Awang Bakar



Awang Bakar (b. 1930 or 1936, Singapore–d. 1 July 1964, Singapore)1 was a footballer who represented Singapore in the 1950s.2 He won the Malaya Cup four times with Singapore3 and is best known for his prolific goal-scoring.4 In 1999, Awang was ranked 20th in The Straits Times list of Singapore’s greatest athletes.5

Early life
Born to a Chinese mother and a Malay father who was a contractor with the Royal Air Force (RAF), Awang attended Tanah Merah School and Kota Raja Malay School. He then became a driver with the RAF and joined the RAF Changi Sports Club (RAFCSC).6

Newspaper reports had given different accounts of Awang’s age. Reports from 1950 gave his year of birth as 1930,7 while those from the time of his death listed it as 1936.8 The former year is more probable, given that Awang was reported to have made his debut at the Singapore Amateur Football Association (SAFA) league in 1948.9
 
Early career
Spotted by E. J. Rogers, the secretary of the RAFCSC, Awang played briefly for the club in the first division of the SAFA league. He scored six goals in three matches in the 1948 season, and was selected for the Singapore Malays team the following year.10 


Awang won the Community league with the Malay XI in 1949, and in the same year, also played for the Kota Raja Club in the SAFA league and for Tiger Standard in the Business Houses league.11 In November, his scores in the SAFA Challenge Cup final helped Kota Raja defeat Base Ordnance Depot Civilian Association 3-0.12

Awang was selected to play for Singapore in February 1950 and made his debut in the team’s 2-0 loss to Army-Navy the following month.13 He then made his first appearance in the Malaya Cup in April and scored two goals as Singapore defeated RAF 3-0.14 Awang’s goals, including four in a decisive match against reigning champions Chinese Athletic, also helped Kota Raja to win the SAFA first division championship in 1950.15

In the Malaya Cup, Awang scored 13 goals as Singapore reached the final at Kuala Lumpur’s Rifle Range Road stadium in August 1950.16 His goal in the final against Penang was described as one of the most memorable in the Cup’s history.17 Standing around 35 m from the goal as Penang goalkeeper Tan Swee Hock took a goal kick, Awang volleyed the ball back and into the net while Tan watched helplessly. Coming in six minutes before the end, the goal ended Penang’s resistance and settled the match 2-0 in Singapore’s favour.18 

Awang then played for the All-Malaya representative team in August 1950, and was ranked second in The Straits Times poll of fans for the “Malaya’s Sportsman of the Year” accolade.19

Further success
In early 1951, Awang moved to the Tiger Sporting Association (TSA) in the SAFA league, and helped the team win the first division title.20 In the Malaya Cup series in the same year, Awang’s goals once again brought Singapore to the final, where he scored a hat-trick in the team’s 6-0 win over Perak.21 


In July 1952, Awang set a Malayan goal-scoring record when he scored nine goals in a single game for TSA, a 14-1 victory over his former team Kota Raja.22 TSA won the SAFA Challenge Cup in September and the following month, Awang lifted the Malaya Cup for the third successive year.23 His two goals in the final, including the decider in Singapore’s 3-2 win over Penang, also marked the third year in a row he had scored in the final.24 In his first three seasons in the Malaya Cup, Awang scored a total of 35 goals.25

Suspension and return
Awang joined the Rovers team for the SAFA league’s 1953 season.26 However, in April that year, he was suspended for eight months by SAFA after taking part in an unsanctioned tour of Kota Bahru with Permuda Singapura. The team played a series of games in Kota Bahru for charity.27 In the previous year, Awang had been suspended for two months for participating in another unsanctioned tour with the Corinthians.28

During his suspension, Awang was offered the leading role in a film, Darah Ku (My Blood), to be directed by P. S. Rahjans and produced by the Keris film studio. He had rejected the role, which was to be about the life of a football star.29 In May 1953, his suspension was lifted by SAFA after he and nine other players submitted written apologies.30

Singapore reached the Malaya Cup final again in 1953, but Awang had begun to show a loss in form and did not score in the final in which Singapore lost 3-2 to Penang.31 In 1954, he joined the Argonauts team in the SAFA league’s third division, but left the club later that year to join the Police team in the first division.32 In the same year, Awang represented Singapore at the Asian Games and in the Malaya Cup final, where Singapore were defeated 3-0 by Penang.33 He was ranked sixth in a contest organised by Fraser & Neave to find the most popular footballer in Malaya.34

Later career
In the 1955 season, Awang scored seven goals in the Malaya Cup, including a goal in the final as Singapore defeated Kelantan 3-1.35 The following year, however, he suffered a knee injury and his form began to decline.36 He was in and out of the Singapore team over the next few years, with a number of comeback attempts curtailed by fitness issues.37

Death
In June 1964, Awang undertook intensive daily training on his own at Farrer Park in a bid to rejoin the Singapore squad. His dedication in training, which led to him dropping more than 10 kg in body weight, impressed Singapore coach Choo Seng Quee.38 However, on 1 July, Awang collapsed during a game for Changi Malays at the RAF Changi field. He was rushed to the RAF hospital, but died 30 minutes later.39

The following day, more than 600 mourners lined the route between Awang’s home in Changi and the Ayer Gemuroh cemetery, where he was laid to rest. Officials, fans and former team-mates paid tribute to the talent, determination, dedication and sportsmanship that Awang had shown during his illustrious football career.40



