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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)


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