While Spartans would undoubtedly prefer to still be playing in the top division of Hong Kong Sunday football’s Yau Yee League, their plummet to the bottom division has at least allowed them to take on the mantle of giant-killers. They produced one of six upset wins in the first round of the Yau Yee Cup when they defeated Youth Coaches 2-1. Spartans were in the first division as recently as 1996 but then suffered relegation three times in four seasons.
They often struggled to raise a team, especially as many of their players switched to the club’s Saturday team who play in the Legal League, leaving Yau Yee officials to fear the Sunday team might fold.
However, Spartans have started brightly in the fourth division, boosted by the return of skipper Jim Grant after 12 months playing with Squadron in the first division. “We’re one of the youngest sides in the league and I just came back to see if I could help out a bit,” said Grant, from Scotland. Fortunately, many of the Chinese players in the team are also from Scotland, so they understand his accent. Spartans play an attractive passing game which belies their fourth division status and that showed as early goals by Scottish duo Bobby Tsang and Allen Wong, with a penalty, put them 2-0 up against third division Youth Coaches. “We played really well and had all the chances in the first half but we lost our shape a bit after myself and Allen went off injured and we had to hang on after Youth Coaches got one back late on.” Grant is now hoping for a crack at Squadron, with first division teams coming into the draw for the second round.
Two other teams who produced giant-killing acts in normal time were fourth division Bapcoll who beat third divison CAPS 2-1 and third division HKSS who defeated second division Hung Art 1-0. Of three teams who pulled off upsets in penalty shootouts, fourth division Dart led the way, having held second division Corinthians to 2-2. Fourth division Power 22 won a shootout against third division CS Old Boys after a 1-1 draw and third division Hoo Cheung out-shot second division Outward Bound after a 1-1 draw. Less fortunate were third division Rising Sun who lost a shootout to second division French Kiss, fourth division Dragons who lost a shootout to second division Amphibians and fourth division GGFC who lost 2-1 to an injury-time goal against second division Swiss XI.
Kevin Faure, i-mail & Sportasia 18th October 2000