Getting shirty over ‘Singapore’ jerseys

Getting shirty over ‘Singapore’ jerseys

The National Stadium was a sea of patriotic red on Thursday night.

Well, when I say "sea", I mean big pockets of red in a sea of Japanese blue.

The crowd at the Singapore-Japan World Cup/Asian Cup qualifier looked like one of those Avatar Na'vi characters with acne.

And when I say "patriotic red", I mean the patriotic red of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and... Ferrari.

Ferrari? That felt like a red T-shirt too far.

The Lions are long accustomed to running out to applause from those wearing the football jerseys of old industrial towns in England and Germany, but the smattering of Ferrari shirts wasn't even the same ballpark, the same sport.

When fans sang Majulah Singapura with their hands on the prancing horse, it felt they were making love to Italian actress Monica Bellucci while playing their wife's wedding song.

But I'm genuinely intrigued at the thought process behind the shirt selection.

What did Ferrari Shirt Guy say when he was getting ready?…

"Right then, I'm off to show my support for Singapore and the best way to do that is to wear the colours of an Italian Formula 1 car manufacturer, represented by a driver from Germany. Majulah Singapura! Vorsprung durch Technik!"

Of course, he was far more likely to say... "Damn right I'm wearing the Ferrari shirt to support the Lions.

"Do you know how much it cost? That Ferrari shop robbed me blind. The staff should have balaclavas and shotguns."


But it's hard to think of a similar equivalent elsewhere.

If a fan tried it the other way round, and wore an SG50 shirt at Old Trafford, he's going to get laughed at.

And if England fans tried something with white T-shirts beneath their black leather jackets, they'd look like Fonzie from Happy Days.

(For young readers, Fonzie was an older guy who the young kids all looked up to, even though he had a recurring habit of saying some really strange things. Think of Bernd Stange with the Lions).

But it's not about the colours, as such, but what the colours represent.

United and Liverpool are mainstays among the Kallang crowd, which at least suggests an appreciation of fine football (or it did until United and Liverpool displayed less cutting edge than a sheep-shearing competition.)

That's the gentle interpretation.

Wearing a United jersey to a Singapore game is also akin to going on a date with a girlfriend and wearing a T-shirt of Jennifer Lawrence. The T-shirt says, "I'm with you out of a sense of obligation, but my heart belongs to Jennifer Lawrence in that dress in American Hustle.

"Now that's the way to spend a Saturday night. The dress had no sides! You could see everything!"

At least Lawrence and your partner are in the same league.

They're both women. There is a crumb of comfort there. But the Ferrari shirt is like going out on a date wearing a T-shirt of Chewbacca.

It's effectively saying, 'I prefer the company of someone else, and he's not even the same species. He's from a whole other world and growls and grunts whenever he's in the cockpit."

I'm not sure if I'm talking about Chewbacca or Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari Shirt Guy will rightfully argue that the F1 attire is at least the right colour, a conscious effort was made to back the Lions, by proudly donning the shirt of an Italian car manufacturer.

But where does one draw the line?

Perhaps Lions fans could also wear the red shirts of Big Bob's Dog and Duck darts team.

(I made that name up course but, if there isn't a pub represented by Big Bob's Dog and Duck darts team, then there should be.)

The most important - and final - point to make about the fans in different red jerseys is that they were there, in the flesh, contributing to the Kallang Roar.

In the end, that's all that matters.

We just need to tweak the attire to fit in.

Who's up for wearing a red shirt from Big Bob's Dog and Duck darts team?

This article was first published on Nov 15, 2015.
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