July 27, 2006

a footy bedtime story

Let me tell you a story today. It is a true story, and it happened almost twenty years ago.

The year was 1986, the occasion was the Malaysia Cup final. Selangor versus Johor.

The latter had won the Malaysia Cup in the previous year, beating KL 2-0. One of the goals was scored by their goalkeeper, Salleh Mohd Noor. The Johor goalie had kicked the ball into play after making a save, and the ball had gone up and up before coming down. KL's goalie, Rashid Hassan, got caught in no man's land when the ball landed and bounced right over him and into goal. All that was in 1985 though, and not the subject of today's tale.

In the 1986 final, Salleh Mohd Noor took up his regular place in the Johor goalmouth. They took the lead from a goal in the first half, but not through their goalie's kicking ability. Selangor applied tremendous pressure after that to get back into the game; and shortly before halftime Razali Alias equalised with a 35-yard volley after the Johor defence had cleared the ball away from a corner.

Halftime score: 1-1.

The second half started at the same tempo as the latter part of the first. Tackles came in fierce and hard, attacks and counter-attacks were launched end to end. The match was turning into one of those classics that one should videotape for posterity. Yes, young ones, DVD and VCD technology didn't exist at the time. But I digress.

As the second half wore on, disaster then struck Johor. Salleh Mohd Noor had gotten injured during a goalmouth melee. The physio and medics attended to him beside the Johor goal as best they could, but he couldn't continue.

Enter Ramli Dol, the substitute goalie for Johor, making his first appearance on the pitch for that season. There was about a quarter of an hour to go, and the commentators were talking about extra time and penalties. They mentioned a number of different factors that might affect the outcome of the match, but they neglected one crucial element: The Ramli Dol Factor.

Ramli Dol let in five goals in the time that he was on the pitch. One of those goals was a grounder that looked to be a harmless speculative shot; until it rolled through his arms, under his body, between his legs and kept rolling into goal.

Fulltime score: 6-1. Selangor claimed the Malaysia Cup for 1986.

Such are the ways that legends are made. Such was the way that the Legend of Ramli Dol came into being.

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