Football seems to run in the blood of many families.
One can mention many instances when members of the same family donned the same colours of one particular club but there’s only one example when seven brothers figured for the same team – the Attard brothers of Ħamrun Spartans.
Yes, there were seven of them, all playing at one time or another with the Spartans. Their father must have been really proud of them. In fact, the name Attard was so prolific in Ħamrun that it was difficult in the Sixties and Seventies to come across a Spartans’ line-up without it.
The eldest of the brothers was Paul. He was born in 1935. Then comes Sunny, who also played for Gżira United and a host of other clubs in a long and varied career.
Martin was perhaps the most talented member of the family. A classic half-back, he dominated the penalty area with his clever positional play and clean tackling.
Born in 1945 Patistu was a regular full-back for the Spartans in the good old days of the Empire Stadium.
Ninu, born in 1947, was the goal-scorer of the family. Fast and tricky, he was a huge headache for opposing defences with his pincer-like surges into the penalty area. Ninu also played for Rabat Ajax.
The two younger Attard brothers – Chris and Alfred – also wore the famous red and black jerseys of the Spartans. Chris was born in 1948 and Alfred a year later.
One must also mention another brother, Ġużi, who did not make it to the top division of Maltese football but who gave sterling service to Luqa St Andrew’s in the Third Division.
Being a family man myself, I shudder to think what their poor mother went through on match days when they brought home their washing.
Martin Attard was born on August 28, 1938 in Rabat. Together with his brothers, he played football in the streets and empty spaces of his home town before joining Qormi Youngsters in 1956.
Martin stayed with Qormi for two seasons. He played regularly in the Minor and Reserve League but he never featured in the Third Division. His performances in the junior league, however, were not missed and to his surprise he was approached by Marsa FC in the summer of 1958 and offered a contract.
Marsa had just won promotion to the First Division. Therefore, the prospect of playing in the top division was too great for the youngster to ignore.
After being tried in the reserves against Żebbuġ Rangers in a game which Marsa won 6-2, Martin made his First Division debut on October 12, 1958 in the 4-1 victory against Rabat.
Martin had an excellent first season with Marsa and now all eyes were on him. It was inevitable that the other clubs would show interest in the future of this up-and-coming midfielder.
It was, therefore, no surprise when after two years with Marsa, during which he played 27 league matches, he moved to Ħamrun Spartans.
Martin played his first game for the Reds in November 1960 against Sliema Wanderers. He went on to make 116 appearances for the Spartans before he retired in 1969.
With Ħamrun, Martin dropped back from midfield into the heart of the defence.
It was a shrewd move which turned him into one of the best centre-halves on the island.
He received lucrative offers from Floriana, Sliema and Valletta but stood loyal to his club up to the end of his career.
Martin Attard was capped by Malta B, the MFA League XI and the MFA XI. These, however, were meagre rewards for a player of his calibre.
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