Looking back at the early history of Maltese football one finds that the first grounds were in the Marsa, Hamrun and Pietà area.

The Lyceum Football ground, the venue of the first Maltese football league, was in Marsa, the National Ground, which hosted the first Maltese Cup competition, was situated in Pietà (very near to Ta' Braxia Cemetery) and the Mile End Sporting Ground was in Blata l-Bajda where nowadays stands the Maria Regina Secondary School.

The Empire Sports Ground in the 1920s, saw football shifting to Gzira but the ground near Blata l-Bajda was never forgotten.

A sense of nostalgia was felt by generations of residents in Hamrun who dreamt that one day someone would re-build the old stadium.

This dream came true in 1996, when the new Victor Tedesco Stadium was officially inaugurated only a few metres away from the site of the old Mile End Sports Ground.

The stadium created a new page in the development of the game on our islands.

The MFA could now make use of three turf stadiums. It could, for the first time, organise the Premier League on a three-round basis, making it possible for each club to play virtually every weekend, something which had long been desired.

The new system brought continuity to the league schedule and paved the way for semi-professionalism.

October 1, 1996 was a red-letter day for Victor Tedesco, the popular ex-Hamrun president. Twelve years is a long time to wait but at last his dream of building a stadium at Hamrun had been realised.

It was in 1983 when he first entertained thoughts of building a ground in Hamrun. At the time, however, his dream seemed preposterous but to his credit, he never gave up.

Locating a suitable area in the vicinity of Hamrun was the first of many obstacles to overcome. The expense involved was another.

One by one, however, all the problems were tackled through Tedesco's drive and will power.

In 1984, plans were finally drawn up. Fittingly, the locality chosen was the Mile End area, only a stone's throw away from the site of the legendary old stadium, which saw the golden age of Maltese football.

The site was cleared with the help of numerous volunteers and the project began to take shape.

The foundations were laid and help started to come from many quarters, including the Libyan Ambassador to Malta who donated the sand needed for the turf bed as a gift from his government.

The inauguration was attended by a number of personalities including Members of Parliament, the Mayor and Parish Priest of Hamrun as well as members of the Stadium's Management Board and a number of sporting personalities.

Professor Guido DeMarco, who at the time was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, unveiled the commemorative plaque.

He expressed his satisfaction that the project first brought to his attention by Victor Tedesco in 1987, had been completed.

On November 3, 1996, Pietà Hotspurs and Hibernians inaugurated the ground as a Premier League venue.

Another milestone was reached on November 26, 1996 when an U-21 international friendly was played at the new ground between Malta and Macedonia.

In the early days, many areas of the ground were incomplete in terms of refinement but working on a system of priorities, the Management Committee soon had the project going.

karm_bald@yahoo.co.uk

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