy who denies throwing it to the street below. The cop calls for back-up. Soon, some seven cops appear with radios.

Unfortunately for everyone, there are no more photo ops. As the LFC bus heads to the Mandarin for dinner, a press con, and to pack their belongings (they were to leave for England that same night), some fans give chase in cars and motorbikes.

As for us, we went to the nearby Terra Mall for dinner. Again, I can’t eat so I settle for a mango Snapple.

It was around 1030 by the team we’re done. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to get a cab. Song tells us that since the stadium is out of the way, we must call for a cab. Except that there are a lot of people waiting as well. Some won’t arrive ‘til after 12 midnight because that means passengers have to pay a 50% night differential.

So we take the bus instead and Leo, Leah, and I get off at Sun Tec. The two are staying at the Pan Pacific hotel so we hoof it from there. I get a cab at the lobby all the way to Bugis.

It has been a long but fulfilling day.

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