Valletta: make European debut Published on: 14-04-2011

Valletta make European debut

Season 1963-64 was not a happy one for Maltese football.

There was a marked decline in the standard of the game which had already been evident during the past couple of years.

Attendances fell drastically and there was a general feeling that football in Malta was in its death throes.

The game was not progressing with the same rate as in other countries, as could be seen from the poor results obtained by our clubs in European competitions.

Malta s representatives that season were Sliema Wanderers, who were eliminated by the non league Welsh club Borough United in the Cup Winners' Cup, and Valletta.

The Citizens were making their European debut in the Champions Cup against Dukla Praha, of Czechoslovakia.

Valletta played their first-ever match in Europe on September 15, 1963 at the ]uliska Stadium in Prague.

The home team went into attack straight from the kick-off and in the very first minute they were already a goal up, through Kucera. Three minutes later Safranek made it 2-0 direct from a free-kick.

The Citizens tried their best to turn the tide but their efforts were usually broken down on the Czech 18-metre line.

Valletta managed to keep the score down to 2-0 up to half-time but on resumption they were demoralised by a goal-rush which yielded three goals in six minutes.

Kucera scored his second goal pf the match and then Gelata and Vacenousky hammered in two more. Then two, minutes from time, Kucera completed his hattrick for a 6-0 final scoreline.

Valletta made their home debut in Europe on September 29, 1963.

The Citizens were hampered by an injury to keeper Tommy Taylor which the Irishman had sustained in the first leg in Czechoslovakia.

Taylor's place was taken by their reserve goalkeeper Stivala who, however, one must say, had a very good game.
The six goals scoed by Dukla in Prague gave them great confidence for the return leg at the Gzira Stadium.

The visitors expected Valletta to lie down and die but the Whites drew courage from the nonstop support of their fans and gave the Czechs a good nm for their money.

For long spells, the Czech champions were penned in their area and goalkeeper Palvis had to make some finely timed intercep¬tions to keep Valletta from scoring.

In those days Valletta had a very strong defence with centre-half Joe Cilia in magnificent form. Cilia was ably aided by two forceful half-backs, Frankie Zammit and Charlie Williams.
Valletta opened the game on a top note and Palvis had to work overtime to deny the eager City forwards from scoring.

Vincent Vassallo and Josie Urpani were the best of the City forwards and on three occasions they tested Palvis with shots that would have beaten a less-experienced goalkeeper.

Early in the second period, the Dukla goalkeeper again made a spectacular save, this time off another Vassallo shot.

Valletta kept coming forward but in the 67th minute, much against the run of play, the Czechs opened the score.
A Vacenovesky-Stibrany move enabled Gelata to draw first blood.

The Whites were shaken by this goal and the visitors seemed to relax considerably so much so that five minutes later they increased their lead when Jelinek ended a Gelata-Vacenovesky move with a rather soft goal.

Thus ended Valletta's first sojourn in Europe.

It was not a positive debut by far but they could at least draw comfort from a brave and solid home performance.

Source: times of malta