Football in Hong Kong 1960s and 70s | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Football in Hong Kong 1960s and 70s

Hello everyone, I am a first time poster.

I am seeking help in two areas. First of all, I am looking for people to contribute their recollections of football in this era. I am part of a team researching a book on the topic, and they are struggling to find real fans who attended games and can add background colour on the topic. Secondly, we are always looking for pictures from the era, particularly interested in pictures of Hong Kong Rangers (but not exclusibely), so if anyone has any in their private collection they would like to share, that would also be appreciated. 

If you would be interested in talking to me, or have photos you would like to share, please respond to this post and we can exchange contact details. 

Have a great week!


You could do a lot worse than contact Nazvi Careem at the SCM Post. He wrote a piece in the paper last year on Derek Currie, (nicknamed "Jesus" by the locals), who was one of the first of 3 expats who came to HK in 1970 when the local game turned professional. Another player was the late Walter Gerrard, (nicknamed "dai shui ngau" or water buffalo).

Currie had one stipulation before he agreed to come to HK, and that was that he got to play against his idol - the great Edson Arantes do Nascimento - a.k.a. Pelé!

I know that Currie (and I think Gerrard) played for Rangers here, which is your area of interest. As of mid-2020, Derek Currie was living in retirement in Bangkok and, very importantly from your perspective, was writing a book of his experiences playing professionally for Rangers in HK.
He also played for the national team.

I'm sure that if you contact Careem, he will be able to help you further.

I was 12 years old when I immigrated in 1980 to the US along with my family, so what little I remember probably is just a droplet of info, but here it is:

  1. It was hard to say whether horse racing or football was the most popular sports event in the 70s. I would say football but they were really close.
  2. In the second half of the 70s, the top First Division had 10 or 12 teams. 2 teams were widely acknowledged to be better than all others: South China 南華 (my favorite) and Seiko 精工. They were the only champions I could remember during these years.
  3. A third team, Happy Valley 愉園, was close in talent but never finished first. All other teams were more or less fillers, with Eastern 東方 and Caroline Hill 加山 being dark horses once in a while.
  4. South China had a self-imposed rule to only have Chinese & Chinese-descent players, and I believe other clubs like Happy Valley and Eastern also had this rule. I think this rule was eliminated in the 80s but I wasn't following HK football any more by then.
  5. Seiko had at least 1 foreign player. One was a long hair man from perhaps the UK who played forward. The chinese newspapers called him Jesus 耶穌, and even listed Jesus on the game lineups in the newspaper. He was a very good player.
  6. The best player in Hong Kong was Wu Kwok Hung 胡國雄 who played midfield for Seiko.
  7. Most top players from this era came from the top 3 clubs. I was a huge South China fan so I remember more names from it: Wan Chi Keung 尹志强 who played wing for South China, Chow Chee Keong 仇志强 who played goalie for SC and was Malaysian Chinese descent. There was a really good one from Happy Valley but I can't remember his name.
  8. There was an epic match between SC and Seiko during SC's unbeaten season in 77 or 78. Seiko was the better team that year, and was favored to beat SC and ruin its unbeaten run. I wasn't at the game and had to read the recap afterwards. Seiko was dominating the entire game, and SC only shot 3 times all game but two found the net, while Seiko didn't score and SC won 2-0. It's incredible I still remember this after 30 years!
  9. Foreign players had a reputation of tiring early in Hong Kong's heat. Fans of clubs who didn't have foreign players would hope for steaming hot weather whenever they played Seiko. Strange but true!
  10. I only attended one game in person, and remember walking from the #10 bus station on Leighton Road toward the stadium, and then having to walk uphill to the entrance. The stadium itself was old and grey on the outside, and turnstiles were dark and unfriendly. Once inside, though, I was in heaven!
  11. Another time my father and uncles and I went to the game hoping to buy tickets but the game was sold out. So we went to a parking lot or street corner nearby that was on higher ground and could only see one small corner of the field, and watched it from there. Well "watching" was an exaggeration, because all we saw was literally part of the end line and part of the goal post. We couldn't even see the corner flag or midfield. But there were plenty of people with radios listening to the broadcast, and thinking back it was a cool thing to have done.
  12. HK trying to qualify for the 1978 World Cup was an exciting run. I didn't really understand the qualifying system, but recall clearly the entire city was super excited to play Singapore to advance out of the first round of qualifying. That game probably broke HK's television viewership records. I had thought HK won 1-0, but wikipedia says HK tied Singapore 2-2. Anyway, HK did advance, but didn't do much in the next round

Well, writing the above was super fun, so thanks for bringing back these memories!

