The rugger match that afternoon turned out to be between STAR and Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah (SSAS). It was the inaugural Arshad Ahmad Trophy annual match between STAR and SSAS. For those who don’t know, Arshad Ahmad is an old boy who taught and coached rugby in STAR and later went on to do the same for SSAS (he’s their current coach). It was the first time in my memory we played rugby against SSAS who I must say turned out quite impressively. It wasn’t just their smart Carisbrook kit (complete with matching socks) that proved that they meant business but it was obvious from their demeanour that these boys lived and breathed rugby. Of course, if these were MCKK boys in similar garb and mien, a thump on the head would prove to be quite necessary.
Our boys in contrast were quite a sight. The impact of their sleek new Cobratasha jerseys were significantly reduced by the shocking state of their …. socks.
It looked like they were undecided on whether to wear long or short socks and of what colour. Or in fact to wear any at all. But fashion sensibilities notwithstanding, I still had high hopes for them. After all, I was told that these boys were the Perak champs that year, demolishing MCKK 11 -5, in the process. There were moments when our boys seemed quite lost during the game but in true Starian spirit they rose to the occasion and delivered a 17-17 draw.
But during the game I was quite to disturbed to see a number of things.
Firstly, there was no “Cobratasha!!” battlecry by the rugger players. There were some noises made during the group huddle but not our familiar rallying call.
Secondly, while the match was going on, quite a number of boys were ignoring the match. Football games (which I’m sure were not part of the official OBW agenda) were going on with the players oblivious to an important rugby match underway.
Thirdly and most worryingly, the boys were not cheering. The old boys egged them on by hurling a barrage of old cheer songs (although some words slipped our minds) but we were met mostly with deadly silence. But encouragingly, there was one moment when SSAS was trying to convert and some noises were beginning to emerge. Were they going to chant “Push them back, push them back, way back!” like we used to do? But all the boys could manage was “Tak masuk, tak masuk!” like a bunch of unschooled fairies. At that point, I felt like just walking across the field to kick their sorry fairy asses.
I’ve heard this rumour that cheering is now banned in STAR but I refused to believe it. Why would anyone want to do away with a tradition that promotes self-esteem, camaraderie and self-identity? But apparently the school authorities do not see it that way: it should no longer be because it promotes the “bullying culture”. Like WTF?
I raised this issue in my batch’s yahoogroup discussion yesterday. Don commented very rightly, “Seriously, we are beginning to see the homogenization of the SBP. Traditions and individuality are being destroyed in the pursuit of churning out exam-scorers. In a decade, you won't be able to tell SDAR, SAS and STAR apart - might as well rename them SBP1, SBP2, SBP3.”
As I remember , the individuality of Starians were well-displayed during the 1986 PPM. We were in SMS Kelantan and at every basketball game we would be treating other (quiet) SBP denizens with our deafening renditions of “Ayak-ayak gantung”, “Dunlop”, “Rukun Tetangga” and other old favourites. So much so that the SMS Kelantan boys who got very pissed off (and by then were conscious of their nondescriptness) were planning to beat us up one night. The refreshing thing that came out of that was the boys from that other great cheering institution in KK felt it fit to put aside our usual rivalry and offer to lend a hand if it came to blows. Nothing happened and we quickly resumed our usual hostilities, much to everybody’s relief.
Anyway, in case cheering is reduced to an extinct anachronism in later years, I feel it to be my obligation to preserve at least a piece of our history in this blog. Show them how it's done, Pot and the lads …………