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440. Greens' four leagues in a row

Floriana FC - 1949-53. Back row: Leli Zammit, Tony Dalli, Lino Farrugia, Frankie Busuttil, unknown, John Alamango, Pullu Demanuele, Charlie Azzopardi. Front row: Benny Camilleri, Lolly Borg, Tony Vella. Note: Full name of fourth player from right (standing) was not traced. His first name was Alfred (Nemusa).

Floriana FC - 1949-53. Back row: Leli Zammit, Tony Dalli, Lino Farrugia, Frankie Busuttil, unknown, John Alamango, Pullu Demanuele, Charlie Azzopardi. Front row: Benny Camilleri, Lolly Borg, Tony Vella. Note: Full name of fourth player from right (standing) was not traced. His first name was Alfred (Nemusa).

Sliema Wanderers and Valletta have come close to it, but no team has been able to reach it yet, let alone beat it. I am referring to Floriana's four league victories in a row between 1949 and 1953.

During their long and glorious history Floriana have accomplished many a feat, such as winning the championship three times in succession 1909-13 and 1926-29; two triple crowns in 1949-50 and 1952-53; winning the championship with maximum points in 1961-62; winning the Cassar Cup on three successive seasons 1951-54, and more recently, the League, FA Trophy and Super Cup treble in 1992-93.

There have been several other achievements but none stands out more than those four championships in a row.

During those four seasons, Floriana played 56 league games, winning 41, drawing nine and losing only six. They scored 154 goals, an average of almost three a game and suffered 44. Their chief marksmen were that famous left-wing duo, Pullu Demanuele and Lolly Borg. Demanuele scored 43 times while Borg helped himself to 35 goals.

It was a wonderful achievement, which has never been repeated. To win the championship is in itself a great feat but to win it four years running boarders on the impossible.

Floriana had a great team during that period, considered by many as the greatest in the history of local football.

It was in season 1948-49 that after an uncharacteristic run of poor results the Floriana FC committee decided to promote the famous Ajax team to the First Division. The youngsters, already famous in junior circles, could not have had a better start. They beat Melita 2-0, Hibernians 3-2 and Naxxar Lions 2-1, before losing 3-2 to Hamrun Spartans.

Soon their classy style of football began to attract huge crowds to the stadium but they were still too young for the hurly-burly of league football. They still lacked an answer for a team that went out of its way to put them off their game with rough tackles.

Among the various Floriana fans there were some who still persisted that the committee had erred when making these drastic changes in the team. However, their doubts soon vanished when the Ajax eliminated St George's, Hamrun Spartans and Luqa St Andrew's on their way to the final of the FA Trophy against Sliema Wanderers.

George Shaw must have been proud of his boys that day as they worked out all his carefully prepared moves and tactics. The Ajax youngsters outclassed the Wanderers and the final 5-1 scoreline fully reflected their superiority.

Discarding their usual pretty tip-tapping moves, the Greens adopted cup-tie tactics. They started to play the ball first time with accurate crosses to the centre, which constantly caught the Sliema defenders on the wrong foot. Lolly Borg, then still in his teens, scored a hat-trick to complete a fine afternoon's work.

It was a great performance by probably the greatest side ever seen in Maltese football. Every one played his part in a star-studded team but pride of place went to Tony Vella. His passes, free-kicks and roaming prompted Floriana to one of its greatest performances.

Floriana went on to win nine more major honours between 1949 and 1953.

One must say, however, that at the start of the 1952-53 season the Greens' supporters' dream of establishing a unique record of four championships in a row seemed a remote possibility.

After four games they had collected only three points, but then they defeated Sliema 3-1 and from then on they never looked back. They not only retained the championship but also remained undefeated for the remainder of the season.

Honours won by Floriana - 1949-53

League - 1949-50; 1950-51; 1951-52; 1952-53.

FA Trophy - 1949-50; 1952-53.

Cassar Cup - 1949-50; 1951-52; 1952-53.

Coaches - 1949-50 George Shaw; 1950-51 George Shaw; 1951-52 Joe Griffiths; 1952-53 Billy Mock.

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