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St George’s FC complete the double in season 1986-87

1985-86 was a dark season for St George’s.

The pioneers of Maltese football were relegated for the first time to the third tier of the Maltese game.

For the Saints, it was indeed a dismal season. 

They just could not get going in the league, finishing the season just one place from the bottom of the final table. 

One of the proudest teams in the history of Maltese football had to swallow their pride and were relegated.

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?

In their first season in the new Second Division, the Saints won their first three matches but then, they lost 0-1 against Msida.

After that defeat they lost their bearings and in the end they could only finish in fourth place.

The next season however, they made up handsomely for that disappointment winning the league and cup double.

The Saints only lost one game that season.

That slight setback came in the first round against Gżira but from then on they never looked back. They made sure of promotion with a sound 2-0 victory over Marsa and were crowned champions in April after a 0-0 draw with neighbours, Kalkara.

St George’s were chased all the way by Lija Athletic and Żebbuġ Rangers. The Saints won both direct encounters against Lija but in the second round they dropped a point against Żebbuġ.

At the end of the competition, Żebbuġ and Lija were locked together with 24 points and a decider was necessary to select the team to join St George’s in the First Division.

Żebbuġ won this decider rather easily 3-0, Gino Hili, Philip Ciantar and Mario Spiteri netting the goals that mattered.

At the other end of the table. Msida St Joseph’s and Melita were relegated.

St George’s played their first game in the Second and Third Division Cup on May 11, 1988 against Luxol St Andrew’s. The Cospicuans won this battle of the Saints 2-0.

In the next round they disposed of Kalkara 3-0 with goals from Jesmond Delia, Godwin Stivala and Rennie Zerafa.

In the semi-finals, the Saints had to face the stiff challenge put up by Żebbuġ Rangers. The game ended in a fair 0-0 draw and had to be replayed.

Once again, no goals were scored in the replay and the game had to be decided with the penalties rule. The lottery favoured St George’s who left the Pace Grasso Ground 3-1 winners.

In the final, the Saints met Għargħur who, on their way to the final, eliminated Fgura, Gżira and Lija.

The final was one of the best games played that season at the Paola venue.

There was very little to choose between the two teams. However, during the first half, it was the Saints who played the best football.

It had to be goalkeeper Cuschieri to save Għargħur from going behind. Cuschieri saved in extremis two shots from Godwin Stivala and Rennie Zerafa.

In the 38th minute, fullback Karmenu Calafato beat Cuschieri with a hard shot from well-outside the penalty area to score the goal which gave the cup to St George’s.

In the second period, Għargħur tried to save the game but the best chances still fell to St George’s.

At the end however, the game was decided in favour of St George’s with that single goal scored by Karmenu Calafato in the first period.

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