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A dynamic full-back with a fine technique

Government minister Dr Colombos greeting J. Camilleri, L. Borg, D. Edwards and F. Andolina before the MFA XI vs Vasas game on April 4, 1948.

Government minister Dr Colombos greeting J. Camilleri, L. Borg, D. Edwards and F. Andolina before the MFA XI vs Vasas game on April 4, 1948.

The surname Edwards is well-known in Maltese football circles. It was made famous by the Edwards brothers, George, Johnnie and Harry before the war. More recently, however, there were other Edwards in the local game.

Today's write-up is about the Hibs dynamic full-back of the 40s and early 50s, Danny Edwards. Rather short and stocky, he was built like a stonemason. His football skills, however, were second to none and although his career was cut short when he migrated to Australia, his memory still lingers on among the old-timers of Paola.

Born in 1921 in Floriana, Edwards first kicked a ball about on the Floriana Parade Ground and around the numerous ditches formed by the bastions of Valletta. His father, Albert, used to take his boy on board the British aircraft carrier Illustrious where he used to play on the deck with the British sailors.

Soon, Danny caught the eye of the legendary Floriana and Malta outside-right Salvu Grima who took it upon himself to teach the youngster the rudiments of the game.

Although it is not documented anywhere, Danny must have played for some of the many youth teams which abounded in Floriana in the pre-World War One period. He was too young, however, to make the grade in professional football before the war interrupted his progress.

During the Second World War, Danny joined the RMA and soon made his presence felt in the Services' football competitions. His immense strength and skills made him very popular among the tough Army veterans and it was not long before the Army selectors noticed him.

Danny was so successful in this environment that once a certain Captain England came to Malta to give Danny a trial for the full British Army team. Unfortunately, however, Danny pulled a muscle in the trial match and he had to abandon all his dreams of glory.

In 1945-46, Danny played for the Army in the Victory Cup competition. The Army did not do so well that season, finishing in the last place of the final table. Danny's forceful full-back play, however, caught the attention of the civilian league clubs and that season he played for St George's in the FA Trophy.

The next season he signed for Hibernians. It was the start of a short, but highly successful, career with the Paola club, which lasted up to 1953 when he left the country.

During this period he played 48 times for Hibernians, scoring six goals - all from the penalty spot.

Danny played many fine games in his career. The most memorable, perhaps, were those against SK Austria and Vasas in season 1947-48.

That year he was picked to play at left back for the full MFA XI against Vasas and although the Hungarians won that particular encounter 12-2 Danny was perhaps, the only Maltese player to come out of the game with his head held high.

Another occasion when Danny showed his extraordinary defensive skills was in 1949 when he played for Hibs against Rapid Vienna of Austria. That same season, he was also picked to represent the Army against the RAF and Navy in the traditional Daily Malta Chronicle Cup.

Although robust, Edwards never used unfair tactics in his play and in his seven years of competitive football he was never booked or cautioned by the referee.

In 1953, he finally gave up the game he loved so much. He settled in Sydney where he is still active and sprightly at the venerable age of 85.

karm_bald@yahoo.co.uk

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