For The Record...
"In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Zainudin (Nordin, FAS President) reiterated that the S-league will not become a "poorer cousin" once the LionsXII start their Malaysia Cup campaign."

Friday, November 02, 2018

Book Review: Living The Dream ... Or Enduring The Nightmare?

The cover of the book 
In short, to summarize my thoughts after reading this book is - thou shall not treat a football club neither as a toy nor as a money spinner.

Citing two similar cases which were studied by author Bob Holmes - Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers, it is not difficult to tell how foreign owners of these two clubs made a grave mistake for not to appreciate both are not merely football clubs but being a significant heritage and indispensable part of the community fabric of the vicinity where they are based.

When both Al-Hasawis and Venkys paraded themselves to supporters of Forest and Rovers respectively after they bought the clubs, many promises were made to lift their teams out of the doldrums with some seems way beyond their means to deliver those dreams like the audacious bid to land Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho to Ewood Park in 2010.

One of Mrs Desai's famous quotes after took over Blackburn Rovers 
A few pages into the first chapter on Portsmouth FC were enough to realise the "Fit and Proper" check on those potential buyers of any English football clubs by the relevant authorities had failed its task to ensure the Pompeys in a safe pair of hands.

Described as a "grenade" by a former chairman of the 2008 FA Cup winners to Holmes, Portsmouth was literally being tossed around by those uninterested parties that nobody wants before a dramatic effort from the supporters' group ensured the club fallen in the hands of those who cherished the most - the fans.

At the meantime, things seems to be on the right path when American Randy Lerner bought over Aston Villa from trigger-happy Doug Ellis in 2006 with the building of a new training ground and various improvement works around Villa Park.

Dramatic efforts were made to save Portsmouth from extinction 
But things turned sour shortly after the mishaps in the UEFA Cup campaign in 2008-9 season that eventually saw everything started falling apart with the resignation of Martin O'Neill which coupled with Lerner's off the field woes resulted the sale of the 1982 European Cup winners to Chinese businessman Dr Tony Xia in June 2016.

A futile attempt to replicate clothing giants Benetton's marketing success on Queens Park Rangers to transform the modest London side to a "boutique club" by Flavio Briatore failed to strike a chord with their traditional fan base who were disgusted by those antics of the Italian and his co-owner Bernie Ecclestone and they were more than happy to see the horror ended when Air Asia's Tony Fernandes (despite being a known West Ham supporter) was named the new owner at Loftus Road in 2011.

Many foreign owners like Lerner realized own a football club is a thankless chore
The book also covered on more significant examples on Chelsea and Manchester City, although it would be good to include Leicester City's part as well as many good things were said about the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who left behind an etched legacy in East Midlands for having bankrolled to uplift the Foxes to their unprecedented Premier League title victory in 2016.

Holmes put in a great effort to talk to many of those who are familiar with the subjects he wrote in this book and shed interesting insights that were largely unknown until one read it, e.g. how former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness drove an unknown guest to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United played Juventus in November 2002 who turned out to be Roman Abramovich and not before long pocketed Chelsea in June 2003 to change the way football is played on and off the field.

Perhaps, the newly-appointed Philippines national team coach Sven-Göran Eriksson sums this phenomenon of foreign ownership of English clubs pretty well when he told Holmes:"A lot of football was controlled by men who knew nothing about the game."

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"Matchpix" - October 2018

  • Singapore Cup - Balestier Khalsa 2-2 DPMM 031018
Most of the shots like this was snapped where the lights were the brightest 
Although Balestier Khalsa Football Club drew 2-2 with DPMM FC, the Tigers were knocked out of the RHB Singapore Cup after losing 4-2 on aggregate to the Bruneians.

Poor lightnings at the stadium made the shooting experience an arduous task.


  • #ThankYouFara - 071018
Fahrudin Mustafic marked the end of his glittering career at OTH
Our Tampines Hub witnessed the end of a great footballing career as Tampines Rovers Football Club skipper Fahrudin Mustafic retires from professional football with a testimonial match featuring some of the luminaries in local football in his honour. Thank you very much, Fara.


  • Friendly - S'pore Selection 0-1 Australia U19 151018
The Young Socceroos played their last warm-up at Bishan before leaving for Indonesia 
The Young Socceroos played Singapore Selection at Bishan Stadium prior to their AFC U19 Championship commitment in Indonesia. Apostolos Stamatelopoulos scored the only goal in the 40th minute to see the visitors walked away with the victory.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Bloated Effort Resulted Ho Ho Cup

In the very beginning, Mr Gaw Khek Khiam's idea was to initiate a tournament similar to that of the Malaya Cup (now Malaysia Cup) but to be competed by Chinese footballers representing various Malay States and Singapore in 1925.

