'We have been there to carry each other through all the bad times' - meet the Malaysia Leeds United supporters group

We explore Leeds United's devoted following in Indonesia in our latest We All Love Leeds feature.
Leeds United Malaysia supporters club.Leeds United Malaysia supporters club.
Leeds United Malaysia supporters club.

Leeds United boast one of the most passionate and loyal fan bases in world football.

No matter how far you go or where you travel, you're never a great distance from a club crest, scarf, car sticker or even welcoming a friendly salute, such is the outpouring.

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It is a football club that has tested the very core of its support during ups and downs on and off the pitch in recent history.

Leeds United Malaysia supporters club.Leeds United Malaysia supporters club.
Leeds United Malaysia supporters club.

Those far and wide, though - just like the city of Leeds - have remained steadfast and unwavering in their loyalty to the team that plies its trade in Beeston.

In the Yorkshire Evening Post’s We All Love Leeds series, we look at those supporters groups from far and wide around the world.

We examine their passion for Leeds United and get to the root of what makes the club so special to follow from all corners of the globe.

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This week, we meet Sidek Ahmad, from Kuala Lumpur, and Clement Yew, who lives in Selangor, from the Malaysia supporters club...

Why are you a fan of Leeds United?

S: When I was younger, all the other boys would brag about how they were fans of Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal. I watched them play and I don't recall feeling any desire to become a fan of those teams. That was until I watched Leeds United vs Liverpool in 1998. We won 3-1 away. That was the game that changed my life, my way of watching football and most of all my passion towards the club.

C: In the mid 1990s, when satellite TV was introduced to the Malaysia market, the Premier League was an instant hit here. Every one of my school friends picked a team to follow, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool were the popular. I looked around for a good player who occupied the left side of the pitch and Harry Kewell caught my eye.

What is so special about being a Leeds United supporter?

S: I've never actually thought being a Leeds supporter as special, I treat it as being blessed by a higher power. Most people can relate to being a fan due to being born in a particular place or a parent was a supporter. For me that is not the case.

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C: Being a Leeds fan is ‘different’, we are in the minority here. If another Leeds fan sees you in a shirt on the street, they would come up to you to exchange phone numbers. Another set of supporters would just walk past each other. It's special.

Tell me about the supporters club? How did it come to be?

S: The supporters club is something that I hold dear to my heart and I can never thank the people enough that have helped me since it began in 2004 after the defeat to Bolton and relegation.

I was devastated, angry, disappointed and fed up of being alone! I was able to discover few fans based in Malaysia online. From there we connected through messenger, we started a small meet-up at places like McDonalds.

It has grown from there through word of mouth. When we switched to Facebook in 2009, we gained a much bigger audience and more people joined us. We have around 90 members now.

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C: I felt so lonely out there supporting Leeds after relegation. In 2010, I made a comment on a random forum thread about Leeds United and I got a reply from Sidek, he then lead me to the Facebook group that he set up.

What makes it a great supporters club to be a part of?

S: It is a sense of belonging. There is no better feeling than this for me. We treat everyone like they are our own family.

C: The members rarely meet each other but when we do meet, it feels like we know each other for ages. We share the same passion for Leeds United and the same aim to grow the fan base in Malaysia, the members are ready to be called upon whenever we need them for any events.

Why do you think Leeds fans - no matter where they are from - are so passionate and loyal to the club?

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S: For me, with Leeds it’s never about you having to choose to be a Leeds fan, Leeds United chooses you. Even during the dark times in League One, we stay together as fans. We never search for glory or recognition. We just want to watch Leeds play.

Have you ever visited Elland Road? If so, what was the experience like? Do you have a favourite game or memory? If not, is it on your list of things to do?

S: I planned to visit Elland Road this year, but due to the pandemic, it had to be cancelled.

C: I have watched Leeds played four times, it was supposed to be five but due to the pandemic we weren't able to come. I have also been to an Elland Road stadium tour which was conducted by Brendon Ormsby. I couldn’t help but burst into tears the moment I walked out of the tunnel.

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I was due to be at the Charlton game at the end of last season, but it wasn't to be. Hopefully there is something better waiting for me in future.

How has it been to follow the club in recent history? There have been plenty of ups and downs...

S: I've had my share of tears both of joy and despair, I wouldn't trade it all for anything, as being part of the journey is, for me, what makes you appreciate things.

What are your thoughts on Leeds finally being back in the Premier League? How do you think it will boost the supporters club?

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S: It is astonishing and I still think this is all dream, maybe due to all the disappointment that we had in the past. It will certainly boosts our followers.

We are looking to channel all this attention into gaining new supporters and hopefully stronger connections amongst ASEAN whites. There's already Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

Finally, is there anything else you'd like to mention about the supporters club?

S: Looking back, what I've enjoyed most about this supporters club is connecting existing members to new ones, the satisfaction of enabling people to be part of a group which I did not have the privilege of being in. We've been through it all and I can proudly say that it’s been an honour to share the journey with all of them.

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C: The Malaysian Supporters Club was not founded during the glory days of Leeds United. It was set up during the toughest time. The members were there to carry each other through all the bad times, but now we can also share our joy and passion together. As Leeds united finally returns to Premier League, I hope the Leeds United Supporters Club Malaysia family will grow bigger with a stronger bond.