|Photo: Hougang Hools|
1) When was Hougang HOOLs formed? And why?
The Hougang United Supporters’ Club, affectionately known as the Hougang HOOLs (Hougang Only One Love!), was officially established on the 1st January 2011.
However, the movement can be traced to 18th July 2010, when a group of 5 Manchester United fans (which included me), from the official Manchester United supporters’ club of Singapore (United For United), visited Hougang stadium to lend support to our friend Aide Iskandar, who was then the coach of Sengkang Punggol Football Club. Aide is also the head of the Manchester United Soccer School in Singapore.
Sengkang-Punggol (SPFC) was rooted at the bottom of the S.League table, and by that night they were suffering a winless streak of 13 games (I think) and facing a rough Beijing Guo’an side that evening. The five of us, having been steeped in the traditions of English terrace chants at Man United matchday gatherings, decided to do our thing at that match for Aide’s boys, knowing they had no official fan club and that we were supporting the team not just for being a title-contender.
As can be seen from the highlights of that match (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWQ_n8k8G4c), the Dolphins gave away a penalty but for Fadhil Salim to save, and at the 86th minute Diallo scored the winning header to send the entire bench (and the 5 of us) into delirium! Just 5 of us, but the effect that it conjured!
Subsequently, we decided to do the same for SPFC at the very next match, against Balestier Khalsa. 38th minute, one man sent off, but with 10 men and about 10 of us cheering the Dolphins on, the 10 men put on an incredible fight to score another 1-0 win and notched their rare 2-in-a-row win that season.
Since then, there was no turning back, as the fans from U4U, along with others who slowly joined us one by one, helped vocally inspire the lads for the rest of that 2010 season. The club finished that season with one of their best league points tally in their history. It was such a thrill knowing that the positive vibes we bring for our team made such a huge difference for the team.
2) Is HOOLs fanbase concentrated only to those living in and around Hougang?
As much as we would love Hougang residents – including residents of surrounding towns around Hougang like obviously Sengkang and Punggol, Serangoon, even eastern Ang Mo Kio (hence the term “United”!) – to embrace Hougang United as their own, the Hougang HOOLs are mainly made up of fans who embrace the culture of intense unwavering support for our Hougang United. I personally live in Clementi (I’m a “westerner” all my life!), and we have HOOLs who live in Jurong, Woodlands, Toa Payoh, even Tampines etc, and of course, Hougang and Sengkang.
So I’d say, the Hougang HOOLs exist for two reasons: for Hougang people, and for the HOOLS! PRIDE OF THE NORTHEAST!
3) How are relations between Hougang HOOLs and Hougang United’s management?
The management is very supportive of our endeavours as I believe they know our heart for inculcating the culture of unconditional allegiance and (pretty much ultras-like!) vocal support for our own Hougang United. That is the main reason why we had decided to jump aboard, admittedly reluctantly, as the official supporters’ club. (Yes, we are ultra fans at heart!)
They have provided moral and financial support for most of the ideas that we had suggested and implemented, which is mostly merchandising and season ticketing. Of course, as purely volunteers doing all these as labour of love, they have not imposed any demands on us at all, and for that, we are very grateful.
4) Hougang HOOLs’ style of standing and singing throughout the game is a first of its kind in the S-League, where do you draw your inspiration from?
As mentioned, we first started out infusing our brand of English football terrace support, then slowly adapted local chants into our repertoire. Also, we are inspired by the numerous YouTube videos of ultras in Europe in their support for their football team: non-stop singing and chants, flags and banners, flares (here, we can only use sparklers sparingly!), standing and jumping. And yes, I’m one who personally cannot understand how anybody can sit down and yet still feel passionate about the live football game!
5) How is the membership application for this season? Has it seen an improvement compared to last year?
At the moment, we have achieved the same number of season pass application (which is basically how we track membership) as last season, about 50. To be honest, I was quite disappointed with the small number of signups, but given the current general apathy towards our S.League from the media and average Singaporeans, we have a long hard road to market and probably educate our next generation of young fans to grow our culture of support for our Hougang United. Especially when we are doing these voluntarily outside of our work and family time. As I’ve said, a labour of love.
Sign-ups are still ongoing throughout the season though, so let’s hope there’ll be more people coming by our coming games, starting this Friday at Jalan Besar stadium. (SOURCE)
Continue to Part 2