JDT v Pahang: Inside an intense footballing rivalry

In just a few short years, a fierce rivalry has developed between Malaysian clubs Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and Pahang FC. FourFourTwo entered the inner sanctum of JDT supporter group ‘Boys of Straits’ to experience the rivalry first-hand…

Prior to May 28, 2013, no animosity existed between the respective supporter groups of Johor Darul Ta’zim and Pahang.

It wasn’t long before rocks and other missiles started raining down on the JDT fans

At that point, JDT had just begun their revolution under new owner Tunku Ismail Idris Ibni Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, the Crown Prince of Johor, having changed their name from Johor FC the previous season.

The Elephants, meanwhile, had recovered from being relegated in 2011 and were soon competing at the top of the Malaysia Super League (MSL) once more with the likes of JDT, Selangor and Terengganu.

But on that night, relations between the clubs changed, seemingly forever.

With Pahang's Darul Makmur Stadium stadium packed well beyond its capacity for the second leg of a Malaysia FA Cup tie, local fans started spilling over the fence and onto the running track that surrounds the pitch.

The BoS have played their part in unifying Johor

That’s where the trouble began.

“There was no problem with Pahang and Johor before this game,” Farin Johar, president of JDT’s official supporter group ‘Boys of Straits’, begins. “But after 2013, it’s now a big rivalry.

“It all started at Darul Makmur Stadium. The game was delayed because the stadium was overcrowded, so they let fans sit on the track.

There were five buses that got broken, and fans that brought their own cars, they also got smashed because they had Johor plates

“I’d never seen football fans sitting around on the track. The Johor players didn’t feel safe, so they discussed it and decided to postpone the match due to security reasons.

“After that the Pahang fans were angry and they turned their frustration onto the Johor fans on the away side.”

It wasn’t long before rocks and other missiles started raining down on the JDT fans.

As Farin explains, the stadium is very low, with the back of the stands only around one storey from the ground.

NEWS ARTICLE: Here is a link to an article detailing events from that night

In footage of the incident, visiting fans can be seen opening large JDT flags to drape across sections of the crowd to protect them from the flying objects.

The visiting fans soon move onto the pitch to get away from the missiles, leading to a confrontation between the two sets of fans.

“It’s a black memory for Johor,” Farin says. “It was mainly women and kids that were injured.

“Stones were thrown from outside the stadium into the Johor stand.”

A shot from the 2013 incident. The JDT fans can be seen at the top. Photo: Nizarazu.com

The Crown Prince to the rescue

“When the game was postponed, TMJ (as the Crown Prince is also known) left with the players to go back to the hotel,” says another of the Boys of Straits, Amin Nur.

“But he came back to the stadium to save us and calm the situation. When he knew his fans were still there struggling, he came back.

“We were stuck for two or three hours inside the stadium and then after that we could go out to go back to Johor.

“On the way back, they attacked our buses with rocks. There were five buses that got broken and the fans that brought their own cars, they also got smashed because they have Johor plates.

“It all began then.”

Clubs heading in opposite directions

On the pitch, Pahang recovered from that shock relegation to finish third in both the 2014 and 2015 MSL seasons.

The Southern Tigers, meanwhile, were gaining some serious momentum of their own, winning back-to-back titles in those years to help the rivalry maintain plenty of edge.

Yet as FFT prepared to head into the stands for this latest instalment in the rivalry last Wednesday night, Amin conveyed his belief that some of the intensity had diminished.

While JDT are competing for a hat-trick of titles, sitting only goal difference behind current leaders Felda United, Pahang have endured a horror start to the season.

With six defeats, three draws and just two victories from their opening 11 games, the Elephants are sitting in the relegation zone.

So FFT asks Amin if there will still be chants aimed at the opposition.

Continued on page two with some intense chants and how the match unfolded