History and Tradition of Balestier Khalsa FC
Created on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 00:59
A Century of Greatness
Founded on October 10, 1898, Fathul Karib was the predecessor of the Balestier United Recreation Club, then based in the Farrer Park area. Over the decades, the club grew in popularity, and produced many outstanding players. But little is known of its past until the '50s. Clubs, like Kota Raja, Chinese Athletic and the Indian Recreation Club, were not of the Fathul Karib had consistently established itself to be- a cohesive team. The Rahim Omar was one of the crowd pullers for the club.
Fathul Karib is best remembered for providing nine players to the Singapore National Team for the Asian Games in the year 1958 held in Tokyo, Japan from 24 May to 1 June. In its heyday, the club was almost synonymous with soccer in Singapore. The Club built up its strong support base not only from the Toa Payoh / Balestier area but from all over Singapore. It was truly a National Team.
On account of re-organisation and by the country's soccer administrators, Fathul Karib changed its name to Balestier United Recreation Club in April 1975.
It's long tradition of good football and links with the community continued. Balestier groomed several outstanding players, notably Majid Ariff and Johan, all of whom originated from the Balestier Central area.
Majid is the only Singaporean to be selected for the Asian All-Stars in the 60's when Asia produced a wealth of gifted players from the Far East, South Asia and the Middle East.
In the '70s, several other names hit the billboards, and they included Hashim Sellah, S.Rajagopal, Dollah Kassim, Samad Abdullah, and Jita Singh.
The Club participated in all League and President's Cup matches, including the Under-16 and Under-19 Youth Tournaments.
It was from these youths that the club drew its talents to serve on the team - one of the few clubs to do so.
Current club chairman S Thavaneson, then 39-years-old, took over Balestier United Recreation Club in 1979. Over the next eight years, he led the Club, whose track record fluctuated between NFL Divisions Two and Three, to Premier League status.
In 1987, the Club was selected among thirty clubs in the National Football League to be one of eight to compete in the semi-professional FAS Premier League in 1988. The Club has managed to maintain its Premier League status throughout the competition since its inception.
In its inaugural year in 1988, the club emerged as runners-up in the Premier League. It finished third in the League for the years from 1989 to 1992. In an end-of-the year clash, in 1992, the club took the President's Cup by beating Geylang International FC in a thrilling and entertaining 3-2 win at the National Stadium in front of a crowd of 10,000. These successes explain the huge fan base in the Central region. Not surprisingly, the club has always enjoyed the presence of big crowds at its matches.
Well-known local national players to play for Balestier United were former national skipper Thambiayah Pathmanathan, Mohd Khairi Ismail, Hussein Ayoob, Ishak Saad, Manap Hamat, Hushaini Manaf, Rajagopal Suriamurthi, Hazali Nasiron, Hasnim Haron (later went on to sign for Malaysian state Johor in 1994 and return in 1997), Zulkifli Kartoyoho, Nasir brothers Amin and Nazri, Jalil brothers the late Nasir (nicknamed Crazyhorse) and Nasaruddin (current Technical, Head), Jamaludain Hassan, Yusman Yusof, Tahir Bujang and Abdullah Noor.
Malaysian international stars Dollah Salleh, Zainal Abidin Hassan and Khan Hung Meng also turned out for the Toa Payoh based club in 1988. A year later, Yugoslavs Josko Spanjic and Boris Lucic became the first foreign imports to play for Singapore in the Malaysian League.
Balestier United Recreation Club changed its name to Balestier Central Football Club in 1996 when it participated in the professional S.League. The club signed talented foreign players like Esad Sedjic, the first scorer in the S-League history in 1996 and Ljutvo Bogucanin from Yugoslavia, Marko Kraljevic and Paulic Goran from Croatia, and Nathaniel Klay Naplah from Liberia. In the following years, the club recruited Iranian Alireza Mansourian, Croatian Bojan Hodak, Australian Darren Stewart, Scottish Jason Ainsley and Brazilian Fabio da Silva.
On 12 March 1997, Balestier Central lost 0-4 to Japan national team at the National Stadium in Singapore where the Japanese team were in town to prepare themselves for the vital Pre-World Cup qualifiers in Johor Bahru, Malaysia..
Former national coach Robin Chan Kwong Wing was the S.League Coach from 1996 and 1997, and then returned for a year in 2002. In between, former FAS Technical Director and national coach Naraynan Nair Sivaji, better known as PN Sivaji, took over the coaching post from 1998 to 2001, the longest serving coach at one club in the history of the S.League.
