Budi Iskandar - Jakarta, Indonesia
Born, bred and living in Indonesia, Budi is a fanatical Red and renowned Beatles fan, artist & performer. Here's his story:
Q. Budi, my friend, we meet on video yet again. One day it will be in person. So, tell us a little bit about yourself and where you're from.
A. Hi Alex. Good to see you again. I was born in Bandung in Indonesia, about 2 hours from Jakarta and live just outside Jakarta now. I'm single at the moment and a lot of my time is dedicated to my two big passions - Liverpool FC and The Beatles.
Q. Your love of the Beatles is well-known. Did they play any role in you becoming such a passionate Red?
A. Oh, yes! When I was a kid, my parents would play the Beatles all the time and I would dance around to them. Yellow Submarine was 'my' song when I was about 10 years old. As such, Liverpool was the first foreign city I was aware of as a child so I've always had a great affection for it.
Back in the 1980s, we only had one TV channel in Indonesia, run by the government. We didn't get live games, only highlights on a Saturday morning. Thankfully, this was when Liverpool were the best team in Europe, if not the world, so we saw quite a bit of them in the highlights.
John Barnes was the player who stood out for me back then. He was simply amazing to watch. If there is one moment I can pinpoint becoming a die-hard fan, it was his goal against QPR in 1987 - the one when he ran from the half way line, slalomed past their centre halves and calmly slotted it past the keeper.
It was such a memorable goal. It was his second of the game in a 4-0 win.... and QPR were top of the league at the time. That win put us top of the table. It was also the fourth league game in a row that Liverpool had scored 4 goals. They were irresistible to watch and I was hooked.
Q. Yeah mate, I remember that goal like it was yesterday. So, what's the support like for Liverpool in Indonesia and what's it like being a fan there?
A. Liverpool are massive in Indonesia. They're one of the top two supported teams and growing all the time. We get virtually every game live now, so the fanbase has grown to epic proportions. The recent success helps, of course, but Indonesia Reds are very loyal and their support never waivered even through the not-so-successful times.
Unlike other countries, we have only one official OLSC for the whole country, which has many satellite branches. It's called BIG REDS - the 'Big' stands for 'Bold Indonesia Group' - and was formed in the 1990s. For Liverpool games, there are gatherings of 'Big Reds' groups all over the country.
Q. So, tell us how you mix Big Reds, your passion for music and Liverpool FC.
A. As well as doing a lot of solo stuff, I also play in a band that is an unofficial band of Big Reds. We call ourselves 'The Beaters' - a nod, of course, to The Beatles, but also because LFC generally beat everybody. (laughs)
For the really big games, such as Cup Finals. we play at Big Reds events. I still get chills whenever we play YNWA in front of a sea of scarves and hundreds of passionate Reds singing along with us.
Budi & band performing live at a 'Big Reds' fan club event
One of my proudest moments was writing and recording the official song of the Indonesia Big Reds. It's called 'Big Reds Anthem' and is available on YouTube if anyone would like to give it a listen.
Budi and his band recording the Indonesia Fan Club official song 'Big Reds Anthem'
Q. You also played live in front of the team, I believe? How did that come about?
A. Liverpool confirmed an Asian tour in 2013 and we were beyond excited when they announced they would be playing in Indonesia.
Standard Chartered hosted a dinner at Hotel Mulia in Jakarta and we were honoured to be invited to play in the hotel lobby as the team arrived at the hotel.
Our band played You'll Never Walk Alone as the team entered the hotel. It was quite surreal to see Gerrard, Agger, Coutinho, Riise and the rest turn to acknowledge us as we played. There were quite a few legends like Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler & Didi Hamann there too.
Afterwards, I managed to meet the team and get quite a few autographs from current players and legends.
The team played the Indonesia National Team in front of a crowd of close to 100,000; that shows just how big the Club is in Indonesia. We won 2-0; Liverpool that is, not Indonesia. (laughs)
Q. Yes, I remember that particular tour was amazing with packed stadiums throughout Asia & Australia. So, talking about the players, who are your favourites, then and now?