Albert Ng

Probably not relevant but here are some pictures of an Island RAF team winning a trophy against a Territory team, about 1950-ish. I cannot remember the location even though I took the pictures. regards, John Rand.. Sorry I cannot find the method to upload the pics


Particular thanks to you Albert. Loved reading your recollections of attending the games and the era generally. Some lovely anecdotes. 

Would you be willing for me to pick your brains a bit further? Please email me at if you would be willing to chat more. Understand if you are busy or don't feel like it. 

Hello John. Shame about the photos. Would you be willing to email them to me?

I would love to see them, and nothing will be used without your permission. I note you took the picture yourself, and would love to ask you some questions. 

Thank you, Tideswell. Yes I am familiar with Currie's anecdtes and Mr. Careem's articles. I have friends at the post and am looking to set up some communication.

The instructions for adding photos onto gwulo can be viewed here

I was in HK  as a national serviceman in 1960 /61

At that time there was an army team playing in the HK League . There would probably have been some young pro or semi pro players in the team doing their national service

The team was managed by a major in the Military Police stationed in Victoria Barracks . 

I was a newly qualified chartered accountant working in the Staff Paymasters office across the courtyard from the MP barracks and one of my duties was to maintain the accounts of the Army team. who would receive gate money fro the matches.  In 1961 their total gate money was $26000  

I think Happy Valley were the top team   the Army side was in the top half of the table. 

I have tickets from several matches I saw including a number of visiting teams

FA visiting team v Combined Chinese on 23 May 61  at HK stadium  Admission $6

Combined Chinese v Lebanon  SCAA stadium  Caroline Hill     20/08/60   

Berne Sports Young Boys  v  combined Chinese    19/02/61

LDA  Costa Rica    vs HK    26/11/60

league matches   KMB  v  South China 14/01/61   adm $2.40

   Tung Wah v Happy Valley 18/12/60

    Eastern  v Tung Wah   06/11/60

For the Costa Rica match I also have the programme  HK team manager was  Lee Man Kit  and coach  was  Lai Shiu Wing  Referee  FH Burn

HK team  was  Wong Siu Wo  goal  Happy V

                         Law Pak  (Tung Wah)    Kwok Kam Hung  (S China)

                         Can Fai Hung (TW)       Lau Yee  (Eastern)    Leung Kit (KMB)

                          Wong Chi Keung  (SC)   Lau  Chi Lum (Eastern)  Kwok Moon Wah (HV) Yiu Cheuk Yin (TW) (capt)   Mok Chun Wah (SC)

Hi there,

Back then I believe the Police, Fire Service all took part in Football league  I remember the Fire Service was also in local Basketball league.

The KMB Vs South China had been a major event back then as both were considered super teams of their days.  I have a vague impression that Jardines was once in the Football league too.  But they pulled out sometime either in the late 1960s or early 1970's.

There was Yuen Long, and of course, HKFA.  Also Fok Ying Tung's Oriental.



Hello Les, 

This is brilliant information, thanks for sharing. I would dearly love to speak to you in more detail about the game between the FA viiting team and the Combined Chinese in May 1961. 

Do you have an email address I could contact you on? Or perhaps you could email me at

That game will be an important part of one of the early chapters in the book, and to have first hand fan accounts of the game would be a real boon. 

Many thanks, Craig 

Hello again, I seem to have managed to upload the pictures of the presentation of the trophy to our RAF unit team around 1949-53. you can find them by clicking new photos or searching for my John Rand 1949-55 gallery. I had a lot of difficulty doing this. Why it is so complicated I do not know. Good luck. JR.

Soccer match 1.jpg
Soccer match 1.jpg, by johnrand




Team Captain L Kell recieving the trophy.jpg
Team Captain L Kell recieving the trophy.jpg, by johnrand

Brilliant pictures, John. Thanks for sharing.


