The History of Sport Played in China's Treaty Ports

I found the shirt below on Ebay in Poland!. The shirt was clearly a Shanghai Hairy Crabs shirt but mysteriously one which I had not seen before. An email exchange with my old friend Mark Thomas, one of the founders of the Shanghai Hairy Crabs in the mid 1990s solved the mystery. He confirmed that this was the first official playing strip of the recently founded club. 

What the unused shirt was doing in Poland is still a mystery. My guess is that the seller somehow acquired old stock from the manufacturer, Canterbury of New Zealand as they had other shirts for sale. Curiously the Beijing Devils early playing shirt was also a Harlequin design, (see photo in artifact number 11 here) a design that was changed in 2004 when I was President of the Club. We decided that being based in the capital of China, it was appropriate for the Beijing Devils to use the colours of China's flag in the playing strip. Since then red and yellow have been the main colours of Beijing's strip often with black as a supporting colour. 

The Shanghai Hairy Crabs went onto to adopt the colours green and black as the main playing colours. The other logo on the shirt is that of Shanghai Sally's. This early expat bar was the location where the important drinking sessions were held hatching plans to form the rugby club in 1993. It went onto to be the meeting place before training and matches. Rob Young owned Shanghai Sally's before establishing the legendary O'Malley's bar. O'Malley's also sponsored the Crabs for many tears and Rob Young also helped the Crabs through some difficult times. The full story can be found in my book 'It's a Rough Game but Good Sport'. Rob has also written a book, 'O'Malley's Irish Pub, Shanghai: An Entrepeneur's Guide to Doing Business in China', about his time in China establishing and running some of the early expat bars. You can find details here. It is a very entertaing and educational read.

Previous artifacts of the month

The first official rugby shirt of the reborn Shanghai Rugby Club


Artifact of the Month Number 12 - February 2015  (for previous artifacts see bottom of page)