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'Iron man' leads Greens to spate of honours

Guzè Alamango with the trophies he won during his time with Floriana.

Guzè Alamango with the trophies he won during his time with Floriana.

Among the many players who gave a good and honest service to Floriana FC, there is undoubtedly Guzè Alamango. He was a product of the Floriana Parade Ground. It was there, in the early years of the last century, that he learned his football by kicking a rag ball around the spaces formed by the bastions of Floriana.

According to local tradition, Alamango first started playing professional football as a raw 16-year-old in season 1919-20 with Marsa United.

Unfortunately, the records for that season are lost and I was unable to confirm if he played first-team football for Marsa United.

Alamango was big and strong for his age and soon caught the eye of Floriana FC. 1920 marked the start of the second great era in the history of Floriana. Between 1920 and 1923, the team took part in eight competitions, winning the championship twice, the Cassar Cup twice and the KO competition on two other occasions.

Floriana had a formidable team and dominating the defence was 'Iron man' Alamango. In those days, football was much more physical than it is today.

The wingers were the clever men of the team, indulging in long, mazy dribbles along the touchline before crossing the ball with uncanny precision to the centre forward.

Many goals were scored that way. It was, therefore, imperative to stop the wingers from delivering the ball to the centre. The half-backs were usually given the task of blotting the wingers out of the game. A lot depended on their ability to tackle. A lot of hacking took place and many defenders did not hesitate to use unfair tactics to stop their opponent.

Alamango never allowed wingers any extra space. Yet, people I knew who saw him play, assured me that although tough and fearless, Alamango was fair in his tackling.

One must keep in mind, however, that the laws in those days allowed a lot of body contact and the crowds loved it. Players like Alamango, who could dish out as much as they received, were treated as heroes by the crowds. This was more evident if opposition was provided by the Services. The English, after all, had their own share of tough players who knew how to make full use of their weight and brawn.

Later on in his career Alamango switched to centre forward. In 1926, in the semi-final of the Cassar Cup against HMS Coventry, he showed his versatility when he played as a goalkeeper in place of the injured 'Gejta' Azzopardi.

Between 1924 and 1929, Floriana went through another great period, winning four league championships and two cup competitions. Alamango was once again one of the pillars of that great side.

In 1929-30, Floriana did not form a team and Alamango joined Old St George's. He did not stay long at Cospicua, however, and the next season, he was back with Floriana, helping them to win yet another league championship. He was by now getting on in years and after a short spell with Hamrun Spartans and Hibernians, he retired.

The name of Alamango, however, was kept alive in Floriana by his children.

karm_bald@yahoo.co.uk

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