Over the years, the FA Trophy has always produced memorable moments with epic contests between some of the best teams on the island. Tomorrow evening, should be no different as Birkirkara and Ħamrun Spartans will be trying to earn a mention in the local football history when they battle it out for the final domestic honour of the 2007/08 season.

Victory will have special significance for both sides, who are clashing against each other for the first time in the final since the first edition was held way back in 1935.

For the Spartans, lifting the silverware would bring the glory days back to a dormant club after a 15-year wait without an honour.

Birkirkara are in a transitional phase following the departure of some established players but success in the Trophy could herald the start of another successful spell for them.

Birkirkara and Ħamrun won the Trophy nine times between them. One man who tasted cup success in the famous red-black and yellow-red colours is Joe Brincat, now coach at San Ġwann who have just won promotion to Division One next season.

He was in the squad that won the last FA Trophy for the Spartans way back in 1992 following a titanic battle with Valletta. Ten years later, the much-travelled midfielder was the fulcrum of the Birkirkara team that won its first ever Trophy.

Reminiscing his good old days, Brincat told The Times that the 1992 final arrived at almost the end of a golden era for Ħamrun. The team, with the shrewd Victor Tedesco as president, came into that campaign following a decade of successes in which they had won four league titles and five FA Trophies.

That year, Ħamrun had to play second fiddle in the league as Valletta won the title with weeks to spare. But the Reds made up for that in the cup competition and reached the final after ousting Sliema and Floriana in previous rounds.

Their next opponents were 'old enemy' Valletta, a club under the ambitious stewardship of Joe Caruana Curran who at the time was assembling a formidable squad that would dominate the local scene for the next ten years.

"The 1992 final was football at its best," Brincat said. "We played in front of a packed stadium and the atmosphere was electrifying, difficult to explain. There was a fierce rivalry with Valletta and the pressure on us was great."

Valletta looked heading towards a 2-1 victory but in stoppage time 'prodigal son' Ivan Zammit struck a dramatic equaliser to send the final into extra-time. The Citizens regained the lead and led 3-2 but a Brincat goal forced a replay.

"That was a memorable goal for me," Brincat, 38, said.

"We had a few minutes left when we were awarded a corner. The ball came to my feet and I hit a great volley that flew into the back of the net."

However, Brincat was ineligible for the replay as he picked up a yellow card in the thrilling 3-3 draw.

"I was devastated," he said. "Sitting down watching your team-mates knowing you can't do anything was so frustrating. Luckily, we won the second match 2-1 with two goals from Stefan Sultana. I was relieved."

Brincat's stint with Ħamrun came to an end the following year when he moved to Floriana. After almost two seasons with the Greens he again changed colours to join Birkirkara.

In 2000, he helped the Stripes win their first ever league championship but the cup kept eluding them as they lost two successive finals, vs Sliema Wanderers 4-1 and Valletta (3-0) the following year.

However, in 2002 Birkirkara finally landed the Trophy when they beat Sliema 1-0 in the final.

"Birkirkara deserved the trophy that year," Brincat said.

"It had eluded them for far too long. Sliema had beaten Birkirkara in the final two years before to stop us from winning a Double. So, we somewhat got our revenge for that.

"I remember we had a great game and took the lead through Matthew Calascione just before the break. Then we soaked up the pressure and controlled the match."

Asked which of the two finals was the most difficult to win, Brincat had a clear thought.

"Definitely the one of 1992," he said. "Valletta had a very strong team and we were the underdogs. They were the favourites but we fought back to defy the odds. That's what cup football is all about."

Looking at tomorrow's final, Brincat said that victory for either side will leave a huge impact on the future of the two clubs.

"If Ħamrun had to win the final it would be a huge boost for them," Brincat said.

"It's their first final since 1995 and their fans have long been waiting to finally get back in the reckoning. It's unfortunate that Ħamrun cannot play in Europe next season but winning the FA Trophy will certainly revive old interest.

"Victory for Birkirkara would be a significant achievement, too. It's very difficult for a team to settle down after so many changes in the squad. Still, Birkirkara are very competitive in my opinion and their presence in the final is no surprise. Winning the Trophy will be a clear sign that Birkirkara will be a team to reckon with next season."

And, who is Brincat siding with on Saturday?

"I was born in Ħamrun so I side with the Spartans in the final," he said.

"I still have fond memories of my stint with Birkirkara though. I will be watching the final from the stands and hope for some exciting fare. But, my wish is for Ħamrun to bring the Trophy back to town."

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