My name is Christopher Watson. I played for Hong Kong Football Club between 1970-1982. I was 16 in 1970 and went from schools football for KGV to playing in the professional league as Club were in the first division in season 1970-71. Have to admit that we lost every match that year and were relegated. That was also the season when Rangers, coached by Scotsman Ian Petrie, first imported players from Europe. They brought in five or six from Scotland. The ones who made the most impact were Derek Curry nicknamed Jesus for his beard, , a fast skillful forward, Walter Gerrard, a center forward good with head and feat, and nicknamed water buffolo for his size, Jackie Trainer, a cultured ceter back. They all played for years and Derek and Walter stayed on in HK after finishing football and found other employment. Derek was employed by Carlsberg who did a lot os sponsorship of football then. Dereak is now living in Bangkok. I will send this on to him. Walter, sadly, passed away in HK a few years ago. Prior to 1970, I went to countless matches at the old Government stadium, Police Boundary Street, at South China AA, and at the old Club stadium. I went to these games with my cousin Glenn, another football fanactic. My mother, was good friends with the mother of HK's finest ever players, Cheung Chi Doy and his brother Cheung Chi Doy who provided us with tickets for every big match at the time.

I can provide a lot more memories but I will stop for the moment. Perhaps you could provide an EM address and I will carry on that way. I also have some photos but not too many. Would be happy to provide all for yourselves to use.

Best wishes,

Christopher Watson.

Hello Christopher,

Thanks so much for that contribution. We would be very excited to speak to you further both about your experiences as a player and a fan. If you could email me on we can set something up. 

Have a great weekend!

Thanks. Same to you.

I will spend some time putting my experiences and memories together and try to make it chronoligal. SOme highlights would be the first visit of the China national side in the late 60s; five visits by Santos, with Pele and Carlos Alberto of course and playing the warm up match for Santos v Newcastle at the national stadium in 1972. Riots during and after a English FA team beat HK 6-0 and being trapped by the mob and being rescued by the police. Watching HK beat China 1-0 in the WC qualifier. Watching Benfica with Eusebo, and a Bobby Charlton XI with his brother and Peter Lorimer. Being taken by my Dad to every visiting club in the 60s and watching good English first dvision sides of the time in Stoke, Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday. 

It may take a while...


Hello again. 

Christopher, I'm happy to organise a time to call you. That might be more relaxing for you and less time consuming than typing it all out. If you drop me a line to the email address above we can exchange contact details. 

Thanks again

I remember leaving after my shift at KaiTak and getting over to the island to watch HK v England XI in 1969.I was in an open stand at the back full of locals and as the game was ending 0-6 I was aware the mood in the stadium was changing.Soon found myself isolated with various people pointing at me and shouting so I legged it down onto the pitch as the Riot Police were now on the scene and all gweilos were being ushered out of the ground.As I was leaving thru a narrow gate the bloke infront of me was hit full on in the face with a brick and went down.Meanwhile I could see one of the England players (Morgan) outside the changing room shouting the odds as someone had lobbed a brick at them.Was never like this when I to watch games at Boundary Street stadium!!




It was a glass, not a brick. I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs in the pavillion next to George Eastman and a glass was thrown or dropped from the first level above us and it crashed right next to Eastman and Morgan just missing them and shattered on the ground. Eastman ran up the stairs in a rage but was unable to indentify the culprit. 

Jardines were in the first division in 1970-71 as I played against them for Club. I think they pulled out after one more season. In 70-71 the first division consisted of: Jardines, Eastern, South China, SIu Fong (Fire Services), British Forces, Rangers, HKFC, Yuen Long, Police, SIng Tao. I think there were two others but that's all I can remember. One would have been Happy Valley but being a China backed team they pulled out of the league and when they reapplied they had to start in the third division. I can't remember if they were back in the first division by 1970 but I think they were. That was the season rangers brought in players from Scotland and they wn the league in a canter. 

Being an employee of Jardines the best I could manage was playing social football for them.Our big match was always Jock's Pot trophy against Butterfield&Swire on Boxing Day.I seem to recall that Jardines pulled out of the league due to a financial scandal involving players and the running of the team that engulfed them.



As I am sure you know it was common to have the big firms play each other in annual matches at that time. Many were played at Club and would always be followed by a lots of food and drink. Club ourselves would also have internal matches such as England v rest of the World on Boxing Day and they were always fun. Competitive but fun. Was your match also at Club?

