The 1940s was a time of change for Maltese football. The game was in a transition period after a long sleep following the holocaust of the Second World War.

Interest in the game was sky-high though because the Maltese had no other form of entertainment except, perhaps, the cinema. In these circumstances a crop of exciting young footballers was bred, injecting new life into the game.

The 1940s was the time of the famous Floriana Ajax. They delighted the crowds with their classical football. However, other clubs like Valletta, Sliema Wanderers, Hamrun Spartans and Hibernians also had their fair share of fine footballers.

Salvinu Schembri, Lolly Borg, Pullu D'Emmanuele, Victor and Louis Portelli, Sunny Borg Cardona and the Pearson and Buttigieg brothers were all big names at the time.

Another fine player to shine after the war was Harry Ear.

Ear was a typical half-back of the old school. Born and bred in Paola, he started his career with Birkir-kara Red Stars in 1942-43.

The following season he joined Rabat in the Second Division. It was with them that he got his first taste of competitive football.

With Rabat, Ear made his league debut in Division Two in 1944-45. He played in all the league games during his first season but it was in the FA Trophy that he caught the eye of the big clubs with his polished performances.

On April 29, 1945 he was picked to play for the MFA XI against the Navy XI despite playing in Division Two.

His impeccable performance at right-half continued to enhance his growing reputation.

The senior clubs fought each other for his signature. For a time he seemed about to join Sliema Wanderers, especially when he played as guest for them against the Pick Navy and the Pick Army but in the end, he decided to join his home club Hibernians.

Hibs were delighted with their new signing. The club had just been re-instated in the league after a number of years in the wilderness.

Their ambitions were high. The Paolites had the nucleus of a fine team. Although still very young, Ear was made club captain, a duty which he performed with distinction for three years.

During his spell at Hibernians, the club was among the foremost teams on the island. The future seemed to be bright indeed not only for the club but also for Ear.

In 1948, however, he got the immigration bug and together with other noted stars of that era he left Malta for greener pastures in the United States. It was a great loss for Maltese football.

Detroit team

On his arrival in Michigan, Ear joined the Hungarian American Club and after one season he signed for the Maltese American club of Detroit. It was a great time for the side, winning the championship between 1949 and 51.

The team also included the famous Hamrun Spartans and Valletta FC full-back, Louis Portelli.

Harry also played for All Star Michigan in other states. He seemed to find the proverbial pot of gold in America. He settled down well but never forgot his home country.

When he retired, he decided to spend most of his time in Malta.

He still follows the game and one can see him every weekend at the National Stadium especially when his old club Hibernians are playing.

karm_bald@yahoo.co.uk

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