Titans braced for U*Bet FA Trophy showdown

Saturday, May 21, 2011, 19:24

All roads will lead to Ta’ Qali National Stadium on Sunday 22nd May. It will be a day of reckoning for the two super sporting rivals of Maltese football, the Greens of Floriana and the Lilywhites of Valletta. The climax of what the two sides consider to be a memorable season in terms of fulfilled expectations for Floriana and achievement for the City team should be the showpiece clash of the season which will see one of the contestants lift the coveted U*BET FA Trophy silver prize, this year in its 73rd edition.

Over the years Floriana and Valletta have provided their numerous avid fans and the Maltese followers of the game with an endless stream of passionate league and cup encounters replete with drama and enthusiasm, with the latest finals being the one-off historic matches valid for the Centenary Cup in 2000 and the one valid for the National League Anniversary 100 Cup in April last year, both matches having gone Valletta’s way.

This season this rivalry will be renewed as these titans of Maltese football brace themselves for the last act in what should be a memorable showdown of the season.

It will be the eighth time these teams will face each other in the final of this competition, with the Greens having won four of the previous seven clashes, the last being their 2-1 victory in 1994 to record their 18th FA Trophy victory . On the other hand, Valletta’s last triumph against their suburban rivals goes back to 1978 when they edged the Greens 3-2. The first time the Lilywhites landed the prize was in 1960 against Floriana, a match which they won 3-0, after which they went on to strike success 11 more times. 

The competition started in 1935 and since then eight other teams managed to inscribe their names on the handsome solid silver trophy donated by the FA of England as a token of appreciation for the backing a small but vociferous group of Maltese supporters gave the England team when they played Italy in a friendly match in Rome on 13th May 1933.

Besides Floriana and Valletta, the other winners were Sliema (20 times), Hibernians (8), Hamrun (6), Birkirkara (4), and Melita, Gżira, Żurrieq and Rabat who each won the tropy once.

Floriana and Valletta met in the final for the first time in 1947, a match which the Greens won by three clear goals . It was the start of a golden era for Floriana.  After Valletta’s first trophy success it was the City team’s turn to make an impact on Maltese football.

Football, being what it is, has a special aura especially in cup-tie football. For this reason the teams’ current form will not be brought into the frame, whatever the season’s achievements may be. Valletta’s unbeaten run in the league is therefore no indication that the odds will be absolutely stacked in their favour. Both teams start on an even keel and will certainly go all out to boost their ego as pre-match form pales into insignificance the moment the teams are on the pitch.

Will the Lilywhites end the season in a blaze of glory for their fifth ‘Double’ and thus seal a memorable 2010-2011 campaign, or will it be Floriana who will end a rather long drought of league or trophy success which dates back to 1993 and 1994?

The answer will be provided on Sunday evening in what should be a contest to crown yet another momentous Maltese season. As from 2011-2012 the format of the U*BET FA Trophy will be different, a change given the go-ahead by the MFA earlier this season and which will have all league clubs participating in the competition.

Meanwhile, this season’s final will provide the opportunity to numerous Maltese and foreign football lovers who may want to enjoy a warm spring afternoon watching a sporting contest in the best tradition of fair play. The MFA will open both sectors of the Millennium Stand and put them at the disposal of families and their wider circle and not necessarily the hard core supporters of the contesting teams. It should indeed be a pleasant and welcoming environment, the harbinger of a new MFA policy of making our football a social occasion for families and friends.         

For the record these are the previous results of finals contested between the two teams in this competition.

1947  Floriana 3 Valletta 0

1957 Floriana 2 Valletta 0

1960 Valletta  3 Floriana 0

1976 Floriana 2 Valletta 0

1977 Valletta  1 Floriana 0

1978 Valletta  3 Floriana 2

1994 Floriana 2 Valletta 1

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