In 1937-38, the First Division league started on Sunday, October 10, 1937 with the game between St George’s and Valletta.
This was an exciting match played at neck-break speed which however, produced only one goal.
It was late in the game when St George’s player Harry Brown centred to Borg who pushed the ball past the helpless Manwel Azzopardi.
On October 24, a huge crowd of 10,454 spectators assisted to the game between Sliema and Floriana.
From the start, the game was transformed into a rough house with both sets of players tackling and fouling as if their very lives depended on it. The match ended goalless.
On November 7, Floriana beat Valletta City 2-0. The star of the game was Carmelo Cauchi.
‘Kaneni’ scored one of the goals and delighted the crowd with his magical dribbling. Floriana’s other goal was netted by Englishman George Bond.
The vital encounter between Sliema and St George’s developed into a personal battle between the legendary Wenzu Gabaretta and Tony Nicholl.
After a goalless first half, the Wanderers put all their guns in action and it was here that Gabaretta showed his true worth. He saved shot after shot, low or high, until it seemed that he would never be beaten. At the end however, he had to bow down to a great strike by Nicholl.
Sliema followed this win with a 2-1 victory over Valletta City.
The Whites enjoyed a 1-0 half-time lead but after the break the Blues found their feet and turned the result in their favour with goals from Brincat and Pace.
The first round came to an end on Sunday January 17, 1937 with the traditional Floriana vs St George’s encounter.
With both sides well in the running for the championship, interest for this encounter gathered mo-mentum as the game approached.
On the afternoon of the match, thousands of football-mad supporters filled the stands of the Stadium.
It was just like old times! The game, however, failed to meet expectations.
Throughout the 90 minutes, the exchanges were balanced. Both sides had their chances but the best of all fell to St George’s.
Centre-forward Galea forced his way past two defenders and then, with only Alexander Swoboda to beat, did the impossible and lifted the ball over the crossbar.
St George’s paid heavily for this miss.
With the referee looking at his watch, Storace, helped by the wind, scored a lucky goal which gave the Greens a 1-0 victory.
These things happen in football.
However, one could not help but feel sorry for the Saints.
At that point the league stopped for the Christmas Tourney and the Cassar Cup.
It was nearly two months before the competition resumed.
This pause had a bad effect on attendances and only a small crowd was present for the match between St George’s and Valletta City on March 6.
A few minutes before half-time Brown scored the first goal but minutes after the restart, McClure beat Gabaretta from the penalty spot to level the score.
Valletta defended well for the rest game to earn their first point of the season.
If the first-round match between Sliema and Floriana had been rough, the second-round en-counter was more hard-fought.
With both teams level on points at the top of the table a keen match was anticipated but the game exceeded all expectations.
Strangely, despite the rough play, the game was full of good football.
In the first half, Sliema played some delightful stuff.
Time and again they raided the Greens’ fort until Freiberger opened the scoring. The Blues increased their efforts but it was Floriana who scored through Leli Cauchi.
No more goals were scored in the first half but hardly had the second period started when Nicholl was on target for the Blues.
Then, Ċensu Friggieri was badly injured in a collision with Nicholl.
Sliema made good use of their numerical advantage and a few minutes after this incident, Nicholl made it 3-1.
The play now went to the dogs.
Horace Herbert fouled Harry Edwards and he was shown the shortest way to the showers.
A few minutes later Dunne followed Herbert to the dressing rooms after punching Salvu Sammut in the face.
With only eight men, all seemed lost for Floriana but a few minutes from the end George Bond headed home a Vickers cross to revive his team’s hopes.
The last minutes were played amid great excitement but Sliema still led 3-2 at the final whistle.
This defeat shattered Floriana’s chances of winning the championship and in their next match they took on Valletta with a depleted team.
Valletta, on the other hand, were more motivated and it was no surprise when Callus opened the scoring.
In the second half Swoboda was injured and his place was taken by centre-forward Attard.
Although with a man short, Floriana played much better in the second period and Carmelo Cauchi equalised from the penalty spot.
Sliema Wanderers made sure of the championship in their next outing with an easy 5-0 victory over St George’s.
This match highlighted the flaw in the Saints’ character.
The famous old club always started the season full of promise but at the first setback everything was thrown to the wind. It was always the same old story.
Once again St George’s finished the season at the wrong end of the league table.
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