Vincent Gauci was born in Valletta on August 8, 1945. Like many boys of his era, he learned his football in the streets. However, he first showed his potential at Stella Maris College.
At the college, Gauci was in good company. There, he joined up with his future team-mate at Valletta, Charlie Williams, and Sliema Wanderers full-back, Charlie Spiteri.
Gauci was an automatic choice for the Stella Maris team at a time when college football was at its peak. However, Gauci had to leave school when he was 13 to help his father in his bakery business.
This left him very little time for football, but as the saying goes, ‘you cannot keep a good horse down’, and, somehow, he found the time to play his favourite game.
Born and bred in the capital, Gauci’s ambition was to play for the City team but for some strange reason, his first club were Hibernians.
Gauci left a very good impression in the Hibs’ minors team as a sturdy defender and on April 22, 1962, he made his first-team debut for the Paolites as a substitute in the 2-1 victory over St George’s.
He stayed with Hibs for only two years during which he played 12 competitive first-team matches. In 1962-63, he was included in the team that beat Floriana 2-1 in the Cassar Cup final.
During the summer of 1963, Gauci fulfilled his childhood dream after signing for Valletta.
Surprisingly, he made his first-team debut for the Citizens in the away leg of the European Champions Cup against Dukla Prague at the Juliska Stadium. It was a tough baptism for the youngster but he came out of it very well.
Playing with Gauci that day was his older brother Pawlu who, incidentally, had the distinction of scoring Valletta’s first goal in a European competition.
Pawlu’s career was short but certainly eventful. Although he only played 68 first-team games for Valletta, he won seven major honours which included three championships and two FA Trophy finals.
A promising outside-left, he started playing football at St Edward’s College before graduating to the City minors team.
Making his debut for Valletta on March 21, 1959 in the 5-0 victory over Birkirkara, Pawlu Gauci took some time to establish himself in the team and when he finally made the grade, he gave it all up after deciding to move to Australia.
On October 12, 1963 Vincent Gauci made his league debut for Valletta in the 4-1 victory over Melita.
He soon settled in the heart of the Citizens’ defence and in a career spanning over 14 years, he played 183 league games for Valletta which, at the time, was a club record.
He also figured in 26 games in the FA Trophy and 33 matches in other senior competitions.
During his stay with Valletta, Gauci collected nine major honours. He won the championship in 1973-74 and the FA Trophy in 1963-64, 1974-75 and 1976-77. He also won the Cassar Cup in 1965-66 and 1978-79 and the Independence Cup, the Scicluna Cup and the Sons of Malta Cup on one occasion.
On a personal note, I came to know Gauci back in the 60s although I’m not sure he remembers me.
In fact, in 1966 we were recruits in the RAF and we did the basic training together. With us, among others, was the Sliema Wanderers and Malta centre-half Edward Darmanin.
We played a lot of football during those months and I have many fond memories of this period.
Gauci went through many memorable moments in his career. The best, perhaps, was when Valletta won the championship in 1974 after a wait of 11 years.
Another great moment was in May 1977 when Valletta beat their eternal rivals Floriana in the FA Trophy final with a goal scored by Nardu Farrugia.
In 1976, Valletta signed Charlie Spiteri from Birkirkara. This was a signal for Gauci that he was nearing the end of his career, and at the end of that season, he retired.
Vince, ‘Iċ-Ċorma’, has never been forgotten by the City old-timers.