Tai Po FC

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Tai Po
大埔
Tai Po FC crest.png
Full nameTai Po Football Club
Nickname(s)The Greens (綠戰士)
Founded2002; 19 years ago (2002)
ChairmanChan Ping
Head CoachChan Yuk Chi
LeagueHong Kong First Division
2019–20Premier League (relegated)

Tai Po Football Club (Chinese: 大埔足球會), also known as Wofoo Tai Po due to sponsorship reasons, was a Hong Kong professional football club which last competed in the Hong Kong First Division.

In the 2018–19 season, Tai Po successfully won their first top-flight title in club history. The club is the first district team to win a top-flight title since Yuen Long during the 1962–63 season and the first-ever district team to win the Hong Kong Premier League title.

History[edit]

Early Stage (2002–2007)[edit]

Tai Po entered the newly formed Third District Division in 2002–03 season. The club was promoted to the Second Division in 2004–05 season after claiming the title of the Third Division in the previous season. In 2005–06 season, they gained the promotion to the First Division after finishing second in the Second Division, behind HKFC.

Tai Po struggled during early stage of the 2006–07 season, conceded 13 goals in the first three league matches, which is consistent with many pre-season predictions. The club's fourth game of the season was at home against local giants South China on 30 September 2006. This was the first ever First Division match to be played at Tai Po Sports Ground. With over 2,500 supporters cheering the home team and the signings of three Brazilian players, the club played courageously and only lost the game in the last minute by 2–3. The Greens' performance vastly improved since the home game. They recorded some surprising victories including a great come back (scored a 4–3 from 1–3) against the defending league champion Happy Valley and a last minute winner(a direct free kick to make it 2–1 by defender Joel in 90') against multiple cup winner Kitchee in November 2006.

Tai Po secured their First Division berth for the 2007–08 season after defeating HKFC 3–0 on 5 April 2007, which also resulted in HKFC's relegation.

Ascenscion to the First Division (2007–2013)[edit]

After their maiden top flight season, the club's coach Chan Hiu Ming left the club for the newly promoted Workable (Chinese: 華家堡). Tai Po spent most of the off-season searching for a new coach. Finally, former Hong Kong football star Tim Bredbury, who coached Rangers for a short period of time in the previous season, accepted the job. Moreover, in response to the successful and popular home game last season, Tai Po has applied for 5 home games to be played in Tai Po in the following season.

HKFA has announced the decision: the first 9 matches of Tai Po FC, no matter scheduled as home or away game, will be played in Tai Po Sports Ground.[1] But the arrangement was strongly criticised and objected by the first game opponent, Workable's manager also Tai Po FC's ex-coach Chan Hiu Ming. Chan Hiu Ming expressed his team would not play their home game at Tai Po Sports Ground firmly and questioned the fairness about the arrangement.[2] Eventually, HKFA re-arranged the schedule, where Tai Po would only play their home game at Tai Po Sports Ground for the entire season.

Unfortunately, Tai Po Sports Ground's refurbishment didn't help much on the pitch quality. Up to this point, no Tai Po's game has been held at Tai Po Sports Ground.

Apart from promoting players from the youth team, the team kept most of its important homegrown players, except Kan Tsz Yeung (Chinese: 簡子洋) and Chung Kin Keung (Chinese: 鍾健強), both left to join Workable. The three foreign players also stayed with the team in the new season, including the fans' favourite Christian Annan. New players was introduced after the season has started. Chinese player Ye Jia (Chinese:葉佳) was signed from Rangers after the first match, and followed by the Brazilian forward Rafael dos Santos, Betine "Betine"[clarification needed], who has also scored a debut goal in the match against Rangers.

The first 5 matches in the season resulted in 7 league points, which met the expectation. The contract of Tim Bredbury was terminated with agreement from both parties, however. Some notable reasons are the board disagreeing on some decisions of Bredbury on starting line up and substitution. Tim Bredbury has also had very poor relationship with the players caused by the training methods. Formation, tactics and player deployment was also highly questionable (some notable decisions were deploying players well known with skill to play in center position to the wing, and wingers were deployed in the central midfield). Chan Ho Yin (Chinese: 陳浩然) was appointed as the main coach after Tim Bredbury's departure.[3]

Another notable events of the club in the season was the penalty dispute in the league game against Eastern AA at 2 December 2007. In the 25th minutes, Tai Po was awarded a penalty and scored by Dega. However, Dega was judged, by the game referee Pau Sai Yin, performed interrupting movement during approaching the ball. According to the rule of FIFA, for infractions by the kicking team, should a goal be scored the kick is retaken. However, the referee awarded a free kick to Eastern which has violated the rule of FIFA. After the game, Tai Po made an official objection to the HKFA and the objection has been approved by the example of the rematch decision made by FIFA on 2006 Asian World Cup Qualigying game Bahrain vs Uzbekistan.[4] In the rematch, Tai Po won by 3–1, Dega scored a penalty kick without any disputes.

