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Birkirkara FC shrug off negative reputation in 1970s

Birkirkara FC – 1984-85 Division One league winners.

Until quite recently, Birkirkara have found it very difficult to hold a place in the top sphere of Maltese football.
Many times, they built a very good team but unfortunately, it was never strong enough to hold its own amongst the top clubs, let alone to win honours.

This was especially so in the ’50s and 60s when the club was known as the ‘Yo-Yo’ club of Maltese football.

It seemed that the Stripes were not good enough to command a permanent place in the top division. At the same time, they were also too good for the lower division.

A marked improvement in the club’s fortunes was seen in the early Seventies when at last the sun seemed to be shining on them. This was one of the best eras in the turbulent history of the club.

In 1970-71, they narrowly lost promotion to the First Division but the next season they pooled their experience to win a merited place in the First Division.

The following season, Birkirkara finished in fifth place in the First Division. By their standards, this could
perhaps be classified as a good position.

At least, their most optimistic fans could reason that they managed to keep their place in the First Division.

In 1972-73, things improved considerably. It was a most interesting season in the history of the club. For once, the Stripes figured prominently amongst the challengers for the league title.

At first, Floriana showed all the signs of running away with the championship but, in the last match of the first round, Birkirkara pulled off an unexpected but welcome victory against the Greens which threw the competition wide open.

The Stripes gained further ground when Sliema beat Floriana but unfortunately, they failed to profit from their rivals’ hesitation. They lost to the Wanderers and had to surrender their top place in the table.

Fortunately for them, Floriana also lost to Valletta therefore the situation was more or less restored to its former status.

In the end, Birkirkara and Floriana finished with equal points at the top of the table and had to play a decider between themselves to decide the destination of the title.


The enthusiasm in Birkirkara knew no bounds. Their supporters prepared long and hard for the encounter but were disappointed.

The Stripes surrendered their claim to the title after losing the eventual decider against Floriana.

During the next two seasons, Birkirkara were once again involved deeply in the relegation battle. Somehow they avoided the drop but in 1975-76 they could not postpone it further and they were relegated.

Birkirkara seemed destined in those days to keep going up and down between the First and the Second Division.
However, by the 1980s, the Stripes were on the way to shrugging off forever this negative reputation.

1984-85 was one of Birkirkara’s best seasons. They won the First Division championship after a tough battle with Mqabba and Senglea.

It was a close-fought campaign mainly played at the Marsa Sports Ground. However, it rained heavily that winter, and many times the Marsa Ground was water-logged, and the games had to be transferred to the Pace Grasso ground.

The Paola venue was not suitable for first-class football because it was exposed to all kinds of weather. As a result, the public kept away.

Birkirkara won the championship with just one point over Mqabba and two points over Senglea.

The two games against Mqabba ended in 1-1 draws and those against Senglea ended in a 1-1 draw and a narrow 1-0 victory for the Stripes.

In the end, this victory made all the difference because the two games between Mqabba and Senglea both ended in draws.

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