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Ħamrun Spartans’ strange decision in 1921-22 season

Before the war, football in Malta was organised in a haphazard manner.

From the start of the league in 1910 up to 1921, the league consisted of only one division.

The league was usually restricted to five or six teams and officially none of the clubs had a permanent place in the competition.

Every season, the MFA would issue invitations to the clubs and then it was the perogative of the council to decide which teams would take part.

However, established clubs like Floriana, Sliema Wanderers, Valletta United, St George’s, and Ħamrun Spartans, baring the usual squabble between the clubs and the MFA, were always preferred from other applicants.

In season 1921-22, the MFA received so many applications from clubs wishing to join the league that for the first time, it decided to split the teams into two divisions. 

The new Second Division was made up of Vittoriosa United, Cottonera, Senglea United, Ħamrun Spartans, the Dockyard Police, and the second teams of St George’s, Valletta United, Sliema Wanderers, and Floriana.

It was strange to see the Spartans in the Second Division.

The true reason why the club was not given a play in the top division has been lost in the realm of time. 

It is quite possible that the Spartans were involved in a dispute with the MFA.

The previous season, they were involved in a hotly-disputed match against Sliema Wanderers.

The Spartans were given a penalty, a decision which the Wanderers did not accept and the match was abandoned after a lot of arguments between the players and supporters of both teams. Could this have been the reason?

Whatever the reason, the Ħamrun committee decided to take part in the First Division under the name of the Old Lions and enter the Spartans in the Second Division.

It was a stupid experiment because while the Spartans won the Second Division title, the Old Lions finished at the bottom of the league table.

The Old Lions made their debut in the First Division on November 13, 1931 against Valletta United.

Smaller clubs

They lost the game 4-1 and although their performances improved somewhat in the rest of their matches they could only draw against Sliema Rangers who finished just above them in the league table.

The first edition of the Second Division League was a huge success.

For the first time, the smaller clubs could compete with opponents of more or less of the same standard.

At the same time, the big clubs could give their reserves much-needed competitive practice. The competition, therefore, was keenly contested till the end.

Ħamrun Spartans showed from the start that they were the best team in the competition.

They opened their campaign with a 2-0 victory over the Dockyard Police but then they dropped a point in their next match against Vittoriosa.

This was the only point dropped by the Spartans in the entire campaign.

In their next matches, they beat Cottonera United 2-0, Floriana Reserves 4-0, Sliema Reserves 5-2, Senglea United 6-0, and Valletta United 4-2. With this victory, although they still needed to play against St George’s Reserves, the Spartans were crowned as the first-ever Division Two champions.

At the same time that the Spartans Reserves were winning matches in the Second Division, their seniors were having a hard time in the First Division.

As we have seen already, the Old Lions finished their league commitments with only one point to show for their efforts.

The next season, the Old Lions were disbanded and Ħamrun once again took part in the First Division under their old name of Ħamrun Spartans. 

The reserves team competed in the Second Division under the name of Ħamrun FC.

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