There was a guy working for Jardines at the time who was involved with the team they fielded in the First Division. His name was Ian and was from Sheffield. I can't remember his second name. Did you know him?

Lindsay....most of the games were played at the club,just the odd away match,maybe Chatham Road.

Think that might be Ian Hardy...not sure,so long ago.


In 1958 or 1959, Blackpool played HK , I can't remember the ground but it was on the Isalnd. I think the result was 13-0 in Blackpool's favour

The Combined Chinese played Blackpool at the former Hong Kong Stadium on 10 June  1958. Score 10-1 in Blackpool's favour. And the 30,000 crowd got to see Stanley Matthews!

My father took me, as a 9 or 10 year old to watch some visiting English teams play. After each match took he took me to the changing rooms to collect autographs. I had, at this time (between 1964-1966) not yet visited England, and had no idea who the players were, but it was later that I realised that some of the names were legends mention those I remember:

Stanley Matthews, by then in his 40's - captained for Stoke City  (& England)

Jimmy Armfield, captain for Blackpool (& England)

Allan Clarke (later of Leeds/England fame), then barely 20y and playing for Blackpool

Johnny Haynes, captain for Fulham (& England).

Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday also visited.

In the day, most of the spectators were not actually in the stadium. The local crowd packed the the east and south stretches of the hillside encircling the pitch, accessed I guess, via Tai Hang Rd and Broadwood Rd. Missed chances were greeted by a sound swell of the d-word. And half time entertainment was invariably the pipes and drums of the Brigade of Gurhkas.

The only visiting English soccer team that played in HK Stadium I could remember was Blackpool, in which Sir Stanley played. There was a huge gap between Blackpool and the best local HK team 華聯 whose players were selected players from all teams. The score was 9:1 or 10:1. Spectators were very disappointed but were impressed by Sir Stanley’s skills. Another memorable match involving an English  team that visited HK in the mid ‘60s was New Castle which was invited along with Santos of Brazil (with Pele) to play in sequence with the HK team and then against each other. This match was the highlight, and Santos dominated.

Allan Clarke never played for Blackpool. His clubs were Walsall, Fulham, Leicester, Leeds, and Barnsley. Sheffield Wednesday were in HK along with Fulham and Stoke  around 1965-66. Perhaps you remember CLarke from Fulham's visit? I have no memory of Sheffield United playing in HK and I went to every visiting club match in the 1960s but memories fail after a while. When I was older and playing for HKFC, I played in many games at the Government stadium and when my Godson was around 12, I brought him to a match with a visiting club during CNY just as my father brought me when I was a kid.

The most remarkable work by Ian Petrie was the discovery of young, talented HK footballers: Kwok Ka Ming, Tang Hung Cheung, Lai Sun Cheung .... 

Correction of "HK's best players": Should be "Cheung Chi Doy and his younger brother Chi Wai". Both were recruited by Blackpool and played in England for a couple of years. They were undoubtedly the best during those years. 

Could be 'Tung Sing', a leftist team closely associated with the other leftist team 'Happy Valley'. Henry Fok was the patron of the latter. Eastern was backed by KMT in ROC, and the matches between Eastern and Tung Sing were always politically flavoured. Could another team you forgot be Kowloon Motor Bus (a dominant team in the '50s). Quite a few of the Louie family were enthusiasts of soccer and built a strong team to compete with South China, the old champion. China Motor Bus also appeared in First Division for some years in the '60s but disappeared when the boss lost interest. Tung Wah was another local team in that era.

Other English clubs to play at the Government staduim in the 1960s were Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City. There was also a visit from a Scotish FA team. In the 70s and later came a FA League team captained by Jimmy Armfield of Blackpool which won 6-0 in a rough match which led to post match rioting in which I and others had to be rescuded by the Police. In 1972, Newcastle played Santos. The Brazalians winning 4-2 with a hatrick from Pele. I played in the warm up match with HKFC. I do not remember any games against a HK team although Santos made many other visits to HK when they did. Even later came visits from Liverpool, Man U., and Spurs and Arsenal who played each other. I attended every one of these matches, all of which were played at the Government Stadium..

Have contacts who were involved actively in the league and might be able to provide some assistance.