Established in 1852, the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) is a fascinating microcosm of the history of Singapore itself. The club’s transition from an elite, colonial sports club into an open multi-racial one has played a leading role in both the sporting and social life of the community. It also mirrors the similar changes in Singapore’s social and historical evolution throughout the years.
Sports played an important role in the early colonial culture of Singapore, as it was the antidote for many social ills such as boredom, loneliness, isolation and cultural disorientation.
There was a de facto racial segregation in early Singaporean society. Each community had their own clubs and stayed within its racial boundaries. Thus, the SCC at its beginnings, was a largely whites-only club, while, conversely, the Singapore Recreation Club (SRC) was the domain of the Eurasians.
Although billiards and horse racing have had earlier histories as club activities in Singapore , it is the cricket club that has flourished continuously at the same location longer than any other sports club.
Football and rugby were established in Singapore during the 1880s when the club made a major contribution to cricket by providing players to the Malayan cricket teams playing at the Interport Series held in Hong Kong.
Cross-Padang sports rivalry between the SCC and SRC got a fillip in 1950 with the donation of the Padang Shield trophy for the yearly competitive cricket matches between the two clubs.
SCC members continued to dominate rugby, supplying the entire Civilians XV, the only national team of any note aside from the British Forces teams during those times. The annual Civilian versus Joint Services match-up was always “Game of the Year” during those days.
Paralleling the upturn of Singapore’s economy in the 1970s was a sports boom. Many of the club’s sports sections boasted close to 100 members each, in total; the squash and tennis sections were expected to surpass this number, respectively. The squash section’s membership boomed to over 300 as the decade progressed.
Bolstered by the confidence in numbers and cash flow, the sporting sections were able to embark on major overseas tours. The increasing prestige and stability of the club and country invariably attracted sporting visitors from many corners of the globe.
The SCC at the Padang still boasts the only cricket square in Singapore today. The rugby section still run its COLTS XV, mainly comprised of St Joseph Institution’s students, and gives advice to the Ministry of Education regarding the rules of the sport. In 1974, the SCC rugby section raised $8,000 to help send the national rugby team to Sri Lanka for the Asian Rugby Tournament.
Historically, it is almost impossible to discuss the SCC in isolation from the Padang; the emerald crown in which the jewel that is the SCC is set within.
The Padang was indeed the first Singaporean venue for a multitude of various sporting activities, from the early halcyon days of the SCC to the present – cricket, rugby, lawn bowls, football and tennis being just a few of the sporting and recreational activities that have been played here since the 1850s.