Forbidden City Football Club was established in Beijing in 2004. The club’s colours are yellow and red, reflecting the colours of the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is also featured in the club’s crest. At the time of founding in summer 2004 the motto of the club was, “Let’s enjoy our football, play to the best of our ability and then enjoy some beers afterwards.”
Prior to the establishment of Forbidden City FC, a combination of players from the Beijing Accies and the Beijing Wanderers participated as ‘Waccies’ in the ClubFootball Summer competition during July and August 2004 (for more information check out this page). The Accies were founded in May 2003 and were a successful member of the ClubFootball league winning the Spring 2003 and Winter 2004 indoor competition. The Wanderers began their existence about one year earlier than the Accies in the Spring of 2002 and won the Spring 2004 ClubFootball league. Both teams enjoyed playing football as well as the finer points and pints of Beijing’s nightlife.
Also in 2004, a number of members from other amateur football clubs in Beijing entertained the idea of a touring football side around China and rest of Asia and Forbidden City was the chosen vehicle. Our first tour was to Shanghai in August 2004 for the Shanghai Shooters Sevens where we beat the HK Squadron 3-2 to win the plate!
With the beginning of the 2004-05 season Forbidden City FC joined Beijing’s International Friendship Football Club (IFFC) League and started playing in the Second Division. In our inaugural season in the IFFC we finished in fourth place in the Second Division with a record of 8 wins, 3 draws and 7 defeats. The first season is perhaps best remembered for the Friday nights when about a half dozen City guys (Jason, Kenny, Pikey, Nick, Jochen) used to go to the ‘Hidden Tree’ pub to not only have a few pints before games but also to chase any guys that looked like potential footballers in order to get together a team of 11 players for the weekend. Fortunately, over time more and more players joined the team and we could go back to chasing girls. In addition to playing 11-a-side football, Forbidden City also entered two teams in the inaugural Beijing ClubFootball 5-a-side league in April 2005.
Our second season in the IFFC was a lot more successful and we had a meteoric rise to the top becoming Champions of the Second Division in the 2005/06 Season gaining promotion to the First Division (Premier League). 15 wins out of 18 games speak for itself. It is a matter of debate whether the rise to the top was due to a German influx of players and parties at the German Embassy or down to regular training sessions at the Workers’ Stadium led by a UEFA-qualified coach (Aldo). Nonetheless, we did spend quite some time “sitting on the bar in the pub”.
Life in the Premier League season in 2006-07 was a little challenging at the beginning. After going through a bit of a dry spell when we went eight consecutive games without a win following the second match day, a couple of signings in the winter break improved the fortunes. A few of the new guys (James, Philippe and return-from-injury-after-running-Marathon-without-training Luca) would go on to have an immense impact on our football and the way the club plays and trains. In the end, we made it to the Cup final, which we lost to Afrika 0-3, and finished in a healthy mid table place just outside the top five. Before the start of that season we also went back to Shanghai to participate in the Shooters 7’s tournament; it suffices to say that the performance in Shanghai nightlife was far better than the performance on the pitch.
In 2007, Forbidden City Football Club decided to form a second team as part of the club to accommodate the many players that joined the club and make sure that as many people as possible can be part of the football fun and friendship. This B-Team was named after another truly Beijing landmark: Summer Palace. Thus, we established ourselves as one of Beijing’s leading football power houses. We haven’t looked back since!
2007-08 was a superb season for Forbidden City Football Club. The first team ‘Forbidden City’ led the Premier League at the winter break and ended up finishing in second place after leading the league for a good part of the season and only conceding the title on the finish line. This was also the season where we had a Champions League final 1999 moment; except that we were at the receiving end when we conceded two goals and the win in injury time against the eventual league winners.
The newly formed Summer Palace team, led by Patrick, Rob and Glen, had an incredible start with ten consecutive wins. It took until December before the team lost a game for the first time. The only other defeat that season came on the last match day, and with 15 wins, 5 draws and 2 defeats Summer Palace finished third place in the First Division.
In 2008-09, Forbidden City was again winter champions; however, we quickly dropped in the table in the second part of the season after only winning one out of the first five matches, and ended up in fourth place. Likewise, Summer Palace couldn’t continue their winning ways from their inaugural season, but still landed in mid-table. Nonetheless, the camaraderie on and off the pitch was as strong as ever.
The 2009-10 season our first team Forbidden City maintained the top spot in the league for most of the season, including a third consecutive winter championship. In the end, the team finished second in the division after a few unlucky results against us with a total of 18 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses. Summer Palace once again made a strong impression in the First Division, finishing in a healthy mid-table position.
One Club – Two Teams – Two Champions
The 2010-11 season was the club’s most successful unparalleled season to date! The on-the-pitch football performance finally caught up with our off-the-pitch partying performance when both Forbidden City and Summer Palace won their respective leagues – Champions!
Forbidden City FC stayed at #1 spot of the Premier League from Game 3 until the last Game 22, in the course winning 20 consecutive league matches and scoring 111 goals (as well as a fourth consecutive winter championship, of course).
Summer Palace also had a superb season. After 4 consecutive matches without a win early in the season, the team began to roll over their opponents and gathered 13 consecutive wins playing some excellent football. This culminated in a top of the league play-off versus second team French LE, which we easily won 3:0. Top of the League!! As a club we chose not to be promoted to the same division as our first team as this would cause untold organisational issues.
As you would expect from Beijing’s leading amateur football club, we celebrated without end: One Club – Two Teams – Two Champions
Last Season 2011-12
In 2011-12, both teams maintained their excellent form, but didn’t manage to win any silverware. Through a competitive edge and while trying to maintain the fun, City finished second, while Palace finished 3rd; very respectable results following the tremendous success in the previous season.
At the Beijing IFFC League season ending party, Forbidden City collected more trophies than any other team in this Beijing football league. Team “Forbidden City” finished second in the Premier League with 14 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses. Team “Summer Palace” came in third in the First Division with 13 wins, 4 losses and 3 drawn games. Swiss striker Ivan scored 25 goals, making him top scorer in the Premier League; this is the second consecutive year that Ivan scored the most goals and this time he scored one more than his 24 goals in 2010/11. Our goal keepers Barrie and Jason were both voted best keepers in the Premier League and First Division respectively. In addition, Jochen was honoured for his extraordinary contributions to the IFFC.
One club, two teams and excellent work on the pitch, at training, and socialising to make this the best club in Beijing! A special thanks to everyone who is making this possible on and off the pitch.
Since the club’s founding in 2004, more than 220 players representing all six continents and 30+ countries have played for Forbidden City Football Club.