As the Singapore Premier League kicks off for what promises to be an exciting season, the fans of Geylang International have much to be excited about; the Eagles have strengthened their squad significantly with high profile signings like prolific striker Sylvano Comvalius and experienced midfielder Izzdin Shafiq, are slated to play their first continental matches since 2010, and with a fancy new website there is a real buzz around the club. However, perhaps the biggest bit of news coming out of the club’s base at Our Tampines Hub was the unveiling of their new home jersey – revealed on March 1st, its daring design won the attention of football enthusiasts and shirt collectors both within Singapore and from all over the world. While for some people this was their first glimpse of this fine old Singaporean club, we’re ever so proud to have been reviewing their shirts since 2016! So, join us once more as we do away with the old and bring in the bold with a detailed review of the stunning Geylang International 2021 home shirt!
And what a stunner it is! There is so much to appreciate in this design that one could be forgiven for being a bit overwhelmed; solid blocks of green and white fight for your attention as they are cut off by diagonal lines and dots of varying sizes, with the asymmetric collar and sleeves just adding to the fun. There is certainly a lot to unpack here.
While we will provide a close look at every part of the design in just a minute, we would be remiss not to mention that getting one of these shirts for your own wardrobe is easier than ever; as always, you can pick one up at the Eagles’ Nest in the basement of the Sim Lim Square building as well as via the club’s official Facebook page, but new for 2021 is the ability to order via the new in-house web store. Being priced at just 60 SGD means that Geylang’s daring shirt is one of the most affordable kits in the league, and represents excellent value considering it is also by far the most eye-catching design on show this year.
Of course, this new lick of paint is also a massive break from tradition; the Eagles’ loyal fans (including the hardcore Ultra Eagles) are used to seeing their team play in green and white stripes and were treated to a novel take on the brief with a green-on-green hooped home shirt for 2020. However, in the seven years prior to last year’s eventful campaign (marred by the circuit breaker and DPMM dropping out), stripes of varying shapes and sizes were synonymous with the team that played at Bedok Stadium before its move to OTH. The last five shirts have been given in-depth reviews on this site, so why not enjoy a blast from the past and read up on the previous efforts by Thai Supplier FBT and their predecessor Thorb;
- 2016 GIFC Home Shirt
- 2017 GIFC Home Shirt
- 2018 GIFC Home Shirt
- 2019 GIFC Home Shirt
- 2020 GIFC Home Shirt
But enough about the past from us; the path to the future that Geylang International are carving out is bright and bold, so lets see what this new shirt is all about.
Even with the unmitigated visual violence of the green and white, the now-familiar and perhaps even iconic pairing of the Geylang International crest and FBT’s laurel wreath stands out. The golden version of the eagle clutching a football was first introduced in 2019 in conjunction with the club’s ‘You can’t buy history’ ad campaign, while the two golden stars (representing the 1996 and 2001 S.League titles) atop the design first appeared in 2017 where they coincided with the introduction of FBT as apparel partner.
To complete the line-up of the Eagles’ dream team, Platinum sponsor Epson returns for a record sixth season on the chest. This Japanese corporation is mostly known for their printers but also offers a much wider range of consumer electronics, and joined forces with Geylang in the early stages of Ben Teng’s chairmanship back in 2016. To show proper respect for their contributions to the club, the brand’s wordmark is rendered against a fully white backdrop, which extends across the full length of the chest.
Setting aside Epson for a second, we would like to point out that this year’s shirt is a layered design with three distinct levels, so to speak. As a base, diagonally placed blocks and stripes form the first layer – from the perspective of of these photographs, they run from the upper left of the shirt to the bottom righ hem. A second layer is present in the shape of the sash, consisting of a dozen thin stripes (six in green and six in white), which runs from the upper right to the lower left – it cuts across the first layer with extreme prejudice. Likewise, the third layer formed by Epson’s white hoop (ironically the only traditionally placed hoop on the entire shirt!) ruthlessly cuts across the chest, interrupting both the sash and the dotted and lined base layer.
You can clearly see how the various layers intersect when looking at the upper torso; the base layer around the crest is overlayed with the sash, but the decrease in size of the dots running from collar to armpit continues unabated. They simply ducked under the sash and continued to shrink before resurfacing. They are interrupted once more, although this time by the white chest band, before reaching the side seam.
However, other parts of the design are wholly terminated by the sash. Take for instance the green and white lines that rise up from the bottom of the shirt towards the FBT logo. You’d expect them to cross under the sash and continue, but instead two-thirds of the green lines terminate to leave a blank white space above the sash, conveniently housing the FBT logo against a clear background – no doubt this was a concious decision by the designer to ensure that the marque could be clearly seen. Interestingly, the FBT wordmark itself is usually rendered in blue (although this has never been done on a Geylang shirt) and having applied that colour here would have made it really stand out. However, the Thai brand’s policy is to re-colour its name according to the colours of a given shirt, and we must applaud this consistency.
