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, January 31, 2020

Between The "Two of Them"

Preface
I was thinking if was it possible to come up with two separate blog posts or should I put everything together to consolidate into one given the scarcity of the materials? Even though they shared some connections along the way for having an intertwined history, yet had to go separate ways after some evolution along the way.

The old logo of MCFA (left) and the logo of SCFA (right)
After much deliberations, I decided to put everything I gathered on Singapore Chinese Football Association (later known as Singapore Chinese Football Club) and Malaya (later Malaysia) Chinese Football Association into one single post.

Nonetheless, should you have any material or details about the aforementioned subjects, please feel free to email me in order to enrich this blog post, thanks.

The Beginning
According to an article of the souvenir publication produced by Singapore Chinese Football Association (SCFA) for their social and dance held on 15 December 1956, this umbrella body of Chinese football teams in Singapore was founded in 1911 after a meeting was held on 20th of May at Chinese Chamber of Commerce as "Straits Chinese Football Association" and opened its doors to all Chinese football clubs to join the organization as their members.

The first tournament organized by SCFA was known as the Fairy Dale Cup with the opening match contested between Mt Walich Club and White Star Football Club on 15th of July 1911 at the field of St Joseph School and this maiden match was won two-nil by latter.

The souvenir magazine produced by SCFA in 1956 (NLB archive)
The same article, which was based on extractions from the renowned "One Hundred Years of The Chinese In Singapore" by Sir Ong Siang Song, also detailed some of the notable moments of the organization during its formative years which included a friendly game against a visiting team from Penang at the Esplanade that was graced by the presence of Sir Arthur Young, the Governor of the Straits Settlements, and his wife Lady Evelyn Young.

As the game grew in popularity, competitions such as the HMS Malaya Cup and Ho Ho Cup (inter-port tournament contested by Hong Kong and Malayan Chinese) were organized and proved to be a hit with local football fans.

And it was presumably after the first Ho Ho Cup played in Hong Kong followed by a tournament in Canton (now Guangzhou) participated by a group of Malayan Chinese footballers (with players from Singapore as well) in 1928 that the proposal to form a football association for the Malayan Chinese community surfaced in August that year.

The proposal to form MCFA, as reported by NYSP (NLB archive)
Reported by Nanyang Siang Pau (南洋商報 NYSP) on its 23rd of August edition, it stated "there is a need to form an organization for Malayan Chinese football fraternity after taking part in tournaments in both Hong Kong and Canton earlier this year by a team of Malay Peninsular Chinese."

"After a meeting was convened last weekend at Kuala Lumpur to discuss the proposal, representatives from Selangor, Perak and Negri Sembilan are hopeful of the eventual formation of such organization whose utmost task will be selecting a Malayan Chinese squad to play against visiting teams from Hong Kong and Shanghai in next April." added this Chinese-language broadsheet founded by entrepreneur Tan Kah Kee in 1923.

Three months later on 23rd November 1928, the Malayan Chinese Football Association (MCFA) was founded in Kuala Lumpur and confirmed blue and white as the association's primary colours, although it mandated when facing "foreign opponents" the team jersey would be a vest with tiger stripes print, according to the NYSP's report on the founding of the organization.

The formation of MCFA (red sidelined), as reported by NYSP (NLB archive)
SCFA's friendly match against Bengal Gymkhana at Anson Road Stadium in 1924 (Mr Luke Foong Chi Yow)
The same report, dated 24th of November of that year, also mentioned one of the committee members will travel to Hong Kong to extend MCFA's invitation to "South China" to come to Malaya as part of their "Southern Excursion" itinerary in the following year.

The visit by "South China" (a combined team that made up of Hong Kong footballers) in May 1929 to Malaya saw them played a series of matches in places like Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca upon their arrival in Singapore where they faced a SCFA selection at the Anson Road Stadium on the 13th before taking on a MCFA side in the second Ho Ho Cup match on the same venue three days later.

Such exchanges begun the trend and resulted frequent interactions of the football communities between these regions during the British rule that sustained (barring the Pacific War period) till the 1980s when competitions such as Aw Hoe Cup and Por Yen Cup were held.

Reconstitution After War
Just liked many sports and other recreational activities, the activities of both SCFA and MCFA came to a stop during the Japanese Occupation and resumed after the war with the Singapore body revived itself in late November 1945, the Malayan body followed suit in a meeting held in Kuala Lumpur's Selangor Chinese Recreation Club on 31st of January 1948 and elected "Rubber and Pineapple King" Lee Kong Chian as the president of the reconstituted MCFA.

The reconstitution of MCFA in 1948 (NLB archive)
The SCFA had always an affiliate of MCFA since the latter's establishment and the late Choo Kwai Low of SCFA was named one of the joint honorary secretaries of the reconstituted MCFA in the aforementioned meeting in January 1948 (in an interview with Lianhe Wanbao in May 1987, Choo, however, claimed he was the one "registered" MCFA in Singapore after the war but added events like executive meetings was held in Kuala Lumpur to make it convenience for other affiliates to attend these events, a claim that was supported by this Straits Times article in 1958).

However, changes in political climate since the return of the British witnessed inevitable alteration in structure of MCFA when the Malayan authority deregistered the organization in 1960.

Citing the fact that Malaya was already an independent nation and Singapore was a self-governing territory under the British, the Malayan Registry of Society stated SCFA, being an organization of a foreign country, should not be an affiliate of a Malayan organization and struck MCFA off their registry despite a number of prior notifications to request necessary amendment to the MCFA's constitution.

MCFA was declared an illegal body in 1960 (NLB archive)
Following the merger and formation of Malaysia, SCFA found themselves re-affiliated as a member body of the re-registered MCFA (as Malaysia Chinese Football Association) in May 1965.

Even after the Separation in August 1965 that saw Singapore became an independent sovereign nation, SCFA maintained its affiliation with the MCFA until 1978 when the Malaysian authority came knocking the doors again citing the same reason used in 1960.

The outcome did not see the repeat of the 1960 saga but saw the Singaporeans (who was by then renamed as Singapore Chinese Football Club (SCFC) in March 1970) relinquished their membership from MCFA after a resolution was passed in the latter's AGM on 30th March 1978 that ended the association between these two bodies since 1928 but SCFC continued to take part in the marquee MCFA Cup competition on invitational basis after the perpetual breaking up.

SCFC withdrawn its MCFA membership in 1978 (NLB archive)
Since then, the fate of the two bodies embarked on a different route of their own with the MCFA continues their role as the umbrella body of the Malaysian Chinese football community, SCFC went through a series of changes that saw them renamed as Singapore Xin Hua Sports Club in recent years and maintained themselves as affiliate with the Football Association of Singapore.

(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from NLB online 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 if there is, thanks)

1 comment:

  1. It wasn't easy when I plunged into the compiling of this largely forgotten aspect of Singapore football - this history of Singapore Chinese Football Association (SCFA, founded in 1911)

    With the scarcity of information (mainly from those old newspapers clippings found online) and on top of its intertwined history with its Malayan counterpart, I decided to include the events that led to the founding of Malayan Chinese Football Association (MCFA) as well.

    I would like to say thank you to Mr Luke Foong for his permission to allow the reproduction of the group photo of the 1924 match between SCFA and Bengal Gymkhana in which his grandfather Mr Foong Mun Fun and granduncle Mr Foong Un San played in the said match which the Straits Times lauded it as "easily the best of the season".

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