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Pearson senior and junior leave a legacy as fine sportsmen

Alfie and Albert Pearson... former Rabat Ajax players.

Alfie and Albert Pearson... former Rabat Ajax players.

I have written many obituaries but I have never written one for a father and son at the same time.

On September 2, the death was announced of one-time Valletta FC and Rabat Ajax defender Alfie Pearson at the venerable age of 93.

Twenty days later, his son Albert passed away. There is a first time for everything but I write this piece with a heavy heart.

Alfie Pearson was one of the few remaining stalwarts of the pre-war and immediate post-war eras of Maltese football.

The war had robbed many youngsters of some of their best footballing years.

Before the war, many aspiring men saw their dreams of a career in first-class football shattered by the start of the conflict in Europe.

The war stopped all competitive football but the post-war period was a time for change in all aspects of life for the Maltese. Football was no exception.

Pearson was one of the few whose football career survived the long years of the war and continued at the end of hostilities.

The 1940s were characterised by the rekindling of the old rivalry between Valletta and Ħamrun Spartans.

These two clubs dominated the scene and Pearson was one of the protagonists in that particular period in the history of the game.

Pearson, was born on July 3, 1922, in Rabat. He began playing with his home team straight from school at the age of 15 years. The year was 1937 and Rabat FC were still called Rabat Zvanks.

Between 1937 and 1939, when his career was interrupted by the war, Pearson played regularly for the first team.

The records for this period, however, are very sketchy and we could not work out his statistics.

During the war he played for NAAFI and other Service teams. In 1941, when Sliema Wanderers lost Salvu Sammut, he guested for the Blues in the Christmas Cup.

When football recommenced after the war he also played for St George’s in the FA Trophy against Valletta.

Pearson’s first club after the war was Rabat FC. He made his debut in the Second Division on December 23, 1944 against Marsa Youngsters.

Rabat won 2-1 and Pearson scored the winning goal.

In 1945-46, he was pulled back into the heart of the defence and he was so successful in his new role that he soon drew the attention of the First Division clubs.

In 1946, he joined Valletta where he stayed for three years, winning a league championship and runners-up medals in the FA Trophy and Cassar Cup.

A sturdy full-back, he helped Valletta no end to establish themselves as one of the leading teams on the islands.

In 1949, he re-joined Rabat and two years later he led the side to the Second Division title and a place in the top flight for the first time in the club’s history.

The next three seasons were memorable ones for Pearson.

He captained Rabat in the First Division, playing in all 52 championship matches. Pearson was also picked three times for the Malta FA XI against Zabovresky, Innsbruck and Admira.

Rabat in final

In 1953-54, Pearson led Rabat to their first-ever cup final.

On the way to the final, Rabat beat Melita 3-1 and Ħamrun Spartans 2-1 before losing 5-1 to Floriana in the medal match.

By now he was getting on in years. In 1955, Pearson finally retired from the game, making way for Joe Cilia, another great Rabat product who was to make a name for himself with his home club, Valletta FC and Malta.

Albert Pearson died at the relatively young age of 66. He was one of the best goalkeepers of the late Sixties and Seventies.

Like his father, he started his career with Rabat in 1965 and remained with them up to 1970 when he joined Sliema.

Pearson Jr made his debut for the Wanderers on October 17, 1970 in a 3-2 victory over Floriana but he stayed with the Blues for only three seasons.

In 1971-72, he won the championship and the Independence Cup with Sliema but in 1973 he re-joined Rabat with whom he stayed up to 1982.

After ending his playing career, Pearson Jr served Rabat Ajax as goalkeeping coach and in 1984-85, when the Magpies won the championship, he was assistant coach to Iordan Filipov.

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