20181128SN 97

A day in the life of a newspaper

THE people who put the newspaper together — the news editors, sub-editors and designers — only start work around 2pm but the reporters and photographers start their day much earlier.

After being given their assignments the night before, they go about their work and send stories back to the Newsdesk throughout the day.

By the time the daily Editorial meeting takes place at 3pm, the editors already
have a good idea what stories they have
in hand and at the meeting the decision on which story goes into which
page happens.

Sub-editors and designers will work
on pages all through the evening right
down to the time when all the pages
are sent to the printer situated behind the main office building of the
Malay Mail.

The newspaper is printed, stacked
and sent out to the vendors. These guys in turn either deliver it to the homes
of readers directly or send the papers to newsagents.

All in all, it takes a big team to
get the newspaper into your hands.

Oldest newspaper pushed the envelope

Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil

“I think definitely the tactile feeling of papers is very important to me. I feel sad hearing this, it is one of the oldest papers in the country and to see it disappear is a big blow to the print industry. It is a big blow to news and media. And I think this should be a bellwether and a harbinger of things to come.

I think it is a business model that has to be tested. I do not know whether the Malaysian market itself is big enough to support a completely digital media service. But I think if we started out with Malaysia and looked at something more regional, maybe that might be suitable. But I am a little bit worried about the business model because we see that it is very tough market conditions.”

Umno secretary-general and Ketereh MP Tan Sri Annuar Musa

“Well I think for most media including Malay Mail, to go fully digital is a sound business move. As you know things are different now, so it is only wise for publication houses and also media players to make adjustments. Similarly moves to go fully digital ought to be seen from a solely commercial point, and not as a political move as some may view it.

Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin

“Memories of Malay Mail for me, they used to have this Malay Mail Beauty section on the front page. I used to read that when I was growing up.”

Klang MP Charles Santiago

“I recall Malay Mail at one time playing an important role in breaking news for the evening, particularly for sports. We would look forward to it. But then the competition got really stiff between all the different players. The rise of online news also had an impact on (print) readership.

“The Malay Mail newspaper has served its purpose, but now the environment is determined by the digital media. 24/7 kind of news. There is no choice, you have to move at some point. Not many people these days have the time and energy to sit and read newspapers, have tea and coffee. People are running around and checking their news updates (on devices) And the news format now is no longer long articles. Looking at online news it tends to be far shorter, so readers are less interested in the traditional forms now.

Subang MP Wong Chen

“In the previous government, Malay Mail actually pushed the envelope to report more independently. So that is a good thing. It is sad to see Malay Mail going out of print circulation. I remember most clearly that the Malay Mail, despite being pro-government for many years, they started to report more independently around two years ago. I found that very refreshing, they had a new attitude and new approach.

Well I think the print business is under tremendous stress, and the media business is also consolidating. So I am not sure what Malay Mail management’s position is, but I think it is really motivated by dollars and cents. Unless they can get into a model of subscription, I think print media will face a great deal over the coming years.”

Padang Renggas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz

“I’m sad, really sad because I think Malay Mail is the oldest paper (in the country). And when I was much younger I used to enjoy Malay Mail because it is an afternoon paper. And even then it was already a tabloid and at the end (I remember) there was competition, like crossword puzzles. And I have fond memories, especially sports – Fauzi Omar – and some other reporters. So I’m really sad that it is closing down.

If it was a morning paper, what happened the night (before) it won’t be reported. Because it was an afternoon (paper) the sports results were out and we could get the latest results from the Malay Mail. Back then there was no digital (paper).

Well I think the paper has always been a Malaysian paper. It reports had no racial slant towards certain communities. It has always been a paper that I would say was non-conventional paper because News Straits Times and others were mainstream paper. The Malay Mail had its independence and it had its own niche and of course then it was very important (to have a niche). But nowadays papers are different, they are free now. But I think the Malay Mail was above Utusan or NST back then. I’m going to miss it.”

Coming to terms with a digital reality

Finance Minister and Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng

The Malay Mail when it was the afternoon edition (back in the 1980’s) used to do a daily write-up of happenings in Parliament. I always liked to follow that. Plus I had a lot of good friends in Malay Mail back then.

It is the digital era, so you have to adjust to the changing times. So I think this is an innovative move by Malay Mail but you have to wait and see whether readers will adopt and adapt to it. Ultimately it is up to them.”

Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah

I remember Malay Mail as playing a very good part in reflecting community issues, and its investigative journalism has been useful in informing the wider public.

I think it can still be the voice for the community on a wholly-digital platform, as an organisation that represent community voices. It can still do the investigative journalism as it has always been doing, and maintain the practice of balanced reporting it is so well-known for.”

Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak

When I was Youth and Sports Minister, the Malay Mail would give very good coverage. It was also the go-to choice for sports news and information. I will always have fond memories of Malay Mail and what it contributed, in terms of sports development in the country.

I think every paper now has got to come to terms with the reality (of going fully digital). I hope that works out for them, but they have to make the choice I suppose.”

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office

and Parit Buntar MP

Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa

For me as a politician, the Malay Mail has given me plenty of coverage. I would buy the copies to see if my statements were reported, especially in Parliament. I have always found Malay Mail more democratic in their views. If you ask me what are the freer newspapers around, one of them would be Malay Mail. Its reporting over the years has been quite fair.

In point of fact, many newspapers are now heading to the digital platform. I think in the future the newspaper or how news is being presented is no longer in print, which I think Malay Mail is trying to keep up with that.”

PAS deputy president and Kubang Kerian MP Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man

I must admit I do not have many memories of the Malay Mail. Yet I find it saddening that the print news industry is going through this, relegated to a secondary status with the proliferation of digital news. However, I do recall the Malay Mail newspaper has having contributed many good written articles to Malaysians, and that will be missed.”

Kapar MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid

Of the many memories I have of the Malay Mail, the most nostalgic for me was from my days as Malaysian Trades Union Congress president. It frequently covered me, even when other outlets were uninterested in doing so. In so doing it helped to propel the issues I fought for to the public consciousness. As such I owe a good deal to the Malay Mail.

Somehow I feel going fully digital is unsuitable. Print newspapers are still needed, and this gives an advantage for people to obtain information. Not everyone uses digital news, some still rely on papers. Plus as an English newspaper it can educate readers on the finer points of the language, and there is still a desperate need to strengthen our command of the language.”

Continued on page 54

Historic transition greeted with a tinge of sadness

For more than a century, Malay Mail has informed, educated and thrilled readers with a wide range of news reports. From stories about the struggles of the ordinary man to exposing major scandals, it has left a lasting impression on all Malaysians. With its content now going fully digital, we asked several elected representatives what they thought of Malay Mail as it enters a new era.

Communications and Multimedia Minister
and Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo

Malay Mail has been a part of our conscience for quite some time. A lot of articles I think they have covered very fairly, very professionally… they have done a good job. Now that they are going to shut down on December 1, it is sad but all I can say is I think they have done well.

Many, many fond memories of Malay Mail. I have always had the opportunity to deal personally with many of the reporters. I found them very forthcoming, very professional. What else can I say?”

Human Resources Minister and Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran

Why do you want to close it (the print edition)? It was the first newspaper I sold in my life. To me Malay Mail means a lot. When I was a very young boy in the early 1960’s in Setiawan, Perak, whenever I went to school it used to come in the afternoon. So we take it to sell for five cents or 10 cents to government servants, to help my father in his business. Those days almost everyone was English-educated. It was the most popular choice for evening news at the time.

But with transformation of technology, you must go along with it, not fight against it. What is more important is the quality and presentation. But we will miss it. People like me still feel the hard copy is where the real news is read.”

MCA president and Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong

Of course those big news, explosive news, all this while so many times I heard it first from the Malay Mail and I think I would love to see it do well in the digital format

I think it is a world trend where you have a publication and the cost will be very high. You talk about the business of media in the world, not many can survive if you still continue with the print media. Because online media is a trend.”

Economic Affairs Minister and Gombak MP Datuk Seri Azmin Ali

Well I think Malay Mail has been very fair in their reporting, even when we were in the Opposition they have been giving us fair space for our news. Certainly they have played a very vital role in terms of getting fair information for the rakyat. So I think they have been quite supportive in terms of building the democratic space for the people through getting the right information across.

So the move by Malay Mail to get into the digital news, I think it is good since the younger generation wants to have access through digital and social media, since it is faster and more accurate. It is a good move.”

Tanjong Karang MP
Tan Sri Noh Omar

As the oldest newspaper in the country, the Malay Mail counted me as one of its frequent readers over the years. Its reporting has always been neutral, and they dared to speak out the truth. I hope the Malay Mail will continue to prosper in the digital format.

