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Floriana win first Sons of Malta Cup final

Floriana FC, first winners of the Sons of Malta Cup in 1968 after beating Hibs 3-2 in the final.

Floriana FC, first winners of the Sons of Malta Cup in 1968 after beating Hibs 3-2 in the final.

In 1967, the Maltese Social Club of New York donated a handsome trophy to the Malta FA to be played annually by the champions and the FA Trophy winners.

The first edition of the new competition, which replaced the old Scicluna Cup, was contested by Hibernians and Floriana on February 25, 1968.

Although it could never be described as a classic, this game provided enough thrills and excitement to keep the crowd happy. This interesting game was played in the morning in glorious sunshine. It was a day perhaps, more suited for a ramble in the countryside than a game of football.

The crowd, however, enjoyed every minute of it and the two teams responded well to the conditions, producing some entertaining football.

The game developed into a duel for supremacy between Floriana's finesse and Hibs' powerful play. In the end, it was Floriana's craft which won the day.

Goalmouth action was the order of the day. Play swayed from one end of the pitch to the other with breath-taking rapidity... one fort seeming to go down one moment only for play to transfer to the other end at the bat of an eyelid.

The game could not have had a better start for Floriana.

It was only nine minutes old when a Galea free-kick was headed goalwards by Willie Vassallo. Tony Attard was caught in two minds and with Freddie Mizzi hesitating to leave his charge, in nipped Charlie 'Tichy' Grech to head the ball over the keeper.

It was a goal out of a fairy book but Grech, unfortunately, did not savour his achievement.

As Mizzi rushed out of his goal he flattened the Floriana player. Grech had to be carried off the field and took no further part in the proceedings.

Hibs reacted strongly to this goal. They went forward in numbers and with Floriana replying in kind, thrills were coming one on top of the other. Then, just before half-time, Johnnie Privitera headed home a corner to level the score.

Trouble sparked off at the start of the second period. Victor Cassar and Vassallo came to blows and both received their marching orders.

Immediately after this incident, Frankie Micallef put Floriana back in the lead. He won possession in midfield, advanced unhindered and tapped the ball sideways to Louis Arpa who in turn took a pot at goal.

The inside forward lost his posture and sliced his shot. The ball, however, luckily came back to Micallef who placed it into the net via the upright as Mizzi was coming out of his goal to close the angle.

Floriana now settled down to defend their slender lead. Relieved of the pressure on their goal Hibs went forward in search of the equaliser. Then, in the 35th minute Floriana scored a third goal to make sure of victory. Arpa won the ball in midfield, neatly beat Louis Theobald and shot low into the corner of the net.

Floriana were now playing out time and with Hibs visibly tiring they went near to increasing their lead on a couple of occasions. Then, less than a minute from time Hibs reduced the score.

An inswinging corner by Edward Aquilina was headed backwards into his own net by Arpa. This goal, however, had little impact as a few seconds later referee Richard Stagno Navarra sounded the final whistle.

After the game, the Sons of Malta Cup was presented to Alfred Debono, the Floriana skipper by Mr F. Attard and Mr Cauchi, Malta FA secretary and treasurer respectively together with a miniature cup to both teams.

For the record

February 25, 1968 - the Empire Stadium, Gzira
Sons of Malta Cup final

Floriana vs Hibernians 3-2

Floriana: C. Zerafa, Galea, Farrugia, A. Camilleri, A. Debono, F. Micallef, Grech (S. Borg), W. Vassallo, C. Buttigieg, L. Arpa, H. Caruana.

Hibernians: A. Mizzi, J. Privitera, T. Attard (L. Theobald), E. Theobald, (Debono), F. Delia, S. Gatt, F. Mifsud, N. Buckle, F. Mallia, E. Aquilina, V. Cassar.

Scorers: Grech, Micallef, Arpa (Floriana); Privitera, Arpa og (Hibernians).

Referee: Richard Stagno Navarra.

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