Sports & Games.


As the very name at the club implied and with the raison d’etre of its formation being the promotion of sports and games in Jesselton, one at the first steps taken by the committee of the club was to identity and lay the ground for a tennis court. Major Harrington and W.H. Hastings, the acting Resident on 19 July 1903 selected a site near the clubhouse for this purpose and work on it commenced almost immediately. Lawn tennis therefore was the first outdoor game to be promoted by the club. The first tennis handicap tournament organised by the club commenced on 26 September 1906 and thereafter it became an annual affair.

A new court was added and opened tor play on 21 January 1908 and a tea part was held to mark the occasion. The tirst inter-club tennis tournament between the Jesselton Sports Club and the Sandakan Tennis Club was held on 27 May 1909. By February 1919, a third tennis court was completed. The highest achievement by a tennis player from Jesselton was attained by W.F. Pinckney who reached the third round in the Wimbledon Single Championship in July l920.


Billiards was the first indoor game to be introduced in the club. The first handicap tournament was played in October 1904 and a cup tor the event was donated by the members ot the club. Tournament was held annualIy thereafter and in September 1906, the Governor E.P Gueritz took part and won both the open championship and the handicap event. Snooker was incorporated in the annual tournament in 1920.


Again through the efforts of the club, cricket was first introduced in Jesselton. On 23 February 1907 the first ever cricket match in Jesselton was played on the recreation ground with a Constable side against members of the club. The club won with 84 runs against 64 runs by the Police side.

On 20 September 1908, the Jesselton Recreation Club (JRC) was formed tor the subordinate government staff and the merchants of Jesselton. Thereafter, regular cricket matches were played between the two clubs in Jesselton. Others involved were the government side, West Coast team and the planters’ team.


On Thursday 31 January 1908, a golt club was formed in Jesselton on the suggestion of the Governor with a committee consisted of A.R. Dunlop, Capt. H.S. Bond and Dr. Baggs to select a suitable location for a golt course. The site subsequently chosen by the committee was the flatland recently reclaimed at Tanjung Aru. At the general meeting of the Sports Club held on 24 January 1908, it was resolved that anyone on payment of a small monthly subscription ($1.00) could participate in all outdoor games organised by the club without having to be a full member. Under this arrangement, the golt course was to be gradually built.

The first golf tournament in Jesselton was held in September 1909 for a cup donated by A.R. Dunlop, the West Coast Resident. The cup was won by the Governor, E.R Gueritz. ln June 1910, the new Resident, E.H. Barraut, donated a silver bowl for another golf tournament. The game became so popular that a small clubhouse was built on the golf course. By 1920, monthly golf competition was introduced.

Hockey and Rugby

Hockey and rugby were introduced to Jesselton by the club almost at the same time. The first hockey match was played on the recreation ground on 24 December 1914 between Major C.H. Harrington’s team and Robertson’s team. The latter won with 2 goals to one.

The first ever rugby match in Jesselton was played on 1 January 1915. E.O. Rutter brought in a team from Tuaran/Kota Belud and played against a Jesselton side. Jesselton won the match with 8 points to 6.


The Jesselton Rifle Club was formed on 23 July 1911 by 8 members of the Sports Club who among them rose $445.00 of which $384.07 were spent constructing a 600 yards shooting range. An A.G.M. was held in the Reading Room of the Sports Club on 23 February 1912 with 25 ordinary members and 10 honorary members with Major C.H. Harrington as the President.

The first shooting competition in Jesselton was organised by the sports sub- committee of the Sports Club on Friday 1 May 1912. It was called the Daily Mail Competition and was won by G.S.Plummer with the highest individual score. The first inter-club shooting competition was held on 18 August between Jesselton and Sandakan. Jesselton won with a total score of 642.

Horse Racing

The Jesselton racecourse near Tanjung Aru was completed by 1 November 1909. The first race meeting was held on Empire Day 24 May 1911; the second on 25 May 1912; the third on 2 November 1912; and the fourth on 8 December 1913. The Calcutta Sweep on the night before each race meeting was held in the Sports Club. General meetings were also held in the Sports Club. Entrance fee for me turf club was $10.00 for European and 10 cents for others. Annual subscription was $5.00. Members of the Sports Club enjoyed the special privilege by being eligible for turf club membership without election on the recommendation of 2 members of the turf club.


Football was a game that required no promotion or encouragement by the Sports Club as it was played by all and sundries in Jesselton wherever an open field with or without goal posts was available. It was played in Jesselton on 31 August 1901 for the first time and the match was watched by a large crowd. What the club did for football was to organise an annual football league through a football sub-committee. The first football league in Jesselton was held in the last quarter of 1917 in which 5 teams participated, namely Railway, Constabulary, Jesselton Town team, Kinarut Town team and JRC. The final was between Railway and the Constabulary which the former won. The prize giving ceremony was held in the Sports Club on Saturday 29 December 1917 with the Governor present and with his wife Mrs Pearson giving away the prizes. The Governor spoke on the occasion and donated a football challenge shield to be played for in all future leagues.

All subsequent football leagues were organised under the auspices of the Sports Club through a committee consisting of representatives from the Sports Club and one representative each from each participating team. ln the last quarter of 1935, a subsidiary football league was introduced in which school teams from All Saints’ School and Chinese School participated. When the Jesselton Sports Association was formed in May 1936 to organise football leagues and sporting events in Jesselton, the Sports Club ceased to play its role as league organiser.

Other sports and games

Other indoor games such as bridge and darts were played in the club premises regularly. An attempt was made to introduce boxing to Jesselton but the club had to abandon the idea as the cost of engaging an instructor would be too great. The Easter of 1917 saw the start of the ’Easter holiday games’. Advantage was taken of the long Easter holiday to hold a series of games in Jesselton. Competitions were held for shooting, tennis, bridge, cricket, football and golf. This Easter game tradition was eventually adopted after the second world war in the Home Cup Games.

The Club as Venue of Social Functions

The lack of facilities in the early years of Jesselton rendered the club a most suitable venue for important social functions and events. First and foremost the club was used as a meeting place for the European Community to meet the Governor or any other visiting dignitaries. Governor E.P Gueritz was welcomed by the European Community at the club on Monday 18 January 1904. Governor A.C. Pearson met the European Community an Saturday 2 December 1911.

Members also used the club for special functions and parties. On Monday 12 March 1906 a farewell dinner was held in the club for A.R. Dunlop, H.S. Bond, Bunbury, Kough and McEnroe before they went on leave to England on 13 March. Again a farewell dinner was held in the club in honour of Major Harrington on 21 May 1907. Many such farewell functions were held.

The ladies, including the wife of the Governor, with prior permission also held their ‘AT HOME’ in the club during which bridge and tennis were played and tea sewed.

When at long last a hotel was built in Jesselton by Cheah Loon Ghee and opened for business on 4 December 1915, there was finally a public hall in Jesselton for social functions. The billiard room of the new hotel was used for such purpose.