Two former Valletta FC stalwarts, Joe Mallia and Jackie Grech, recently passed away leaving behind memories of fine play and remarkable success for the City supporters during their hey-days way back in the 40s and 50s.
Mallia, better known as 'Dudu', was an established campaigner in the Valletta defence. When St Paul's FC and Valletta Prestons had to amalgamate under the name of Valletta FC and the team won the elusive Malta Cup in 1943-44, Mallia was a substitute in the team. He had joined Valletta FC from Prestons that season.
When Valletta won the first post-war championship, Mallia was a regular left-back for the team. However, his career was rather short as he only played for six seasons chalking up league titles in 1944-45, 1945-46 and 1947-48.
Between 1943 and 1951, Mallia played 62 league matches besides other showings in the FA Trophy, the Cassar Cup and the Scicluna Cup - three major competitions of that era.
The combative Mallia, who was a one-club man, retired in 1951. In his playing days he was of medium size, quick, combative and a disciplined player whose outstanding ability gave Valletta FC sterling service. He died aged 80.
Grech joined Valletta FC from Hibernians in season 1952-53. He was only 19-years-old and was a Gzira United product.
City were rebuilding a new squad after dominating the last years of the 40s. At first he only played a handful of matches but in 1953-54 and 54-55 he was very active for the team and soon became an automatic choice in the line-up.
Grech helped the team win the 1958/59 league title and Cassar Cup in those early days of the Forza Valletta City song.
But, the following season Grech failed to make a showing for the team to the great disappointment of the fans as he decided to cut short his career.
He was introduced to the First Division by Hibs as a midfielder and played 12 matches in all for the Paolites, including the two-time replayed FA Trophy final against Sliema Wanderers (3-3, 1-1, 0-1).
Grech, who was 70 when he died, will be mostly remembered for his valuable contribution towards Valletta's revival in the 50s. He also played twice for the national team - against Denmark XI and Italy Youths.
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