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The Cassar Cup in season 1924-25

Scene from a Cassar Cup qualifier from the 1920s. Note the hundreds of Service personnel among the crowd as this charity competition was popular among the Maltese and Services alike.

Scene from a Cassar Cup qualifier from the 1920s. Note the hundreds of Service personnel among the crowd as this charity competition was popular among the Maltese and Services alike.

The fierce rivalry between Floriana and Sliema Wanderers in the 1920s added spice to the 1924-25 league championship.

As fate would have it, when the fixture list was compiled, the two teams were drawn against each other towards the end of the competition, making sure that the interest would be maintained till the very end.

When the big match drew closer, excitement gripped both sets of supporters and on the day of the match, a huge crowd made its way to the stadium. Each side of the ground was decorated with blue and green and placards were fixed to the walls of the terraces.

The crowd was not disappointed because the match turned out to be one of the best between the two old rivals.

Ruġġieru Friggieri missed a penalty for the Wanderers and the Blues paid dearly for that lapse as, with six minutes left, Gejtu Psaila scored the only goal of the match to hand the Greens their sixth championship.

The rivalry was carried over to the Cassar Cup. On the Services side, the East Lancashire Regiment and the Fourth Destroyers’ Flotilla qualified to represent the Army and Navy respectively.

Floriana qualified outright for the 1925 Cassar Cup as league champions. Their partners to represent Malta were Sliema and this significantly boosted the gate income.

The revenue from the previous season’s charity competition was only £280. This was a small sum even for those days, especially when one takes into consideration that the semi-finals both ended in draws and had to be replayed.

One of the reasons for the poor revenue from the 1923-24 Cassar Cup was the fact that Floriana were not allowed to take part.

Another reason was that the entrance fees were increased and the Maltese protested by staying away from the stadium.

The 1925 Cassar Cup semi-finals were played on April 25 and 26.

In the first match, Floriana met the Flotilla XI. No one gave the Navy a chance against the Greens but the sailors had other ideas and goals by Mann and Allen gave them a 2-1 victory.

Incidentally, the Fourth Flotilla were the first Navy team to reach the Cassar Cup final. Floriana’s goal was scored by veteran Salvu Tabone from a penalty.

Sliema, the holders, had to fight hard to beat the Lancashire Regiment, winning by a solitary goal from Eddie Conti.

The teams lined up as follows for the final, which was played on May 3, 1925:

Sliema: J. Nicholl, J. Fearne, Hartley, W. Psaila, A. Caunter, Sevasta, G. Rule, Strickland, F. Busuttil, E. Conti, Calleja.

4th Flotilla: Owen, Gibbs, Matthews, Nuttal, Bailey, Russel, Allen, Mann, Greswell, North, Hammond.

Referee: C.S.M. Standworth.

The first half was dominated by the Navy team although Sliema created a couple of good attacks. The Flotilla also had a penalty claim turned down by the referee. Minutes before the end of the first half, a hard shot by Mann was well saved by Nicholl.

In the second half, the Wanderers took the initiative. Sliema seemed determined to win and succeeded when Frankie Busuttil hit the winner with a fine shot from just inside the penalty area.

At the end of the match, the governor presented the cup to Archie Caunter and a special gold medal to Joe Nicholl in recognition of his talents and loyalty towards the Sliema club.

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