SINGAPORE - Finally, after six years, Tampines Rovers have made it back home to the east.
On Friday (July 28) night, the S-League football club made its much-anticipated return to their homeground for the first time since 2011, as a crowd of 4,676 in the 5,000-capacity ground saw the Stags beat Brunei DPMM 2-0 with goals from defender Shakir Hamzah and playmaker Shahdan Sulaiman.
The old Tampines Stadium had been torn down and built on the same site is a brand-new Our Tampines Hub, which houses various facilities including a football stadium, a swimming pool, a library and a mall.
Tampines' supporters are relieved that they no longer have to travel all the way to Jurong West Stadium to cheer for their team.
Ngee Ann Secondary student Bryan Sim, 14, is glad that instead of having to travel for an hour to go to Jurong, watching his favourite team is now just a five-minute bus ride away from where he lives in Simei.
He said: "I used to take the MRT there by myself and then take a taxi back home after the game. But now, it's much easier for me to come down to watch the matches."
The excitement was in the air as many fans, including families with young children, turned up in yellow for the homecoming. Admission was free.
Polytechnic lecturer Jeffrey Xu brought his three-year-old son to the game. Ahead of his first S-League game since the late 1990s, the 35-year-old said: "I wanted my son to feel the same atmosphere I had felt in those days when I used to stand just behind the signboards at the old Tampines Stadium."
The return of the Stags to Tampines has enlivened the place. In previous years, the team played at Clementi Stadium and Jurong West Stadium.
Civil servant Naz Isa, 31, said: "Usually the (Tampines) Hub is not that crowded. But today, it's really buzzing."
Engineer Sharil Amir, 40, added: "I hope to see the standard of football improving, more attacking football. Now that we have the nice infrastructure, it's now time to step up the game to a higher level. Most importantly, it's the quality of football that matters."