Jalan Besar Stadium



Jalan Besar Stadium is a well-known Singapore landmark located at Tyrwhitt Road in the Kallang area.1 Since its official opening on 26 December 1929, the stadium had held many football events, including Malaysia Cup tournaments. In 1999, the original facility underwent a S$30-million facelift. When it was completed in 2003, the stadium had been expanded into a sports complex comprising a new football stadium, and facilities such as a swimming complex, a gymnasium, a multi-storey carpark and a food court.2

History
Jalan Besar Stadium was opened on 26 December 1929 by the president of the Municipal Commission, R. J. Farrer. The inauguration was followed by a football match between the Malayan Chinese and Malayan Asiatics teams. The former won the match with a score of 3-2.3


Since its opening, the Jalan Besar Stadium has hosted many sporting events such as football, hockey and rugby matches. The Malaysia Cup football tournament (known as Malaya Cup from 1932 to 1966) was also played at this venue, from 1932 until the former National Stadium was opened in 1973.4

During the Japanese Occupation (1942–45), Jalan Besar Stadium was used by the Japanese as one of the mass screening sites for Sook Ching, an operation carried out to purge anti-Japanese elements. The stadium remained open throughout the Occupation years and was used as a centre to teach civilians the Japanese language. After the war, the stadium reverted to its original function but was occasionally used as a site for political rallies and to host key events such as the inaugural Singapore Youth Festival in 1967, and the first Singapore Armed Forces Day parade on 11 July 1969.5

In the 1980s, the stadium was the venue for important matches in the domestic National Football League (NFL). The NFL was poorly attended and crowds at Jalan Besar only averaged about 200.6 However, well-known Singaporean footballers such as Majid Ariff, Quah Kim Song, Dollah Kassim, R. Suria Murthi, Wilfred Skinner and Fandi Ahmad have all played at the stadium.7 International matches were also hosted at Jalan Besar before the National Stadium was built.8 The United States football team played at Jalan Besar Stadium in 1956.9

Renovation and reopening
In 1999, the original stadium underwent a major renovation. It was expanded into a sports complex at a cost of over S$30 million. The complex included a new football stadium and facilities such as a swimming complex, a gymnasium, a multi-storey carpark and a food court.10 The new football stadium had a seating capacity of 6,000 and a distinctive arched steel roof – resembling a suspension bridge – curving over the southwest grandstand.11 The new Jalan Besar Stadium was reopened to public in March 2003, when it hosted a football match between the under-23 Young Lions Singapore team and a team from the Maldives, in which the Young Lions won 4-1.12


Developments in Singapore football and further improvements
After the facelift in 2003, the Jalan Besar Stadium continued to serve as a major venue for football in Singapore. The stadium housed the National Football Academy as well as the headquarters of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and the S-League.13 It was also the home and training ground of the Young Lions. Furthermore, the stadium was a competition venue for the 2006 Lion City Cup, the 2009 Asian Youth Games, and the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.14


Shortly after the stadium was reopened in 2003, it was closed again in late 2004 to replace the grass pitch with an artificial turf.15 The replacement was funded by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) Goal Project, and was considered necessary as an artificial turf could withstand wear and tear better than a grass field. After it was reopened in February 2006, it was closed once again for another resurfacing project in December 2008. This time it was to upgrade the artificial turf to a higher-grade pitch. The stadium was reopened yet again in January 2009.16

Timeline
26 Dec 1929:
Jalan Besar Stadium opens.17

1942–45: The stadium is used as a Sook Ching mass screening site and language centre during the Japanese Occupation.18 
1967: The stadium hosts the opening ceremony of the inaugural Singapore Youth Festival.19
1973: The National Stadium is built and replaces Jalan Besar Stadium as the venue for football events.20
1996: Launch of the S-League. Jalan Besar Stadium becomes the home ground for the Police Sports Association team.21
Dec 1999: An exhibition match featuring ex-internationals commemorates the closing of the old stadium. The stadium is then refurbished and becomes part of the Jalan Besar sports complex.22
Mar 2003: The stadium re-opens with a football match between the Young Lions and a team from Maldives. It also serves as the home ground of the Young Lions.23
2006: The stadium replaces its grass pitch with an artificial turf.24
2009: The artificial pitch is replaced by a higher-quality turf.25
2010: The stadium is one of the venues for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games held in Singapore in August.26