The team had some bad matches in the middle of the season but ended the season strongly, especially with two fabulous 2–1 winning against the eventually league champion South China. In the first match, Tai Po delayed the league championships declaration of South China and knocked it out of FA Cup in semi-final in the second match. Tai Po ended the league in the 3rd position with was over expectation. The team also played in first top division competition final against Citizen at 18 May 2008 in Hong Kong Stadium and lost the match 0–2.

With the success in the previous seasons, Tai Po secures several new sponsors in this season. New Territories Realty Association and Creative Property Services Consultants Limited ertr among the more remarkable new sponsors who signe don. Tai Po starts the 2008–09 Season in a rather good style. Until 22 September 2008, they have recorded three straight wins. They have beaten Tuen Mun Progoal, Sheffield United and Pegasus respectively.

On 6 June 2009, Tai Po won 4:2 against Pegasus, in front of 4,042 fans at the Hong Kong Stadium, to lift the HKFA Cup, marking the first time a district team has won the trophy. Caleb Ekwenugo, Sze Kin Wai, Lee Wai Lim and Christian Annan scored the goals for Tai Po. In addition, Lee Wai Lim won the title of Man of the Match. Tai Po thus qualified to play in the AFC Cup in 2010.

Season 2013–14 saw Tai Po secure promotion back to the First Division after a final day victory over top of the table rivals Wong Tai Sin. Building from a strong defensive foundation, Tai Po managed to complete the season having conceded just 11 goals in 22 league games.

Top flight tribulations and glory (2013–2019)[edit]

The club gained promotion to the newly formed Hong Kong Premier League after winning the 2013–14 Second Division. The club lost its first match in Hong Kong Premier League 4-1 against Kitchee. The club finished bottom at the table at the end of the season and were relegated back to the First Division.

Having won the First Division League championship during the 2015–16 season, Tai Po were once again promoted to participate in the Hong Kong Premier League. Since having won the Senior Shield championship in 2012/13 Season, Tai Po won 2-1 to Hong Kong Pegasus in extra time, winning the first ever Sapling Cup champion in club history, as well as receiving the championship title of a tournament four seasons later. Brazilian Lucas Silva was elected the most valuable player of the tournament.

The club slowly built a stable roster of players, relying on a backbone of Igor Sartori, Chan Siu Kwan, Leung Kwun Chung, Eduardo Praes, and captain Wong Wai. The club's budget rose to an all time high of $18 million during the 2018–19 season as management sensed an opportunity to win the title, adding Hong Kong international Sandro in February to aid their chase.[5] The gamble paid off on 4 May 2019, Tai Po defeated R&F 2–1 in the penultimate match of the season, successfully claiming their first top flight title in club history. The club became the first district team to win a top-flight title since Yuen Long in 1962–63.

Self relegation (2020–)[edit]

Tai Po's struggles off the pitch, however, commenced immediately after their title winning season. After budget cuts forced the club to say goodbye to their title winning head coach Lee Chi Kin and most of their starters, the impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Hong Kong during the 2019–20 season led to the club encountering salary arrears. Fung Hoi Man, who was hired at the beginning of the season as the club's head coach and director of football, resigned in May 2020 in order to ease the financial strain on the club. However, Tai Po could not secure short term funding to continue on with the season, and on 29 May 2020, the Greens announced that they would withdraw from both the league and the 2020 AFC Cup.[6] Two weeks later, Tai Po confirmed their withdrawal from participation in the 2020–21 Hong Kong Premier League.[7]

Frustrated with the club's mismanagement, the Tai Po District Council voted unanimously on 7 July 2020 to revoke the club's authority to represent the District for the 2020–21 season.[8]

Name history[edit]

  • 2002–2006: Tai Po (大埔)
  • 2006–2008: Wofoo Tai Po (和富大埔)
  • 2008–2011: NT Realty Wofoo Tai Po (新界地產和富大埔)
  • 2011–2015:Wofoo Tai Po (和富大埔)
  • 2015–2016:Tai Po (大埔)
  • 2016–2020:Wofoo Tai Po (和富大埔)

Stadium[edit]

2006–07 season[edit]

Tai Po played their first home matches on Tai Po Sports Ground at 30 September 2006, against South China. As a public integrated sport facilities and is owned by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (Hong Kong Government), the pitch and grass quality are insufficient to meet the requirement of professional football.

2007–08 season[edit]

However, with the refurbishment in 2007, Tai Po has applied to have 5 home games, between September to November, to be held in the Sports Ground in season 2007–08.

The Hong Kong Football Association later decided the first 9 matches of Tai Po, no matter scheduled as home or away game, will be played in Tai Po Sports Ground however, which is even more than the club demanded.

The HKFA also considered arranging two matches on the same match day at the sports ground. (This type of arrangement is common in recent years of Hong Kong First Division League game, where two matches will be played immediately one after another in the same stadium, usually in weekend, so that fans can watch two matches with single match ticket price. It's known as double header. (Chinese: 雙料娛樂)

However, in a 2007–08 pre-season pitch examination, HKFA eventually decided that the ground was not up to standard for First Division matches and in the end no game was held at the ground.

2008–09 season[edit]

HKFA finally decided the all the 12 Home games of Tai Po FC in the season will be played in Tai Po Sports Ground. Therefore, Tai Po Sports Ground became the home stadium of Tai Po FC from then on, until now.

