It all began with some friends playing a game, a pub game. It was October 1996. The place? Gotham City. 3 Lowens and 2 Tornados. Not the greatest tables in the world, but that’s all we had. Went up to the bar counter and got some change. Yeah, my choice, the Lowen. Lowen was well known for bank shots, but we were great, great at spinning instead! How ridiculous. Yeah, we got trashed by some of the “better” players. It wasn’t a big deal then. The BIG deal was our attraction for the GIRLS walking around us! Humble beginnings.
I first played Tornado in a pub called Donmark, it was managed by my dear teammate Thomas Lok, the place was filled with all types of beer; imported beer filled half of the pub. The first table and most popular table was the trusty Lowen. After a couple of months, Tornado was brought in. YUCKS, was my first impression of the table. There was no control, too much speed and I thought of it as a lousy table.
As time went by, I played at other locations, watched others play and learned the game at a deeper level. Donmark was the place where I met most of my foosball friends. People like Thomas, Aunnie, Ben, Ray, Sean were there to play the game. Not to mention my bosses who played and bet during games too. Sigh, those were the times. All fun, no competition. Even then we had no knowledge of blocking nor striking! As expected, we were thrashed by Ng Eu Hock. Back then he was our idol. He was the man to beat.
Yeah, you could say Donmark was the birthplace of my foosball life. However, the great veteran players’ were patrons of this other pub called Wasteland. It was not a great pub to hang out at first, I felt like a stranger, as usual I was thrashed by the senior players but ultimately Wasteland was the prime location for foosin’. I took some of my friends there to play and even brought my bosses there for their drinks! Time-Out Sport Bar in Bandar Utama was another great outlet, there I met my friends Henry Long and Coop aka Alison, they were the players to beat and to learn from too. Henry plays Tornado often and Alison played Lowen with great precision. Back then, anyone that could BANG the ball in was a hero!
The real craze kicked in when it was tournament time, for example the first ever Mild Seven Foosball Challenge 1997. Lowen was played on the middle of the year and Tornado was scheduled for the year-end. There I met a lot of foosball friends, namely Alex aka Anaconda Chong who was there to assist anyone that needed help during the tournament. Played Lowen with minimal supervision from the SWAT team was a no-no. All went haywire with me losing, losing badly to fellow pub friends. It was my first and last taste of a Lowen tournament. I lost interest in Lowen the very moment I got the hang of Tornado. Tornado was fast becoming a hit! Control, speed & accuracy (I complained back then, Sheeeesh). Anyway, the tornado was played at pubs, the first 3 qualifiers would collect their trophies and prize money. It was simple back then, win at any pub level, and you get your payback immediately.
1997 was the finest for players like Ng Eu hock and Kenny Lee, they were paid to play at the Worlds! They learned a lot at that tournament and although they hesitated to teach us at first, the skills were transferred to us in no time. The skill-o-meter rocketed instantly! Weekends were the best to thrash out our skills at Wasteland. I was a real rookie back then, got training from BOY, his way of coaching is far fetched from anyone. He was the best, so I guessed the things he had said ought to be right... I thought. BOY, thanks for all the help.
As the year went by, the foosball fever feverishly hit the Yuppie crowd (young executives). This was also when the K.L. and Penang friendly rivalry was born. The rivalry has come very far to reach this level. A semi-pro competition level. During this time many foosers were regulars at Wasteland, it was the best place to hang out for foos action and foos talks.
Time-Out was one of the places I patron too, I can say that Time-Out was the initiator for all such foosball activities. Other outlets soon joined the bandwagon. Places like Mirage was the prime location for K.L. foosers, they had the best players there. Once in a while, we would go over for a friendly match, there we met C. M. Mak, Bernard Leong and the rest of the K.L. gang! Matahari Pub was a great place for the working class to hang out, be it for Lunch or Dinner. Well, that was the only destination with foosball and food. I used to go over during my lunchtime, often skipping lunch, trading it for a few games of foosball. It was worth it.
There I met my future foosball partner, my dear friend Mr. Kevin Chang, he was a pure rookie then. Playing the rollover plus minimal skills on his 5-bar. Ben, Ray & Sean could be seen there for some foosin and occasionally for food. They would arrive on their super bikes - the coolest foosers in town. We all became real close friends. It started with a spark, the passion for FOOSBALL. Different backgrounds, getting together as a family, to unite each other’s flame, love and support for the game.
Lets not over work the issue of a team, we should be enjoying the game, as the game has given us joy, passion and friendship, a gift that has been thrown freely to us.