Birkirkara F.C.


Birkirkara F.C.

Football club infobox
clubname = Birkirkara


fullname = Birkirkara Football Club
nickname = Stripes, Tar-Raħal
founded = 1950
ground = Infetti Ground
chairman = Victor Zammit
mgrtitle = Head Coach
manager = John Buttigieg
league = Maltese Premier League
season = 2007-08
position = 3rd
shirtsupplier= Lotto
shirtsponsors= McDonalds
pattern_la1=|pattern_b1=_redstripes|pattern_ra1=
leftarm1=FFDD00|body1=FFDD00|rightarm1=FFDD00|shorts1=FF0000|socks1=FF0000
pattern_la2=|pattern_b2=|pattern_ra2=
leftarm2=100000|body2=FC8B04|rightarm2=000000|shorts2=000000|socks2=000000

Birkirkara FC is a Maltese football club, based in the town of Birkirkara, the largest town on the island.

Overview

Birkirkara FC was founded in 1950, although it wasn't until the late 1990s that the team started aiming high. This was the beginning of a new era, as in the 1996-97 season Birkirkara finished runners-up behind Valletta and qualified for the first time for the UEFA Cup, in which they played against Spartak Trnava.

In the 1997-98 season, Birkirkara lost the title to Valletta in their very last match. The title had to be decided in a last game showdown between the two arch-rivals. The match was played on the May 2, 1998 and attracted the largest crowd ever at Ta' Qali. Birkirkara needed just one point to be crowned champions but the Citizens won thanks to a controversial penalty.

In 1998-99, the title was again a two-leg race between Valletta and Birkirkara. The Stripes defeated Valletta on the three occasions but they dropped points against the other teams. Despite losing out in the title race, Birkirkara nevertheless won their first titles after triumphing in the Löwenbräu Cup and the Super 5 Competition.

Season 1999-2000 was dubbed as the season of reckoning as they landed the Rothmans Premier League title, leading the standings right from the start.

In another milestone, Birkirkara qualified for the second round of the UEFA competitions in 2001, when they managed to eliminate Lokomotiv Tbilisi of Georgia in the UEFA Cup Qualifying Round on the away goals rule.

In 2001, under the helm of Stephen Azzopardi, the club managed to win the FA Trophy - the only missing cup from the club's trophy room. Azzopardi's side emulated this success in 2002 and 2004.

In the season 2005-2006, Birkirkara won the Premier title again with 2 games from the end of the season. Coach Stephen Azzopardi was confirmed for another year.

Birkirkara is one of the founding members of the European Club Association. [cite news
title = Agreement heralds new era in football
url = http://www.uefa.com/uefa/keytopics/kind=4096/newsid=648350.html
publisher = uefa.com
date = 2008-01-21
accessdate = 2008-01-21
]

Achievements

*MFA Premier League: 2:: 2000, 2006

*MFA Trophy: 4:: 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008

*MFA Super Cup: 5:: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

*MFA Löwenbräu Cup: 2:: 1999, 2004

*MFA Trophy: 3:: 1999, 2003, 2006

Actual History

Football in Birkirkara dates back to the year 1916. Salvu Troisi, a famous Msida player who later joined Floriana, founded a club called Birkirkara United. This club, together with Birkirkara Celtic, laid the foundations of the present Birkirkara Football Club. Birkirkara Football Club was established in 1950 after the amalgamation of both clubs, when the committees of these two teams agreed to sacrifice their clubs in an attempt to build a team capable of challenging for club honours on a national scale. Amongst the persons who worked hard to establish this dream were Wigi Borg, Carmelo Micallef, John Baptist Galea, Eleno Borg and Paul Gauci.

The first club premises which were bought, were situated in Main Street, a few meters away form the small church dedicated to St. Paul. The club premises were not much but it was a place where at least all committee members and supporters could meet. Once the club premises were purchased, the attention turned towards the team. Lolly Rizzo, Emanuel Borg, Victor Farrugia and Lolly Cuschieri were amongst the first players to form part of Birkirkara FC. The team was further strengthened by the coach Mr. Frankie Tabone from the then famous Ajax side. Tabone was engaged as a player coach. The team did not have an official training ground and most training was carried out in the streets of Birkirkara. The Metropole cinema, which was still under construction, was also used as a training ground. This problem was only resolved when the Education Ministry permitted Birkirkara FC to train at the Government Primary School (Brared Street) and later at the Imriehel Technical School. Once all these problems were settled, Birkirkara FC were ready to join the "big boys".