Author

Faizah bte Zakaria



References
1. National Heritage Board. (2006). Jalan Besar: A heritage trail. Singapore: Author, pp. 22–23. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 JAL-[HIS])
2. Singh, S. (1999, January 12). $30m facelift for Jalan Besar. The Straits Times, p. 36; Lim, M. (2003, February 26). Mah pitches for Jalan Besar. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Football – opening of Jalan Besar Stadium. (1929, December 27). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
4. National Heritage Board. (2006). Jalan Besar: A heritage trail. Singapore: Author, p. 22. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 JAL[HIS])
5. National Heritage Board. (2006). Jalan Besar: A heritage trail. Singapore: Author, pp. 22–23. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 JAL-[HIS])
6. Clubs asking FAS to pay for poor gates. (1986, June 17). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Robert, G. (1999, December 12). Thanks for the happy memories, Jalan BesarThe Straits Times, p. 42; Robert, G. (1999, December 13). Platform of a thousand memoriesThe Straits Times, p. 57; Siow, P. (1999, December 12). Selamat Jalan. The New Paper, p. 59. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Singh, S. (1999, January 12). $30m facelift for Jalan Besar. The Straits Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. US soccer XI to play here on Nov. 12. (1956, October 23). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Singh, S. (1999, January 12). $30m facelift for Jalan Besar. The Straits Times, p. 36; Lim, M. (2003, February 26). Mah pitches for Jalan Besar. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. National Heritage Board. (2006). Jalan Besar: A heritage trail. Singapore: Author, p. 23. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 JAL-[HIS])
12. Lim, M. (2003, March 5). A 4-1 win, but that is not the real story. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Lim, M. (2003, February 26). Mah pitches for Jalan Besar. The Straits Times, p. 10; Ho, S. (2003, February 26). FAS officials gives Jalan Besar Stadium the thumbs-up. Today, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Ho, S. (2003, February 26). FAS officials gives Jalan Besar Stadium the thumbs-up. Today, p. 37; Ong, C. (2006, June 5). Lion City cup kicks off today. The Straits Times, p. 40; Tan, A. (2009, June 29). The road to AYG. The Straits Times, p. 72; Voon, T. (2009, April 30). Big benefits for Singapore. The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Chua, A. (2004, September 13). Jalan Besar to undergo facelift. Today, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Shamir Osman. (2008, September 11). A better green for Jalan Besar. Today, p. 49. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Million-dollar makeover [Microfilm no.: NL 29642]. (2009, January 6). The New Paper, pp. 42–43.
17. Football – opening of Jalan Besar Stadium. (1929, December 27). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
18. National Heritage Board. (2006). Jalan Besar: A heritage trail. Singapore: Author, pp. 22–23. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 JAL)
19. Sam, J. (1967, July 18). President launches fete at colourful ceremony at Jalan Besar Stadium. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Singh, S. (1999, January 12). $30m facelift for Jalan Besar. The Straits Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Tay, C. K. (1996, April 15). PM kicks off S’pore’s pro-soccer league. The Straits Times, p. 1; Dorai, J. (1995, August 14). Lions pick Geylang, Tiong Bahru for ‘dens’. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Siow, P. (1999, December 12). Selamat Jalan. The New Paper, p. 59; Lim, M. (2003, February 26). Mah pitches for Jalan Besar. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Lim, M. (2003, March 5). A 4-1 win, but that is not the real story. The Straits Times, p. 9; Lim, M. (2003, February 26). Mah pitches for Jalan Besar. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Chua, A. (2004, September 13). Jalan Besar to undergo facelift. Today, p. 33; Shamir Osman. (2008, September 11). A better green for Jalan Besar. Today, p. 49. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Million-dollar makeover [Microfilm no.: NL 29642]. (2009, January 6). The New Paper, pp. 42–43.
26. Voon, T. (2009, April 30). Big benefits for Singapore. The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resource
Chua, C. J. (1998). A nation at play: 25 years of the Singapore Sports Council. Singapore: Times Editions.
(Call no.: RSING 796.095957 NAT)



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Sports and games
Recreation>>Sports
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
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Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Public Buildings
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Public buildings
Sports and Recreation
Sports, recreation and travel
Stadiums--Singapore
Sports facilities--Singapore
Football stadiums--Singapore