Zammit hits hat-trick in 1966 final

Zammit hits hat-trick in 1966 final

Valletta players celebrate after beating Sliema Wanderers 3-1 in the 1966 Cassar Cup final.

Valletta players celebrate after beating Sliema Wanderers 3-1 in the 1966 Cassar Cup final.

The traditional Christmas Tourney was not held in 1966 because of a dispute between the stadium management and the Malta Football Association.

Instead, the MFA re-introduced the Cassar Cup. This was one of the last editions of the competition. With the games switched from Manoel Island to the Gżira stadium at the end of the season, the Cassar Cup was only held twice more before it was shelved for good.

By this time all the sparkle had worn off the Cassar Cup and for the clubs it became just another commitment.

The 1966 Cassar Cup, like all the other competitions played at Manoel Island, was a stale affair. The semi-finals, in particular, did not produce any good football. The play was poor and ragged, typical of that ill-fated season.

Valletta beat Hibernians 2-0 after a 0-0 draw and Sliema just pipped Floriana for a place in the final with the minimum of margins.

City’s game against the Paolites was marred by the strong wind which swept through the ground.

In fact, this was one of the big drawbacks at the Manoel Island ground.

Open to all kinds of weather, it provided very little shelter and protection to the spectators from the bad weather.

The howling wind made it difficult for the players to control the ball but Hibs seemed to adjust their play to the conditions better than Valletta.

But, although they did most of the attacking, Valletta, with less chances to their credit, were more dangerous.

In the end, the stalemate prevailed as both teams were beaten by the adverse conditions.

The replay was very much the same though. In the second period, Valletta were more adventerous and at the end deserved the 2-0 verdict in favour.

They scored the first goal when Charlie Williams won the ball on the right and sent in a perfect cross to Josie Urpani who soared high to head the ball over Freddie Mizzi.

Ten minutes later, Valletta made sure of a place in the final with a goal from Tony Calleja.

This game was watched by Hungarian international Paul Csernale who had arrived in Malta two days earlier to sign for Valletta.

The final was more entertaining.

After a poor start to the season, Valletta seemed to find their feet in this contest.

Playing above their abilities and aided by an opportunistic hat-trick by Charles Zammit, they beat the Wanderers 3-1. It was the only bright spot in an otherwise dull season for the Citizens.

They opened the scoring in their very first attack of the game. Williams lobbed the ball into the Blues’ box. Freddie Debono misjudged the ball and let it bounce against the face of the crossbar. It rebounded to Zammit who headed home.

Barely three minutes of the second half had passed when Sliema drew level.

A perfect corner by Ronnie Cocks was headed down by Robbie Buttigieg for Joe Cini to bang in from close range.

Four minutes later, Zammit ran to meet a flick from Calleja and stabbed the ball in.

After this goal, Valletta dropped back in defence as Sliema pressed hard for the equaliser.

On and on came the Blues but try as they might, they could not break down Valletta’s stubborn resistance.

The seconds were merrily ticking away when four minutes from time, Zammit won the ball on the edge of the penalty area, beat two Sliema men and slammed in a low shot which keeper Debono could only touch before the ball trickled over the goal-line.

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