Former foreign signing reminiscing the good old days

KUCHING: He may have left Sarawak years ago, but his contribution to state football will never be forgotten.

Jeff Curran, who together with fellow Australians John Hunter and David Evans once helped change Sarawak football, reminisced the days when they were part of the state’s football history.

“It is nice to be here again. I have the opportunity to meet up with few old friends. I feel very much at home here and my wife also like it too,” said the former state player, who left the squad in 1994.

The 52-year-old is here for holiday with his wife Gail and their two children, Jade and Luke.

Now a sergeant with the Scottish Police Service in Glasgow, Scotland, Curran said he was no longer active in football due to his work.

Curran said he had always liked Sarawak because of the nice people and beautiful scenery.

“I have no regrets playing for Sarawak. Those were some great moments, having won several titles with the squad,” said the former defender, who started playing football for the Celtic junior team at the age of 15. He also played several times under Scotland’s football great Kenny Dalglish and went to Liverpool for training stints.

The 90s were hailed as the best era for Sarawak football and Alan Vest was largely responsible for it. In the early part of that decade, the former state coach brought in Curran, Hunter and David to beef up the squad. Then, Curran was playing for Hong Kong’s Martini team while Hunter was with South China.

Prior to that, both played in Perth, Australia in a team with Vest as coach.

At the time, Vest was supposed to be Selangor’s coach but after being convinced by the late Datuk Mohamad Taha Ariffin who was then Sarawak FA president, the former decided to take up the job here.

“I turned down three coaching offers with New Zealand, Australia and Singapore to take up the Sarawak job,” he said.

In his first year (1991) as coach, he successfully promoted the squad to the Division One League and a year later, brought them to lift the FA Cup.

Curran, Hunter and Evans stayed with Sarawak for four seasons before returning home following the ruling that the state league must be without foreign players.

Hunter played in Penang for one season while Vest left Sarawak in 1998 and took up a coaching job in Indonesia before continuing it later in Singapore.

Like Curran, Vest said he had no regrets to have come here.

“I will continue contributing to the state through the Sarawak Football Development Programme (SFDP) where I am the technical director.”

He noted that SFDP manager Lucas Kallang was working on building a formidable team for next year’s Malaysia Games.

“I will be back in Kuching soon to prepare the line-up for the Borneo Cup Games in Labuan this September. I also propose to bring the team for training in Tasmania, where they will play three to four matches as exposures before the Malaysia Games in Perlis,” Vest said.