FOR a celebrated sportsman, a treasured medal and/or a time-honoured jersey are simply priceless.
Farleigh Clarke, one of Singapore’s legendary hockey strikers in the 1970s and 80s, is understandably seeing red as both items have allegedly gone missing while on display at the Singapore Recreation Club, one of the nation’s most esteemed sporting clubs.
He claims that his 1973 SEAP (South-east Asia Peninsular) Games gold medal – the only time Singapore beat powerhouse Malaysia to clinch the title – and a prized jersey, donated to the club cannot be located and his attempts to retrieve them have been fruitless.
“There were some renovation works done at the club, and one of our members noticed early last year that the medal was no more on display after those works were completed,” says the 67-year-old former St Joseph’s Institution striker of the iconic Clarke family.
The medal had been on display since 2003 at the 1883-founded club, where the Clarke family members were among the founder members.
NO RESPONSE FROM CLUB
He adds: “I have tried to ask club officials and even wrote in officially last year (in mid-December) asking for them to return the medal, but the club has not responded at all.”
Now he is also seeking the return of a jersey from a hockey team that featured Eurasian luminaries from Singapore’s past. The Harlequins jersey belonged to Clarke’s father Andrew, who played alongside the likes of former Law Minister (the late) E.W. Barker and (the late) Percy Pennefather, the hockey captain who took Singapore to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
“All I’m asking for now is a little respect, to return the medal and jersey,” he says.
The Clarke family personified the best of SRC, ever since its founding in 1883, as the Padang club held the distinction of being a family-oriented Eurasian club, always encouraging the younger generation, with the principle objective being the encouragement of sports. In particular, St Joseph’s Institution, a stone’s throw away at Bras Basah Road, was adopted as a feeder sports nursery, with stalwart hockey, football and cricket players regularly wearing Padang colours.
Former SAF senior officer Arul Subramaniam, who was Vice Captain of the 1973 SEAP Games hockey team, says he’s “very heartbroken…and very concerned” to hear of Clarke’s plight. He adds: “The SEAP Games medal is an once-in-a-lifetime achievement, Singapore has never won another gold in 46 years and I know how he, like everyone in the distinguished team, treasures the medal.
“In my opinion, the onus is on the club to ensure the medal is kept safely. I believe those responsible for making the boo-boo must make proper restitution, possibly with a replica medal and also apologise to Farleigh, who I consider one of the iconic strikers in Singapore hockey history.”
Rather ironically, Clarke told The Independent that he received a formal courier-delivered note from the club on Monday to attend a disciplinary inquiry on March 13 to another matter pertaining to a complaint made against him by Ronnie Chua, the club’s vice president.
“Of course, I can’t directly link both incidents but it’s unbelievable that they’ve used a sledge-hammer against me to a complaint by the Vice President while ignoring my repeated appeals for the return of the sacred hockey medal and jersey,” he says.
The Independent has approached SRC about the missing medal and jersey and awaiting a reply.
As Clarke poignantly says: “All I’m asking for now is a little respect. The medal and jersey are invaluable to my family and me.”
* The writer was a hockey-goalkeeper team-mate with Farleigh Clarke for Singapore Recreation Club (SRC) in the 1970s and 80s. He was also SRC Vice President in the 1990s when the Padang club underwent major renovations to be the ‘Oasis on the Padang’.