Football: Two different gatherings, the same love for the English Premier League

Liverpool supporters cheering after the second goal at the screening of the team's game against Watford.
Liverpool supporters cheering after the second goal at the screening of the team's game against Watford.ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Masliah Hasim, a Liverpool fan, and her family gather at her flat to watch a match on the opening weekend of EPL season on Aug 12, 2017.
Masliah Hasim, a Liverpool fan, and her family gather at her flat to watch a match on the opening weekend of EPL season on Aug 12, 2017.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - After an 82-day wait, English Premier League (EPL) fans who have had to go cold turkey during the off-season were finally able to indulge in their passion when match-week one kicked off with seven fixtures on Saturday (Aug 12).

"I'm very excited that the Premier League is back; we've been 'football brain dead' for two months," said homemaker Masliah Hasim, a die-hard Liverpool fan since 1980.

"With it back, it's shiok ah (feels good) you know."

In her household, football gatherings are the norm. Relatives spend quality time together watching football, but she specifies that "no Man United jerseys are allowed" in her house.

They will bring home-cooked food in addition to what she whips up (mostly spaghetti) in her kitchen for a time of footballing fellowship.

"We're noisy when we watch the games (but) we try not to be when it's late," said Masliah, who is in her late 40s. "But today the match was early so I didn't care."

Despite her family being divided in terms of support - her husband is a Tottenham fan and her extended family are Manchester United supporters - she believes home gatherings help to knit family ties more tightly.

She said: "It's the love of football that brings us together, regardless of which team we support, we are family.

"The atmosphere is great, we'll banter and we'll whack each other hard, but the bond is what's important. It's good to have these gatherings to instil the bond of family, especially with the youngsters."

Over at the Four Points by Sheraton Singapore, over 100 members of the Official Liverpool FC Supporters Club Singapore also rejoiced in the return of the EPL.

"It's good that the Premier League is back, we can get back to supporting the clubs we love and watch exciting football," said Hougang United head coach and Liverpool fan Philippe Aw, 40.

Retro adidas and Warrior kits were seen in the sea of this season's New Balance ones, as fans young and old both celebrated and agonised throughout a thrilling match, with Liverpool drawing 3-3 with Watford.

"This is probably the next best thing from actually being at the stadium as you're surrounded by like-minded fans who share a common passion and love for football," said Henry Han, 40. The taxi driver is the vice-president of the supporters' club.

Aw, who also prefers watching games outside with his friends, added: "The thing is, you can stay at home, but to me there is no atmosphere. Being a former player and current coach, there needs to be a good atmosphere during the game."

Despite the result, the Reds faithful stuck by their team, urging them on until the final whistle.

Glasses were raised, flags were waved and the familiar strains of You'll Never Walk Alone rang out loud after the screening.

Aw continued: "Over the first few matches, many goals were scored. Hopefully there will be much more to come (this season)."