When Taiwan Steel in November last year won the Taiwan Football Premier League title, they brought the game home to Tainan, where it was first introduced to the nation by an Englishman during the Japanese colonial period.
The win was the first time since the start of top-flight competition in the early 1980s that a Tainan-based club has won a soccer championship. However, Tainan and the surrounding area were previously renowned hotbeds for soccer talent, and the game has deep roots in the region’s schools and communities.
In the first decade of top division competition, titles were won mainly by the Bank of Taipei and the Flying Camels. By the mid-1990s, Taipower and Tatung dominated the fields, while the sport evolved into the Enterprise League, the Intercity League and eventually the Taiwan Football Premier League.
Photo courtesy of Kuo Jung-pin
Prior to the 1980s, Tainan clubs ruled the sport, winning many titles at the National Games (then known as the Taiwan Provincial Games), intercollegiate competitions and youth-level tournaments organized by the Chinese Taipei Football Association.
Taiwan Steel’s victory last season broke Taipower’s and Tatung’s grip over the league, opening a new chapter in the sport and coming more than 100 years after its introduction by an English missionary.
Edward Band came to Taiwan in 1914 as a Presbyterian missionary and principal of Tainan’s Chang Jung High School, which later became the Chang Jung Christian University.
Founded in 1865 by the Presbyterian Church of England with Scottish missionary James Maxwell as its first principal, the school was the first institution for Western education in Taiwan. It provided local students lessons in science, medicine, world history, mathematics and geography.
Band held degrees in mathematics and theology from the University of Cambridge, where he had excelled in sports and was captain of his university soccer team, according to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and school records.
Band, also known as Wan Jung-hua (萬榮華), was born in 1886 in Birkenhead, England, a soccer stronghold and home to the Tranmere Rovers, who started as Belmont Football Club in 1884, while Everton and Liverpool were started nearby.
Taiwan sports historians consider Band the first Westerner to introduce the game to the nation and the “father of Taiwanese soccer,” teaching the game to students soon after arriving.
Band’s brand of English soccer with an 11-a-side format proved popular, and Chang Jung formed a soccer club by 1916, according to school records.
Photographs from 1919 showed Band with uniformed players on the Chang Jung team, considered the first soccer club in the nation.
Chang Jung students and graduates soon spread the game throughout the area, with students at Japanese schools also participating.
Records showed organized matches among Chang Jung, Tainan First Senior High School, the then-Tainan Normal School and other local teams in 1920.
Locals took the game to neighboring regions and the South Football League was established in 1929, with teams vying for the Barclay Cup, named for prominent Scottish missionary Thomas Barclay, Taiwan sports researcher Lin Hsin-kai (林欣楷) said.
Barclay, founder of the Tainan Theological College and Seminary in 1876, has been lauded for introducing Western education to southern Taiwan and pioneering healthcare services in the region. He is also known for introducing the first Hoklo-language (also known as Taiwanese) newspaper in Taiwan.
Lee Chia-sung (李嘉嵩), a student at Chang Jung in the late 1920s, wrote in a memoir: “Our principal [Band] had a burning desire to get students to play soccer. Often when we finished classes in late afternoon, he would go to the dorms, knocking on each room to prod the students, rousing up those who were taking a nap, pressing us to go play soccer at the school’s athletic field.”
“In my senior year, our principal was about 45 years old, but often he still played the game, competing against young students. When on the pitch, he looked like a dashing sports hero, giving us a glimpse of his earlier decades back in England as an on-field general, leading his university team to victory,” he added.
Another alumnus surnamed Yang (楊) said that starting in the 1920s through the 1930s, fights often broke out in the stands during matches between Chang Jung and rival Tainan First Senior High School, representing the cultural and ethnic divide between Taiwanese and Japanese.
Records showed that the school, or clubs formed by Chang Jung alumni, often dominated the league. When Tainan First Senior High School won the championship in 1933, Chang Jung players reportedly started their training earlier the next season, vowing to retake the title.
In a well-documented historic achievement, Chang Jung pummeled Taipei First Boys School, now Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School, 8-0 in their final match in 1940 to win the Taiwan school soccer championship, which earned them the right to represent Taiwan at the All Japan High School Soccer Tournament in Osaka.
Taiwanese media reported extensively on the team’s trip to Japan, featuring photographs of Taiwan’s soccer champions with Band, the players and coaches before departure, as it was the first time a Taiwanese team had attended the tournament.
News reports said they played valiantly, but were edged out 2-1 and eliminated by the Shiga Teachers Training College, a powerhouse team which reached the semi-finals that year.
Tainan continued to lead soccer in Taiwan after World War II, producing the most national squad players, and had the best fan support of any region in Taiwan.
Tainan area businesses also provided financial support to host international tournaments, with the most recent being the Asian University Football Tournament in 2019, when more than 1,000 fans attended to watch Taiwan take on teams from 12 countries at two venues in Tainan.
That still pales in comparison to years past during the “Tainan Derby,” said Taiwan Steel manager Lo Chih-tsung (羅智聰), who was a founding member of the Flying Camels in the 1970s and has represented Taiwan at international competitions.
“In the old days, amateur soccer champions were decided at the Taiwan Provincial Games, and in 1998, the gold-medal finale was between then-Tainan city and county,” Lo said in a newspaper interview.
“A huge crowd packed into the Tainan County Hsinying Stadium for the match, estimated at between 20,000 to 30,000 spectators. The score was tied after extra-time, and hosts Tainan County won it in a penalty shoot-out,” he added.
The Council of Agriculture yesterday signed a Taiwan-Australia Agricultural Cooperation Implementation clause to open a new export market for the nation’s pineapple crop. The clause is an addition to existing cooperation measures, it said. China on Friday last week abruptly announced that it would suspend pineapple imports from Taiwan starting on Monday, on grounds that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful organisms” in shipments of the fruit. The public and private sectors have since joined hands to purchase the local fruit to help the nation’s pineapple farmers. Canberra has requested that all pineapples for export to Australia have their crown buds removed,
DECADES OF INFLUENCE: Over the past 20 years, China has made inroads with Aborigines, funding political campaigns and trips, a legislator said Lawmakers have called on the National Security Bureau to investigate claims of pervasive Chinese influence among Aboriginal communities. Legislators pointed to a surge in communist propaganda and Chinese-funded projects over the past few years, which they say are aimed at infiltrating and buying political influence among Aboriginal communities. “China has for decades carried out wide-ranging ‘united front’ tactics and propaganda campaigns targeting Aborigines,” said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩), a member of the Puyuma community in Taitung County. “Now, they are influencing elections for local councilors and village chiefs, offering money for candidates to mount their campaigns, and to
Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group might have lost its right to distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 and the ability to fulfill a contract in Taiwan, civic groups Taiwan Citizen Front and the Economic Democracy Union said yesterday. In a radio interview on Feb. 17, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the Central Epidemic Command Center, said that last year, Taiwan was close to signing a contract to buy doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but that the deal was halted at the last moment, with some speculating that Chinese interference was to blame. On Monday last week, the center
Broadcasting Corp of China chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) yesterday said that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) “should not follow the Democratic Progressive Party’s [DPP] direction,” after KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) had said that China posed a threat to Taiwan. Chiang was quoted by Reuters as saying during an interview that China’s “one country, two systems” formula for an unification with Taiwan “has no market” in the nation. Chiang also described China as the major threat to Taiwan, Reuters reported. Jaw, who has expressed interest in running for KMT chairman this year and in the 2024 presidential election, wrote on Facebook that