He ain’t crazy, he’s just Ho Kwang Hock

Not many in the current generation will remember former Singapore international Ho Kwang Hock, but the football personality from the ‘70s nicknamed ‘Siao’ has got some tales to share...

Gone are the old days of Singapore football where stadiums were packed with fans belting out football chants in unison and executing the ‘Kallang Roar’ in impeccable fashion, from start to finish.

Gone too are the days where local footballing legends such as Dollah Kassim and Quah Kim Song etched unforgettable memories into the history books when playing against bitter rivals Malaysia.

‘Siao’ literally translates to crazy, so to be stuck with such a label might sound unkind. But in Ho’s case, he did not mind as it was perhaps the most fitting nickname for him.

But look around when you are at a S.League match and you might just chance upon former Lions striker Ho Kwang Hock, the Singapore footballing veteran who made waves in the ‘70s and ‘80s with his goal-scoring abilities and dashing good looks.

Of course, his presence at the games is partly due to the nature of his job as a Field Intelligence Officer for Singapore Pools, which required him to provide details of the match back to the gaming company.

But his love for the sport was also a huge reason why he was still 'hanging around'.

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Many in the S.League are familiar with Ho Photo: S.League

“I watched and played football ever since I was seven years old and have been in the game for over 40 years. During our playing days, we were not from rich families and football was out of the ordinary for us,” he told FourFourTwo.

“By playing football we got out of Singapore and got to stay in hotels and ate at coffee houses. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, this is something no ordinary Singaporean family can have.”

The man called ‘Ah Siao’

‘Siao’ (which literally translates to crazy in the Hokkien dialect) might sound unkind. But in Ho’s case, he did not mind as it was perhaps the most fitting nickname for him.

His former manager, Trevor Hartley, who used to play for West Ham United and managed Bournemouth, once said in an interview to the Straits Times in 1976: “As in every team, there is a joker in the Singapore side. Ho Kwang Hock is our man. He never stops talking and has even admitted to being crazy, in fact.”

And make no mistakes, the stories concerning Ho are just as outrageously out of this world.

What did he say to Noh after the striker’s seven-goal haul in an 11-0 drubbing over Laos during the 2007 AFF Championships?

Ho played for Tampines Rovers, although not professionally, in the 70s before moving to Geylang at the age of 23 while working in advertising for Straits Times. He even had a part-time stint as a journalist for the now-defunct newspaper ‘Singapore Monitor’ for six months.

During this time, Ho recalled how he once single-handedly scored eight goals in a game for Tampines that ended 12-8 in the Stags’ favour at the old National Stadium in 1977.

Going into the last game of the season, Dollah Kassim was the leading scorer in the league with 23 goals. Ho needed at least five goals against Toa Payoh to overtake the former.

He did so, and more.

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Ho once scored eight goals in a match, he says. Photo: Chris Tew

“My teammates wanted me to win top scorer award so they made it easy for me to score,” Ho recalled with a cheeky grin.

“At one point Suresh Anandan dribbled past the keeper and I ran half the field to score. So for all eight goals, my own team made it easy for me.”

To his surprise and dismay though, an investigation was conducted and the FAS voided the results of the match after determining that the game was ‘fixed’.

“I was a striker and I scored the goals but the referee felt that the game was not sportsmanlike. The game finished fairly but the organisers made it null and void and I wasted my efforts,” Ho said of the ruling.

I told him, 'I still hold the record (of scoring the most goals at the National Stadium), not you!

Although his eight goals were never officially recorded, it did not stop the old timer from boasting about his record to Singapore’s Noh Alam Shah, who himself scored seven at the National Stadium.

What did he say to Noh after the striker’s seven-goal haul in an 11-0 drubbing over Laos during the 2007 AFF Championships?

“I told him, 'I still hold the record (of scoring the most goals at the National Stadium), not you!’.”