Every weekend football supporters travel miles and miles to watch their favorite team play. Distance doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is the fact that your team needs your support and so do your friends.
‘Awaydays are the best days’ tells the story of matchday experiences through the eyes of the fans.
The Mataram derby
This week we take a closer look at one of Indonesia’s fiercest rivalries, The Mataram Derby. The two clubs clashing with each other you wonder? Persis Solo from Surakarta(red) and PSIM from Yogyakarta aka Jogja(blue). Two clubs who currently compete in Indonesia’s second division but who are (deliberately) separated by the PSSI in the Eastern and Western division the Liga 2 of Indonesia.
First let’s have a look at Persis Solo, the club representing Surakarta. The supporters of Persis Solo are known as Pasoepati or Surakartans and are recognizable by their home color; red.
Persis Solo plays their home games at the newly renovated Manahan stadium (cap: 20,000). The stadium was recently renovated in 2018-2019 to serve as a host stadium for the Under-20 World Cup which is set to be held in Indonesia in 2021. We believe the Manahan Stadium is one of the better football stadiums in Indonesia
Perserikatan: 7 titles (1935, 1936, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943)
Then there’s PSIM Yogyakarta. The supporters of PSIM are nicknamed as the Brajamusti, a name adopted from an ancient spell which is used in heroic Hindu tales.
PSIM plays it’s home games in the 35,000 capacity Mandala Krida Stadium, located in the special region of Yogyakarta.
*Perserikatan 1 title (1932)
The two cities are just a mere 70KM apart which makes it illogical for them two play in separate competitions, except if you take a closer look at the political and competitive history between the two clubs.
Apart from the geographical distance between Yogyakarta and Surakarta the origins of this rivalry date back as far as 1755 when the mighty Kingdom of Mataram was split into the Surakarta Sanate and the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, which eventually became Solo and Jogja. The kingdom of Mataram was the last, major independent Javanese kingdom before being colonized by the Dutch. Using the old roman tactic of divide & conquer the Dutch tried to break the ruling of the kingdom with the “Gianti agreement” which officially split the kingdom in two. That is why many similarities are found in Solo and Yogyakarta because these two cities are basically siblings of one parent, the Mataram Kingdom.
The two cities competed with each other by building so called “keratons” or royal palaces. The name Keraton is derived from the Javanese ka-ratu-an, meaning residence of the ratu, the traditional title for a king or queen at that time.
Back in the days
Anyway, back to football. Besides their shared history, the sports rivalry between Persis Solo and PSIM Yogyakarta really started in the era of the inter-association football championship, the first official football league in Indonesia. Among the first 8 founding clubs you could find Vorstenlandsche Voetbal Bond(VVB) & the Mataram Football Association (PSM), or as we know them by their current names: Persis Solo & PSIM.
In the heyday of the newly founded inter-association football championship, Persis Solo & PSIM where constantly competing to crown themselves as champions, where Solo managed to do that 7 times in the period between 1930-1943, PSIM ended up coming in second 4 times and only managed to become champions once in 1932.
The rivalry between the two teams continued in 1943 and 1948, still with Persis Solo as the champion, and PSIM Yogyakarta as runner up. But after that, the rivalry about achievement between Persis Solo vs PSIM Yogyakarta began to fade because these two teams had difficulties competing in the highest part of the league. Due to their historical and sports related rivalry, the fans of these two teams are meant to be rivals. The age-old political prestige rivalry between the two cities penetrates into modern day’s football culture which can be seen and felt during the derby of Mataram.
The Mataram Derby
As described earlier, the two arch enemies are divided in the Liga 2 as they are drafted into the Eastern and Western competition of the Liga 2 of Indonesia in the 2020 season. The last time these two teams faced each other happened in the 2019 season. The first clash in that season took place on the 16th of august 2019 at the Willis stadium in Madiun. Both due to the renovation of their own stadium and security risks the match was played in this stadium, without away supporters. We spoke to Rohan* a supporter from Persis Solo who went to that match and tells us about his experience.
