In 1938, the Navy and Army fielded full-strength squads in the Cassar Cup.

The competition committee argued that, since the civilian clubs were strengthened with foreign players, they had become too strong for the service teams.

So, in an attempt to keep the interest alive, it was decided to allow the Services to enter their full representative teams.

In the semi-finals, the Navy were drawn against Floriana and Sliema Wanderers were paired with the Army.

On February 6, 1938, Sliema met the Army in a game full of incidents, typical of cup football. The first half ended 1-1 with Kemp opening the scoring and Pace replying for the Wanderers.

The second period was played at the same fast pace of the first half.

As the game progressed, however, the Wanderers gradually started to gain the upperhand.

A goal seemed imminent. Army centre-half Illes handled in the area and Freiberger converted the penalty to give the Blues a 2-1 win.

In the other semi-final, Floriana seemed to carry too many guns for the Navy.

The sailors, however, displayed their traditional fighting spirit and against expectations, they beat the Greens by the odd goal in three.

Floriana enjoyed most of the exchanges but they only scored once through Holland in the dying seconds of the first half.

It seemed certain that the Greens would increase their lead in the second period but a few minutes after the resumption Morgan equalised.

The sailors increased the pressure and a few minutes later Kingdom put the Navy 2-1 up.

To their credit , the Greens did not give up.

They pushed forward and Todd, the Navy keeper, distinguished himself with several fine saves.

The Greens hammered the Navy goal and seconds before the final whistle they should have equalised.

Carmelo Cauchi beat one man after the other before passing to George Bond who was in an excellent shooting position but he miscued his effort.

The final should have been played on February 20 but it was postponed to the following Wed-nesday because of bad weather.

The Navy had a very strong team that year as the last service team to win the cup was Worcestershire Regiment in 1934.

The Navy were at their best in the first half and by the break, Hudspith and Kingdom had already given them a comfortable 2-0 lead.

In the second half, the Wanderers threw caution to the wind in their bid to save the match.

They took the game to the sailors’ penalty area and soon wiped out the deficit with goals from Tony Nicholl and Salvu Sammut.

Then, minutes before the end, Nicholl scored the vital goal which gave the Blues the cup for the fifth time in their history.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us