Valletta United: Winners of the Melita Cup Published on: 18-03-2011

Valletta United - Winners of the Melita Cup

Article, archive photos & writeup by Clinton Farrugia, Cup photo by Andrew Grima.

Today is the centennial anniversary of when Valletta United defeated Melita Vittoriosa 1-0 in a replay match played at the National Sporting Ground in Pieta’.  The first match was played on the 17 December 1910 but had to be abandoned when a fight broke out midway through the second half.  Thanks to the victory obtained in the replay match, Valletta United managed to win a silver cup which today can still be found at the club in St. Lucia Street.

During that period the game faced many problems one of which was the lack of a suitable ground.  Luckily in November 1910 a new ground was opened at Pieta’ close to the Ta’ Braxia cemetery and was called the National Sporting Ground.    The new ground had various disadvantages one of which was that the pitch was sloping to one side thus creating a disadvantage to the team playing against such slope.  But unfortunately beggars cannot be choosers.  The first match played at the new ground was between the King’s Royal Rifles and Hamrun Spartans (1-0).

The National Ground quickly became the center of football activity.  At every opportunity local clubs started to turn up at the National Ground to challenge each other for a silver cup.  One of these matches was between Valletta United and Melita Vittoriosa for a silver cup donated by the owners of the Ground.  The first match was played on the 17 December 1910.  The first half was played without any incidents but as soon as the second half started, pandemonium broke loose.  Micallef scored for Melita and the referee had to stop the match following a free for all between rival supporters and players.  Play resumed after some time but as soon as Curmi equalized for Valletta, another fight broke out.  This time the referee decided to abandon the match.

The match was replayed on 19 March 1910.  The organizers wanted to make sure that the match would be completed therefore Mr. Tarbox of the Royal Engineers was chosen to control the match.  Mr. Tarbox was a registered referee with the Football Association.  Both teams lined up as follows:

Valletta United:    P. Bartolo, S. Busutill, P. Mallia, G. Borg, G. Speranza, C. Fiteni, R. Caruana, R. Vassallo, F. Palmier, G. Teeling, J.J. Falzon
Melita Vittoriosa:    (unknown goalkeeper), E. Depasquale, L. Mallia, C. Dingli, L. Micallef, A. Cachia, Rodo, Mifsud, G. Micallef, E. Caruana, Grima

Valletta United played down the slope in the first half.  Each side attacked in turn and after twenty five minutes United managed to score the first goal of the match.  A cross by George Teeling landed in the net to give Valletta the lead.  This goal was greeted with loud cheers from the Valletta supporters.  Melita tried to get back immediately but the first half ended with Valletta United still in the lead.
In the second half Melita, now playing down the slope continuously attacked the Valletta goal.  They managed to win a penalty but it was superbly saved by Pawlu Bartolo in the Valletta goal.  Near the end of the match they also had a goal disallowed for an offside infringement.  Although Melita tried hard to score the equalizing goal, the score after the final whistle was still 1-0 for United.  Thus the Valletta team won a popular victory and became the holders of the cup.

(From left to right standing: George Teeling, Jackie Falzon, Paolo Bartolo, the other two are known only by
their nicknames of "Is-sur Ang," and "Il-Mesis." (Sitting): Raphael Caruana, Raphael Grech, Mr. Ninu
Debono, again more nicknames Franz and Borg. (Squatting): Paolo Palazzo and Giljan.