The main rivals of Birkirkara FC are Valletta FC and Hibernians FC.

The 1950s and 1960’s

The baptism of fire proved to be too much for the Yellow-Reds. Losing match after match, Birkirkara FC were relegated to the second division. Season 1950/51 was no better. Birkirkara FC just managed to avoid relegation to the 3rd Division courtesy of a 4-1 win over Naxxar Lions in a relegation decider.

Season 1951/52 was totally different. Birkirkara won all the matches and were promoted back to the 1st Division. Not only did they win all their encounters but also they suffered just one goal in the process (against Melita FC)! The team was made up of some of the best elements ever to don the Birkirkara shirt. These included Raymond Cosby, Sunny Borg Cardona, E. Borg, L. Caruana, A. Preca, E. Attard, Valenzia, Manwel Saliba (il-Likku), Pisani, Sammut Tagliaferro and Frans Bonnici (Lula). This team, in season 1952/53, led Birkirkara to second place in the 1st Division and to the final of the Cassar Cup were they lost to Floriana by a solitary goal. The Birkirkara supporters later labeled the final as the "Briffa Cup" - a tribute to the referee who according to the supporters delivered the cup to Floriana on a silver plate. After this eventual final, Birkirkara remained in the top flight for a period of eight years. Not that these eight years were of any success, as Birkirkara were always hovering above the relegation zone.

During the 60’s Beatle mania definitely influenced Birkirkara FC, as like their hit song "Yellow Submarine", Birkirkara was floating between the 1st and 2nd Division on a regular basis. The Stripes were too good for the 2nd Division but were not up to the challenge of the 1st Division giants. Season 1967-68 was the most memorable. Apart from the 2nd Division championship, Birkirkara managed to land the Sons of Malta Cup. Birkirkara beat Gzira United 3-0 in the final to lift the cup.

The 1970s

The 70's were more exciting than the previous decade. Birkirkara managed to keep their place amongst the elite and established themselves as outsiders to win some silverware. In season 1970-71 Birkirkara had a good cup run and were only stopped by a solitary goal in the semi-finals in a tough contest against Hibernians.

Season 1972-73 saw Birkirkara challenging as outsiders for their first league title. Floriana started the league tremendously but suddenly hit a bad patch which enabled Birkirkara to creep closer. The ultimate game saw Birkirkara facing Floriana with the winner being declared Champions. The match was a tight affair. Everything pointed towards a draw. The young Floriana striker "Tichy" Grech thought otherwise and scored the match-winning goal in the 77th minute. Birkirkara had been so close but yet so far from their first Championship. A very good cup run followed this league defeat. On the 3 June 1973, Birkirkara faced Gzira United in their first F.A. Trophy final. The match ended 0-0. This was the same result when the teams faced each other again in mid-week. Thus both teams had to meet again for the third time to settle this marathon final. Unfortunately Gzira United scored twice to end another dream. Birkirkara were destined to remain without any silverware.

The 1980s

The eighties did not bring about any particular magic. Birkirkara maintained their trend of being promoted in one season only to face relegation in the next. It was only at the end of the 80's did the Stripes supporters have anything to shout about. Birkirkara had a good F.A. Trophy run. In the first round they beat Zurrieq 2-1. This was followed by a 1-0 win over Senglea. In the next round, Birkirkara were drawn to meet Valletta but there participation had been withdrawn by the M.F.A. due to previous violence. Hence we were drawn to meet Floriana in the semi-finals. The Greens had just mauled Hamrun Spartans 4-0 in the previous round and hence were already dreaming of the final. Birkirkara, led by a superb Todor Raykov, twice came back from the dead to beat Floriana 3-2 in an exciting semi-final. The final pitted us against Sliema Wanderers. Birkirkara played a shrewd counter attacking game but lady luck once again turned her back on us. In the 90` minute Sliema scored the decisive goal through Hubert Suda. The jinx continued.

