Tall, skillful, loveable Sam… the man with the mighty throw and with the ‘oh’ so dainty passes despite his big feet’. That is how Joe Griffiths described Sam Rogers in one of his articles in the Times of Malta. Rodgers together with his bosom pal Barkas thrilled the Maltese crowds whenever he played for the RAF against Malta XI’s.
Rodgers did not play professional football but only because he decided instead to join the RAF, which in those days was a much steadier job. However, he did find the time to play for a number of teams in amateur competitions.
During the war, Rodgers was stationed in Malta with the RAF together with many other British professional players who, due to the hostilities found themselves in uniform. Many still remember the day when the MFA XI played against the United Kingdom XI at the Stadium.
It was the 30 May 1943. When Rodgers and Barkas together with other superstars like Mitchell (Newcastle United), Horton (Preston NE), Curran (Sunderland) and Sheppard (Fulham) gave a dazzling soccer exhibition the likes of which was rarely if ever seen at the Stadium. Rodgers played at right half that day, a role that he played with distinction.
Those were the good old days of Maltese football. The war in Malta was practically over and the crowds, eager to watch their favourite game, flocked to the stadium in their thousands. The British Service Authorities in an attempt to pep up the morale of the Maltese gave permission to their players to play for Civilian teams in MFA competitions. Rodgers took this opportunity to guest for Valletta in the Malta Cup. Playing his usual solid game at right-half, Rodgers helped Valletta to win the first post-war competition organised by the MFA.
Rodgers’ contribution to the success was acknowledged by one and all and this prompted Valletta to offer him a place in their team on a permanent basis. Soon afterwards, however, he received his demobilization papers and he had to leave the island.
Rodgers went back home, but never forgot the sunshine and the kindly disposition of the Maltese. Somehow he made it known that he would be willing to come back to Malta. A few months went by before Valletta finally made the offer and Rodgers came back to Malta to play for the Citizens as a professional.
Valletta were the revelation team of the post-war period and Rodgers fitted well with players of the caliber of center-half Bonello, Rubino Zammit, and Josie Vassallo. Old-timers still remember the uncanny understanding he developed with the great Salvinu Schembri.
In 1945-46 Rodgers made three league appearances for Valletta, helping the Lilywhotes to win the championship. He stayed on for three more seasons, winning another Championship medal in 1947-48.
Rodgers was a classic halfback, but he could also play as an inside forward. He was without any doubt, one of the mainstays of the Valletta team, which dominated Maltese Football during the post-war period. In the summer of 1949 he left the island he loved so much, leaving behind him memories of subtle and enthralling football.