Certified Public Accountant Balbeer Singh Mangat, chairman of Clementi Khalsa Football Club, took over the position of chairman at Balestier Khalsa Football Club. Veteran sports businessman S Thavaneson and medical industry boss Jagjit Singh were named the vice-chairmen.
Balestier's first foreign S.League coach was 1994 M-League and Malaysia Cup Double winner Jang Jung from South Korea. Jang Jung took over in April 2003 from ex-club captain Abdullah Noor. However, he lasted only one year and three months before Abdul Karim Razzak took over as caretaker.
On 19 October 2005, Balestier officially announced Abdul Karim as its Head Coach of the Club. This after AFC sent an official email to FAS indicating Karim has passed his AFC 'A' Licence, a minimum requirement to coach an S.League team. Karim had spent one month in Wuhan, China back in June 2005 taking his AFC 'A' Coaching Licence. Balestier Khalsa finished 7th in the S.League, its best finish since change of name two seasons ago.
In S.League 2006, the Tigers finished seventh in the league for the second year in a row and came in fourth in the Singapore Cup, after losing to Thai team Chonburi (Province) FC on penalties in the semi-finals and again in the same manner to Woodlands Wellington FC in play-off for 3rd place. Cameroonian Kengne Takam Ludovick won the Young Player of the Year during the Annual S.League Awards Night at Mediacorp TV Theatre on 22 November 2006 .
S.League 2007 was a disappointing season, where the team finished in 9th position, knocked out in the quarter-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup and first round of the inaugural SingTel League Cup.
Long servant Nasaruddin bin Abdul Jalil, who has been with the club since its semi-professional days in the late 1980s, has been promoted from assistant coach cum Prime League coach to Head Coach. He has been given a task by the club to invest in youth.
In his first season as head coach of the club, Nasaruddin led the team to third placing in the League Cup in 2008. The team finished bottom in 2008 and 2009 seasons.
On 1 January 2010, former Singapore international player Salim bin Moin joined the club as co-coach together with Nasaruddin. The team finished in respectable 8th position.
Salim Moin was named head coach of S.League 2011. The team finished in 10th position.
On 19 May 2011, the club signed a Letter of Collaboration - witnessed by Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin - with ITE College Central at its Bishan campus, marking a college-wide initiative to promote fitness among students by encouraging them to take part in the sport.
Called Football 4 Fitness, or F4F for short, the programme will involve coaches from Balestier Khalsa going to the college's five campuses to train selected 'student ambassadors', who in turn recruit their fellow schoolmates to join them. It is estimated to cost the club $100,000 annually.
Former club captain Darren Raymond Stewart was appointed as head coach for two seasons 2012 and 2013. He led the club to 6th and 4th position in S.League 2012 and 2013 respectively, StarHub League Plate winner in 2012 and StarHub Cup Champion in 2013, RHB Singapore Cup 3rd placing in 2013. During a pre-season friendly on 4 February 2012 at Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Balestier Khalsa beat Kelantan FA 2-0 in front of an estiamted crowd of 25,000.
The Young Tigers won the Youth Prime League Title consecutive seasons in 2012 and 2013. And Singapore Pools Football Association (FA) Cup in 2012.
In late December 2013, Balestier Khalsa was chosen as one of the three centres to run Centre of Excellence (COE) for Under-13, Under-14, Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 squads. The teams currently train at Bedok South Secondary, Guangyang Secondary, ITE College Central and Siglap Secondary.
On 3 January 2014, the club made the announcement on the appointment of former club striker Marko Kraljevic as head coach of S.League. Marko led the team to Top-Six League finish and RHB Singapore Cup Champion for the first time in the club's history. The Tigers defeated defending holder Home United in front of 6.2K at Jalan Besar Stadium. The Guest-of-Honour was Singapore President Dr Tony Tan. The Final on Friday, 7 November 2014, was also shown "Live" on televisions in Singapore and Malaysia.
Marko won the RHB Coach of The Year in the Annual S.League Awards Night held at ITE East (Simei). The club's first marquee signing Goran Ljubojevic from Croatia, was nominated for Great Eastern Player of The Year.
The Prime League finished as runner-up in the Singapore Pools FA Cup losing out on penalties to Singapore Recreation Club in the final. Meanwhile, COE Under-13 won the Challenge Cup.
Meanwhile, Balestier Khalsa will participate in the play-offs of AFC Cup 2015 to be played in February 2015.
Updated: Nov 2014