Nearly two years after Tai Po FC played their first ever home game in the sports ground in the First Division, Tai Po played the home game at the sports ground again against Sheffield United (Hong Kong) on 13 September 2008. 1,136 fans attended the game and Tai Po won 2:1.

Supporters[edit]

Tai Po fans are generally Tai Po District residents. The fans also give enough impact in terms of quantity and atmosphere.[9]

Book[edit]

Wofoo Tai Po published its own book to commemorate its first season in the Hong Kong First Division League. The book is titled Wofoo Tai Po – where dreams come true (和富大埔—足可圓夢). The book has about 160 colour pages and is completely in Chinese. It contains many player interviews, history and views on district football and Hong Kong's participation in the Homeless World Cup. It retails at HK$68 (US$9). Its International Standard Book Number is: 978-988-99851-1-0.

Season-to-season record[edit]

Season Tier Division Teams Position Home Stadium Attendance/G FA Cup Senior Shield League Cup Sapling Cup
2002–03 3 Third District Division 13 2
2003–04 3 Third District Division 1
2004–05 2 Sceond Division 12 9
2005–06 2 Sceond Division 13 2
2006–07 1 First Division 10 7 First Round Quarter-finals Group Stage
2007–08 1 First Division 10 3 Runner-up First Round Group Stage
2008–09 1 First Division 13 6 Champions First Round Quarter-finals
2009–10 1 First Division 11 6 Tai Po Sports Ground 843 Semi-finals Quarter-finals
2010–11 1 First Division 10 5 Tai Po Sports Ground 803 Runner-up Semi-finals Quarter-finals
2011–12 1 First Division 10 8 Tai Po Sports Ground 801 Quarter-finals Quarter-finals Quarter-finals
2012–13 1 First Division 10 10 Tai Po Sports Ground 850 Semi-finals Champions
2013–14 2 Second Division 12 1 First Round
2014–15 1 Premier League 9 9 Tai Po Sports Ground 829 Quarter-finals Quarter-finals Knock-out Stage
2015–16 2 First Division 14 1 First Round
2016–17 1 Premier League 11 6 Tai Po Sports Ground 764 First Round Semi-finals Champions
2017–18 1 Premier League 10 2 Tai Po Sports Ground 951 Runner-up Quarter-finals Runner-up
2018–19 1 Premier League 10 1 Tai Po Sports Ground 1,277 Quarter-finals Runner-up Group Stage
2019–20 1 Premier League 10 Withdrew Tai Po Sports Ground 793 Semi-finals Semi-finals Group Stage

Note:

  1st or Champions   2nd or Runner-up   3rd place   Promotion   Relegation

Continental record[edit]

Season Competition Round Club Home Away Position
2010 AFC Cup Group H Singapore Geylang United 1–1 1–1 4th
Thailand Thai Port 0–1 2–0
Vietnam SHB Đà Nẵng 1–2 3–0
2019 AFC Cup Play-off Round North Korea Ryomyong 0–0 0–0 0–0 (5–3 p)
Group I Hong Kong Kitchee 3–3 4–2 3rd
Chinese Taipei Hang Yuen 4–2 1–1
North Korea April 25 1–3 0–4
2020 AFC Champions League Preliminary Round 2 Malaysia Kedah 1–5

Honours[edit]

League[edit]

Champions (1): 2018–19
Runners-up (1): 2017–18
Champions (1): 2015–16
Champions (1): 2013–14
Runners-up (1): 2005–06
Champions (1): 2003–04

Cup[edit]

Champions (1): 2008–09
Runners-up (3): 2007–08, 2010–11, 2017–18
Champions (1): 2012–13
Runners-up (1): 2018–19
Champions (1): 2016–17
Runners-up (1): 2017–18
Runners-up (1): 2018
Runners-up (1): 2015–16

Managers[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 大埔主場或有「雙料娛樂」〉, 大公報, 4 August 2007
  2. ^ 大埔對手華家堡堅拒作客〉, 大公報, 8 August 2007
  3. ^ 和富大埔炒巴貝利 Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine〉, 蘋果日報, 10 October 2007
  4. ^ 處理有關2007年12月2日甲組聯賽『和富大埔 對 東方』和富大埔之抗議事宜〉,香港足總 , 10 December 2007
  5. ^ Chan, Kin-wa. "Fairy-tale set to end as Hong Kong Premier League champions Wofoo Tai Po face big budget cuts". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  6. ^ Chan, Kin-wa; McNicol, Andrew. "Hong Kong Premier League down to six teams after Wofoo Tai Po withdraw due to financial problems". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  7. ^ "港超聯 佳聯元朗和富大埔齊齊唔玩". on.cc. Retrieved 12 June 2020. (in Chinese)
  8. ^ Mak, King Zhi. "議員斥區隊如怪獸欠監管 區議會通過收回大埔足球會授權". Sportsroad. Retrieved 7 July 2020. (in Chinese)
  9. ^ 本地波Fans對撼 Archived 26 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine〉, 蘋果日報副刊, 22 April 2007

External links[edit]