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1949-50 season – a first for St Patrick’s

1949-50 St Patrick’s team.

Before the war, there were a number of teams from Żabbar competing in the lower divisions of the league. Perhaps, the most prominent of these clubs, was Żabbar United. This club had its premises at the St Patrick’s Social Club.

The war disrupted the progress of Żabbar United. However, at the end of hostilities it was reformed following the initiative of Espedito Catania, Victor Cauchi, the brothers Vella, and Emmanuel Camilleri.

The club’s first premises was in St Jacob’s Square but after a while it transferred its activities back to the St Patrick’s Social club.

It was a good move because during a General Meeting it was decided to return the sum of £260 which the old club had in the bank and its old football kit.

In 1944-45, Żabbar United took part in the Second Division. They finished in the second place of Section D, but they failed to win promotion.

A typical formation of that season was: Bonello, Aquilina, D. Edwards, Bartolo, Balzan, Felice, Cassar, E. Bonello Sciberras, V. Whelpdale, and Mifsud.

The best Żabbar players that season were without any doubt, Victor Whelpdale and Danny Edwards. Later on, in their career both players played for Hibernians in the First Division.

The Żabbar committee that season was made up of: E. Camilleri (president), G. Florini (vice-president), E. Camilleri (secretary), C. Grech (assistant secretary), J. Vella (treasurer), C. Schembri (assistant treasurer), as well as J. Muscat, E. Cassar and E. Agius who were members.

Żabbar United continued to represent Żabbar for three seasons.

Then, in 1948-49 they changed their name to St Patrick’s FC. Probably, the change of name was the result of the long connection they had with the social club since 1912.

In 1950, St Patrick’s won the Second Division title and promotion to the First Division for the first time in the southern club’s history.

The Saints’ path to the top sphere of Maltese football was not easy. They were closely followed by Msida Wolves and Rabat.

St Patrick’s drew 4-4 and 2-2 against Msida and Rabat respectively.

The match between St Patrick’s opponents was abandoned because of fighting between players and spectators and the points were not awarded.

This left the way clear for St Patrick’s to win promotion.

At the other end of the league table, Melita FC fought a lone battle with newly promoted St Venera Lightings against the relegation bogey.

1949-50 was a difficult season for the proud amateur club. To be fair, the amateurs did beat their rivals 9-1 in the direct encounter, but this was their only victory in an otherwise very difficult league campaign.

Sta Venera gained only one point in the 2-2 draw against Mosta and at the end they were resigned to return to the Third Division after only one season in the Second Division.

In the knock-out competition, St Patrick’s reached the semi-finals after beating Naxxar Lions 7-0 and the strong Sliema reserves XI 1-0 in the earlier rounds.

In the semi-finals, however, the Saints’ double aspirations were foiled by Floriana Reserves. They lost 4-0, thus leaving the way clear for Floriana to go ahead and beat Hibernians Reserves in the final.

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