Prestons: the fore-runners of Valletta FC Published on: 15-07-2010
Prestons - the fore-runners of Valletta FC - Times of MaltaBefore the Second World War there were many junior and minor teams in Valletta but, at the same time, there was no senior side representing the capital. This was before the Malta FA came up with the district representation scheme which stipulated that only one club from each district could represent the locality.
One of the districts affected by this plan was Valletta where parochialism was rampant.
Those living in the Arċipirku area were predominantly'Pawlini' and they had their own team in St Paul's FC. This team was very popular in the lower divisions of the Maltese football league. Not to be outdone, their great rivals from the area of the'Dumnikani' wanted to form a team of their own.
Emmanuel Calleja, Joseph Salinos and a handful of others got together and in 1934 they founded a club which was to become one of the most popular amateur teams of the era.
The founders of the new club racked their minds to find a name for their team. One of them was a supporter of Lancashire league club Preston North End..The idea to adopt the famous old club's name was approved by the committee by acclamation.
The committee wrote to Preston North End seeking permission to adopt the senior club's name and colours. The English club gave their approval and even supplied their Maltese admirers with a set of cloth badges to be worn on their jerseys.
Later, Preston North End aiso provided Valletta with a complete outfit. This football twinning between Preston and Valletta was surely the first of its kind.
In 1934-35, Valletta Prestons gained admission to the Fourth Divisian of the MFA league.
Success immediately followed and by the fifth year of their existence, they had gained promotion to Section B of the First Division. Unfortunately, bcfore they could take their place among the top teams, World War Two broke out and all competitivc football in Malta was suspended.
When organised football was resumed after the war, the rivalry between Prestons and St Paul's was at its height but everything vanished into thin air when the two autfits merged to form Valletta FC.
It was a great mornent for thc Citizens when the new team was admitted to the First Division. They were an instant success and the post-war period was dominated by Valletta, winning the championship three times, the Cassar Cup and the Malta Cup in four seasons.
Going back to the early years of the club, the activities of Valletta Prestons were not confined to the senior team only.
A minor side was also estabIished and this gave birth to some of the best Maltese players of the pre- and immediate post-war period.
Players like goalkeeper Spiteri lż Ġabu', Duminku Borg 'Is-Sulina', Joseph Lofaro and Vincent Depares all made a name for themselves in the top sphere of Maltese football along with Cremona (11Wila). The latter also played for St Patrick's of Żabbar.
Another popular player in those days, who, unfortunately, did not make the grade in top-class football was Oscar Lucas.
But, he succecded in doingso in a mare profitable profession. He was none other than the famous band leader that dominated the local music scene in the roaring fifties and sixties.
During their glorious period, Valletta Prestons were managed by Salinos, Calleja and Carmelo Caruana.
These three gentlemen werc also responsible for the formation of Valletta FC and all served on Valletta's committee for many years. They are responsible for the success of the present Valletta club.
Article by Carmel Baldacchino Source - Times of Malta