NDP 2016 brings back fond memories of old National Stadium: 5 things you may remember

SINGAPORE - The National Day Parade (NDP) returns to the National Stadium on Aug 9 after 10 years.

The old stadium in Kallang, the venue for 18 NDPs between 1976 and 2006, is inextricably linked in Singaporeans' mind with the annual parades.

The Straits Times takes a look back at the old stadium's moments in sporting and national history:

1. Good old days


President of the National Olympic Council E.W. Barker (third from right) and Mr Othman Wok (second from right), chairman of the National Sports Promotion Board, seen the National Stadium in Kallang. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE

Built in 1973 at a cost of $50 million, the old National Stadium was once a state-of-the-art sporting arena with an eight-lane running track, a football field and air-conditioned squash courts.


The cauldron that was lit for the 1973 SEAP Games, the 1983 and 1993 SEA Games, and finally in 2007, at the closing ceremony for the National Stadium. PHOTO: ST FILE

It was the first stadium in Singapore to have such modern facilities.

The same year it was completed, it hosted boxing legend Muhammad Ali who fought in a five-round exhibition bout, as well as the South-east Asia (Peninsular) Games, the precursor to the SEA Games.


The opening of the 7th SEAP Games at the National Stadium. PHOTO: ST FILE

It hosted the SEA Games again in 1983 and 1993.

2. Mad for football


Singapore’s legendary striker Fandi Ahmad with a spectacular overhead kick against Perlis in the 1980s. PHOTO: SPH FILE

Football fever reached its peak at the National Stadium as Singaporeans flocked to the stands to catch the Lions in action.


Football fans at the Asean Football Championship final match between Singapore and Thailand at National Stadium on Jan 31, 2007. PHOTO: ST FILE

Besides NDPs, the most iconic events held there were the Singapore matches in the Malaysian Cup, a tournament which Singapore won three times.


Football fans prepare banners showing support for the Singapore team ahead of their Malaysia Cup match against Sarawak at the National Stadium. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Kallang Roar and Kallang Wave were started then to cheer for the national team.

The demand for tickets was so great that in 1977, a mass stampede occurred at the ticketing booths before a Malaysia Cup match between Singapore and Selangor. One man died from a heart attack and 44 others were injured.


One man died of a heart attack and 44 people were injured at the National Stadium when thousands of fans stampeded for tickets for the Malaysia Cup semi-final
match between Singapore and Selangor. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore won the Cup that year, in 1980 and in 1994, but all of the final matches were played in Malaysian stadiums and not in Singapore.

3. First NDP at the stadium


First National Day Parade at the National Stadium in 1976. PHOTO: ST FILE

In 1976, the parade was held for the first time in the National Stadium. More than 65,000 spectators watched the flypasts, the marching of 65 contingents, mass displays and fireworks.


First National Day Parade at the National Stadium in 1976. PHOTO: ST FILE

The venue was praised for allowing spectators a full view of the show. Previously, they had to jostle and crane their necks when watching the parade at the Padang.


A Singapore Airlines stewardess steals a last glance in the mirror just before the start of the National Day parade on Aug 9, 1976. PHOTO: ST FILE


National Day celebrations at the National Stadium in 1980. PHOTO: ST FILE


Spectators and parade participants flashing their torchlights, accompanied by fireworks during the National Day Parade at the National Stadium on Aug 9, 1986. PHOTO: ST FILE


A soldier parachutes into the National Stadium during the National Day Parade on Aug 9. 1998. PHOTO: ST FILE

4. The missing time capsule


The late Dr Goh Keng Swee (left) receiving a time capsule from former high jump champion Nor Azahar Hamid on Feb 23, 1970. PHOTO: SINGAPORE SPORTS COUNCIL

 

A time capsule containing the building plans of the former National Stadium, newspapers dated Feb 23, 1970, and Singapore notes of the era were buried in a time capsule at the stadium. But they mysteriously disappeared.

The copper cylinder was laid in 1970 by one of Singapore's founding leaders, Dr Goh Keng Swee. Metal detectors and a $50,000 reward did not turn up any clues.

There is now a new time capsule for the Sports Hub, where the new National Stadium is, that will be unearthed in 2040.

5. Demolishing the field of dreams

The demolition of the stadium was well documented. Even though many acknowledged that its facilities needed upgrading, the Grand Old Dame had been a part of many Singaporeans' lives.


Then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew (third from right) watching the 2001 National Day Parade from the VIP lounge in the National Stadium on Aug 9, 2001. PHOTO: ST FILE


A bird’s-eye view of the 2006 National Day Parade, the last parade at the National Stadium on Aug 9, 2006.

A closing ceremony for the stadium - "Field of Dreams - A Tribute to the National Stadium" - was held on June 30, 2007.

Later, it hosted more events as the new stadium was delayed, but it was finally gone in early 2011.


Former National Sprinter C Kunalan lit the cauldron for one last time at the closing ceremony of the National Stadium on June 30, 2007. PHOTO: ST FILE


Demolition machines tearing down the iconic 37-year-old National Stadium on Sept 29, 2010. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN


Demolition machines tearing down the iconic 37-year-old National Stadium on Sept 29, 2010. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER


The demolition of the National Stadium on July 5, 2011. PHOTO:CHOW CHEE YONG