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Birżebbuġa St Peter’s early years

Birżebbuġa St Peters, winners of the Malta FA Third Division Cup in season 1960-61.

Birżebbuġa St Peters, winners of the Malta FA Third Division Cup in season 1960-61.

Birżebbuġa St Peter’s FC joined the Malta FA in 1946. In those days, Birżebbuġa was still a summer resort with most of the residents leaving the village at the end of August to return to their town residence.

Yet, despite the annual exodus, the club already had its own billiards, sailing and waterpolo teams.

Few districts in those days could boast of such a rich sporting tradition.

Of course, catering for all these sport was not easy and there was a time when the club had to give up its waterpolo activities because it did not have a suitable place where to practise the game.

There was also a time when, because of a dispute between the owners of the boats and the club, sailing races were stopped.

However, I remember that boat races were still being held in the 60s.

When the band club was founded in the 50s, it set up its headquarters at the football club and up to the late 60s the place was known as the St Peter’s Sports and Philar-monic Club.

However, as more and more people settled permanently in Birżebbuġa, it became clear that a single committee could not handle the running of two organisations effectively, so, although the band remained in the same premises, the two bodies were formally separated from each other.

Football was always the most popular sport but Birżebbuġa St Peter’s life in the league was never easy. Most of the times were bad but there were also some bright patches in the club’s history.

To quote one example, in 1951-52 they were among the protagonists of the Third Division League. At the end, they finished third and in the knock-out competition, they beat Żebbuġ Rangers 2-0 before losing 1-0 to the strong St George’s third string.

Season 1953-54 was one of the best in the early history of Birżebbuġa St Peter’s.

They had a bunch of fine players in their ranks who took the club through an excellent campaign. Some old-timers still remember the likes of Izzo, Scannura, Bongailas, Coxhead and others.

That season Birżebbuġa won the Third Division Section A without losing a single point.

Then, in the championship decider, they beat Little Rainbows 1-0 with a goal by Scannura at a packed Schreiber Ground.

For two seasons, the Saints remained in the Second Division before dropping back to the Third Division. Then, in 1958-59, they beat Lija Athletic 2-0 in the section decider but missed the chance of promotion when they lost 2-0 to Żurrieq in the play-off.

Season 1959-60 saw Birżebbuġa winning section honours with losing a match despite the fact that they had the strong teams of Melita, Msida St Joseph and Balzan Youths in their section.

In the promotion decider, however, they lost to Żejtun Corinthians 3-0.

The next season, St Peter’s were once again among the leaders in the championship but this time they finished in second place.

In the knock-out, they went all the way and after ousting Gudja United, Naxxar Lions and Msida St Joseph, they beat Sta Venera Lightnings 2-0 in the final.

This success brought to an end the first chapter in the history of the club.

After that season, they lost several players who migrated from the island. Others retired, leaving the club in the doldrums.

It was to be some time before the club, now playing in the second tier of the local game, was once again in a position to challenge for the honours.

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