With England meeting Malta this week we take a look at the connections between ourselves and the George Cross island. While we have not met them in competition or signed any players from that country we have visited the island on three occasions.
On the international front we provided England's captain when the two countries first met.
Left - Alan Mullery.
Our first encounter came in the summer of 1929 when the club toured (if that is the right word) the island. In only our third tour following the First World War. Having finished the league programme the previous Saturday with a mid table finish the Monday saw us win 5-1 over Millwall in the final of the London Charity Cup before departing. The following weekend saw us meet Sliema Wanderers and register a 7-1 win. Ted Harper started a productive tour for him with a hat trick, Armstrong 2 Crompton and Linsay getting the others. The following day we defeated Valetta United 2-1. Harper and Compton sharing the goals. The players than played a British Army side on the Thursday and won that game 5-0. Harper missing the game so Compton led the scoring with 2, Thompson, Armstrong and Garbutt also scoring. The weekend again brought back to back games. First up was the Royal Navy and the only goal coming from a Harper penalty. Ted was on target the next day scoring both as we beat Floriana 2-1. Two days later the tour ended with a 5-1 victory over the Pick of Malta XI, Harper scoring twice to reach nine goals in five games. This time he was outscored by Garbutt who picked up a hat trick.
It was 1970 and the year before the two countries would meet for the first time when Spurs returned to the island at the end of a long season. We played three games in five days. First up we played Valetta and secured a 3-0 win over the hosts with goals from Gilzean, Pratt and Morgan. The second game was a 2-1 against Silema Wanderers, Pearce and Chivers scoring. Then the following day a Maltese Select XI beat the visitors with a 0-1 victory.
The third trip I came up with was in October 1984 when we visited the island to play a Malta National XI just forty eight hours after beating Liverpool. The game was a 1-0 win for Tottenham Alistair Dick scoring a goal.
Left - John Pratt
As for England they have played Malta three times before this World Cup qualifying competition.
The first time England played Malta was in February 1971 when Alan Mullery skippered the national side for the only time in his career when Bobby Moore was unavailable. Former Spur Sir Alf Ramsey was the manager, Martin Chivers made his debut and Martin Peters scored the only goal of the game in the 25th minute, in the European Championship qualifier on a pitch that was described by the players as the worse they had ever appeared on. Picture of 'that' pitch above, I like the stands and goalposts.
Three months later the return at Wembley saw England win 5-0. Chivers scored twice (which makes him the country’s top scorer against them his goals opening the scoring in the 30th minute and the 4th and 47th minutes. During the game the English goalie Banks only touched the ball four times and they were all back passes. Martin Peters and Ralph Coates winning his 3rd cap played.
Nineteen years later England met them for the last time to celebrate Malta’s FA century and won 2-1 Sol Campbell started the game and later missed a good chance as Malta missed two penalties. While Mitchell Thomas and Chris Fairclough played for England B against the island.
Other Spurs players to have represented their country’s against the island include Corluka, Kranjcar and Modric (Croactia), Thorstvedt (Norway), Tony Galvin (Republic of Ireland), Erik Edman (Sweden) and Milenko Acomov for Slovenia.
Updated August 2017 - In October 2016 the two countries met at Wembley again in a World Cup qualifier. Dele Alli scored the second goal in a 2-0 win which also featured Kyle Walker and Danny Rose.
If your aware of any other connections between Malta and Tottenham please contact me.
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