1986/1987球季全華班正式實施。在這一年，南華誕生了一顆新星 ─ 山度士。他十三歲已在南華青年軍上陣，中學就讀於聖若瑟書院，於1986年至1998年效力南華。曾為南華取得多項主要錦標，亦兩次取得香港足球先生獎項。
History of South China Athletic Association Football Team
On 28th April glory returned to scaafc. Who can forget the elation of seeing the scaafc team players on an open-top bus as it toured Hong Kong from Caroline Hill Road to a reception at Olympian City in Tai Kok Tsui? The treble winners have since played Liverpool and Fulham in the Barclays Asia Trophy.
The youthful average age of the team is in keeping with the long-term plan of the Football Management Committee to nurture local talent alongside experienced professionals like Li Haiquing and Detinho. Further, a newly launched Youth Programme will enable more youngsters to graduate through youth and reserve levels with the chance of making a career in First Division football.
The team's motto is “Never look back” and the fantastic success of last season has enabled the troubled period that went before to be forgotten. As the team looks to build on solid foundations, we can take a little time to reflect on the long and distinguished history of scaafc. Way back in the mist of time there is quite a story to tell.
How football came to Hong Kong, and the formation of scaafc
The origins of football here date back to the arrival of the British in the mid -nineteenth century. Servicemen from the army and navy and expatriate staff from the traders, banks and insurance companies brought it with them. A sport providing teamwork, tactics and, above all, healthy exercise was a welcome pastime after hours. Hong Kong Football Club was the first to be formed by the British, in 1886, but the first truly local club was scaafc, founded in 1904 but playing under its present name from 1908. The Hong Kong F.A. was started six years later and leagues were running soon after; scaafc entered teams for the First and Second Division Leagues in 1918.
The strength of scaafc as a unified, hardworking team was enough for China to invite the club to act as the nation's football representative in the Far East Championship Games (also known as the Far East Olympics Tournament) involving China, Japan and the Philippines. China lost in the final to the Philippines in the first to be held, in 1913, but in the next nine it won every time, right through until the last FECG to be held in 1934. On that occasion China was a joint winner with Japan. Throughout these tournaments, the majority of the China team was composed of scaafc players.
In the middle of that period scaafc toured Australia and introduced an 18 year old who would become its most famous player to this day - Lee Wai Tong.
Also translated as Li Hui-t'ang and whose Chinese name was 李惠堂, his career took off in “the outback” in 1923 and earned him the name “King of Asia football.” He stunned the hosts with electrifying displays of skill and leadership. Back at home, the club won the First Division Championship that had previously been won only by foreigners. It had been a very successful year.
The HK First Division at this time contained only two Chinese teams, Kowloon and scaafc, and they both did well during this first glorious period in Hong Kong football. The Chinese had developed a passion for the sport and all the youngsters on the island knew where to go in order to play it...Tai Hang.
Tai Hang – the footballing legacy of 大坑老圍
An ancient village situated close to the seashore on the eastern side of the island, Tai Hang took its name from the “Big Stream” that formerly flowed down the hillside nearby, and out into the bay. It was a multi-clan village settled by Hakka families about 160 years ago. The five founding families were fishers, dairy farmers, and launderers, a trade recognized to this day by the naming of Wun Sha Street (涴沙街) in the vicinity, which translates as “washing cloth”.
The first land reclamation placed the village inland, but it was that space, created for government playing fields, that led to the cultivating of local talent. Lee Wei-tong lived in Tai Hang, and it was he who arranged with the British for Chinese footballers to play “scratch” games against them, and to be allowed to practice there.
Elders recall the heading skills of the Chinese as they ran the entire length of the field without allowing the ball to touch the ground. Soon, the best of them were playing for South China's first and second teams. The Caroline Hill Road ground, which had been secured for scaafc in 1927 by Lo Man Kam (of Shaolin Temple fame), was only a quick run away. A legacy had started.
The Game of their lives
When the Republic of China (ROC) was invited to participate in the XI Olympic Games to be staged in Berlin in the summer of 1936, its selection committee had a problem. Final athlete selections for all the sports except football were made after intense training sessions preceding departure in July, but football presented other considerations.
It was not only about skill and teamwork, but also about tactics and understanding of western attributes and play. In the British colony of Hong Kong, scaafc's Chinese players were playing foreigners and beating them. The team had just won the Division 1 Championship and the Senior Shield. So the football selection was delegated and that is how eight of the Olympic team that played Great Britain in Germany came from scaafc.
21 players, of which 14 played for South China, set off on an ambitious tour of Asia in May and June of 1936. The purpose was to raise funds for the German trip and the unplanned benefit were incredible shows of support by the Chinese communities in Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaya and Burma.
27 matches were played in just 62 days! Arranged at little more than two-day intervals, they enabled a great team ethic to develop, and big crowds went to see the Olympic hopefuls in action. At Singapore's Anson Road Stadium for a match against the Malaya cup team, “just over 26,000” gained entry into a stadium with a 10,000 capacity. Fans swarmed over the playing pitch at one point, and were right on the touchline as the match progressed.
The China victory in Singapore was one of 23, with four draws and no defeats. The team conceded an average of a goal a game, but scored 113, an average of over four. Besides the evergreen Lee Wai-tong, another star was defender Tam Kong-pak (譚江柏), nicknamed “Ironhead” because of his formidable heading skills, acquired over a lifetime of Cuju-type ball games played out on the fields directly in front of Tai Hang.
