Wednesday, June 24, 2015

After sinking to the bottom of international football, let's continue from there. Which country was at the very bottom in Europe hardly matters – Malta and Luxembourg were pretty much the only countries which seemingly did not move in any direction during the 1970s, Malta perhaps even more stagnated than Luxembourg. The previous season a complicated championship formula was used, but it was back to standard championship in 1979-80. The league was going to be reduced to 8 teams the next season, so 3 teams were relegated and only one promoted.
Zurrieq was the winner of second division, going up. Locally, good for them, but the newcomers were not going to make any impact on the top league. Like many Maltese clubs Zurrieq did not have a stadium of its own and played at the national stadium in Valletta. Thus, home and away games fixtures were such only statistically.
Given the reduction of first division, the fight for survival was to be very important and bitter this season. In theory. In practice, what happened only justified the reduction: Zebbug Rangers, Qormi, and St. George's were clearly much weaker than the other clubs and finished at the bottom: St. George's last with 5 points, Qormi - 9th with 7, and Zebbug Rangers - 8th with 8 points. Marsa, the club which ended 7th, had 13 points – hardly in danger at any time during the championship. To illustrate the pitiful performance of the relegated clubs: their combined record would have been good for 6th place, bellow Hamrun Spartans on worse goal-difference.
At the top of the league the title was not exactly a big contest. Hibernians, Floriana, and Sliema Wanderers fought large for silver and bronze. Hibernians lost the race and finished 4th with 26 points. The other two finished with 28 points each and Sliema Wanderers clinched silver medals on better goal-difference. Floriana ended with best defensive record in the league – they allowed only 6 goals.
The favourites were all the usual suspects and the winner was the most usual of them. Valletta lost only match this season and won 14 out of 18 total matches. They scored much more goals than any other club – 59. The second highest scorers were Sliema Wanderers with 47. At the end Valleta finished 3 points above Sliema Wanderers and Floriana, which seems a small lead, but this is only because the league was small and therefore the number of matches was not big enough to provide for building big lead. It was easy sailing for Valletta and they added one more title.
Nothing new... once again Valletta triumphed.
If there was a disappointment this season, it could be Hamrun Spartans.
They finished 5th with 20 points. 6 points behind Hibernians and 6 points ahead of Birkirkara. But Hamrun Spartans should have been one of the favourites... well, according to tradition.
The Cup did not produce big surprises either: the traditionally stronger clubs dominated. Valletta was unable to reach the final. Hibernians and Sliema Wanderers were the finalists, both determined to win and compensate for the not very successful championship.
th Cup after a long weight: their 3rd was won in 1971.
Hibernians (Paola) won 2-1. The Peacocks won their 4