The 1990s

During 1994 Birkirkara FC joined forces with Luxol St. Andrews in an attempt to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with. The team was renamed Birkirkara Luxol. The amalgamation lasted only two years. This project, did not give the results expected. What it did give however, was the force and energy needed to change the team from a small club mentality to a more commercial target oriented organisation. Birkirkara were finally on the right track. In 1996 Birkirkara obtained new premises which were quickly converted into a modern administrative building. From here Birkirkara could embark on various projects. On the 6 December 1996 Birkirkara FC registered itself as the first football public company in Malta. This enabled it to register share holders to finance several projects.

The team was strengthened and it brought the surprise pack in season 1996-97. In a new league format, played over three rounds, Birkirkara maintained the pace with favorites Valletta right until the very end. The season presented us with several memorable occasions particularly the treble over Sliema Wanderers, a double over Floriana and a hard fought victory over Valletta. Birkirkara ended as runners-up and qualified for the UEFA cup for the very first time. Season 1996-97 saw us competing in Europe for the first time. Birkirkara were eliminated against Spartak Trnava 4-1 on aggregate with new signing Michael Galea being the scorer of our first goal in Europe. The league campaign again saw us challenging Valletta to the very end. In a packed Ta` Qali Stadium, Valletta lowered our hopes with a 2-1 win. It appeared that Birkirkara were really destined to remain without any silverware.

The first silverware

Season 1998-99 saw us challenging even stronger. The campaign couldn’t have started off on a better note. A 4-0 win over Hibernians landed us the Löwenbräu Cup. A similar score against Sliema Wanderers landed us the Super 5 trophy. Birkirkara were finally laid the ghost! The league campaign started off with Valletta racing into the lead with the yellow/reds hot in pursuit. The Lillywhites kept their head and maintained a slender leads over Birkirkara F.C. Both teams met again in the F.A. Trophy final but Valletta managed to beat us. A couple of days after Valletta repeated their feat to land the Super Cup. Birkirkara had lost and ended what appeared to be a promising season on a bad note.

Season 1999-2000 brought us better luck. During this year, the club was celebrating its 50 years anniversary from its foundation. In a new league format Birkirkara started off strongly and were way in front of the chasing pack. Due to the new format, the points were halved and the gap suddenly grew closer. Two defeats against Hibernians and Pieta H. send out panic signals. The jinx had struck again. The team however, managed to control the situation and finally delivered. Amongst a carnival atmosphere never witnessed before, Birkirkara thumped their arch rivals Valletta to the tune of 5-1! The joy was dented by two poor results against the improving Sliema Wanderers who raced away with both the F.A. trophy and the Super Cup.

Season 2000-2001 remains a historic one for Birkirkara not in terms of silverware, but the Stripes managed to obtain their first qualification to another round in a European competition. Under the guidance of Alfred Cardona, Birkirkara F.C. drew 1-1 against Lokomotiv Tbilisi in Georgia. A goalless draw at Ta' Qali saw the Stripes qualifying for the next round. Birkirkara faced Dynamo Moscow in the first round of the UEFA Cup and suffered a 1-0 defeat in Russia and a goalless draw in the return match.

It was two years later, in season 2001-2002, that the Stripes managed to notch the elusive F.A. Trophy and Super Cup. Birkirkara plagued with several injuries beat Naxxar, then Hibernians in the semi-final. In the final against Sliema, a goal winner by Matthew Calascione gave the cup to Birkirkara for the first time. A few days later in the Super Cup final, Birkirkara beat Hibernians 1-0 to win all the major honours, that the Maltese championship can offer.

In season 2002-2003, Birkirkara F.C. have reached another first, by notching three cups in a row, the Super Five Cup, and for the second consecutive time the F.A. Trophy and Super Cup. Thus, Birkirkara F.C. made up for the disappointment at failing to secure the Championship despite showing a great potential. A historic 7-2 win over rivals Valletta remain imprinted in the Clubs' History for many years to come.

