In the Forties, clubs could enter their reserves in the lower divisions of the league.
These teams competed neck and neck with bone-fide Second Division clubs for the honours.
However, the rules stated that they could not win promotion to a higher division. This system may seem cumbersome, but it had its advantages.
First of all, it gave the senior clubs an excellent opportunity to blood new players in the hustle and bustle of league football and it made the competition much more interesting.
The 1947-48 Second Division League was the last one under these rules.
That season the league was split into two sections.
Each category consisted of four Second Division clubs and four reserve teams from the First Division.
In the next campaign, the Second Division teams were grouped in one section and the reserve teams into another. The winners of each then played each other for the championship.
In the knockout competition, however, the clubs were all pooled together as in previous seasons.
In 1947-48, Section A was won by Luqa St Andrew’s and Section B by Sliema Reserves.
This meant that Luqa would be promoted for the first time to the First Division irrespective of the result of the championship decider. Luqa however, proved their credentials when they beat the strong Sliema side 4-1 in the decider.
Luqa St Andrew’s were worthy winners of the Second Division championship. Although in their section, they were closely chased by Floriana Reserves and Vittoriosa Stars they played the best football that season in that division. The Saints continued to show their fine form in the knockout competition.
In the first round, they beat Melita reserves 6-1 and in the quarter-finals, they disposed of the strong Floriana reserves, which, one must remember was made up of Ajax players, by the odd goal in three.
In the semi-finals, however, Luqa lost unexpectedly to Vittoriosa Stars.
In the other semi-final Ħamrun Reserves beat Senglea Athletic 2-0 to set up a meeting with the Stars in the final.
Vittoriosa were favourites to win the competition.
After all, on their way to the final they had already collected the scalps of Marsa FC, Valletta Reserves and Luqa St Andrew’s. They had ambitions of winning promotion to the First Division for the first time in their history.
It was an ambition, however, which they had to wait for season 1952-53 to achieve.
The Spartans were worthy opponents to Vittoriosa, which made the final even more interesting. On their way to the final, the Reds had beaten Żejtun United, Żabbar FC and Senglea Athletic.
The final was played on June 13, 1948. It was a hot day more suitable perhaps, for waterpolo than football. This did not detract from the excitement of the huge crowd, which assembled at the Stadium that Sunday morning.
The game was a keen and interesting encounter. Both teams had their chances. However, it was the Spartans who emerged victorious with a merited 2-0 victory.
1947-48 was a typical season of the late 1940’s when football was still the only pastime of the population. It was a time when crowds of six or seven thousand spectators were common on Sunday mornings at the Stadium and the Schreiber Sports Ground.
One curious event which happened that season was the Second Division game between Floriana and Naxxar Lions which the Greens’ reserves won by the incredible score of 18-0.
his was an absolute record beating the record set in 1921-22 when Marsa United beat Qormi 16-0 in the First Division. This is a record, which will probably never be broken.
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