The arrival of those marquee names in the world football to this dot of the globe in recent years has always been a crowd puller that not only drawn local fans from their couches from Jurong to Tampines and Woodlands to Bedok by making their way down to Kallang, the ICCSG, as it is commonly known as, has also been a lure for the regional supporters of those European clubs as well like how the Indonesian fans of Inter made their presence felt in their match against Chelsea in the 2017 edition.
|Advertisement for Anchor Soccer Festival' 74 (NLB archive)|
Back in the colonial era, teams from British India (Bengal Gymkhana), Hong Kong, etc. were some of those who arrived in Singapore to play friendly matches either at the demolished Anson Road Stadium or the old Jalan Besar Stadium.
Hosting these visiting teams was an important assignment for the Singapore Amateur Football Association (SAFA, the precursor of Football Association of Singapore - FAS), as not only friendly fixtures like these were popular with the fans who would packed the stands to the rafters at some games and also it was a lucrative business for both the hosts (source 1, 2) and visitors (source 1, 2).
|10,000 watched Singapore beat Sing Tao of Hong Kong (NLB archive)|
Such end-of-season tours were termed as "Southern Excursion" by these Hong Kong clubs where players were entitled to some cuts from gate earnings (despite their amateur status) from matches played during the visits.
Many local fans viewed players of these Hong Kong teams as star footballers and were popular especially among the local Chinese fans, so it was not uncommon to see games against these touring sides a guarantee sellout whenever they took place.
Being a golden goose venture for them, it was said that the touring sides would assigned their reserve players as "lookout" at turnstiles to prevent the local match organizers from any mischief that would jeopardize their revenue from these games (source: 「球員的背景和待遇」chapter of 「足球王國：戰後初期的香港足球」)
|Caroline Hill FC team photo taken at the old National Stadium (as credited)|
However, since 1970s to the early 1980s, visits by the Hong Kong club sides to Singapore were less frequent as compared to the pre and post wars years with notable sides like Seiko SA and Caroline Hill stamped their passports in June 1974 and September 1980 respectively.
|Geylang International vs Persija Jakarta in February 2020 (credit: Geylang International)|
Nonetheless, pre-season trips in recent years by our Singapore Premier League (SGPL) clubs to neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia have still proven to be a popular option for their preparation for a new season like Geylang International had theirs back in February to Indonesia.
(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from sources like NLB online newspapers archives and others, 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)