Unfortunately, response to the concept of Semarang-born, Raffles Institution graduated Gaw were lukewarm from those Chinese football teams across the Straits of Johor when Singapore's footballing powress was way ahead of them in that era.

Chee Lim with Ho Ho Cup (Malayan Saturday Post, 25 May 1929 (NLB NewspaperSG online archive)
Not to be deterred by the lack of enthusiasm from the rest of the Malayan sides and had already spent a princely sum of £200 on a trophy made in England, the proprietor of the Ho Ho Biscuit Factory approached local renowned footballer Yee Cheok Wah and travelled together to Hong Kong where they proposed to organise a match between Chinese footballers representing both Hong Kong and Malaya (included Singapore) on an annual basis.

An agreement was made to stage the first "Chinese Interport Football Competition" match in 1928, it was years later the name of the match changed to "Ho Ho Cup" (HHC) to reflect the backing of confectionery giants.

Led by Yee, a squad of 19 Malayan Chinese players was assembled with majority of them from Singapore and four players each from Selangor and Perak arrived in Hong Kong for the red-letter date on 1st of April 1928 at the Hong Kong Football Club Stadium.

Some accounts said the original Ho Ho Cup was lost during WWII (NLB NewspaperSG online archive)
Taking on the Malayan visitors were a "Combined Chinese" team (the Hong Kong representative side which they were known as till early 1970s) comprised of players mainly from Chinese Amateur Athletic Federation (CAAF) who were aided by two guest players from South China, another Hong Kong club side.

The hosts capitalized on their home ground advantage and claimed the honour as the first winners of the sliver trophy with a 3-0 win on a slippery pitch in front of a capacity crowd.

Throughout the years, fans witnessed many outstanding players from both sides of the Causeway featured in the HHC such as the late Lee Kok Seng (Singapore first national team captain after independence) who played for the Malayan Chinese in the 1957 edition, both Kim Siak and Kim Lye of Quah brothers made their appearances in the 1968 match alongside the legendary Chow Chee Keong, the late Malaysian goalkeeper whose begun his illustrious professional career in the then British crown colony after the match.

Lee Kok Seng's introduction at JBS
Despite the separation in 1965, Chinese Singaporean players were still allowed to play under the banner of a joint Malaysia-Singapore Chinese side (馬星隊) until 1969 before fielding a team of their own as "Singapore Chinese" in 1975 after a five-year hiatus during which rules were changed to allow teams to field a limited number of non-Chinese players (a ruling since 1970).

The revamped triangular tournament did not sustain for long with escalating travelling costs and scheduling conflicts in the later years eventually saw the curtains lowered down in 1983 with Malaysian Chinese crowned as the last winners following a 3-1 win over their Singapore counterparts in Kuantan.

In total, 35 matches were played with Hong Kong accounted for 23 victories, Malaya (later Malaysia) claimed 11 wins which included a shared victory with two-time winners Singapore in 1981.

(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from NLB online newspapers archives, as credited, should anyone feel it's inappropriate to have any of the media shown, please kindly email me as soon as possible and I will remove them upon request.)

(P.S 2: The content of this blog entry is based on informations gathered from 1)香港足球史稿, 2)Kelab Jersi Kita, 3)NewspaperSG, 4)獨立媒體, 5)RSSSF)

(P.S 3: I stand to be corrected should there be any mistake in this entry, please feel free to email me should there be any mistake, thanks)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

"Hope To See Sablon's Legacy Carry On ..."

Michel Sablon will leave FAS on 31st December 2018
Honestly speaking, whether Michel Sablon's blueprint devised for the local football will work? Only time will tell and it is to quick to pass any judgement when the seeds were just sown after the land had just cleared for recultivation.

While many fans seems to judge the Belgian's performance based on the less glamorous results achieved by various national teams in recent years, let us not forget the job scope of that of the technical director and the coach are two entire different scopes.

One is to formulate and layout the technical aspects of the game development, the other is to coach and achieve results on the field.

Sablon gave a presentation on his blueprint
Said local football observer Gary Koh:"We can only see in a few years whether Michel Sablon is a slight improvement (as compared to his predecessor Slobodan Pavkovic) or otherwise.

"But definitely never at the level of what he was perceived to have masterminded in Belgium." added Koh who made his comments following the announcement that the former Belgian assistant national coach will step down from his role as Football Association of Singapore (FAS) technical director at the end of the December on mutual agreement despite his existing contract will only end in March 2019.