Going fully digital is a good idea. Most people nowadays hardly read newspapers, preferring instead digital news. Plus going down that path would reduce expenditure costs greatly, I imagine.”

PKR vice-president
Chua Tian Chang

Well we remember Malay Mail as one of the tabloid-sized paper that gave populist-type of news and also went through a lot of evolution. At one stage it was sort of semi-mainstream but gave some space to alternative news. It has been around for a long time, so definitely I feel sad for it.

I think this (going digital) is something inevitable for most of the press nowadays. It will not be easy but I want to wish the Malay Mail good luck and thank you for their service, and we hope to see it continue to occupy a niche in the Malaysian press landscape.”

20181123 crop version MH08

Nation walking together

THERE’s something endearingly romantic about the Malay Mail Big Walk, a biggie among the numerous projects the paper had pioneered in its 122-year history.

Fondly named the Biggie, the event orchestrated joy as Malaysians came together, making everyone a champion of national and health consciousness.

It was also the catalyst to mass participation races in the country — walking or running — over the last five decades.

The Biggie is one of Malay Mail’s biggest stories that shine through from however far back.

It reminds us how to keep our flame burning, to rally for a good cause, to get inspired and to rise above things that keep us from succeeding.

The big walk marched on to centrestage on Feb 21, 1960 with a whopping 2,864 walkers, local and foreign.

They were flagged off with much fanfare by then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman at Merdeka Stadium.

The inaugural race had a superb story: 10-year-old Singaporean Vijaya Darshana finished first in women’s category but was disqualified because she was underage.

Maimunah Mohd Nor, 19, from Petaling Jaya took the crown.

However, Vijaya returned with vengeance in 1966 and took first place.

It was the beginning of an event that enhanced the identity of Malay Mail and was preened to perfection until the last walk in 2007.

It stamped its mark in Singapore, where the event was held in the early 1960s when the Singapore Free Press merged with Malay Mail. It was also due to traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur.

On May 11, 1975, the walk became an annual event and was staged in Penang before making Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur its home.

Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur Athletics Association president Datuk S. Vegiyathuman, the man known as the livewire of the Biggie, recalled:

“It was the best mass participated event in the country and encouraged local and international organisers to follow in its footsteps.”

Vegiyathuman, who became a prominent member of the Biggie family in the 70s, served as the technical chairman and race director until 2007.

He said the event’s success gave his association the confidence to organise more walks and runs.

“It was the pioneer of mass competitions in Malaysia and stayed our best model,” he said.

The Biggie, he said, used to attract up to 17,000 participants but organisers had to restrict it to 10,000 to avoid logistical issues.

“It was an amazing sight as on race day walkers lined up for the start from Padang Merbok to Bank Negara,” he said.

Walkers also came from Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. Singapore Prisons was a regular team.

All of them paid their own way to be part of this extraordinary event.

The culture of the Biggie also attracted scores of students and between 800 to 1,000 senior citizens annually.

More than 1,000 officials and volunteers involved in each race earned organisational stripes.

They camped at Padang Merbok a day before the event to ensure they were not late for the flagoff at 7am.

Vegiyathuman said the Biggie was not all fun as it became a base to unearth national walkers, who went on to shine at the SEA and Asian Games.

The popularity of the Biggie led to the introduction of 13 categories that included juniors, providing an avenue to identify young talent.

Big names who shone at the Biggie included V. Subramaniam and Khoo Chong Beng, who had podium finishes in the 20km walk at regional games.

Others were 1998 Commonwealth Games (50km) champion G. Saravanan, P. Ravindran, S. Karunanithi, B. Thirukumaran, Jagjit Singh, R. Mogan, Shahrulhaizy Abdul Rahman, Lo Choon Sieng, Teoh Boon Lim and Narinder Singh.

Well-known women walkers included Nancy Lai, Cheng Tong Lean, Anastasia Karen Raj and Yuan Yufang.

Subramaniam won the Biggie until his retirement in 1987 and later used the event to identify talent.

His affection for the event had him conducting coaching clinics before race day and leading the warmup sessions at Padang Merbok.

Veteran journalist and former Malay Mail Editor Emeritus Frankie D’Cruz, who helped drive publicity for years, said the Biggie engaged closely with the community.

He said the Biggie was a unique platform for societal integration and promoted a fit Malaysia.

Malay Mail Big Walk captivated the masses and will go down memory lane as one of the paper’s greatest tool for unity and nation building,” he said.

