In the early days of Maltese football, amateurism was a sign of culture and good breeding.
A true sportsman felt that it was beneath him to make money out of football.
That was an old tradition coming from the Victorian era when sport was practised mainly in colleges by children of elite families.
Of course, it was easy for the rich and high-placed to have such noble ideals. Those less wealthy, however, could not afford such niceties and from the very early days of football, many had looked on the game as a way of making some easy money.
From the first football league in 1910, the game was run on a part-time basis. Players were paid a weekly wage but in their majority they had another job to supple-ment their income.
The system worked quite well at first but by the late 1920s there was a slump in local football and for a while things looked bleak.
Fortunately, a new hope was introduced which saved football from extinction. This ‘uplift’ was brought about by the introduction of Amateur League players in the First Division.
Founded in 1922-23, the Amateur League steadily gained in popularity until attendances rivalled even those of the First Division. The standard of play was high and it attracted some of the best talent around.
The league clubs soon realised the worth of players nurtured in an atmosphere of clean soccer and sportsmanship. They realised that if they were to survive then they had to find a place in their line-ups for first-class amateur players.
At first, things did not work out so well. There was a lot of bad-blood towards the amateurs by the professionals who were afraid that they were a threat to their bread and butter.
Despite this, however, some amateur players did make it good in the upper circle.
The best to emerge out of that trouble-strewn era were Victor Bonello, Teddy Holland, Ġużi Mifsud, Ġużi Pisani, John Aquilina and Pawlu Storace.
In the 1930s, these pioneers of the amateur game were followed by Charlie Andrews, Victor Miller, Effie Bencini, Eddie Cole, Robbie and Maurice DeCesare, Joe Griffiths and Rogantin Pisani among others.
Some of them forfeited their amateur status but they never lost the gentlemanly upbringing they inherited from the Amateur League.
Andrews played centre-half for Floriana Tigers.
His solid performances in the late 1920s attracted the attention of the senior clubs and in 1934-35 he was approached by Floriana FC to play in defence.
Andrews was an instant success and that season he was one of the lights which led Floriana to the championship. He stayed with Floriana up to season 1936-37 adding another championship title and two Cassar Cup medals to his collection.
In 1938-39, he joined Melita and stayed with the Amateurs up to 1940 when the war interrupted competitive football. During the war he occasionally turned out for Sliema Wanderers.
After the war he returned to Melita but in 1945 retired from the game he loved so much, leaving behind him memories of a great player and a fine sportsman.
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