Monday, December 3, 2007

A blast from the past - Magni Nominis Umbra

King Edward VII primary school will be celebrating its 125th year anniversary in 2008 and I thought I should kick-start the celebration by remembering my three years of being a Tiger. As the saying goes, "Once a Tiger, always a Tiger".

The plaque at the school states the following fact:

"In 1883, the Central School was opened to house its first 13 students. Its first headmaster was Mr Francis Stainer BB (London) who served between 1901-1921. In order to cater for more students and their needs, a new building was constructed in 1904 in the former site of Taiping railway station, which was the first railway station in the Malay States. The school was officially opened by DYMM Sultan Idris Mushidul Azam Shah in 1905. It was subsequently renamed to King Edward VII National school in conjunction with the coronation of England’s 7th King in 1901. The school is renowned for its academic and sports potential; and it is alma mater to many well known educationists, corporate and country leaders. The school is under the administration of the Ministry of Education."

There you go; a brief history of King Edward. The writing leaves much to be desired, but I would take it at face value.

At least there is some description.

Born and raised in Taiping, I guess we were destined to be Edwardians. While I started my primary school in the town of the Perak Man, bapak got a transfer back to Taiping on health reason at the end of 1972. Even if I had enjoyed my stint at SRJK(I) Lenggong and had lots of good friends there, I guess no one complained about living in a bigger town that is Taiping.

The green rugby field and the rugby post. It was at this end I nearly scored a try for KE, but I was 'tackled' at the last minute, practically on the line. The pic on the right was our playground, underneath the century old raintrees - playing the guli, guli batu and of course popia (using tennis ball). Sakit wo if kena bantai with the tennis ball.

I remember well my first day at KE; I was initially given a seat at 4B. They must have thought that small town boy would not do well in a bigger town’s school. But when the class teacher tested me on my reading - I was asked to read a paragraph from an English book, they put me into class 4A instead. I must have passed the test.

Our teachers at KE. Mrs Wong was my class teacher in Std 5, Mrs Kuppu in Std 4. Mr Naranjan Singh was the coach who took us to the pinnacle of Perak rugby in 1975. Ustaz Adnan lives nearby my mum's house in Taiping. Next to Ustaz Adnan is the teacher who announced MRSM entrance test and who broke the news to me about the interview at Pejabat Tanah. We even had a dental nurse in the school, and she would come over weekly to announce the 'chosen' one. This pic was taken in 1976; the dental nurse in 1975 was cuter, so we didn't mind at all!

I was more academically more consistent at KE than I was in Lenggong - that is, I was never able to get No 1 at KE. That was apparently reserved for my best friend Zakri Khir who is of Malay-Chinese parentage. Even the No 2 spot was already reserved - to Cheong Gim Leong. Aah, well. While I was no longer the star as I was in Lenggong, I was not anonymous either. Unlike in Lenggong where the school was co-ed, KE was boys' school. Being a boys' school, we thought we were macho kids then. We had more freedom to do boy's stuff. Of course the other schools in Taiping were not as good and were not in the league of KE.

Or so we thought.

We had given 'names' for the other schools in Taiping. First and foremost was our sworned enemy – the St George School. They were the Georgie Podgie; they were sissies to our minds. Even the gal’s school Treacher Methodist Girl School (TMGS) was not spared. They were the Tiny Monkey Goes to School gals! For some reasons the Convent Girls School was spared by us.

Well, we weren't interested in gals during those years! Yet, I guess.

The hall where we used to play badminton and my classrooms (ground floor 4A) and 1st floor 6A. These building were constructed in 1904 and opened in 1905 - wow, a class A contractor in the days of yore. I bet you, even if when the KLCC had crumpled, these buildings will still be standing. The pillars are so big, to support t.e building. The height of the ceiling must be at least 30 ft high, or equivalent to two storey building nowadays.

Our academic prowess was nothing to shout about. We did OK I guess. But KE was very fierce in protecting and maintaining our sporting traditions. Of course we were the best in Taiping in soccer by virtue of winning 2 out of 3 finals at the Larut Matang district level. But it was in rugby the Edwardians really excelled at. We had teams even in primary school and the pinnacle of our sporting achievement then was being the Perak champs. Year laters of course King Edward went on to be the first and only non-boarding school to win the Malaysian school championship at the secondary level, even beating MCKK and STAR.

Of course there were not that many schools then with a rugby team. I think there were three in all of Perak. In rugby term, bapak’s alma mater (Clifford School Kuala Kangsar) was our arch rival. In 1974, KE was beaten something to the tune of 98-0 in a primary school competition by Clifford.

So when I was in std 6, it was up to us to redeem the school's pride. Obviously we were quite apprehensive preparing for the game. The coach Mr Naranjan Singh, a former Malaysian player - if my memory serves me right, had planned for us a very important strategy this time around. We were to take our free kicks short; and take it quickly. In other words, once we were given a free kick, everybody would have to be behind the ball in seconds, and Muniandy, our captain, would take it short.