Author

Alvin Chua




References
1. Moss, B. (1952, August 16). Awang Bakar – a demon on two legs. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4; Moder, R. (1950, August 12). The goal-scoring machine. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Awang Bakar collapses during game, dies. (1964, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. The Malaya Cup final in pictures. (1950, August 14). The Straits Times, p. 10; Singapore’s 4th victory. (1951, November 17). The Singapore Free Press, p. 6; Disputed goal gives S’pore Malay Cup. (1952, October 13). The Straits Times, p. 12; Early shock for Singapore. (1955, August 7). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. The name that spells goal magic in store. (1975, April 4). New Nation, pp. 12–13; Awang Bakar signs for Police in Senior Lge. (1954, April 13). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Murali, S., & Robert, G. (1999, October 31). Magicians: The dazzler…and Twinkle Toes. The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Tan, T. S. (1950, May 11). Awang tells how he gets the goalsThe Singapore Free Press, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Moder, R. (1950, August 12). The goal-scoring machine. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4; Moss, B. (1952, August 16). Awang Bakar – a demon on two legs. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Awang Bakar collapses during game, dies. (1964, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 1; Don’t write off Awang, says Choo. (1964, June 17). The Straits Times, p. 19; Dorai, J. (1964, June 30). Watch out for the old Awang, says ChooThe Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tan, T. S. (1950, May 11). Awang tells how he gets the goalsThe Singapore Free Press, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Tan, T. S. (1950, May 11). Awang tells how he gets the goalsThe Singapore Free Press, p. 7; Moder, R. (1950, August 12). The goal-scoring machine. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Moss, B. (1952, August 16). Awang Bakar – a demon on two legsThe Singapore Free Press, p. 4; Tan, T. S. (1950, May 11). Awang tells how he gets the goalsThe Singapore Free Press, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Kota Raja retains SAFA Cup. (1949, November 27). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Kai Sow, Guan Wah for S’pore. (1950, February 16). The Singapore Free Press, p. 7; 15 named for team v Burma. (1950, February 22). The Straits Times, p. 11; Awang Bakar justifies selection. (1950, March 15). The Singapore Free Press, p. 10; Army-Navy get in first blow for Cup. (1950, March 20). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. 3-0 Cup victory for Colony. (1950, April 23). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Kota Raja beat C. A. to win league. (1950, July 26). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Siebel, N. (195, August 13). Singapore triumph in Cup final. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Siebel, N. (1963, October 1). A freak goal shattered Penang 13 years ago. The Straits Times, p. 18; Singapore triumph in Cup Final. (1950, August 13). The Straits Times, p. 19; Malaya Cup is in Singapore again. (1950, August 14). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Siebel, N. (1963, October 1). A freak goal shattered Penang 13 years ago. The Straits Times, p. 18; Singapore triumph in Cup final. (1950, August 13). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Malaya press for 50 mins, win 1-0. (1950, August 30). The Straits Times, p. 12; Tho Fook Hung is placed first. (1950, December 31). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Tigers throw spanner into SCFA. (1950, July 23). The Straits Times, p. 18; Over-confident Tigers mauled. (1951, March 8). The Singapore Free Press, p. 6; Tigers emerged clear champions. (1951, September 25). The Singapore Free Press, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Singapore blaze to 6-0 win. (1951, September 3). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Awang Bakar 9 in Tigers’ rout of Kota Raja. (1952, July 8). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Tiger S.A. retain Haw-Par Cup after hard fight. (1952, October 15). The Straits Times, p. 12; Disputed goal gives S’pore Malay Cup. (1952, October 13). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. The Malaya Cup Final in pictures. (1950, August 14). The Straits Times, p. 10; Singapore blaze to 6-0 win. (1951, September 3). The Straits Times, p. 12; Disputed goal gives S’pore Malay Cup. (1952, October 13). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Awang Bakar again. (1953, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Rovers are strongest tip for the Snr. Title. (1953, February 26). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Bakar suspended for 8 months. (1953, April 16). The Straits Times, p. 11; ‘Pirates' tell SAFA ‘sorry’. (1953, May 15). The Singapore Free Press, p. 16; They face suspension. (1953, April 11). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Be a film star? No, says Awang Bakar. (1953, May 2). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Be a film star? No, says Awang Bakar. (1953, May 2). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. ‘Amnesty appeal’ goes to McG Watt. (1953, May 15). The Straits Times, p. 13; A. Bakar can play for S’pore. (1953, May 29). The Singapore Free Press, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Penang win Malay Cup for first time. (1953, August 23). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. But the opposition will be tougher. (1954, February 18). The Straits Times, p. 13; Awang Bakar signs for Police in Senior Lge. (1954, April 13). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. 60 picked for Asian Games. (1954, April 10). The Straits Times, p. 13; Siebel, N. (1954, September 12). Singapore crumble before MacLaren and Penang win 3-0. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. E. C. Dutton and Boon Leong for England. (1954, August 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Early shock for Singapore. (1955, August 7). The Straits Times, p. 19; How they reached the final. (1955, August 6). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. After a hopeful start S’pore soccer is falling back into 1955 blues. (1956, May 11). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. Will Awang Bakar make the grade? (1957, March 28). The Singapore Free Press, p. 14; S’pore recall Awang Bakar. (1959, July 10). The Straits Times, p. 15; Awang asks SAFA: Please give me a chance. (1963, July 12). The Straits Times, p. 16; Siebel, N. (1961, March 17). Bakar’s return is a sign of the timesThe Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Dorai, J. (1964, June 30). Watch out for the old Awang, says ChooThe Straits Times, p. 19; Don’t write off Awang, says Choo. (1964, June 17). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. Awang Bakar collapses during game, dies. (1964, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
40. Dorai, J. (1964, July 3). 600 pay their last respects to Awang BakarThe Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2011 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, recreation and travel>>Ball games>>Football
Football players--Singapore--Biography
Malaysia Cup (Soccer)
Personalities
Soccer--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies
Awang Bakar, 1930 or 1936–1964