Mr Joseph Barbara – my grandpa and football in Malta

This is a press cutting published in 1966 when my grandpa was 85 years of age. It was report relating to a programme aired the day before “Sports Panorama” and focused on what my grandpa recounted of the early years of football.

Twinkle, Twinkle Bright Old Star

There was many a tear trickling down old and grizzled cheeks, as trophies, photographs and pennants, mellowed with age, with memories dear, were flashed on the silver screen on last Friday’s “Sports Panorama”, as a sweet reminder of the pioneers of old.

Aptly enough Mr Michael Paris, St George’s F.C. President, an ex-Saint himself together with brother Doctor “Peppi”, paid tribute to the many old players, who by their prowess made the name of St. George’s a legend and a living tradition.

There are also many others who in their days gave all they had not only for the club they loved most but for the game as a whole.

Such a one, now in retirement at the ripe old age of eightyfive, is Joseph Barbara, lovingly known as “Il-Mast”.

Joining the Saints’ Committee as far back as 1913, Mr Barbara quickly made his mark as a competent Committee man and as a shrewd judge of the finer points of the game.

Right up to 1938 he stayed with the Saints drinking of the cup of success and also tasting the bitter dregs with a spirit as indomitable as that of the toughest of the pioneers.

In 1939 he was elected to serve on the Council of the Malta Football Association where he stayed for another fifteen hectic years.

Althought not then on the Committee, Joe says, that the finest game he has ever seen the Saints play was on that memorable afternoon when they beat H.M.S. Duncan, whilst the best all round player that has ever graced the colours of the Saints was none other than Carmelo Tabone.

In his opinion the best ever team to represent the Saints was that which won the League Championship and the Cousis Shield in 1916-17, which included such fine players as Friggieri, “Balolu” Busuttil, Jessop, “Sluta” Galea and “Carmenu” Tabone.

And here is a reproduction of a leaflet, or handbill, announcing the then popular match between the Champions and the Rest of the League on Sunday, March, 1917, at the Mile End Sporting Ground, nearly fifty years ago, with the following formations:-

St. George’s: Massa, Sachett, Friggieri, Borg, Busuttil, Jessop, Pisani, Hicks, Scicluna, Tabone, Gales.

Rest of the League: Hamilton (Liberty), Sghendo (Valetta Utd.) Borg, (Liberty); Clarke (Vittoriosa), Huggins (Sliema Wds.), Zammit (Valletta Utd.); Inglott (Sliema Wds.), Theobald (Vittoriosa), Cristiano (Valetta Utd.), Samuel (Liberty).

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