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Joe Griffiths... Malta's first national coach

The late Joe Griffiths (left), Malta`s first national coach, with fellow coach and national team manager Frankie Debono.

The late Joe Griffiths (left), Malta`s first national coach, with fellow coach and national team manager Frankie Debono.

Footballer, coach, sportswriter and cartoonist, Joe Griffiths showed from an early age a great interest in sport in general, especially football.

Born in Cospicua in 1910 and raised in Sliema, Griffiths began playing league football at the age of 16. He figured for several well-known amateur clubs before finally settling down with Melita FC. Griffiths served the famous amateur club as a player and committee member for 14 years.

In the pre-war years, Griffiths contributed a series of cartoons to the Times of Malta and, after his playing days were over, he took up freelance journalism, reporting and analysing games, drawing cartoons, and becoming a regular columnist on local and foreign football affairs with several local dailies.

An early believer in organised coaching, he lobbied for a foreign tutor to hold courses in Malta. Later on in his life, he went to Loughborough College in England where he successfully completed an FA coaching course. He coached several clubs in Malta, including Rabat, Sliema Wanderers and Hibernians.

Griffiths became the first coach to be employed by the MFA and later served on the technical board and, on several occasions, as director of the national team. Griffiths was awarded the MFA's gold medal 'For Merit' in recognition for his service to Maltese football.

With others, he helped to form the Malta Football Coaches Association of which he was also honorary president. He ended his career after serving as chairman of the 'Football for All' committee within the ministry of sport.

Griffiths also wrote the popular autobiography 'A Football Saga' in 1985. He died on March 9, 1986 at the age of 76.

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