The History of the Viking Cup
The origins of the Viking Cup can be traced to the reciprocal matches between Bangkok and Singapore Vikings, as far back as the 1970’s. This was in the days before the Internet, bi-annual home leave, elaborate Balut tournaments, and when air travel was still exciting and not like taking a local bus. It was a leisure 3-day affair, with only one match played, and family-focused shopping, sightseeing and socialization.
However it was the formation of Jakarta Vikings in 1989 which triggered the first event truly and rightfully named “Vikings Cup SEA 1990”. Jakarta got invited to Singapore and being highly motivated by former Singapore players, they rudely walked away with the trophy.
The following year Hong Kong joined, again largely due to migrated players from Singapore and Jakarta. Hong Kong in turn spawned the Greater China Vikings and the rest is history.
The Jakarta event in 1991, held on a Saturday only, also sparked off the now-traditional t-shirt and uniform craze, as then quite a few of the participants were involved in the garment trade. They ruthlessly diverted and abused company resources for their own purpose, and Hong Kong walked away with the undeclared trophy for best, albeit outrageously, dressed team for the next years.
Singapore Vikings 1988 at the 1st Viking Cup
Hong Kong, playing as pure Danish Dynamite on their home turf, also indirectly contributed to the depletion of other Scandinavian nationalities on the team – in the early days we had at least 1/3 or more Norwegians, Swedes and even Finnish players in the Singapore and Bangkok teams.
Well as things developed we got the diversity from other teams such as Kuala Lumpur and Saigon and even Toronto Vikings for a while with first-line Mayflower immigrants as the core of the team.
The Viking Cup in Saigon in 1999 was the 10th anniversary of the multi-team Viking Cup. It speaks for the tournament that is was just another superb arrangement without the need for self-affirmation associated with fading traditions.
A few things have developed since 2000 Vikings Cup. Middle Kingdom Vikings, after having been in the final several years but never winning the Cup, has folded due to old age, kids and mortgages back in the old country. Today both major Chinese cities have a Vikings team.
Shanghai was the first team from PRC (Peoples Republic of China) to join the Viking Cup and the team organized a fantastic Viking Cup to prove it has understood what the Viking Cup is about. Beijing Vikings joined a couple of years after Shanghai and has proven to be a worthy participant as well both on but particular off the field. Not unexpected, a true rivalry between the Shanghai and Beijing immediately developed but as everything else related to the Viking Cup it is a good spirited rivalry.
In the 21st Century the tournament has visited 11 different cities and seen 6 different champions with HKG taking their first win since 1992 with a famous home ground win in 2016, while Shanghai with 2 still holds the spoils over Beijing who still are to win their first cup. BKK has secured 4 wins, while Singapore with 5 are trailing only KL who especially in the early 2000s looked unbeatable.
In terms of beer drinking Beijing and Bangkok (5 each since 2000) have shown their strength in the recent period while most other cities have also claimed a win or two, but noticeably not the KL Vikings.
While almost all the original participants have retired, a few are still around but for all those who were deported from SEA or have hung up their boots, new and younger people have joined and will again this year ensure that the Viking Cup spirit will be rekindled and strengthened.
Nowadays the Viking Cup is a heavy weightier spanning over three full days, far from the original setup of just booking a football pitch and some hotel rooms. The tournament now has a great reputation all over Asia and the setup has also developed gradually focusing more and more on the things outside the pitch with big efforts put into making a great appearance from all teams involved. Viking Cup is however still remains true to its legacy which is football, friendship and plenty of cold refreshments.