City win their third title - Shadows from the Past Published on: 19-10-2017

The immediate post-war periodwas highlighted by a return to power of the Valletta and Ħamrun clubs.
It was as if the old Mile End days were back again. For a while, the great rivalry between these two old
clubs surpassed even that between Sliema and Floriana.
The 1947-48 championship was fought tooth and nail by the two old rivals and at the halfway stage of
the competition, the championship was already reduced to a two-horse race between them.
On Saturday, January 30, Ħamrun opened their second-round commitments with a 5-2 victory over Hibernians.
The following day Valletta, playing one of their best matches of the season, beat Sliema Wanderers 3-2. Behind that simple statement was a story of a keen and balanced game full of fast-attacking football.
The game was played at cuptie tempo and it became faster by the minute.
Valletta were more dangerous and it was fair when after 20 minutes, Ġużi Vassallo scored the first goal.
Barely a minute had elapsed from the start of the second half when Sliema drew level. Nicholl lobbed the ball into the middle.
Ġużi Camilleri headed in but Pearson saved on the goal-line. In nipped Nicholl however, to finish off.
Now thrills started coming in on top of each other. After a series of missed chances by both sides, Valletta
finally went ahead.
Sam Rodgers lobbed the ball into the area and Salvinu Schembri, in one flowing movement, beat Cole
and Calleja and glided the ball past goalkeeper Mugliet.
No one could hold Schembri now and a few minutes later, he ran in to a cross-pass from Pawlu Vassallo to
finish off with a grand first-timer.
With two goals to make up, Sliema increased their tempo. They roared and raged around the City area creating one chance after another.
The Whites defence, however, somehow always managed to thwart the Blues’ efforts. Then, three minutes from the end, Maurice DeCesare scored to give Sliema a glimmer of hope.
It was now a question of whether Sliema could snatch a dramatic equaliser. The Wanderers attacked in numbers but their rally was too late and the whistle came with City winning the game by the odd goal in five.
The Blues were now out of the championship race. Floriana were still in with a chance but they had to beat Valletta on February 14, 1948, to stake a late claim on the title.
This match could not have come at a worse time for Floriana.
Although their confidence was at rock bottom, their excellent record in past encounters against Valletta bolstered somewhat their flagging spirits.
Time changes however and on that crisp February afternoon, the Citizens humiliated the Irish winning
a one-sided game 5-0.
Valletta kept the pressure on Hamrun with a 3-2 victory over Hibernians.
The Citizens however were rather lucky to bag both points from this game.
Hibs had much more of the play but poor finishing and the posts spoiled much of their good work. In their match against Sliema bad luck haunted the Spartans.
Trailing 2-3 at the start of the second half, they advanced their halfbacks but Sliema packed their defence to absorb the pressure.
Three times Micallef saved on the line with goalkeeper Lolly Rizzo out of position.
Ħamrun, however, did not give up and in their anxiety to score they threw discretion to the wind.
Thrust upon thrust was made but still the equaliser eluded them.
Then, as is nearly always the case in such situations, Sliema broke away and Galea scored the fourth
goal before DeCesare sealed Ħamrun’s fate with a solo effort.

Everything now depended on the vital match between Ħamrun and Valletta.
In the first half, Valletta were by far the better team and at half-time they already led 2-0. Immediately after the start of the second half, Sciberras reduced the score but the Spartans’ joy was shortlived.
A minute later, Borg touched the ball with his hand in the penalty area and referee Billy Mock did not hesitate to point to the spot. Salvinu Schembri converted to make the score 3-1 for Valletta.
Everything was now lost for the Spartans. Tempers flared and Bartolo, of Hamrun, came to blows with Valletta’s Falzon.
Referee Mock tried to calm the situation but Bartolo punched the official in the jaw. Mock went down
like a log and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher.
One of the linesmen took the place of the referee and the match was somehow continued. The Spartans
however were by now a beaten team and it was not long before Valletta increased the score.
Three minutes before the final whistle, Freddie Andolina somehow dug up enough energy to lob the ball over the goalkeeper to make the final score more respectful, but it was all in vain.
Now only a blunder could deprive Valletta of the championship. The Citizens however made no mistake. In their next match, they beat Naxxar 4-0 and then celebrated the occasion with a 5-1 victory over St George’s.
At the end of the game, there was great rejoicing among the City supporters as the Johnnie Walker Cup
was presented to Valletta’s captain by the wife of the MFA President, Ms Jackie Frendo Azzopardi.
City win their third title Valletta FC squad which claimed the 1947-48 league at the expense of Ħamrun Spartans.

Source - Times of Malta - Carmel Baldacchino