This announcement was made at the start of the press conference held at the Jalan Besar Stadium this afternoon before 71-year-old went on to give the floor a presentation of the progress of the blueprint he had developed over the past few years since he joined FAS back in April 2015.

No name was mentioned when asked by the media who will be taking over from Sablon but FAS president Lim Kia Tong revealed local candidates will be considered with the decision to be made before the turn of the year.

FAS president Lim Kia Tong (left) appreciates Sablon's contributions
Lim went on to express his wish to see Sablon's programs to be carried on by his successor and believes the structure of it is already in place but stressed that it will need some time before desired results can be achieved.

Summarized his opinions on the works of the outgoing technical director, the 65-year-old lawyer said:"In the first two years, Michel (Sablon) had to understand the local football landscape like the school and NS (National Service) structures before the crystallization of his plan,

"With his expertise, the FAS felt Sablon had accomplished what he was set for and in order to move things on, we felt a new team should take over from him and carry on."

He added:"(However) the Exco are in discussion and strongly consider to invite him back annually for an experience sharing session."

Monday, October 01, 2018

1950 - A Year To Be Remembered For Singapore Football

It would be kind of funny to read an article on the papers these days that lauded the achievements of local football, given the present state of the game in this country.

Nevertheless, one such article did herald the achievements of the local game way back in 1950 when "Nanyang Siang Pau" (南洋商報), one of the main Chinese newspapers in those colonial days, declared "1950 is the Year of Singapore Football" on one of their back pages of their 12th of November edition.

"1950 is the Year of Singapore Football" said Nanyang Siang Pau (NLB archives)
Written by someone under the pseudonym of "流星" or "Meteoroid" in English, the opening statement attributed the significance of that year after teams represented Singapore did well in those tournaments they participated like the Singapore Malays won the Sultan Gold Cup, the Indians players took the Bardhan Cup and also the biggest prize of all - the Malaya Cup by the formidable Singapore Civilians squad after defeated Penang two-nil.

"The year 1950 is an extrordinary one for Singapore football to be remembered, it is not an exaggerate claim but with strong evidence to back that up." wrote the commentary which went ahead to highlight some of those notable occurrences happened during that year.

One of which was the high participation rate of the eight tournaments organised by the Singapore Amateur Football Association (SAFA, the predecessor of Football Association of Singapore) when a total of 87 teams took part in various competitions, as compared to 58 teams in the previous year and merely 30 of them before the "Pacific War" (World War II).

The massive proliferation in the number of teams also resulted a boast in the registered playing population from a small pool of 200 to over a thousand of them in a space of a year.

"It is a good sign and it shows that the game of football is now a widely accepted sport by the people with this mass participation. Furthermore, during the lengthy season from March to October, no unpleasantry was reported and much credit must go to astute leadership of SAFA when all parties adhered to the spirit of good sportsmanship." opined the commentary.

The commentary went on to pay tribute to the Singapore Civilians who won the Malaya Cup by pointed out its prowess after the war.

1950 Malaya Cup Final action (NLB online archives)
Victory over Sing Tao of Hong Kong was a significant one (NLB online archives)
Not only the multi-racial side put up good displays domestically against other Malayan sides but also when facing the foreign teams who visited the then British crown colony.

It was during this period saw the emerging of the legendary striker Awang Bakar who "Meteoroid" suggested being one of the key factors coupled with the returning of form of star 'keeper Chu Chee Seng and "Twinkletoes" Chia Boon Leong helped Civilians to lift the Cup for first time since the end of the war.

Among all accolades, the Civilians' victory over Sing Tao SC of Hong Kong was the most noteworthy one, given the pedigree of this all-conquering side founded by media magnate Aw Hoe of the Tiger Balm fame in those post-WWII years.

In the closing paragraph, it was revealed that SAFA had decided to end its affiliation with Football Association of Malaya (FAM) to become an independent body directly affiliated to FIFA, the game's world governing body, in order to be the master of its own destiny.

Commenting on that development, "Meteoroid" said:"... while we don't know what holds in the future for us after this decision (to end the affiliation with FAM) but it will be a new chapter in Singapore football which everyone will be looking forward with optimism."

(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from NLB online newspapers archives, as credited, should anyone feel it's inappropriate to have any of the media shown, please kindly email me as soon as possible and I will remove them upon request.)

(P.S 2: I stand to be corrected should there be any mistake in this entry, please feel free to email me should there be any mistake, thanks)


Related Posts with Thumbnails