Similar consideration was given to the colour of Epson’s wordmark in previous years; for its debut in 2016 it used corporate blue, but across the four seasons that followed its five letters were consistently rendered in white on green hoops. That could never have happened for the 2021 design, as the deluge of contrasting green and white shapes would have made it hard for Epson to stand out had its name too been sublimated in green. Instead, solid black is used which makes the sponsor jump out – exactly what you would want in terms of publicity. It would have been interesting to see it in blue though, alongside FBT’s blue wordmark, but the decision to use black has clear, strong benefits.
As always, Epson is to be commended for the way in which they have enriched the club during their partnership; the company was instrumental in setting up a link between Geylang and J2 League club Matsumoto Yamaga (which is also sponsored by Epson) and lent inspiration to this year’s colourful purple third kit, which commemorates six years of loyalty.
The lower half of the shirt is uninhibited by the sponsor bar, crest, and and other such contrivances which makes it a lot easier for us to look at the design’s bottom layer – the sash terminating at the side seam rather than the bottom hem also helps in this regard.
This lack of interference helps to show that the base really only uses three different elements; solid blocks of colour (green in all but two cases – the exception being the panels that Epson and the FBT logo rests on), solid stripes, and the small dots that increase and decrease in size as they go along the shirt. It is the latter that is especially interesting as this effect is applied in two different directions across the shirt. In the bottom right hand corner (from our perspective) we see solid green slowly give way to thin white lines which increase in width; these split the solid block of green up into green stripes, which are then cut across by white once more to form square dots. The dimensions of the white cuts continue to increase in both width and length until the dots are positively miniscule.
By mixing and matching this complicated effect with the non-interrupted stripes and solid blocks of green, you’ve got a magnificently detailed shirt on your hands that really jumps out at you. It is very much unlike anything Geylang International have ever worn previously – nay, unlike anything ever worn in the Singaporean league by any given team – and we will possibly never see anything quite like it again. For a club that started its tenure in the S.League in solid green before making green and white hoops its signature look (inspired by the club’s early history as International Contract Specialists FC), the 2021 shirt really marks a clear milestone. We as onlookers anticipated a return to tradition following the innovative 2020 shirt, so to have our expectations subverted this spectacularly is a humbling experience indeed. While it is only April and there is everything to play for in the 2021 season still, the question has to be raised; where will the Eagles go from here?
Up to where they belong, of course! That’s paraphrasing the club’s war cry which was first added to the shirts last year. For 2021, the cursive font used previously has made way for a decidedly more formal typeface with the motto now being presented as a hashtag for added effect across social media. The golden colour remains though, in keeping with the tone that is still being used for the crest on the shirts – it pays to remember that the ‘regular’ green and white crest is still being used everywhere else (official documents, the website, social media, etc.) so it could well be that a return to the original is on the cards at some point, after having not been featured on the shirts since the end of the 2018 campaign.
The jock tag on the other corner of the shirt is a familiar sight now thanks to having appeared on every single FBT-made Geylang shirt, but for 2021 there are two marked differences; it is now done up in gold rather than green while the material used for it is smooth. Previously, the jocktag was made using the same rougher stickering that was also utilized for sleeve sponsors. Both changes are welcomed, especially in terms of colour as the regular green and white would have seen the jock tag blend in with the shirt’s design. Re-touching it to be gold also brings it in line with the motto and crest.
Note that, compared to the 2020 shirt, we no longer have a contrasting bottom hem. Instead, a subtle difference in tone can be spotted when comparing the front and back of this kit.
Another element of the shirt to get excited about is the new double foldover collar, which replaces the rather modern variant worn in 2020 which, like that shirt’s bottom hem, was also in contrasting green. The new design takes a leaf out of Nike’s playbook, as the American sportswear giant was the first to employ this particular style for a few of its customers – among them being English champions Liverpool. FBT’s take on this novel concept is a little less pronounced and, to us, preferable to the way Nike gave shape to the collars of its shirts. The white edges here make it stand out just enough, and as far as form factor goes the collar fits rather nicely – allowing it to stretch both at the front and back makes fitting your head through it a bit easier, and the added flexibility lessens the chances of tears should opponents ever tug on the shirt during a match. The foldover at the front reminds of the 2016 Geylang shirt.
