Playback of a Memorable Game


The controversial 1934 Philippines-China football setto



The year was 1934, Philippine sports was celebrating a first. Representatives of four leading Asian nations at the time - China, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines - gathered in Manila. The red-letter occasion was the inauguration of the sports complex on Vito Cruz and Dakota, Malate, now known as the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
    It was also a Far Eastern Olympic Games year and the center of activities was the track-football stadium, the biggest of the five play sites at Rizal. The others are: the Coliseum, the tennis courts, the swimming stadium and the baseball stadium.
    They spread the games at the different facilities, but the crowd was thickest at the track-football stadium which seats from 40,000 to 50,000. It was the scene of the glamour games of the era - track and field and football.
    And playing for the Philippines in 1934 Far Eastern Olympic Meet was one of the best football teams ever assembled.
    Members of that team like Ramon Alegre and Cirilo De Guzman recalled, "we had a good team, but a controversial decision went against us in the all important game against China."
    Alegre reminisced that on the day of the game the sun was bright and the day was clear. He said, "we could hardly get into the field then. People crowded the stadium."
    De Guzman, who was a towering six-foot youngster at that time, said that a corner kick awarded the Chinese in the second half of play curved out and should have been declared so. But the referee, a certain Amechazurra, saw it the other way and went on with the game. A Chinese forward took advantage of the confusion about the controversial corner kick and booted in the goal that spelled a 1-0 victory for China.
    It was disheartening and the Philippine eleven suffered a big letdown. The game was the opening of the meet and there was a huge crowd of about 40,000.
    The Philippine team, hurt and frustrated after the first game, picked up in other games. They beat Indonesia, 4-3 and in the game against Japan they led, 3-0 in the first half only to be tied at 3-3 with the Japanese at the end. But Indonesia beat Japan and the three teams - the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia - tied for second place in the meet. China was alone at the top with a clean slate of three wins.
    To this day, oldtimers who were there are claiming that the corner kick by China's leftwing Fakua sailed out of baseline and that the goal scored on the play should not have been allowed. Referee Amechazurra, who declared it a goal, never refereed a local game after that, according to Alegre, who was the center halfback of the Philippine team.
    But there was no belittling the Chinese team. It was also a great crew of terrific booters. The great Lee Wai Tong was their center forward.
    Members of the 1934 Philippine team were: Francisco Gutierrez, leftwing and rightwing; Sebastian Ugarte, rightwing; Manuel Azaola, right-halfback; Carlos Gradinzky, halfback; Arsenio H. Lacson, center-halfback; Antonio Villanueva, goalkeeper; Luis Sotelo, rightwing; Emilio Heredia, right-halfback; Cirilo De Guzman, fullback; Joaquin "Quinito" Ortigas, left-halfback; Walter Toehl, fullback; Jose Miranda, center-forward; Ramon Alegre, center-halfback; Jesus Suarez, fullback; Santos Bacsal, goalkeeper; Jose Marie Hernandez, halfback; and Antonio Pacheco, halfback. The coach was Dionisio "Chito" Calvo.
    It was some football team and more! when football was the glamour sport of the country.
    With football as the fad, Alegre was motivated to engage in the sport during his schooling days in La Salle when he was just a young boy.
The young booter played center-halfback mostly but he also alternated as right-halfback for Arsenio H. Lacson.

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