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Since Day One

Not that long ago, I got a SMS (in green font) from a friend of my that he shared with me his rating of the S.League since the inauguration in 1996...
Attendances based on my memory
  • 96 Tiger high,
  • 96 Pioneer low,
  • 97 average,
  • 98 recession,
  • 99 good,
  • 00 average,
  • 01 good but media coverage totally destroyed during SEA Games,
  • 02 starting to have unusual results
  • 03 penalty shootouts average N later died off
  • 04 league reduced in teams, gd with jap albirex in,
  • 05 gd with paya lebar in, young lions N balestier performed well,
  • 06 young lions did well in FA Cup, sporting afrique some interest but fade away after payment issues,
  • 07 tiger cup success, but liaoning destroyed it
  • 08 poor
  • 09 bad
  • 10 worst
I asked my friend if he would like to be quoted and acknowledged, he politely declined, but I thought this is something rather interesting and it's not those-kind-of-thesis-type of article as it's simple and hit the nail kind of review.

Just a simple run through of what the whole SMS was about .

In 1996, the league started off with "Tiger Beer" series which was an astonishing success, however the "Pioneer" series that followed was largely a dull affair, due to fact that the first season was modelled after the J-League format, which is something to new the local fans that they had to watch the inaugural eight teams played against each other FOUR times in the league over the two "series"(not forgetting the Cup as well!).

I think 1998's recession was probably the start of the hiccups we are facing ever since, it was then the league announced the 20% pay-cut across the board from the league's CEO to the players and the staff (if I did not recall wrongly) and one of the people to throw the towel was the league's founding CEO Douglas Moore who step down as the Geylang United coach because of those tough measures imposed by his successor Chris Chan.

2004 saw J-League club Albirex Niigata's feeder squad firing up the league with an impressive debut by beating Tanjong Pagar United at the Queenstown Stadium and mark their first home appearance with a come-from-behind win against Geylang United.

Not so fortunate for another foreigner-based club as Sporting Afrique embroiled themselves in some negative publicity over the wages issue and saw they faltered away in their only season in 2006.

*** The content of this entry is based on my recollection of the events from the past, please feel free to point out any mistake I had made and views expressed in green font may not necessary be that of the blog owner's ***


  1. once again, another fantastic summary of what has happened to our football. but come to think of it, since we had our glory days, it shows that it is not impossible to make the s-league popular. ppl can do something about it but sometimes it just would not happen. keep our fingers crossed and pray for the best!

  2. I'm not sure whether having a professional domestic league is the way to go. I feel that our priority should be the national team, and I'm not sure that having the domestic league like what we see in Europe can serve the national team the way it does over there.

    Having said that, I would like to complain about my pet peeve regarding the S-League: lack of respect for continuity. Tiong Bahru United can morph into Tanjong Pagar - and then disappear. Marine Castle can become Marine Sengkang which is now Sengkang Punggol. Balestier United can become Balestier Central and can then merge with Clementi Khalsa to become Balestier Khalsa.

    Real grassroots football culture respects history. It has connections to a community or a group. If you treat football as just a product which you can change like the menu of a fast food restaurant, then your fans will be customers who feel NOTHING for their local club. Why should customers feel anything for an artificial product?

  3. Oh, yah, one more thing. There is an important subplot that is missing in your chronology of S-League: match-fixing.

    Off the top of my head, there was the Balestier case (Manap Hamat & Co.). There was the time when crazy scores like 4-4 or 7-0 were racked up after betting was legalised. I'm sure there were many other cases, but I can't recall.

    I'm sure all these cases caused a loss of faith in the S-League. I don't have a solution to this problem. Seems like corruption and football go together in the region. If the fans cannot believe what they see on the pitch, why should they pay to go and watch?


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