‘Oldies But The Goodies’, When The ‘Datuks’ Come Out To Play Ball

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Old habits die hard. They argued and harangued the match officials while as Sabah officials, and it seems even now, Uzair Yahya, back to the camera, and John Toft, partially hidden are not happy with the referees, as an amused Ah Fook looks on. – Photo credits BorneoToday reader

LABUAN – For a crowd of 3,000 to come to Labuan Stadium on a Saturday night just to watch some old men play football and try and relive their glory days is something out of the way, even if ‘King’ James Wong was among them.

Why even a Premier League match at Likas Stadium involving the current Sabah team – with so much publicity too – would be lucky to see less than a third of the crowd turning up.

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But Labuanites, who have seen many of their players wear the Sabah jersey over the decades, came for the nostalgia, for the good times to see the grand-dads and Datuks show that they may be slow, but their skills are far from gone.

It was not so much the scoreline; the match ended 1-1. It was not who scored or who failed to complete the pass.

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A group photo of the players that turned out for Labuan and the ex-state side.

It was like sipping vintage wine, see the players of yester-years make some pinpoint and intelligent passes, somewhat missing these days in our batch of state players.

It was a match between ex-Sabah State Players versus Labuan Veteran Stars or LAVESTAR as they called themselves.

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See if you recognise and can name the ex state players.

The home side was obviously the fitter side with players whose average age was 53, compared to the 58 average of the visitors.

Ah Fook sadly was unable to play. Ah Fook is Datuk James Wong. The one-time top hitman in Asia, was injured and watch the match from the bench.

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Labuan lawmaker, Rozman Isli was there, and so were players like Junaidy Tuah, Dul Alias, Teo Boon Hock, Rashid Piut, Abdullah Adi and many others.

But there were other Datuks – Hassan Sani and Zulfikar Ahmad. And even Labuan Member of Parliament Datuk Rozman Isli played for 10 minutes for the homesters; and other Datuks who wished not to be named.

The Labuan game is the first of a series that has been planned by the ex-state players. They will be visiting and playing in other towns in due course.