City see off Blues challenge Published on: 10-01-2013

Before the start of the 1962-63 campaign, many had tipped Hibs to win the championship.

Much was expected of the FA Trophy and Cassar Cup holders, especially after their inspired performance in the European Cup Winners’ Cup tie against Atletico Madrid.

The Paolites, however, began the league on a wrong foot and lost their first two matches against Sliema Wanderers and Valletta.

The two early upsets gave their rivals a headstart and Hibs never really recovered.

On the other hand, reigning champions Floriana started their 1962-63 campaign with three victories over Rabat, Birkirkara and ─Žamrun Spartans.

The Greens then stumbled and lost their 100 per cent record in a 1-1 draw against the Wanderers before losing 0-1 to Hibernians.

Then came a 6-0 humiliation against neighbouring rivals Valletta which showed all Floriana’s limitations.

The Greens faltered badly and dropped out of the running for the league title.

Up to Yuletide, it was the Wanderers who were doing all the running.

The Blues, however, were going through a transitional period and the youngsters they were introducing into the squad lacked the experience to keep the team at the top of the table.

To be fair, Sliema’s youth policy paid off. They were one of the hottest challengers for the league title, eventually finishing joint runners-up with Hibernians.

Sliema only lost once in the league, against winners Valletta.

1962-63 was another golden season in the history of the Citizens. Despite losing the services of Joe ‘Ginger’ Zammit, who left for Australia, Valletta opened on a top note, beating St George’s and Hibernians.

After that auspicious start, the Citizens lost to the Wanderers and then dropped another precious point against the Spartans.

Gloom descended on the City camp but resounding 6-0 victories over Birkirkara and Floriana revitalised their morale.

The end of the first round saw Valletta within striking distance of the Wanderers at the top of the table.

By the time they met Sliema in the second round, the City machine was clicking merrily.

This fixture turned out to be the most thrilling and exciting game of the season. It had everything, thrills, great goalkeeping and, unfortunately, detestable scenes of hooliganism.

Valletta won 1-0 to jump to the top of the league table, the all-important goal coming only minutes from the final whistle.

At the end of the match, delighted Valletta supporters bulldozed their way past the police cordon to carry their players shoulder-high off the pitch.

However, a few City hot-heads harassed the Sliema players who were still on the field.

Angry Sliema supporters jumped the wire in defence of their players and soon the water-hoses were in action.

They were first directed towards the Sliema end. Finally, the police picked up enough courage to aim their hoses at the Valletta supporters who, one must say, did not care a dime about it and actually seemed to enjoy it!

These scenes, worthy of the worst South American traditions, tended to overshadow the match itself and made one forget a most enjoyable game of football.

Hibernians now assumed the role of chief challengers to Valletta. Only a point separated the two teams.

Valletta, however, were in no mood to dish out favours. They won all their remaining matches to carry off the Johnnie Walker Cup to the capital for the third time in five years.

Article by Carmel Baldacchino - source - times of malta