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1985-86 Division One League – an undesired honour

The Floriana FC team that won the First Division title in 1985-86.

Floriana secure return to top-flight after shock relegation

Followers of Maltese football will always remember March 24, 1985. It was the last day of the 1984-85 championship and still, the destination of the title and the relegation issues were still undecided.

In the first game of the afternoon, Żurrieq held Ħamrun Spartans to a goalless draw. This meant that Żurrieq would keep their place in the Premier Division and condemn Floriana to the First Division.

At the same time, Ħamrun lost all chance of forcing a decider with Rabat for the title.

In the next match, Rabat drew 0-0 with Sliema to clinch the championship.

It was one of the most dramatic afternoons in the history of Maltese football. One hundred and eighty minutes of first-class football produced no goals, but they proved to be decisive for both ends of the table.

The result was championship champagne for Rabat and the sour dregs of relegation for Floriana for the first and only time in their long and glorious history.

The dramatic events of the 1984-85 season were carried over to the next season, at least as far as the 1985-86 Division One League was concerned. There was a great interest to see if Floriana, one of the giants of Maltese football would make a quick return to the top class of Maltese football.

Many big clubs in the world of football have suffered the indignity of relegation. There are only a relatively small number of league clubs in Europe who have never been relegated.

It is not the end of the world when a club loses its top status but, of course, for all those associated with a relegated club, it is a heart-breaking experience.

The Floriana clan really took their mishap badly.

The Greens were rather unlucky to be relegated. They collected 14 points from a possible 28.

Fall from grace

That total was usually enough to avoid the drop but that season the clubs went on strike and the MFA annulled one match and this fact worked against Floriana.

I have many friends from Floriana and I must confess that I have a soft spot for the club.

I was sorry to see them fall from grace, but this is all part of the ups and downs of football.

That summer was a living hell for their supporters who had to suffer the cruel taunts and jibes of their rival supporters especially those from neighbouring Valletta.

Life goes on however, and with the passing of summer, the club started to pick itself up and prepare itself for an assault on the First Division Championship and a quick return to the Premier Division.

The First Division championship is never an easy one to win.

Floriana, however, regained their Premier Division status after only one season.

They won the First Division title, but without setting any houses on fire.

This does not mean that at any time during the season, they were in danger of losing the title, but their play much to be desired. 

Despite this, however, they shrugged off all opposition and went on to win the championship without conceding a single defeat.

Tarxien Rainbows followed Floriana into the Premier League. 

The Rainbows always looked like potential promotion candidates. Senglea and Mosta gave the Rainbows a good run for their money but mid-way through the second round, they threw in the towel leaving Tarxien to coast home past the tape.

Melita and Gudja had a quite season but for Marsa and St George’s, it was indeed a dismal season. 

Marsa, who like Floriana had just been relegated, could never get going and they ended the season at the bottom of the table. 

The same fate befell St George’s.

One of the proudest teams in the history of Maltese Football the Saints were relegated for the first time to the third tier of the league.

Was it just coincidence or a cruel twist of fate that while Floriana regained their Premier League status, their old-time rivals dropped down to their lowest-ever rung of the league ladder?

It seems that in football things always seem to go in pairs.

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