Season 2003-2004 started with Birkirkara winning the Löwenbräu Cup for the second time, by beating Hibernians 5-4, and then winning over Valletta by the score of 5-1. This meant, that for the first time, Birkirkara were the holders of four cups. For the third consecutive time Birkirkara F.C. notched the Super Cup after beating Sliema Wanderers 3-1.

Season 2005-2006 ended in yet another Premier League title acquisition for 'The Stripes' who managed to win their second ever league title, with Michael Galea finishing as a top scorer of both the club and the Premier League itself. Birkirkara finished the league with 48 points but then failing to qualify for the MFA Trophy final. Birkirkara played against Faroe Islands, Torshavn in the 1st round of the UEFA Champions League. However, they were eliminated.

Birkirkara Ultras 1997 - http://www.birkirkaraultras.org/

'B.U.97 - Past and Present:'
Birkirkara Ultras 1997 was founded in 25th February 1997 when a group of Birkirkara supporters, who had the Ultra mentality in them, decided to team up together and form a reliable group. The aim was to give constant support during all the Birkirkara FC matches, in Malta and in UEFA competitions. The first match was against bitter rivals Valletta FC. In the beginning the group was made up of around 20 people but eventually it continued to grow.

Today the group is made up of around 50 boys, and growing from strength, to strength. The group works hard to prepare for every match preparing banners, flags and other material for each match. Special emphasis is given to the chants, sung during every match and the continuous support during every match. The group finances itself by selling merchandise but members of the group also donate money. There is a group of commercial partners who help financially, hovever there is no involvement with football business.

'Relationship With Club:'
The group has no contact - directly or indirectly with the club of Birkirkara FC. It is a free and independent group and there is no form of recognition, official or otherwise by the Club towards the group. No funds have been ever given to the group from the Club.

'Against Modern Football:'
Football in Malta does not attract big crowds anymore. Until 7 years ago, the National Stadium would attract between 12000 to 17000 supporters for big matches, especially Birkirkara vs Valletta. Today with the introduction of Melita Cable showing Maltese matches and Satellite TV, people prefer to stay at home and watch English and Italian football.
As a group we feel that €8 to watch a match is extremely high, and this should be lowered so that more people will attend Maltese matches. Things should change so that the Maltese football league will be back to old and better times. 'Politics:'
The Birkirkara Ultras group is not affiliated with any political, racial, or religious ideology.

Current squad

Fs player| no=9 |nat=Malta | pos=FW | name=Michael Galea (captain)

Transfers in 2007-2008

Fs player|no=--|nat=Malta |name=Bernard Paris|pos=GK (back from loan)Fs player|no=--|nat=Malta |name=Omar Borg|pos=GK (from Msida Saint-Joseph F.C.)fs player|no=--|nat=Malta |name=Thomas Paris |pos=DF (back from loan)fs player|no=--|nat=Denmark |name=Ronald Hartvig |pos=DF (free transfer)Fs player|no=--|nat=Malta |name=Kenneth Spiteri|pos=DF (from Hibernians FC)Fs player|no=--|nat=Malta |name=Lee Lombardi|pos=DF (from Sliema Wanderers FC)Fs player|no=--|nat=Bulgaria |name=Emil Yantchev|pos=DF (free transfer)Fs player|no=--|nat=Malta |name=Martin Anastasi|pos=MF (back from loan)Fs player|no=--|nat=Malta |name=Alan Tabone|pos=MF (back from loan)Fs player|no=--|nat=Malta |name=Sean Bajada|pos=MF (from Marsaxlokk FC)Fs player|no=--|nat=Malta |name=Pawlu Fenech|pos=MF (from Msida Saint-Joseph F.C.)

