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The forerunners of San Gwann football club

Imsierah St Paul`s as they turned out against Siggiewi in the 1967-68 Minor League season. The team is one of the forerunners of San Gwann FC which gained full recognition from the Malta FA in 1972. Photo: Charles Fava

Imsierah St Paul`s as they turned out against Siggiewi in the 1967-68 Minor League season. The team is one of the forerunners of San Gwann FC which gained full recognition from the Malta FA in 1972. Photo: Charles Fava

The birth of football in San Gwann, or Imsierah, as it was called in the 60s, goes back to the late 40s.

One day in 1949, a football enthusiast, named Anthony and his brother Nenu, formed the amateur club St John's FC in a place known as 'San Gwann tal-Gharghar'.

In those days, San Gwann was still a tiny village surrounded by Sliema, St Andrew's, Birkirkara and the heights of Madliena. The team, therefore, had to struggle hard to survive in an area where the majority of people supported Sliema Wanderers.

It is no wonder that after only a short period it disappeared from the scene.

The years passed without any sign of the game being played in the area. Then, in 1953, St John's FC were re-founded this time with more far-reaching ambitions.

The officials of the new club were faced with the same old difficulties but one by one they managed to surmount them until on May 29, 1957 the club made its debut in the MAFA Cup against Valletta Knights.

St John's lost a rather one-sided game 5-0 but to their credit they did not give up and after only one season in the MAFA they joined the MFA as associate members.

St John's had to wait two years before they were finally admitted to the Third Division. They made their debut on October 18, 1959 with a 2-0 victory over Qrendi.

Disciplinary record

Their stay in the MFA, however, was relatively short but eventful, mostly because of the rowdy behaviour of their supporters.

In six tempestuous seasons in the league, the Saints acquired a reputation of being trouble-makers. It is enough to say that at one time no team would play friendly matches against them and that referees refused to control their matches.

In 1964-65, they finished in the bottom place of the Third Division. The MFA, thanking its lucky stars, took the opportunity to refuse them re-election to the league. Finding itself isolated the club was disbanded.

In 1967, a group of youngsters who frequented the Oratory of St Paul's in Birkirkara came up with the idea of entering a team in the Third Division under the name of Imsierah St Paul's.

At first, the youngsters were faced with a barrage of objections mostly from the MFA, Birkirkara FC and the Civic Centre of Imsierah.

Each party had its own reasons for opposing the proposal but at the end they relented and the team was included in the Third Division.

The team's disciplinary record was much better this time but their performances in the hurly burly atmosphere of the Third Division left a lot to be desired.

Imsierah St Paul's continued to struggle and in 1968-69, after only a couple of seasons in the league, they were relegated. The MFA, unfortunately, refused them re-election and there was no alternative but to disband the team.

By this time, however, a big change was taking place in Imsierah. Steadily the tiny village grew into the fair-sized town of San Gwann and with this change came a new interest in football.

In 1972-73, a new team was born under the direction of Pullu Caruana. The club sought and received immediate recognition from the Malta FA. From then on San Gwann Football Club never looked back.

Although they did not really take Maltese football by storm, the club is well-organised and has had a number of successes especially in the youth sector of the game where the Saints can boast of having one of the best youth nurseries on the island.

karm_bald@yahoo.co.uk

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