While we have been naming and lauding FBT for the shirt, we must also extend our gratitude to Panyasingha Sports, the MacPherson-based distributor of FBT goods in Singapore. The partnership between the Thai brand and Geylang runs through Panyasingha, although manufacturing take place exclusively in Thailand. Coincidentally, FBT uses Epson’s SureColor dye-sublimation digital textile printer systems for these shirts, which makes for a nice bit of synergy between the corporate enterprises represented here.
As we come to the sleeves, we find a beautiful duality; the left sleeve is fully white where the right sleeve adopts the amazing pattern that dominates the torso – it has even been tweaked for the occasion with a subtly different configuration of stripes and dots. We’re also appreciative of the cuffs which, while plain, have been rendered in green on the left sleeve and in white on the right to add further distinction to the overall design.
But that’s just the fabric; the sleeves of Geylang shirts will always be of particular interest to us thanks to the endless parade of small business that adorn them, often rotating out every year to make way for a new set of what the club calls ‘Supporting Partners’. Seven have signed on for 2021 with three receiving the honour of appearing on the shirts this year.
Our favourite of the bunch this year is the topmost partner; set in a black and burgundy outlined rectangle are the name and logo of Aris Studio 23. This is a new, hip restaurant dedicated to authentic Isaan food, a wide range of culinary delights from the eponymous region in the northeast of Thailand, many of which are represented on Aris’ menu. Situated opposite the Holland Village hawker centre, this young business recently celebrated its first anniversary; a momentous occasion, as navigating the circuit breaker period as a start-up is no small feat. Even more so given the competitive area, as Holland Village is a popular destination for foodie Singaporeans and expats. Feel free to peruse the restaurant’s site and Facebook page, or pop in for a meal and a drink if you’re local. Aris Studio 23 is run by Andrew, a good friend of this site, who kindly gave us the scoop on the restaurant’s name; it is inspired by the co-founder who herself is from Udon Thani province! As said, it doesn’t get more authentic than that!
The second of this triumvirate of sponsors is STEEL Industries, carrying the usual Pte. Ltd. suffix in its name – this is Singapore’s equivalent of the UK’s Ltd. and the United States’ PHC, and can be seen dozens of times over in the island’s industrial areas. Kaki Bukit is where STEEL’s global HQ is located (with further offices in Malaysia and Sri Lanka), with the company’s name actually being an abbreviation of the qualities it assigns its products; Sturdy, Trusted, Efficient, Effective, and Long-lasting. Sentosa Resort and Marina Bay are but two of STEEL’s many customers.
No doubt that Aris Studio 23 would be interested in STEEL’s services, but so too would Springleaf Prata Place. Or, rather, Places; this is a chain of nine restaurants dotted across Pulau Ujong specializing in, you guessed it, prata. This is a type of fried flatbread that is typically grilled and served with a variety of curries, all of which saw our Editor-in-Chief pack on the pounds when he lived in Singapore owning to how amazingly tasty prata can be. The Springleaf closest to the Eagles’ OTH stadium would be the one located in the Tampines SAFRA, although Springleaf also maintain an outlet at Jalan Tua Kong near the club’s ancestral home ground of Bedok Stadium. Recognizing the restaurants is easy; just look out for the yellow facade and the jolly chef central to Springleaf’s logo.
We unreservedly welcome all three businesses to Geylang’s shirt, but having new and exciting sponsors on the sleeve comes at a price ; perennial sponsors Broadway, a chain of hawker centres, still support the club but are absent from the playing kit after having featured every year since their introduction in 2018. Hopefully one of the new partners will treat us to another humorous ad involving the playing squad, following memorable skits for Chiang Kong, T-Bob’s Corner, and Ultimate Investing. Note that the shirts sold in the fan story this year lack a fourth sleeve sponsor, which is situated on the opposite sleeve on matchworn tops.
Like turning over a page in a book, the back of the shirt offers us something new; plain green.
If you’re a traditionalist and/or minimalist, the extraordinary front of the shirt might have been a bit much for your tastes, which the back more or less balances out by virtue of being ‘just’ green. No further details beyond the foldover collar, no sponsors, just plain green. Soundtech, who sponsored the lower back last year, are absent with no business stepping in to take up the empty space as of yet.
Nonetheless, you can expect the shirts worn in the Singapore Premier League to have a bit more going on, owing to league-mandated sponsorship from AIA that will see its wordmark grace the upper back.
Case in point; the backs of the squad as they celebrate Sylvano Comvalius’ goal during the league match against the Young Lions, which ended in a 1 all draw on the 20th of March at Our Tampines Hub. Besides the AIA sponsorship, we also get a look at the new font for names and numbers, bespoke to the Singapore Premier League and carried by all eight teams during the 2021 season.
As has been the case since 2018, the shirts are matched with the latest model of green shorts and white socks from FBT’s catalogue featuring white and green details respectively. The funky effort in numbering the socks seen early last season continues as well.
