Few people nowadays remember Ġużi Lofaro, one of the best right wingers of the post-war era. His career, like that of so many others, was cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War.
The war, however, gave him a chance to hone his skills alongside some very good British professional players who were stationed here for the duration of hostilities.
In 1939, Lofaro joined the RMA and it was with the famous Maltese regiment that he played competitive football for the first time.
In 1943, when our islands had virtually seen the back of the war, he joined the newly-formed Valletta FC. Lofaro had an excellent couple of seasons with the Citizens and in 1944 he was part of that immortal team that won the Malta Cup after beating Floriana 2-1, Lofaro scoring one of the goals.
In 1944-45, Lofaro helped the Lilywhites win the league championship.
The Malta Cup brought to mind the first-ever cup final which was played at the old National Ground in 1910. The protagonists were the same... if one is ready to accept Valletta FC and Floriana Athletics as the descendants of Valletta United and Floriana FC.
In 1945, Lofaro joined Hibernians but he stayed with the Paola club for only one season. From Hibs he went to neighbours St George’s where he formed part of the Cospicua club’s fine team of the late 40s.
In 1948, Lofaro played for the RMA team which won the Cassar Cup. This was the last time a service team won the coveted trophy.
There is no doubt that Lofaro’s Army unit, the 1st Coast Regiment RMA, were the best team on the island during this period. Reinforced by some of the best Maltese footballers, the Gunners dominated Service Football.
In the Cassar Cup final, playing non-stop cup-tie football, they swept the Spartans off their feet, winning 3-1 and becoming the first Service side since 1939 to win the trophy.
There were no complaints about the Coast’s victory as their defence, with Ġużi Demicoli dominating, was so solid that the Spartans hardly saw their opponents’ goal. But it was their forward line which finally made all the difference.
With Salvinu Schembri at the top of his form at centre-forward and the right-wing partnership of Lofaro and Gejtu Sacco in devastating mood, the Spartans had no answer to the RMA’s well-oiled machine.
Lofaro’s last season in the league was 1948-49 with Naxxar Lions.
The Lions were at the time enjoying a short spell in the First Division.
Season 1948-49, however, proved to be the end of Naxxar’s first stint among the elite.
At the end of a very difficult season, they only gained six points, the same as fellows-in-distress St George’s.
A decider had to be played to determine the relegation issue. In the end experience told and the Saints won 4-1.
Lofaro did not play league football after that, preferring instead to continue his career in the less hectic and more sporting Army League football.
Lofaro left behind him a legacy of good football and sportsmanship inherited from his British Army connections.
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