Football old-timers in Malta remember with a sense of nostalgia the days when football matches were played in the morning.
These matches were played in stadia such as the Empire Stadium at Gżira, Pace Grasso in Paola and recently even at the Centenary Stadium.
Whilst talking to people who have been watching football for a long time, many mention that after attending Sunday morning mass they used to flock to the Stadium to see their favourite team and then return home after to enjoy a Sunday meal with the family.
The morning game was associated with lower division football and supporters at times taunted their adversaries by chanting ‘għal filgħodu’ which literally meant for the morning, highlighting the fact that the relegated teams would have to play in the morning.
This was a habit that continued until some years ago in the lower divisions until then the complaints that it was a too early wake up call for the players and staff got the administration to think otherwise and it ended up deciding to end the morning games once and for all.
A decision that went down well with some and a little less with others because there were those who criticised that the games will be played at the same time and one can only watch a limited number of games.
After many years, during the past two seasons, the association has reintroduced the morning football match in the lower divisions.
From this season it is also be introducing this initiative in the top tier football league, as has been done also in leagues across Europe with games at lunchtime.
Thus, one of the matches will now be played on Sunday, exactly at 11.30am.
In fact, next Sunday, the Tony Bezzina Stadium will host the BOV Premier League game between Santa Lucia and Birkirkara.
This will be the first time since the war that a Premier League game is scheduled for the morning, except in 1989, when Sliema Wanderers were crowned champions in the last league game which was played in the morning.
In the meantime tickets are out on the website tickets.mfa.com.mt or at the stadium door before kick-off.