Joining fellow athletes in Bombay after a draw against the India National Team, preparation was upset at sea. The Italian steamship Conte Verde sailed in bad weather to Italy, via Eritrea and the Suez Canal. Olympic Sprinter Cheng Jinguan, in an interview with American academic Andrew D. Morris in 1997, remembers seasickness amongst his countrymen early on. Weather conditions deteriorated so badly that few could even hold food down, let alone train or study German by the time the ship docked in Venice.
69 athletes from seven sports proudly represented the Republic of China in its first-ever team appearance at the world Olympic Games.
The China Olympics delegation in Berlin. 14 players from scaafc were in the party.
China was drawn to meet Great Britain in the qualifying match played in Berlin on 6th August 1936. Eight South China men were included in the team that played heroically but lost 2-0. The names of those eight proud representatives of the club were -
Pau Ka-ping 包家平 (Goalkeeper); Lee Tin-sang 李天生; Tam Kong-pak 譚江柏 and Wong Ki-leung 黃紀良 (Defenders); Tso Kwai-shing 曹桂成 , Fung King-cheung 馮景祥,
Lee Wai-tong 李惠堂 and Ip Pak-wah 葉北華 (Attackers).
Football stops for war
The occupation of Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945 ended organized sport, and after it resumed only four clubs were still in existence. However, that changed dramatically and within two years many more had joined the growing league, notably Sing Tao, founded by the son of Aw Boon Haw of Tiger Balm fame. Sing Tao promptly edged out scaafc for the 1945-46 Championship and also became the first local team to tour England.
In this same season, the knockout Senior Shield was introduced, initially won by the Navy. Matches were played on four grounds – South China Stadium, the Army and Navy grounds and Boundary Street Sports Ground in Kowloon.
Honours in the decades after the war came at an unparalleled rate.
The Swinging 1960's and 1970's
The 1960's and 1970's remembered for the Beatles, the Star Ferry riots and the emergence of Hong Kong as a financial hub, also marked the second glorious spell in the club's history. Fans queued all night for tickets to the big games. The Caroliners fielded a quartet of players who became known as “The Four Aces”. Mok Chun Wah, Yiu Chak Yin (姚卓然), Wong Chi Keung (黃志強) and Ho Cheung-yau. Ho (何祥友) was renowned for his fair play and was later awarded the MBE by the British for his services to the sport. These Four Aces thrilled the crowds, and attendances at the Caroline Hill Road stadium were frequently a 14,000 “Red Flag” sell-out.
Professionalism started to take hold in the 1970's and new clubs were sometimes named after the sponsors who were putting money into football. The business-sponsored Viceroy Cup was launched. Seiko Football Club was formed by the watch company's owner Wong Chong-po and became League Champions in their debut season. Later it won an unprecedented seven consecutive championship titles.
Another watch manufacturer, Bulova, fielded a team a few years after that by owner Kwong Chong Shan, and seasoned players from Britain came to Hong Kong to make money and finish their careers in the sunshine. Six Southampton professionals joined a now defunct club and saved it from relegation. Over too came “bad boys” Charlie George and George Best, who had played for Arsenal and Manchester United respectively.
South China becomes the last club to adopt professionalism
South China was the last club to adopt professionalism. Ironically, when it did so in 1980, a poor period followed with no honours until winning the FA Cup in 1985. But the fortunes being invested in local football did not last. A controversial ruling limited overseas imports and part of the sparkle went. Sing Tao, Kowloon Motor Bus and Yuen Long were just three clubs falling out of the First Division.
1985 did not only bring a new trophy, but also the most famous game ever played by Hong Kong, and scaafc players featured. This was the “519” match when Hong Kong traveled north to play China in a World Cup qualifier. Against all odds, China was beaten 2-1, and scaafc's Ku Kam Fai (顧錦輝) scored the winning goal. Nicknamed木嘴輝., he played for fifteen years for the club as a defender and sweeper. The first goal was scored by fellow Caroliner Cheung Chi-tak (張志德 ). Nicknamed “The Little Ghost” (細鬼), his spectacular freekick stunned the host's defence and put Hong Kong in the driving seat.
Later that year, an 18 year old teenager named Lee Kin Wo(李健和) made his debut on the wing for scaafc. He went on to have a distinguished career during which he was voted Footballer of the Year three times and was easily identifiable because of his long hair. Ironically, when scaafc won its first trophy last season Lee Kin Wo was playing for the opposition at the ripe old age of 40!
The 1990's and into the new Millennium
In the early part of the nineties, a businessman named Lo Kit-sing came to scaafc to make his contribution to the winning of trophies and playing with panache. The success of the club at the turn of the decade is evident in the winning of the League Championship from 1990-1992, The FA Cup in 1990 and 1991, and the Senior Shield in 1991.
In November 2001 the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) nominated scaafc as the best club in Asia, an acknowledgement of a team “at the top of its game.”
Mr. Lo was to return to the club in 2006. Meanwhile, it reached the final of the Asian Cup Winners Cup in 1994, losing to Al-Qadisiya Al Khubar from Saudi Arabia.
While further honours followed, events took a turn for the worse in the new Millennium. In 2003, scaafc established an “All-Chinese policy” and foreigners were released or sold. The policy did not work favourably. The team started to struggle against relegation and in the 2005-2006 season was relegated. Only an increase in the number of teams from eight to ten saved this famous club from the ignominy of a drop into the Second Division.
The rest, as they say, is history! Today South China Athletic Association Football Team is at the pinnacle of domestic football, has qualified for the AFC Cup, and has recently competed against EPL clubs. It is not surprising that fans await the 2007-2008 season with excitement, and the hope to add to the 84 trophies secured in the last 100 years.
by Vincent Heywood