British Serviceman who were stationed in Mtarfa in the beginning of the 20th century started playing football at the parade ground thus giving birth to football in Mtarfa. According to records available in newspapers of the early 1900s, the first match which was played there was a friendly match between the Malta Athletic Club and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, won 4-0 by the latter.
Probably the event for which the Mtarfa is most known is because of the famous ‘Imtarfa Cup’ which was played in 1909. At that time, no national league was played and clubs used to play several matches against varied opposition, especially against British Army and Navy teams to try and show their strength. There was no doubt that the strongest teams were Floriana F.C. and St. George’s F.C.. In 1907, St. George’s issued a number of challenges to local and services’ teams. However no side was strong enough to face them.
In April 1908, Floriana accepted this challenge. The Greens wanted to play a match for a silver cup which came to be known as the “Imtarfa Cup”. This venue, the Imtarfa Parade Ground (or the Barrack Square, as it was also known) was chosen since Mtarfa is situated far away from both Floriana and Cospicua. The date was the 14th February 1909. One of the local dailies at that time “The Malta Chronicle” commented that over 10,000 spectators were present for this match. In fact on the day of the match, the train had to make several extra trips to accommodate the thousands of supporters who went to Imtarfa. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Before and after World War II, Mtarfa was a venue of several friendly matches played between the servicemen stationed at Mtarfa or by teams from Rabat who were granted permission by the British to make use of the parade ground.
For more info visit Mtarfa on Sunday 22nd May during Mtarfa Military Day and relive football during army era in Malta. This event is organised by Mtarfa FC in collaboration with Mtarfa Local Council.
Among the various activities, will be a 5-a-side tournament. All players have to wear military clothes (white or green shirt or earth colours), the rules are those of street football mixed with Beach Soccer.
Those interested to participate are to contact us as soon as possible as very few places are left (open to ages from 17 to 99). For more information, call on 77682732.