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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Mere Case of Misapprehension?

INTRODUCTION 
This is a follow up blog entry to discuss a few points which were discovered along the way during the compilation of earlier post on the plan to send Leong Hoi Meng and Foo Hee Jong to Leeds United for a try out in early 1950. 

It is advisable to read the above-mentioned blog post (click here) before proceed to the article below.

THE EARLIEST PRESS REPORTS
Along the way while compiling the details of this overlooked futile attempt to send both Leong Hoi Meng and Foo Hee Jong to Leeds United for a trial in early 1950, there were some interesting discoveries which would make us ponder over a thing or two. 

On 5th October 1949, Malaya Tribune reported a "professional soccer scout" from United Kingdom talent spotted eleven footballers, ten from Singapore and one player from Selangor. 

The eleven players were: Leong Hoi Meng, Lim Tiang Chye, Wee Hoon Leong, Lim Eng Siang, Ho Hin Weng, Foo Hee Jong, Tan Chye Hee, Samad Yusoff, Ahmat Yusoff, Chia Boon Leong and Selangor's (Edwin) Dutton. 

This Tribune story wrote that an agent had been appointed by this scout to sign those scouted players who were to be offered a one-year contract to play professional football in England with an initial payment of $5,000 and a weekly wages between £8 to £12. 

Malaya Tribune report on 5/10/1949 (NLB archive)

A few of the shortlisted players were approached by the agent but were either turned down the opportunity or gave a thought over it when being offered. 

This Tribune article did not divulge the identity of this scout who wanted to remain anonymous but dropped a hint at the end of the piece by stated "Colony soccer enthusiasts have seen the Scout. Guess his identity if you can." 

A similar article was published by The Straits Times (ST) on the same day as the Tribune's which revealed more information of the scout. 

The Straits Times report on 5/10/1949 (NLB archive)

It mentioned the scout was a "Services officer" serving in Singapore during that period and talent spotted the same list of mentioned players and claimed to represent clubs in northern England. 

By comparing details of both Tribune and ST articles of October 1949 with the January 1950's ST article that broke the news of Leeds United's interest on Leong and Foo, the thing in common was the list of the eleven players that appeared in the aforementioned three articles.

It is likely to presume the "scout" in question could be Major AJR Hooper, as what he addressed himself in the letter he sent to ST (published in 20th January 1950) to explain in detail of the unsuccessful attempt to send Leong and Foo to Yorkshire, and the "agent" appointed by him was the late "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee. 

It was, indeed, the January 1950's ST article first mentioned Hooper was the man who scouted the eleven players with Choo named as the agent of the former in the whole facilitation.

The Straits Times report on 4/1/1950 (NLB archive)

MISAPPREHENSION?
And so here is the question to ponder: 

In his explanation letter to ST, Hooper claimed Choo had a "misapprehension" that he was a scout of a football club when he received a letter from the latter stated there were a few players to keen to play for "his club". 

But the chain of events since the publication of both Malayan Tribune and ST articles in October 1949 to January 1950's ST revelation of Leeds United's interest on both Leong and Foo suggested could there be a "misapprehension", as well, on the journalists' part who covered the story? 

The fact being the list of eleven players were identical when appeared in the aforementioned articles on separate occasions stated they were scouted by one unnamed "professional soccer scout" who claimed to represent clubs in northern England before Hooper's name appeared months later in January 1950 thus led to some confusions.

The legendary "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee (as credited)

However, the whole episode of having a scout making offers to play professionally in post-war England which resulted a "misapprehension" saw the fruitless end to this incident that shall remain as one of the unsolved mysteries in local football given the contradicting accounts from available resources.

Following that earlier mentioned letter by Major Hooper in January 1950, there was no other input from other parties involved in the press (which I hope I did not overlook any during the compilation).

And given the coverage of this news when it first broke out in 1950, it was a pity that Leong did not shed some lights on this incident in his August 1975 interview with the now-defunct "New Nation",  it would have changed the way how things are to be interpreted now should he did.

(P.S 1: Some images in this entry were reproduced from online sources, 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)

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