Transfers out 2007-2008

Fs player|no= |nat=Malta |name=Kenneth Spiteri|pos=DF (to Msida Saint-Joseph F.C.)Fs player|no= |nat=Malta |name=Sean Sullivan|pos=GK (to Hamrun Spartans FC)Fs player|no= |nat=Nigeria |name=Precious Monye|pos=DF (to Hamrun Spartans FC)Fs player|no= |nat=Malta |name=William Camenzuli|pos=DF (to Marsaxlokk FC)Fs player|no= |nat=Malta |name=Kenneth Scicluna|pos=DF (to Valletta FC)Fs player|no= |nat=Malta |name=Etienne Barbara|pos=FW (to Sliema Wanderers FC)Fs player|no= |nat=Malta |name=Roderick Briffa|pos=FW (to Sliema Wanderers FC)Fs player|no= |nat=Malta |name=Roderick Sammut|pos=DF (on loan with Qormi FC)Fs player|no= |nat=Central African Republic |name=Marceline Tamboulas|pos=FW (free transfer)Fs player|no= |nat=Malta |name=Lino Galea|pos=DF (to Tarxien Rainbows FC)

Players on loan

Former managers

*flagicon|MAL Stephen Azzopardi

Birkirkara F.C. - Women's Team

The team first competed in the Women's League in the Season 1996/1997, under the guidance of Mr. George Micallef. At the time, teams were split up into two sections with Birkirkara being drawn in Section B along with Mosta, Hamrun, Hibs, Melita and Qormi. Birkirkara managed to win their section and consequently played in another league made up of the top three teams from each Sections, eventually finishing third, only a few points behind Rabat and Lija and ahead of others like Mosta, who had long been established. Considering that not one of the girls had ever played an official game before, it was a huge success.

Mr. George Micallef was once again the team coach during the 1997/1998, in which Birkirkara confirmed their third placing in the national league for the second year running. The experience gained during the previous season together with the good tactics employed by Mr. Micallef were telling features as Birkirkara continued to progress. Furthermore, Catherine Camilleri, ex-Gozo, decided to join ranks with Birkirkara thus enhancing the team’s play and potential.

Following the resignation of Mr. Micallef, Mr. Andre Camilleri was drafted in as coach for 1998/1999. This time, Birkirkara managed to sign Debbie Pisani of Lija as the team also featured its first foreigner, Tiina Karsikas from Finland. During this season, the women's team went one better than previous years, finishing second after Hibernians, whilst also winning the club’s first honour in the form of a Knock-Out Competition, when Mosta were beaten in the final. Personal honours also arrived as Rebecca De Agostino and Catherine Camilleri were each presented with a prize after being voted First and Third respectively in the national competition “Sportiv/a tas-Sena Awards” 1998/1999 (Sportsmen/Women of the Year Award - Women's Football Section).

In the following season, Birkirkara engaged the services of yet another coach. This time, the former Planets and Luqa St. Andrews coach, Mr. Kenneth Costantino took over. A good number of new players were added to the previous year's squad. Forward Melanie Zammit of Raccoons - who finished as top scorer in the Second Division a year earlier - and goalie Sharon Mifsud of Luqa St. Andrews were prominent among the new additions. Once again, Birkirkara had to make do with second place ace Hibernians swept to the league. But, yet again, winning the Knock-Out Competition for the second year running was a good consolation prize. Losing finalists this time round were Melita, among the pioneers of women’s football in Malta. For the first time ever, this match was played on artificial turf at the newly inaugurated Centenary Stadium.

The Stripes were the winners of the Knock Out competition in the seasons 2001-2002 and 2002-2003. In both occasions Birkirkara had the upper hand of rivals Hibernians.

After a couple of years, former coach Kenneth Costantino re-joined the young team just before the start of the 2006/07 season and with the help of the dedicated committee guided them to their 1st league championship, after years of playing second fiidle in the league to Hiberians.

Considering that the average age of the team was 15 years old and at least 6 first team players were either injured or recovering from injury this was no mean feat.

After the celebrations were all over, the young team went on to represent Malta in The Uefa Women's Cup. This was the first time a Maltese women's team represented Malta in The Uefa Women's Cup.

References

External links

* [http://www.birkirkarafc.com/ Official website]
* [http://www.birkirkaraultras.org/ Birkirkara Ultras Official Website]
* [http://ultraslife.blogspot.com/ Malta Ultras Project]
* [http://birkirkara.maltafans.com/ Birkirkara F.C. Fanzine Maltese Football]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/fa_cup/4525061.stm]


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