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Qormi win promotion by a whisker in season 1963-64

Qormi player celebrate their promotion with their fans.

In 1962-63, Qormi FC just missed out on winning promotion to the Second Division.

The next season however, the Tigers beat the stiff challenge of Senglea Athletic to win promotion by a whisker.

Qormi deserved to win this honour but Senglea were to be congratulated for the way they planned and executed their campaign.

In fact, the Cottonera side were the only team apart from Qormi to finish their commitments without losing a point.

The battle between the two contenders raged on until the last day of the competition when the league table saw Qormi leading Senglea by a single point.

From early morning of May 24, 1964 people started gathering at the Schreiber Sports Ground to witness the two important matches which were to determine the winners of the Third Division League.

I remember that game well. I was 19-years-old at the time and since I lived only a stone’s throw away from the Schreiber I did not miss any of those exciting encounters.

My mates and I never paid to enter the ground. We either sneaked in or when this was not possible, we watched the game from the roof of the government flats which still stands opposite the old ground.

The first game was between Senglea and relegation-haunted, Naxxar Lions. A draw was enough for Naxxar but Senglea badly needed both points to keep up the challenge.

The Lions raged and roared around their penalty area making it difficult for their opponents to penetrate their defensive wall.

Senglea threw everything they had at Naxxar, but the game ended in a 0-0 draw leaving Qormi needing only a point against Gudja to make sure of the championship.

Gudja were rooted to the bottom of the standings with only one point to show for their efforts. Therefore, few expected them to give Qormi much bother but in football, things do not always work out as expected.

Gudja rose to the occasion and in the first period they gave as much as they got and with a little bit of luck they could have even changed ends in the lead.

In the second period however, they lost their concentration and two blunders by goalkeeper Camilleri gave Qormi the points and the championship.

That season, the Third Division was divided into two Sections. Promotion the Second Division was restricted to the teams in Section A. The winners of Section B won promotion to Section A.

In Section B, Msida St Joseph’s collected 24 points out of a possible 28 to walk away with section honours and promotion to Section A.

The Saints were in a class of their own and the four points they lost were in drawn matches.

Msida were accompanied to Section A by Balzan Youths who won promotion after a tough battle with Sta Venera Lightnings.

Senglea Athletic made amends for their championship failure with an excellent run in the knock-out competition.

Senglea started with a fine 3-2 victory over Qormi. It was a thrilling game full of whole-hearted first-time football typical of the Third Division of those days.

Senglea then went on to reach the final after beating St Venera 3-1 in the quarter-finals and Naxxar Lions 2-1 in the semi-finals.

Unfortunately, the final between Senglea and Mosta failed to live up to the expectations of the large crowd present at the Schreiber.

Tony Muscat, Mosta’s best goalscorer, was marked out of the game by centre-half Ghiller and as a result, Salvu Alamango in the Senglea goal was never seriously tested.

The game seemed to be petering to a 0-0 draw when Senglea brought in Schembri who obliged by snatching the winner five minutes from time.

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