SINGAPORE - The ambulance was on standby outside the Jalan Besar Stadium as per competition regulations, video cameras were set up to broadcast the match live on the Internet and a sumptuous buffet spread awaited VIPs.
It was the finale of the National Football League (NFL) Division 1 season but no one could have expected the farcical ending.
Even before the kick-off at 7.30pm on Wednesday (Dec 6), Yishun Sentek Mariners players were already dancing and queueing up to pose for pictures with the NFL trophy.
Going into the match, Yishun held a narrow one-point lead over second-placed Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (Safsa) and needed a win to make sure of the title, but with their opponents Katong FC not being able to field enough players, they won the match as a result of a walkover.
While the celebrations were going on at Jalan Besar, Safsa were taking on Eunos Crescent at the Jurong East Stadium in what was a dead rubber.
"We would have preferred to play, of course. And we made sure that all our players are here today, even the injured boys," said Yishun team manager Ronald Lafeber.
"But these are the problems of an amateur competition," he said of his opponents' no-show.
"We faced these problems too, with players having work and family commitments - that's why we have a big squad of 25 players."
Yishun were presented with the NFL trophy and $15,000 in prize money, while runners-up Safsa took home $9,000.