“In the spotlights” is the column about fans introducing their favorite club. It’s not about the size, city, trophies, or current performance, it’s about the passion for the club. This weeks club in the spotlight is PSMS Medan from North Sumatra who is currently active in Liga 2. This time it’s up to Abdul to tell us more about his club.
It’s one of the oldest football clubs in the history of Indonesian football and has a rich history. The club is nicknamed as “The Killers” or “The Kinantan Roosters” and holds the AFC record for highest attendance at an “amateur” football game in history.
PSMS Medan was founded in 1907 under the name: Delische Voetbal Bond or D.V.B. but renamed to PSMS Medan in the 1950’s, marking the birth of the club it is today. Although the club has a rich history as a steady competitor for the championship of the highest tier in Indonesian football. But nowadays the club is struggling to survive in the second league and is far from success.
Medan “Tobacco city”
First let us have a look at the fertile breeding ground of PSMS, the city of Medan. The capital of Northern Sumatra has a rich history, influenced by different kingdoms, rulers, and occupiers. With a 2,2 million population and millions of inhabitants in the surrounding suburbs, Medan belongs to the four main cities of Indonesia besides Jakarta, Surabaya and Makassar.
The city was founded by Guru Patimpus Sembiring Pelaw as Medan village in 1590. And did not develop very fast until a Surabayan sultan lured a Dutchman to Sumatra in 1863, his name was Jacob Nienhuys. He quickly discovered the soil surrounding Sumatra was extremely suitable for growing tobacco. First, it was the luxurious tobacco plantations that later on got supplemented with the production of palm oil, that turned Medan in one of the most important cities for the Dutch East Indies and turned Medan in the world’s tobacco empire. The influence of the tobacco history of the city can be seen in the foundations of football club PSMS Medan.
The local pride of Medan was officially founded in 1907 as Delische Voetbal Bond(D.V.B). Named according to the Dutch naming system for clubs and referring to the surrounding area of Deli. But the official birth of PSMS Medan as we know it today is set in March 1950. It was in that year that the Dutch officially left Sumatra and D.V.B. changed her name to “Persatuan Sepakbola Medan dan Sekitarnya” or PSMS.
The tobacco of Deli was chosen as the logo of the club. Not in honor of the Dutch predecessor but to resemble the proudness on their local grown product. Due to the trading history and their reputation as one of the largest tobacco plantations in the world, the club invited and received invitations from foreign football clubs, for friendly matches soon after.
Overseas clubs like Grazer AK, Kowloon Motorbus(Hong Kong), Grasshoppers, Star Soccerites(Singapore) tried to take on the “rap-rap” style of PSMS but many of those teams lost against the rough and speedy style of play that made the club famous. Earning PSMS the nickname “The Killers” as they managed to beat most foreign teams visiting Medan.
The club of many firsts
As the club from Medan rose to fame as the killer of foreign clubs, they made name for themselves by setting some iconic records for Indonesian football. They are the first Indonesian club that competed in the Asian Champion Club Tournament (AFC Champions League nowadays) in 1970. They came in at the fourth place after beating Iranian Taj Club with 2-0 but losing the match for third place against Homenetmen from Beirut.
Besides that. legend has it that the first Indonesian football player that played abroad, played for PSMS Medan, his name? Ramlan Yatim. A talented player who played for neighboring country Malaysia to represent Pahang and the national team of Indonesia.
Highest attendance in history
The most successful period in the club’s history lasted from 1967-1990. They celebrated their first championship in 1967 after beating Persebaya Surabaya. During that era, the club proved to be a worthy contester for the Indonesian league as they won the title in 1969-71, became joined champions in 1973-75, and won in 1983. The 1983 season’s finale was held against Persib Bandung and won after a thrilling penalty shoot-out. At that time, Bandung’s Persib was building its reputation as one of the most feared clubs in Java. So, when the two clubs faced each other again in the final of the 1985 season something ordinary happened.
With the boiling sensation of fans from Medan and Bandung wanting to see the two best teams from Sumatra and Java at that time competing against each other, the stage was set for the ultimate final. The two clubs faced each other in the notorious Gelora Bung Karno stadium, and the match went down in history books as the match with the highest attendance in Indonesian football and probably in the history of amateur football in the world. A staggering 150.000 spectators crammed together to fill the stands of the stadium in Jakarta. Although official numbers are lacking, it’s easy to see that the capacity of 110,000 was easily exceeded, as fans are scrammed on the sidelines of the pitch.
PSMS Medan and Persib Bandung went head-to-head for this match, and obviously, neither one of the teams wanted to disappoint the huge number of fans that turned up for the “El Classico” of Indonesia. The match ended in 2-2 after 120 minutes, which lead to a penalty shoot-out to decide the winner of the league. PSMS went on to crown themselves as champions after goalkeeper Ponirin managed to stop at least 3 penalties from Bandung’s side. A performance still honored by people from Medan to this day.
The Kinantan Roosters
The club was known as the slayers of foreign clubs, but that nicknamed changed after the final of 1985 when, according to old folklore, Kinantan roosters – a fighting cock typical of North Sumatra – were parading after the club won the league. Upon arrival in Medan, the PSMS team was paraded around the city and greeted by thousands of fans. A group of youths even handed over a Kinantan rooster to Bawono, the manager of the PSMS team.
At Merdeka Square, which is the main square of Medan city, residents are pouring out to welcome their favorite team. The players were greeted like heroes, especially goalkeeper Ponirin. “There have never been so many people in Merdeka Square since President Sukarno gave a speech there in 1962,”. That’s when football became a people’s party for people in Indonesia.
Stadium & fans
Together with the birth of PSMS in 1950, the Teladan Stadium was built. Originally the stadium was built in the run-up to the National sports week of Indonesia back in 1953, but it’s currently still the home base of PSMS. The stadium can host up to 20,000 supporters to scream their team to victory and was the stage for many legendary victories for PSMS in the past. Among which a 4-2 win against the legendary Ajax from 1975.
The stands of the Teladan Stadium are usually occupied by three support groups, namely: SMeCK hooligan, PSMS Fan Club and Kampak FC. SMeCK hooligans being the largest of support groups for the club who celebrated 16 years of existence last year and hundreds of active members. They are the ones responsible for choreography’s in the stands of PSMS’s Teladan Stadium. Although the support group adopted the name hooligan their activities have more of the character of the typical Indonesian ‘mania’ supporter culture. Where choreography’s plays a big role.
The fall of a giant
After the introduction of the Liga 1 the club never got back to its former glory. After years of struggling in the Liga 1, with some seasons more successful than the other. They eventually relegated to the second tier of Indonesian football. Where The Kinantan Roosters are active until this day. Recent years have seen much unrest among the fans of the club, who are hurting to see their club struggling to survive. Slipping performances and mismanagement has lead to boycotts from the SMeCK hooligan movement in the 2020 season. The question is whether or not the killers from the past can rise from the ashes and recreate the feeling of having an impregnable fortress in the form of Teladan Stadium.
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