“It was a big walk with a big heart,” he added, with a tinge of nostalgia.

Ali-Bugner edition

Great bout, great coverage

COLLECTING memorabilia is a hobby for many but a 79-year-old Californian only keeps items that evoke wonderful memories.

Vernon Parker has such fondness for a series of Malay Mail paper cuttings from 1975.

It was from the period boxing legend Muhammad Ali fought Britain’s Joe Bugner at Merdeka Stadium — the duo’s second bout after their Las Vegas Valentine’s Day date two years earlier.

“It was one of the highlights of my life,” Parker told Malay Mail from his Oklahoma home.

“I remember hiding away a copy of Malay Mail at my workstation everyday so I could bring it home.

“Back then, Malay Mail was the first paper to arrive at our office. The way they presented the news was different and it got better during the Ali-Bugner clash.

“This got me collecting every edition featuring stories on the bout. I knew it would be a piece of memory to share with my grandchildren one day.”

Parker, then 36, was with the US Embassy as an attache for narcotics and dangerous drugs.

It was also through Malay Mail he discovered where Ali was staying — the old Hilton along Jalan Sultan Ismail.

“Stories in Malay Mail confirmed the rumours,” remembers Parker.

“From then on it was history,” added Parker, referring to how Ali ended up at his house for a pre-fight party.

Eager to rub shoulders with Ali, Parker left the embassy details at the hotel’s concierge.

On his way out, he was stopped and informed by the staff Ali was sending his bodyguards down.

He was brought to Ali’s room and they spent 30 minutes chatting privately.

It was at that moment Parker coughed up enough courage to invite “The Greatest” to his house.

To his surprise, two days later (Thursday) Ali confirmed his attendance and arrived at Parker’s bungalow in black Baju Melayu on Saturday.

On Monday, he beat Bugner via unanimous decision after 15 rounds to defend his World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council heavyweight titles in front of 20,000 people.

When told Malay Mail was going digital, Parker paused, then reminisced about the good old days.

He recalled the paper being a source of information for the US Embassy in the mid-1970s and 80s.

Parker remarked: “No internet back then, so thank you Malay Mail for providing us these copies.

“Perhaps the time is right for the publication to move forward. I’m sure it’ll serve its online readers the same.”

When Parker went home for good in 1976, among the prized possession in tow were Malay Mail reports on the fight.

Parker’s favourite edition was a colour special days before the clash.

It was frontpaged with a bold Black Superman Versus the Great White Hope heading.

“What a way to put together a special edition for the greatest boxing match in Malaysia.”

rashidsidek

Mailers, the rare breed

THINKING out of the box and going the extra mile for stories that touch the heart had always been Malay Mail reporters’ niche.

Being an afternoon tabloid for much of its existence, national athletes were accustomed to late night and early morning calls from Mailers.

Former international shuttler Rashid Sidek was one of those athletes.

Memories of ex-Mailsport writer Chan Wai Kong hunting him for stories are still fresh in his mind.

“He interviewed me during the peak of my career. I’m quite reserved but him being a jovial person, it was easier to talk to Wai Kong,” recalled Rashid.

“I did get some late calls but reporters were also quite respectful and understood rest was important for athletes. They never disturbed us unnecessarily.”

Rashid was the much-talked about player during Malaysia’s scintillating 1992 Thomas Cup triumph after a 25-year lapse.

First singles Rashid remained unbeaten throughout the tournament.

His fiery form ensured Malaysia turned the tables on favourites China (3-2) with a semifinal win over the legendary Zhao Jianhua.

He carried that into the final, where archrival Ardy Wiranata was overcome in another 3-2 triumph over Indonesia.

Wai Kong, now the New Straits Times sports editor, said Rashid’s shy nature meant it was a toil to get a story out of him — similar to how he forced rivals to submission at Stadium Negara.

“Rashid never spoke much. He answered everything on court,” remembers Wai Kong.

Story about a developing relationship with Ella also broke as the rock diva turned up to watch Rashid in the semis.

Picture of the pair after his win over Jianhua in following day’s Malay Mail was accompanied by the caption that ended with “Romance in the air?”

“Stories were circulating they were romantically involved. It was during the Thomas Cup but Rashid denied this, saying it was just friendship,” added Wai Kong with a tinge of disappointment.

Rashid still maintains they were only good friends.

