Friday, October 26, 2012


Bok's Final Fling

It's not often you find a true one club man in South East Asian football. The idea of loyalty hasn't quite caught on with club owners who see their football clubs as little more than a toy to be tinkered with and a photo opportunity.

SAFFC coach Richard Bok breaks that mould. He has been with the club since 1996 but his career ended as a player before it ever really got started and since then he moved behind the scenes to do a variety of odd jobs before becoming coach in 2006.

It was the start of an unprecedented era for the Warriors as Bok led them to four consecutive SLeague titles and two Singapore Cups.

With an unchanging spine that featured the likes of Shahril Jantan, Daniel Bennett and Aleskander Duric SAFFC were unassailable domestically.

The last few seasons have been hard for the club as Tampines Rovers have risen to the fore and this season they find themselves in an unfamiliar mid table position.

My favourite Bok tale comes from an ACL qualifier against Muang Thing United at Jalan Besar. I was standing pitchside with him as he watched his charges warm up ahead of the tie. It was a typical Singapore evening. The home fans were silent while a few visiting Thais were kicking up a racket in the stand.

As we talked a short sweaty suited individual approached us, smoke coming out of his ears. He stood by dancing dancing with rage, face fixed in apoplexy and telling me I had to get away from the pitch and if he had to talk to me again he would throw me out of the stadium. It was my first ever run in with the dreaded match commissioner!

Myself and Richard just smiled.

Over the years I have found the SAFFC coach to be affable and approachable and he was a great help as I started to branch out and cover the game in Singapore.

His final bow comes this Sunday when SAFFC take on Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Cup final, one final chance to win some silverware for his beloved Warriors and affording me the opportunity to write the word final one final time to make it six times I have used 'final' in one sentence.

Bok bows out at the end of the season, or is bowed out.

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