The idea is to catch the other team as they would have to retreat at least 5 yards from the ball when it was taken. If not, we would gain another five yards into their territory. They had to retreat and retreat fast.

When the times come however, within 10 minutes we were behind 8-0 by two tries and the previous year's debacle was in our mind at that time. "Oh no, not again!" we thought. But soon we got into our stride and applied the strategy well. It worked. The Cliffordians didn’t expect the quick free kicks; they didn't know what had hit them. And we went on a scoring spree, with this blogger nearly scoring a try from a middle-of-the-field run.

But he was brought down on the line at the very last moment.


So we had our revenge that year - we went on to win 19-11. It was a tactical win for the Edwardians. We were tactically superior. But I must admit that it was a hard fought game. I had cramps at night in the aftermath of that game.

In the final, we beat Sekolah Khir Johari Sg Sumun 22-6. This was an easier game for us; we were superior than Sg Sumun in all aspects. I even had a nemesis on the pitch – someone my size and both of us were trying to get each other riled up.

But I had the last laugh with the trophy at the end of the game.

My only fame as champions. Funny thing, I forgot to tuck my collar during the photo session, so I was cursing myself afterwards for being the odd man out. Years later, Eric Cantona would wear his collar straight up and made it very popular and 'cool'. But I had my collar up in the photo 20 year earlier! I believe this team did well in Under 18 later on in life. To be honest, had I stayed on at KE, I would not have made it to the U-18 team. I was only in this team by virtue of my size, and by the time we were 17, many had caught up with me. I was no sporting animal in any case. I know that. Rugby had allowed this 'kaki bangku' a chance at sporting fame.

While the majority of the students were Malays, we had our shares of other races too to provide competition to us all. And the teachers were from all races of Malaysia – Indians, Malays, Chinese, Sikh. You name it, we have it.

Those were the days when we had fun teasing our Sikh friends. I know, I know; we should not have, but we weren’t infallibles then. “Cop bai, cop bai, off” were our favourites phrase everytime we saw someone of Sikh descent (with a turban of course). If you didn’t say "off" when someone saw a Sikh before you do, you would get a poke behind your back, so to speak. It was kids’ stuff basically, until one day we saw a Bai cycling in front of the school and many of us were screaming “Cop bai” and was of course overheard by the person himself.

So he swung around into the school compound, and asked us if we have any problem with him.

We were stunned into silence. Luckily we had a Chinese teacher (seated, second from right in the rugby pic above) with us and he protected us by telling the Sikh cyclist that we were just talking amongst ourselves and not about him; so the Sikh left soon afterwards. The main culprit who got the toungue lashing from the teacher was of course the guy who started it - Sivanathan; he is now the secretary of Old Edwardians (4th in the first row from right in the rugby pic). Ah well, I don’t know why the Sikh was the subject of our tease then when we had so many of them in our midst.

Of course I have many other sweet stories about the old days and about King Edward. Except for Ustaz Adnan who live near Mak’s house in Sri Kota and another ex-classmate friend Rahman Salleh (4th from left in the rugby pic, next to this writer) also nearby, I have lost contact with many friends. I thought next year’s anniversary would be a good time to reacquaint myself with them, and re-live the pride and joy of being a tiger again.

We used to be called Edwardian Muda in this school magazine. I guess we are now Edwardian Tua - Old Edwardians.

Magni Nominis Umbra.

I hope no one would be offended by my Sikh story. It was us in the mid 70s, and done without any malice or prejudice.

A question comes to mind. I have four alma maters - two in primary (Lenggong and KE) and 2 in secondary (KE MRSM KB). So what am I? Old Edwardian? ANSARAn? Or am I Lenggongians or should it be Lenggongites?


Tags: taiping Edit Tags
Sunday December 2, 2007 - 10:45pm (SGT) Edit Delete

Comments(2 total) Post a Comment

Once A Tiger, Always A Tiger. My journey begin at Std 6 (1984). Changing as Cliffordians to Edwardians, I remember was told, by a teacher, to change my standard long pants, to a short one as school uniform, technically which I don't have (I am pioneering the long pants to KE then, nowadays all school children wearing a long pants)
Saturday December 8, 2007 - 04:26am (ICT) Remove Comment

Online Now
It is all about the inertia. To change one would need to overcome that inertia, and it's always not something we relish. At least for a year, you have the taste of studying under the majestic pillars of King Edward school building. It remains, for obvious reason, my favourite colonial building in Taiping.

Saturday December 8, 2007 - 08:04am (SGT) Remove Comment

1 comment:

  1. Such a beautiful article. I was from King Edward as well and i played rugger for the school from 1993 to 1995. The coach Mr Naranjan Singh that you spoke so highly about is my dad. I guess rugby runs deep in our blood. My dad wanted to thank you fo such a beatiful article and would love to meet you one day. "Magni Nominis Umbra"