The “Nonbar” (“Nonton Bareng” which loosely translates as watching together) has become an essential part of an Indonesian sports fan lifestyle. Far from their favorite team, be they Real Madrid, Liverpool or AC Milan, they have taken to flocking together with like-minded souls and tracking down a warung or café where they can gather and cheer on their heroes.
Social media is alive with announcements of where fans can watch their next game, and not just in Jakarta. The Indonesian branch of the Arsenal Supporters Club, for example, has active groups in places like Karawang and Jambi where supporters gather together.
Typically a couple of mates will get together, source a decent venue, perhaps negotiate a good price for their members, then spread the word – given sites like Twitter and Facebook, the word soon spreads.
To people with a western background, the idea that something as fundamental as organizing a get-together to watch a football match is a strange one indeed. If there is a football match being shown on TV and you haven’t got a ticket then you watch it at the pub.
Football. TV. Pub. It’s instinctive, ingrained in our psyche. To use a current buzz word made popular by IT, it’s a default reaction.
It is hardly necessary to make arrangements. You just know that your mates will be there as well as other like-minded souls whose minds operate on a similar track.
Indonesians have formalized it to an extent by giving it a name, Going To The Pub is never really going to catch on here, and doling out individual, virtual invitations.
I was back in England recently and decided, in the blink of an eye of course, to catch their European Championship game against Sweden in the local pub.
Traditionally, Friday night is always a big pub night. The England game just bought the punters in earlier. I arrived just before kick off, with its ludicrous countdown, and the pub was heaving. All seats, stools and tables were taken and most of the people there bedecked in England shirts of varying vintage.
Flags of St. George were hanging from the beams while all eyes were staring intently at the various screens dotted round the bar. All eyes that is with the exception of three young ladies who spent the whole time transfixed with their mobile phones, all but ignored by their partners.
I managed to find some elbow room at the bar itself, precious real estate on nights like this; I hadn’t forgotten that in England when you fancy a drink the customer must walk to the bar, place their order, wait to get served, then pay. None of this being served at the table we get used to here.
What this meant was that while I was able to get served quickly and relatively painlessly, other customers were forever squeezing past to get their fill which meant my head was jerking sideways far too frequently for my likely so as not to miss any precious minutes of the game.
The funny thing about watching your national team while drinking beer is you make the funniest noises. As an Arsenal fan I rarely have a good word for Tottenham Hotspur players any time but Scott Parker did raise a cheer when his 20-yard shot just missed the target. Who knows what I would have done had he scored.
England of course went on to win the game 3-2 after doing their best to lose, so the punters weaved their merry way home singing “Land Of Hope and Glory” and dreaming of Cheryl Cole.
Obviously the atmosphere isn’t so pleasant when they lose. When England hosted the 1996 Euros they reached the semifinals only to be beaten by the Germans, as ever, on penalties, as ever. Come chucking out time at pubs around the country English fans reverted to type, singing jingoist songs, damaging German branded cars and even, assaulting German language students.
There was never much danger of any nastiness playing Sweden, England have decades of rivalry with the Germans which rears its ugly head once in a while. But Sweden? It’s difficult to get riled up about a country whose biggest export is ABBA.