TANAH MERAH, MALAYSIA: Football is not a matter of life and death, it's more important than that.
So said Bill Shankly. Yesterday, the Kelantanese proved the Liverpool legend right. For them, the Malaysia Cup final in Kuala Lumpur was more important than floods and the inundated railway tracks.
Some 700 hardcore Kelantan fans scrambled from all over the state to get on the only train out of Kelantan. All other train services were cancelled except theirs, which was booked by the Kelantan Football Association to take fans to Kuala Lumpur for the final.
They had been waiting at the Wakaf Baru and Tumpat train stations on Friday night when they were told that railway tracks had been flooded - cutting them off from the train that could only get as far as Tanah Merah.
Wakaf Baru station master Izani Ahmad said heavy rains since Wednesday flooded the railway tracks at Tok Uban in Pasir Mas.
"The train was scheduled to pick up the fans here and Tumpat at 10.30pm but since the train could not get here we told the fans to find their way to the Tanah Merah station and board the train there.
"All trains were cancelled except this one with 10 coaches that was booked by the association," he said.
So the manic fans found other ways to get to Tanah Merah where the train waited for them to get to Kuala Lumpur.
Alas, their team lost 3-1 to Negri Sembilan and all hell broke loose at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The fans, about 65,000 of them, vented their frustration by letting off fireworks and smoke bombs.
Some unruly ones even set fire to the plastic seats in the stadium. Others pelted the Fire and Rescue Department officers. Some Negri Sembilan fans were bombarded by water bottles. Order was restored after the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) members stepped in.