A. Well, for a long time it was John Barnes as he was the one who started it all for me. But I can't look past Steven Gerrard as my all time favourite player for what he did over his entire career. The engine, the leader, a grafter who lead by example and also a supreme talent - and, of course, he's a Scouser who lived his dream playing for his boyhood club.
He almost single handedly carried Liverpool through the bad times, as well as being the key to all the good times. You could always count on him. He inspired others; lifted everyone up when they were down, and that included the crowd. It wasn't just that he scored the first 'comeback goal' in Istanbul, it was how he was able to motivate the team AND the crowd with his hand motions as he ran back to the halfway line. No Stevie G, no miracle of Istanbul - a bona fide legend.
As for the current team, it has to be Bobby Firmino. The entire front three is world-class, but Bobby is the unsung hero. My favourite Beatle is George Harrison because, like Bobby, he was an immense talent who didn't always get the credit he deserved. If Mo and Sadio are Lennon & McCartney, Bobby is the 'George' of the front 3. (laughs)
His role is so understated, and in many ways underappreciated and misunderstood by non-Liverpool fans. He creates, links play, presses, defends and gives 100% effort - often for the glory of others. And he never complains.
His first goal against Palace sums him up. One second he was there helping the team defend near his own box. Then it's he who plays the 'out' ball to Andy Robertson, runs 80 yards at full speed before cushioning the ball with his instep and scoring with the outside of his foot. Stunning!
Q. Can't argue with that choice Budi, but I won't ask you which one's Ringo. (laughs) So, what are your thoughts on the club and how it's being run today?
A. The way the club is being run is amazing. Klopp, Michael Edwards and the entire backroom staff are peerless. A world class team on the field needs a world class team behind the scenes and that's exactly what we have.
As for Jurgen Klopp, he is such an ideal fit and his philosophy perfectly aligns with the history and culture of the club. He came in with a plan to revive past glories and has built the club up and up, year on year.
Even in the early days when he lost a few finals and some were questioning him, he simply shrugged it off as part of the rebuilding process. And so it proved - from a struggling team when he arrived to Champions of Everything within 5 years. He has unshakeable confidence and belief that translates to the players and the fans. Seriously, when he retires from football, he should have his own MBA course on motivational techniques and the art of leadership.
In Indonesia, we have a word for when two things are absolutely perfect for each other; when there is an ideal fit. You know what it is? - 'klop' - so, clearly, Jurgen and Liverpool FC were meant for each other. (laughs)
The club went through a few stormy times over the years, but as our anthem says... when the storm ends, there's a golden sky.... and Jurgen Klopp has brought the great times back.
...at the end, of a storm...
Q. Love it, Budi! So what about the global LFC community; that's how we first met, but it's grown so much now you have friends all over the world.
A. It's been amazing and probably the one big positive that's come out of covid. In Indonesia we heard many years ago that Liverpool people used to call fans of the club from outside Liverpool 'wools' - so we called ourselves the Indonesian wools. (laughs)
But now with social media and video, the global LFC family is so connected and so welcoming to fans all over the world. I participate on the zoom calls at weekends with a group of incredible people who I am now honoured to call my friends. I also play live Facebook gigs and the global Liverpool fans are really supportive.
The whole 'family feel' of fans around the world and all the on-line groups and events makes you feel closer to the Club than before. And of course, you guys at KopConnect are doing an awesome job bringing fans together from every corner of the globe.
Q. Thanks, mate. So finally, when are you going to Liverpool and watching a game at Anfield?
A. It is my dream. It will be my pilgrimage. It is really hard for the average person in Indonesia to afford to travel to England. It's not just the expense of the hotel, flights and spending money - in Indonesia you actually have to prove to the government that you have enough finances to go before they'll approve a visa.
But.... I promise I will make it one day. My two great loves are both from the same city - Liverpool FC and The Beatles and one day my dream will come true.
I have no doubt it will mate. Budi, it's been a pleasure as always my friend. I look forward to having a pint with you in Mathew Street one day soon. All the best and YNWA.
FanConnect is a blog series featuring Reds fans' stories from around the world, brought to you by the KopConnect team.
Alex Malone is a Scouser, a lifelong Red and co-founder of KopConnect, as well as a columnist for This Is Anfield.
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