“Thomas Cup was the first time I met her,” said Rashid.

“We were good friends, kept it professional — nothing beyond that.

“We went out for dinners but never just the two of us.”

Wai Kong also witnessed Rashid winning his second Commonwealth Games gold in 1994.

A horrific car accident during that edition in Victoria, Canada almost took the writer’s life.

He was in coma for four days in a Vancouver hospital but eventually recovered and returned to write great stories again almost a year later.

“It was a miracle Wai Kong came back,” added Rashid.

“The other Mailer who regularly wrote about me was (former senior reporter) Rizal Hashim.

“After I turned to coaching in 2003, it was (former Executive Editor) Haresh Deol.

Malay Mail is a legendary paper. Its coverage when I was playing will stay with me.”

A wonderful ride

A wonderful ride

Datuk Santokh Singh, 66

Former national footballer

Malay Mail had good sportswriters like Johnny Yew and Tony Mariadass. They criticised and praised us at the right moments.

Bakri Ibni, 66

Former national footballer

In the 1960s, my Perlis manager Idrus Ramli bought it everyday. All the players used to read his paper. Also the only paper that extensively covered English football.”

Tan Sri Dr Mani Jegathesan, 75

Former national 100m, 200m record holder

Malay Mail gave us laurels when we did well but also kept us abreast on our competitors’ performances. This will be a landmark change for those of us brought up in the print media era.”

Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria, 52

BA of Malaysia president

We’ll miss the print edition, especially the sports section. It produced prolific sportswriters and editors.”

Datuk Zaiton Othman, 58

Sports Commissioner

Still my favourite paper. Habit of reading from the back hasn’t changed.”

Datuk Mirnawan Nawawi, 47

Former national hockey captain

Ex-writer Mustapha Kamaruddin holds a special place in my heart. He covered me during my Royal Military College days and spotted my talent during school tournaments. Everyday at 11am, I waited for Malay Mail. Without reading it your day felt incomplete.”

Stephen van Huizen, 60

Former national hockey player and coach

Before the internet, Malay Mail was the fastest way to get the latest football scores. And who can forget the People’s Live Telecast Fund for the 1982 World Cup?”

Zainal Abidin Rawop, 51

Sports commentator

Top reporters like Tony Mariadass and Rizal Hashim covered the local scene. Hopefully there’ll be a future paper like Malay Mail.”

Shahrin Majid, 48

Former national footballer

It was the people’s paper. All races read it. It was from its articles I noticed my growing fanbase. Whenever my form dipped, I told myself to buck up as I didn’t want to disappoint the fans.”

Datuk Soh Chin Aun, 68

Former Harimau Malaya skipper

Malay Mail covered all sports, local and international. It produced many top writers too.”

Datuk M. Karathu, 75

Renowned football coach

Malay Mail was like the papers in England. It would preview games and another story came out post-match. Dedicated sportswriters attended trainings and spent a lot of time with the team.”

Compiled by R. Loheswar

20181128HAB7

Only the best stories

AN ex-colleague once asked if it matters to readers what the lead story on a page is.

For former national footballer Zulkifli Norbit, 71, it does.

One such article appeared in Malay Mail on June 21, 1978, three years after Zulkifli finished his illustrious nine-year career with Selangor.

The strike was not even his best or most important — mind you, he scored in the 3-0 1968 Merdeka Tournament final win over Burma which ended an eight-year title wait.

He once netted all the goals in Selangor’s 4-1 Malaysia Cup victory against Armed Forces.

But that one paper clipping is safe in his collection as the piece featured prominently with an emphatic headline — Zulkifli nets the winner.

That solitary goal came in Sultan Sulaiman Club’s Selangor Premier League win over SCRC.

“That’s why I hardly missed buying Malay Mail,” said Zulkifli at his home in Ampang, where he still keeps the paper’s write-ups from the 1960s to 1980s.

“The writers even covered lower division and club matches.

“They never condemned us, only constructive criticism. They knew what the players were capable of. These types of reports helped us improve.”

By his own admission, Zulkifli is not someone who remembers journalists well.

The late Tony Danker, a Malay Mail sports reporter during Zulkifli’s playing years, was an exception.

Zulkifli said: “Danker is one of only two or three fresh in my head.

“How could I forget? He was always at the ground before us!

“The only time I scored four, Danker was there to record it.”

Zulkifli started playing for Selangor aged 15 and made his senior debut four years later in 1966.

