- The Chinese sportsmen constantly gather at the late tycoon Foo Tye Sin’s Residence at No.1 Light Street to play football at the Esplanade field.
- Soon, the Penang Recreation Club and Penang Sports Club which admitted only ‘whites’ occupying the field, leaving to no room for the Chinese sportsmen.
- Consequently, the Chinese sportsmen resolved to form their own private club in 1892 at Lake Villa, a bungalow with an extension pond along Peel Avenue. This marks the birth of Chinese Recreation Club Penang (CRC Penang).
The Progressive Years
- The Club’s increasing popularity give rise to the idea of acquiring a large piece of land as the sole ground for sports and recreation to cater for the Chinese community in 1903. As a result, the acquiring of 3 pieces of land adjoining each other together with Eastbourne, a wooden bungalow along Pangkor Road takes place.
- The Chinese community represented by the 5 Hokkien clans in Penang, subscribed to purchase the land. The property is vested under a Deed of Trust with the principal donors as the original trustees namely, Lim Kek Chuan (the 1st President of CRC Penang, picture shown on the left), Lim Eow Hong, Lim Cheng Teik, Khaw Joo Tok, Cheah Choon Seng, Chung Thye Phin, Ho Tiang Wan, Tan Kang Hock and Yeoh Ooi Gark.
- To perpetuate the memory of Her Late Majesty Queen Victoria, the land is named the Victoria Green and the Eastbourne bungalow, CRC Penang.
- As a further gesture of their loyalty as the Queen’s Chinese, a bronze statue of the Queen herself is imported from England at the cost of 10 thousand Straits Dollars. The statue is placed on top of a pedestal donated by Khoo Sian Ewe, J.P in 1933 with due honor to Sir Cecil Clementi to perform its official unveiling.
- Football and Tennis remark as the prominent sports in the club when CRC Penang wins the Dewar Shield, presented to the Penang Football Association by Sir Thomas R. Dewar, being prominent for 5 progressive years (1909-1913).
The introduction of cricket sparked a stiff competition with the Penang Cricket Club
A Clubhouse of one’s own
Circa 1920s and 30s
- The CRC witness a membership strength of 250 people at the subscription of a-dollar-and-a-half per month.
- Khoo Hooi Hye emerges as Malayan Tennis Champion and becomes the first Chinese to compete at the Wimbledon Championship.
- Rugby Football is introduced in the Club.
- The Eastbourne structure lapses into an unkempt state in 1929. Inspired by the need for a new clubhouse, President Lim Lean Teng launches a fund raising campaign. This campaign reaps the harvest of collections to as much as $100,000 which pave the way for the building of the Victorian-styled clubhouse seen today. This structure is completed in 1931 and the marble plague in the centre of the old clubhouse perpetuates the names of the donors.
- An additional outlaying block is also purchased as workers’ quarters.
- CRC Penang becomes the main sporting ground in Penang mainly for football matches prior to the erection of the City Stadium. Apart from hosting sporting activities, the clubhouse is also a well-known venue for social gatherings, tea dances and even children’s parties.
CRC in the Second World War
- The Japanese forces take over the club’s premises and the Hon. Secretary, Low Hun Leong is send for to type a letter prepared by the Japanese authorities for the Committee’s signature, stating that the Committee had ‘Very great pleasure in allowing the Dai Nippon Government the use of the Club premises for their Broadcasting Station’.
- The Club’s records, books, papers and photos are destroyed in the ‘cleansing’ bonfire and CRC’s entire perimeter fence joins the Japanese war time effort as scrap metal.
- The Queen’s statue is saved from being destroyed and is enclosed with wooden boards with the Japanese flag flown on top.
- All the Club’s hard-earned sports trophies (some of them in solid silver) are smuggled out and saved by the Hon. Secretary by hiding them in chicken coops.
- The Club’s premises continue as a broadcasting station under the British Military Administration after the surrender of Japan in 1945.
- The first post-war committee meeting takes place in December 1945 with Khaw Joo Tok, J.P in the Chair and despite several requests to repossess the club, it is not until August 1952 that the club’s entire premise is returned by the British.
- Given its dilapidation state, a rehabilitation committee is established under the guidance of Lim Khye Seng and funds are bountifully raised for CRC Penang’s revival. A marble plague by the stairs leading to the top floor of the Club’s interior premises perpetuates the names of the donors to the rehabilitation fund.
- The return of the British also witness the revival of old sports like rugby and cricket, banned during the Japanese occupation.
- The tradition of sports and recreation continues in CRC Penang with the rise of prominent sporting personalities like Datin Low Hooi Seah, the first lady member who represents Malaya in the all China Olympic Games 1948; Yeap Cheng Eng, the established footballer who represents China in the 1948 World Olympics in Berlin; and prominent Malayan cricketer, Eu Cheow Teik. The Goon Brothers also represent Malaya against the Dutch East Indies in the Inter-Port Tennis Tourney.
- Malaya’s subsequent independence in 1957 results in an exodus from the CRC Penang as the previously ‘whites only’ clubs are now opened to locals.
- The 1950s also witness the visit of India’s Jawaharal Nehru to CRC Penang.
The Continued Legacy
- CRC Penang’s Tennis section continues to emerge as Champion in the Annual Heah Swee Lee Cup Tournament since its inauguration in 1948, except in 1965 and 1966. In 1968, two teams from the Club met in the final.
- In 1987, under the guidance of football coach Moey Yok Ham, CRC Penang’s football team work its way up to the eminent 1st Division.
- While football sailed gracefully through the passage of time, other sports like cricket, rugby and hockey encounter a natural death by the 20th century.
The Era of Modernisation
- Centenary celebrations take place in 1992 and a major beautification of the old clubhouse’s interior follows in 1995 which subsequently places CRC Penang in the list of lite Clubhouse in Penang.
- In 1997, the Club takes on a new chapter in its enduring history with the construction 6 Million Ringgit multipurpose complex equipped with a restaurant, multipurpose hall, and an Olympic size swimming pool next to the pristine old Clubhouse. An alluring old bungalow at No. 2 Victoria Green is also acquired.
- This period also witness the rise of new sporting personalities like footballer Moey Kok Hong who represents Malaysia in the 1998 ASEAN Championship in Vietnam; Lim Siew Choon, Badminton player and Malaysia Uber Cup player and Lim Lay Sim, 1st Lady Member to be awarded Best State Player for netball, who participated in the 1998 Commonwealth games.
The Era of Modernisation
Circa 2000 still date
- The professionalization of the Club’s very own football academy occurs in 2006 and a new membership drive is launched to inject new blood into the club.
- CRC-bred, badminton star Cheam Jun Wei creates history by winning Youth Olympic Gold in the mixed doubles at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China in August 2014. While our sportswoman, Goh Jin Wei bags the youngest singles champion in the 2014 Malaysia Games (Sukma) badminton competition.
- Plans to construct a new 4 stories building on No. 2 Victoria Green to provide additional and new facilities takes place in 2012 and finally it was approved in the year 2016.
- New membership drive has launched to raise funds for club and to recruit more active, young blood into the venerable club.