Brunei vs Sheffield United

You would have to be fairly 'berumur' to remember this photograph and to be a football fan as well. It was His Majesty greeting players from Sheffield United for the match to commemorate the opening of the national stadium. You see, 25 years ago, on 23rd September 1983, before our independence, Brunei officially opened the National Stadium. That day was chosen to mark Al-Marhum Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien's 70th Birthday as it was him that had pushed for the Stadium to be made.

The $100 million stadium was completed just a few months before that. Ask your parents if they remembered that a fund was set up for members of the public to donate towards the building of that stadium. The amount of money collected from the public was $1.1 million which contributes to 1.1% of the total building cost. Not much but it does show the enthuasism that the public has for the stadium.

As part of the official opening, Sheffield United from England was invited to play against the Brunei National Team which the Brunei Team lost 1-0 despite the Sheffield United players suffering from jet lags. The next day, Sheffield United played against an invitation Brunei team and this time Brunei did better by drawing 1-1. I remembered for the second match, our PS from Industry, Dato Hamid Jaafar played left winger and scored that goal after a brilliant run down the left wing.

I was quite curious then as to how Sheffield United was able to come to Brunei because they were playing in the English league. I thought they would not be playing in England as September 23rd, 1983 was a Friday and the next game was on a Saturday. Apparently Sheffield United still played in the English league. So the team that came to Brunei was either the first team or a reserve team. I had never been able to find that out even until now. Sheffield was playing in the old English League Division 3. They won promotion to Division 2 at the end of the 1983/84 season finishing 3rd in their division.


Hi Mr BR,

I remember the day very well because I was one of the students involved in the opening ceremony of the stadium. After the Friday prayers, we walked all the way from the Muhammad Bolkiah Masjid to the stadium. We were seated at the marked wooden benches so that we could form wordings using our umbrellas to commemorate the event including wishing the HRH Begawan Sultan's birthday. There wasn't any flipcharts yet back then. The match between Brunei and Sheffield United was really exciting. Only a bunch of people supported Sheffield United. But wasn't that day HRH Begawan Sultan's 69th birthday?
Rozan Yunos said…
About the birthday, I never realised that until now. All the official references including the special stadium book says that it was supposed to be his 70th birthday but he was born in 1914. Someone made a boo-boo somewhere. I was in Brunei for my summer holiday then and I was able to watch the game just before I flew back to England.
Thanks Mr BR. It is supposed to be flipCARDS, not flipcharts, as I have mentioned. Back then, the stadium was the biggest building I have ever been. I am so happy that I was there for the opening ceremony. And 5 months later, I was also there with my schoolmates for our first National Day.

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