On this year’s Yuki-Watch, we once again ask ourselves; is Yuki Ichikawa still with the club? And, as per the previous years, we can answer that question with a resounding ‘Yes!‘. The stalwart Japanese defender is now into his 8th season with the club and his tenth in the league (having plied his trade at Albirex Niigata-Singapore in 2012 and 2013) and started 2021 with a whopping 154 league matches in green and white to his name; that is a ridiculous sum when taking into account the fact that most seasons were contested across just 24 rounds (the COVID-stricken 14 round 2020 season being a notable exception).
We’ll make Ichikawa-san’s record sound even more impressive; the man hasn’t missed more than a single league match in a given season since 2015(!), and is currently on a hot streak of back-to-back appearances going back to 2018. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about this player’s fitness and dedication, we don’t know what will. While he will turn 34 before the end of the season, we hope to see our favourite player continue with the Eagles for many years to come. Let Yuki-san look at Daniel Bennett for inspiration, who still turns out for Tampines Rovers at age 43! Or perhaps to his home country, where Kazuyoshi Miura is still playing in the J1 League in his 50s!
With Mr. Ichikawa still on board, the stage is set for another exciting season in Singapore; despite fans still being kept away from the stands at the moment (although not from OTH’s viewing platforms), there is a lot of exciting football to play this year. Geylang International get to wear these amazing shirts for a full campaign wherein they can rely on veterans like Yuki and Izzdin Shafiq, marquee foreigners in the form of Sylvano Comvalius, Barry Maguire, and Matheus Moresche, and a strong base of Singaporean players in their prime like Darren Teh, Chris van Huizen, and Amy Recha. And let’s not forget about youngsters like Zikos Chua and Harith Kanadi, who will have their own roles to play as the Eagles do battle across three different fronts.
The Singapore Premier League promises to be tighter than ever with DPMM gone (for now….), big money Lion City Sailors spending millions, Tampines Rovers strengthening their resolve for another title challenge, and Albirex Niigata-Singapore once again gathering a batch of talented Japanese youngsters. The Singapore Cup will return in September after having been outright cancelled in 2020, but the real big ticket matches this year will come from the AFC Cup, which welcomes the Eagles as contenders for the first time in over a decade.
Having gone out in a group featuring Đà Nẵng, Port FC, and Tai Po in 2010, Geylang are confirmed to be playing Terengganu when the 2021 group stage commences in June. While the other two opponents are yet to be determined, they are most likely going to be Kaya-Iloilo of the Philippines (unless Kaya survive their Champions League play-off against Brisbane Roar and Shanghai Port) and Shan United of Myanmar (should Shan survive play-offs against Melbourne City and Cerezo Osaka, fellow Myanmarese team Ayeyawady United will face Geylang instead). In an AFC Cup first, the group stages will be held in a centralized location to mitigate COVID-19 risks as much as possible, with Geylang’s Group I playing their matches at either Jalan Besar or OTH.
Singapore Represent indeed, as there is all to play for in 2021. And yet, despite all the action that will unfold on the plastic pitch of Our Tampines Hub, we can’t help but feel that a few years from now, March 1st 2021 will still remain one of the most memorable days of the season. After all, that day the club finally unveiled these amazing shirts, with members of the squad posing on the basketball court atop the Chinatown Complex on Smith Street in downtown Singapore – with the iconic Buddha Tooth Temple looming in the background.
Whether it will be a succesful or ultimately disappointing year for the Eagles and their fans remains to be seen, but the shirt donned by the squad is, in our eyes, already confirmed to be a timeless classic – one that will be hard to find and amazing to own years down the line. Hardly ever were we this excited to be importing the club’s latest offering, and we cannot wait to see where Geylang International, Panyasingha, and FBT take the iconic green and white next.
Should you wish to play your own part in supporting Singaporean football in general like we have, and Geylang International specifically, then do not hesitate in grabbing your own copy of this shirt, the amazing pink away kit, or the limited edition Epson third kit while stocks last. The club’s web store is fully operational while the Facebook store remains open as well. As always, the Eagles’ Nest also remains open daily from 10 AM until 11 PM at Sim Lim Square where you can pick up a shirt and some additional merchandise (we recommend the cute Eagle plushes!). And do tell the club that we sent you – club officials will know exactly wich crazy football shirt website that keeps importing shirts you are talking about!
That’s just about all you need from us for now, but as always, we would like to remind you that Club 25 is a weekly publication – expect a brand new article from us next week, so keep checking back for when we have a new shirt going live. Additionally, keep up to date with us on our Twitter page and flick through the site’s Shirt Archive to see what shirts we’ve covered in the past.