Hong Chin Football Club, once the household name and pride of Selangor and Malaysian football in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, celebrated its 50th anniversary in a big way this year.
A grand scale celebration including a dinner was held recently to celebrate the community football based club, run by passionate volunteers, who had to source for funds.
Organising committee secretary Michael Yei said 150 people, including famous veterans and football personalities who made a name for themselves in the sport with Hong Chin FC, attended the function such as Datuk Santokh Singh, Datuk Dina Rizal, Yip Chee Keong, Abdullah Ali, John Engketesu, Peter Ambrose and Reduan Abdullah.
Among the notable players who have come through Hong Chin include the likes of Lai Kok Kim, Tan Kim Meng, Khalid Ali, Reduan, Lim Hong Hock, K. Gunasegeran, Lim Then Guan, Engketesu, Peter Ambrose, Chan Chee Mun, Abdullah Ali, Yip Chee Keong, R. Subramaniam, Peter Rajah, Reduan Yunus and the late Chow Chee Keong and Ong Yu Tiang. Many of them turned out for Selangor and the national team.
A futsal tournament was also held recently at NPNG Sports Centre as part of the anniversary celebration. The tournament, with the theme “Living in the Football Spirit”, saw 40 veteran teams compete with many more veterans attending to lend support. The youngest player was 46 years old and the oldest was 76.
“This year’s celebration event is the biggest to-date, although Hong Chin FC has had its annual gathering to touch base, renew friendships and comradeship,” said Yei.
Hong Chin FC was officially registered in 1968 when funds were acquired to compete in the FA of Selangor League, although it was founded much earlier as a social club for the community of Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur.
The club was formed to provide budding youngsters in the area a chance to become good footballers by harnessing their talent.
Hong Chin, which means “ever onwards” in Chinese, was started by the late Charlie Tan and a group of friends from Scott Road, Brickfields (now known as Jalan Tun Sambanthan).
Charlie and his friends even rented a flat for their clubhouse (26A, Jalan Padang Belia – formerly Jalan Kandang Kerbau, off Brickfields) facing the former Railway Recreation Club ground which was their home ground.
Over the years, from their humble beginnings at the Brickfields Railway Recreation Club ground, the club went on to play their Premier Dunhill League matches at the Merdeka Stadium, TPCA, Kajang Stadium and Klang Stadium and then their FAM Cup matches at the State Stadium.
“We would not have had a history if not for Charlie in particular and his friends. All of us owe much to him. In fact, if you mention Hong Chin, you must mention Charlie, and if you talk about Charlie, you have to talk about Hong Chin,” said organising chairman of the anniversary celebrations Tan Kim Chuan.
While the old-timers are fighting hard to keep the legacy of Hong Chin alive with a veteran team and their annual gatherings, the club now does not have a clubhouse.
But the name “Hong Chin” is still kept alive by team manager Vijiyan Veloo, who manages the team and is trained by N. Kananpathy at Taman Megah in Petaling Jaya three times a week and plays in the Selangor Division One league.
They may not have top players in the team, but the legacy and true to its name, Hong Chin (Ever Onwards) it is still alive after 50 years!