Football players a 100, 50 or even 30 years ago dressed quite differently from those of today. In the early days of the game, players wore more or less what they could find and adapt for the occasion. They put on long trousers cut well below the knee, voluminous shirts and sported a 'Kaiser' type moustache.
Referees were regarded as fashionable if they wore a 'Sherlock Holmes' outfit. Before the war, referees in Malta were always British Servicemen. They, therefore, turned out wearing their summer uniform. If it was raining, however, they were not averse to wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas!
Slowly, but surely, the styles changed along with the times and according to fashions of the day.
One also had to take in consideration the money available in the team's kitty. Teams did not change their gear every season as they do nowadays. A set of shirts had to last a lifetime.
I remember in the early 50s, Third Division teams turning up at the old Schreiber Sports Ground wearing shirts which had probably seen the 1920s!
Footballers looked much younger and less fierce when they shaved off their moustache and they looked more elegant as their shorts grew shorter and their shirts clung more and more to their well-muscled shoulders.
Looking at old photographs one sees Maltese players wearing strange skull caps or handkerchiefs tied around their brows to protect them from the sun and to keep the sweat from smarting their eyes.
Such rudimentary necessities as elastic bands for their shorts were luxuries and they only managed to keep their shorts up by tying a piece of string or an old tie around their middle.
It was the custom up to the end of the 1920s for players to pose for studio photos in the exaggerated stances adopted by Rudolph Valentino and other famous film stars.
The highlight of the season in those days was when a successful team turned up at a studio to pose with all the cups and trophies won by the club up to that particular moment. It was also the custom for the players to pin to their chests all the medals they had won in their career. This was a good way of distinguishing the gods from the mere mortals.
The picture which accompanies this article shows Ruggieru Friggieri, Iz-Zibga, in his playing days with Sliema Wanderers.
Already a veteran, Friggieri had amassed a large number of medals in a long and glorious career with Floriana, St George's, the KOMRM, the Army, Sliema Wanderers and Pick Malta.
Friggieri's medal collection was unique and one of the most prestigious was the gold medal he received when he was chosen to captain the British Army team in Egypt. This was no mean feat in those days when it was next to impossible for a Maltese Serviceman to be chosen to represent the army.
It is said that Friggieri had so many medals that on occasion he lent some of them to other less fortunate members of the team. Judging by the photograph it must have been an ordeal for him to prepare himself for a photo session.
Friggieri's collection has survived intact.
It can now be seen in a frame at the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes in Floriana where they are kept with those of other famous players for safe-keeping and as a reminder of the good old days of football in the locality.