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Shadows from the past (1,198): Hammarby’s comeback

Swedish side Hammarby as they lined-up for their friendly against Valletta during a two-match tourney in Malta in 1960.

Swedish side Hammarby as they lined-up for their friendly against Valletta during a two-match tourney in Malta in 1960.

In October 1960, Hammarby were playing a number of matches in Israel. At the end of their tour, the Swedish club wrote to the Maltese Tourism Office inquiring if it was possible for them to play a couple of friendlies here before returning to their country.

Hammarby’s request was passed to the management of the Empire Stadium and the latter offered the Nordics £500 and hotel expenses to play two matches in Malta.

Hammarby accepted the offer and after stopping briefly in Catania, where they faced the local Serie A side, they arrived in Malta on November 3, 1960.

Hammarby were founded in 1889 as the ‘Hammarby Rowing Association’. By 1897, however, the club had extended its activities to other sports.

In 1915, the football division was established and after merging with Klara SK and Johanneshovs IF, they were included in the Swedish national league. From then on, the club yo-yoed between the First and Second Divisions of the league.

Hammarby were a modest team.  They lost their opening match of their brief tour against Valletta 2-1. Although dominating play for long stretches in the first half, Hammarby lacked punch upfront.

The game started very quietly but came to life when referee George Degiorgio awarded the Swedes a free-kick just outside the City penalty-area.

Westerlund took the free-kick quickly and directed his pass to Johannsson who darted through the static Valletta defence to open the scoring.

This goal fired Valletta into action. They started showing more purpose in their play and it was no surprise when Joe Zammit floated a perfect ball for Frankie Zammit to shoot home the equaliser.

It took Valletta only two minutes to forge ahead.

Once again the action started from Joe Zammit who sent a curling corner into the Hammarby penalty area. Goalkeeper Johannsson came out for the ball which inexplicably spun out of his hand and into the net.

Valletta pressed home their advantage but the Swedes held tight to avoid conceding more goals.

Hammarby’s next match was against the MFA XI. The locals  opened the game in style and playing a delightful brand of football they soon opened a 4-1 lead.

There was promise of more to come but then changes were made in the side and the picture changed completely.

It looked so easy for the Maltese selection at first.

Barely had the first minute elapsed when Tony Cauchi opened the score but Lars Johannsson equalised much against the run of play.

Joe Zammit put Malta back in front and Lolly Borg made it 3-1.

A few minutes later, Mizzi released Pullu Demanuele who added another goal.

At the end of the first half, Cauchi, Zammit and Demanuele were substituted.

These changes had an adverse effect on the MFA XI and to make things worse the selectors continued to cut and chop the team with very little purpose.

Johansson pulled one back and six minutes later Persson left Freddie Mizzi rooted to his spot with a shot from outside the area – 4-3.

Mizzi was immediately replaced by Raymond Cosby but by now Hammarby were in control.

Skoglund equalised with a personal effort and the Swedes snatched the winner through Hans Johansson to crown a magnificent come-back.

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