*We used a fictive name to ensure the interviewee’s safety.
Jogja & Solo rivalry
What can you tell us about the history of the cities Jogja & Solo.
In the past the two cities used to be under the same flag (kingdom of Mataram). The 1755 agreement made to split the kingdom into the two cities Surakarta & Jogja. The Dutch supported Solo in the struggle for power after the split of the kingdom which lead to tension between the two cities.
Do you think this shared history plays a role in the rivalry between the two clubs?
Yes because the rivalry is passed on from generation to generation. We are brought up with being proud about being from Solo and that we need to beat our rivals from Jogja. That’s something you can definitely feel when you are inside the stadium during the Mataram derby.
From the passion with which you speak, I can tell that you are proud on your club and city, what is it exactly that makes you proud to be from Solo?
Proud to be born in Solo, as it is the place where I find my roots and those of my family before me. And ofcourse because Solo has more titles than PSIM 😉
In your opinion. Do you think the local authorities/PSSI should allow fans from both clubs in the stadium?
A lot of the supporter can’t go inside the stadium. The police recommend not to join to the stadium as there was already a psywar going on, on social media before the match. So the authorities were afraid of riots if both supporters joined to the stadium. I understand that the authorities can’t take too many risks but ofcourse it’s a shame for the atmosphere that there are no away fans in the stadium.
What do you think about the newly renovated Manahan Stadium?
The stadium is being renovated for the world cup in 2021.. now it’s better than before. With lot’s of upgraded facilities which give the club a more professional appearance.
You are not afraid that there will be less atmosphere after the renovation?
Like I said, the facilities are way better, but people find it difficult to get tickets. Now the capacity is 20.000. Before it used to be 25.000. The price is a little higher as well, due to a management decision. The supporters complained about this to the management but without any result. But in the end it’s a change for the better for Solo and the atmosphere inside the stadium is really good.
Can you describe your matchday experience? How did you wake up in the morning on matchday?
I woke up in the morning and could only think about one thing: “Winning this game”. You look forward to the match all day and can’t think about anything else. It’s a combination between excitement, tension and nerves that you experience throughout the day.
Once you finally enter the stadium, you let out those bottled up emotions both by supporting your team as well as trying to lower the spirts of the away supporters and players with chants and banners. It’s like a mental chess game.
This particular experience was really good as we won the match with 2-1. Everybody went crazy and people invaded the pitch to celebrate the second goal with the players. That emotion and passion is what it’s all about.
What is your favorite thing about Awaydays?
We usually go by bus with about 40 people, we make a party together, drink alcohol and joke around. We sing together and you meet a lot of new and like-minded people.
Besides that, I really like to try the culinary foods in the different cities that I visit. Each city has it’s own specialty which is nice to try. Football is a nice reason to travel as you can experience so many different things while doing so.
So what food should we try when we visit Solo ourselves?
You should try the “salad solo”. Which is a traditionally Dutch recipe but with an Indonesian twist, changed to fit the Javanese taste.
What is your most memorable football experience?
The “teamnas”(national team of Indonesia) game versus our arch enemy; Malaysia. In September 2019 I travelled to Jakarta to see this match go down in perhaps Indonesia’s most impressive stadium, Gelora Bung Karno.
Indonesia and Malaysia are two countries that are much a like in many ways, but with a fierce hatred among the fans on both sides. There are many debates between the two countries who founded cultural aspects like “Batik”, The Language and more. The atmosphere inside the stadium is something that I will never forget. This match is one that I can recommend to anyone with a love for supporters culture!
Persis Solo versus PSIM Yogyakarta ended in a 2-1 victory for the home team. Later that season Solo managed to win the away game as well(2-3) which lead to chaotic scenes at the Mandala Krida Stadium. The two teams ended up in respectively 5th(Solo) and 8th(PSIM) place that season and therefore did not compete for promotion to the highest division of Indonesian football. The question is if they can ever return to the glory days of their past. But even though the allure of sportive success is long gone, the vibrant passion of the fans is very much a live! Definitely a must visit for all fans of the beautiful game.