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Valletta’s first championship

At the start of the 1914-15 season, Malta found itself caught up in the middle of a world war.

The regiments in the Malta Garrison were put on alert and the largest fleet in the world, the Mediterranean Fleet, left our harbours to patrol the seas. For a time, the British had no time for football and all their sporting activities were suspended.

Malta was used as a stopping place for regiments leaving for the front in Turkey and, later on, the islands were transformed into one huge hospital where the wounded could be treated and left to convalesce.

The actual fighting, however, was far away from our shores and there was nothing to stop the Malta FA from organising the Civilian Football League.

Much of the usual interest was lost, though.

Floriana, after their poor showing the previous season, did not form their team and St George’s, fuming after missing out on the title on the goal-average rule the year before, disbanded their team and many of their players joined the newly-formed club, Cottonera United.

The six teams that took part in the league that season were Valletta United, Ħamrun Spartans, Sliema Wanderers, Msida Rangers, Cottonera United and Vittoriosa Rovers.

The Rovers had a disastrous season, losing all their five matches without scoring a goal and conceding 35. They suffered humiliating 11-0, 8-0, and 7-0 defeats against Valletta, Ħamrun and Sliema respectively.

In the other two matches, Vittoriosa did not fare so well either, losing 0-5 against Cottonera United and 0-4 to the Rangers.

The strongest teams were Valletta, Ħamrun and Cottonera United.

Valletta started with a 1-0 victory against Msida and played Cottonera next on November 22, 1914. This was a tough game which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Valletta and Cottonera then won their next matches to keep the issue open.

Cottonera beat Vittoriosa 5-0 while Valletta had the better of Sliema 2-0.

The Spartans launched their defence of the league title with a disappointing 0-0 draw against Msida Rangers but the 8-0 victory over Vittoriosa soon restored their morale.

The all-important match between the Spartans and Valletta was played on January 10, 1915. Valletta won a close game 1-0 and emerged as hot favourites to win the championship.

At this stage, Cottonera were the only team left who could still challenge Valletta, but the Citizens held the upperhand because they only had to beat Vittoriosa Rovers to seal the title while Cottonera needed to beat Msida, Sliema and Ħamrun to force a decider.

One must keep in mind that, in those days, the fixtures were not arranged in a way that each team played the same number of matches as the competition progressed.

Instead, the matches were picked by lot and the sequence was left to the whims of fortune.

Cottonera opened their challenge with a narrow 1-0 win over Msida.

However, in their next match, they lost to Sliema 2-1. Towards the end of this game, scuffles broke out on the pitch and terraces and the match was abandoned. The points were awarded to Sliema.

After this upset, Cottonera gave up their hopes of winning the championship and in their last league match against the Spartans, they did not bother to turn up at the Mile End.

Ħamrun were awarded a walk-over.

Valletta were declared champions for the first time while the Spartans had to content themselves with the second place.

Source: Times of Malta