The eldest of the famed Norbit brothers — winger Shah and midfielder Jamaluddin were also internationals — Zulkifli earned his first cap in 1968 against Western Australia.

He was also part of the Harimau Malaya team that qualified for the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The last of his 80-plus caps came against Everton in a 1974 friendly.

Zulkifli, whose teammates included some of the country’s best footballers like Datuk M. Chandran, Datuk Mokhtar Dahari and Wong Choon Wah, counts having played alongside the late Tan Sri Ghani Minhat his biggest blessing.

“Easily the best Malaysian to have kicked a football,” said the six-time Malaysia Cup champion with a thumping conviction.

At the height of his career, Zulkifli was known to be the fastest winger in Asia —he ran 100m in 11.3s.

In 1983, he turned a coach but retired 23 years later, with his last job coming at KL Plus.

Malay Mail is a paper close to Zulkifli’s heart.

“I kept a lot of articles. Some ex-teammates took a few but never returned,” he laughed.

“For footballers of my era, Malay Mail was the ultimate. It was the first paper I looked to buy the day after a match.

“May you continue telling great stories.”

Tony Mariadass celebrated by MM players

MMFC legacy

THE paper did more than just sports reporting; it managed a football team with help from Kuala Lumpur FA.

Malay Mail FC was the first Klang Valley club to play in M-League’s Division Two.

From the 1970s, it played under then parent company’s name, New Straits Times Press (NSTP).

In 1987, its name changed to Malay Mail for branding purpose.

Initially, the team was actively involved in inter-company games, competing against Straits Times Singapore in annual match-ups and friendlies.

Regional media meets involving teams from Straits Times, Bangkok Post and South China Morning Post were also a regular feature.

Following the rebranding, MMFC crossed over from Selangor to play in the KL Dunhill League (premier division in the city league).

The team comprised employees of NSTP group — NST, Malay Mail, Berita Harian and Harian Metro.

Over the years, it evolved from a company set-up to a club outfit and finally a semi-professional force, competing in the M-League.

MMFC offered opportunities to young players with the bonus of employment in NSTP group.

It did not take long for the team to stamp its mark.

Two years after finishing 1989 KL Dunhill League runners-up, against all odds, the side, then known as Sharp Malay Mail, defeated hot favourites City Hall FC by a solitary goal.

City Hall’s team was virtually the KL Malaysia Cup side and their goal was manned by national goalkeeper Rashid Hassan.

MMFC, aided by former KLFA president and mayor, the late Tan Sri Elyas Omar, had three players loaned from KL — goalkeeper M. Pavalamani, defender See Kim Seng and striker K. Kannan.

The Dunhill League victory saw MMFC
go international.

An invite from the Philippines FA to compete at the inaugural Philippines Cup in 1991 in Iloilo City and Bacolod City got the ball rolling.

MMFC played against national teams of Philippines, Cambodia, Brunei, Taiwan and Singapore youth.

In the final, MMFC held Taiwan scoreless for 120 minutes but bowed out in the penalty shootout in front of 20,000 at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.

MMFC went on to win more plaudits locally, emerging Dunhill League runners-up twice — 1993 and 1996 — and 1992 KLFA Cup champions.

They also qualified for the FAM Cup (national competition for clubs) in 1997.

After three attempts at qualifying, they finally featured in the 2000 M-League Division Two, together with their FAM Cup finalists, Kelantan JKR.

They played in Division Two for three seasons before going back to the FAM Cup.

After surviving almost 15 years on a shoestring budget, the team was forced to disband at the end of 2004 due to lack of sponsors.

What kept it going was the officials and players’ passion for the “beautiful game”.

During its lifetime, more than 200 players passed through MMFC, several going on to secure contracts with better teams.

In 2009, past players formed X-Mail FC veterans’ team.

In October, a group of 22 were in Bacolod and Iloilo again — the team had maintained its relationship with the Philippines following the first trip 27 years ago.

X-Mail played at the 1st NOFA Masskara nine-a-side tournament in Bacolod and a friendly in Iloilo.

The team was there for a week and Peter Moss Malay Mail’s first foreign journalist in 1957 joined in Bacolod.

With X-Mail, the team’s legacy is set to live on.

TONY joined Malay Mail in 1979 and left as Sports Editor in 2006. He also served as Consulting Sports Editor, Specialist Writer and columnist at different times from 2013 to last year.

E-Paper Article View