Ħamrun Spartans Football Club is a Maltese professional football club based in Ħamrun.[2] Since being founded in 1907, Ħamrun Spartans have won nine league championships while being runners-up eleven times.

Ħamrun Spartans
Full nameĦamrun Spartans Football Club
Nickname(s)Tas-Sikkina, Ta' Werwer
Founded1907; 116 years ago (1907)
GroundVictor Tedesco Stadium
ChairmanJoseph Portelli[1]
ManagerLuciano Zauri
LeagueMaltese Premier League
2022–23Maltese Premier League, 1st of 14 (champions)
WebsiteClub website

One of the stalwarts in the club history, Stefan Sultana, has scored a total of 252 goals in his career (225 of them while playing for the club), which makes him Malta's top-scorer (per 12 May 2007).

History Edit

Ħamrun Spartans were founded in 1907. By season 1913–14, Ħamrun Spartans were already an established team on the local scene winning the title during that season thanks to a better goal-average than St. George's. Their second League success came four years later when they finished again in joint top-spot with St. George's. This time the Spartans were crowned Champions of Malta by beating them in a playoff. Ħamrun's top player at that time was Gejtu Psaila, known as il-Hacca. In the 1920s and 1930s, the club went through a difficult period as most Ħamrun players left to join other clubs.

A new team, Ħamrun Liberty was formed and in just a couple of years, Ħamrun Liberty was among the elite of Maltese football. On their return to the First Division in 1946–47, the club changed its name to Ħamrun Spartans. They were soon a hit as they won the Johnnie Walker Championship Trophy, winning also the Cassar Cup. They won the Cassar Cup again in 1948–49 season. For four times between 1947 and 1952, they were four times runners-up.

The team started dwindling down in the 60's until they were relegated in the season 1969–70. After returning to the First Division, they were relegated once again in 1973–74. However, after two years in the Second Division, they were back in the First Division.

On the 75th anniversary, in season 1982–83, the club was back at the top winning the title after an absence of 36 years. Ħamrun also won the FA Trophy during that season. That was the beginning of an era under the guide of president Victor Tedesco. The team was strengthened with top players like Gigi Salerno, Raymond and George Xuereb, Edwin Farrugia, Raymond Vella, Joe Brincat and Carlo Seychell. Alfred Cardona was their coach. After a lot of disputes with the Immigration Division, Victor Tedesco signed two foreigners, Englishmen Peter Hatch and John Linacre – the first foreigners to play on the island after a long period of time.

The Spartans set a new record being the first local team to win both the home and away legs in a UEFA competition after beating Ballymena of Northern Ireland. In a decade, Ħamrun won three league titles, three FA Trophies, the Super Cup and Euro Cup twice each.

After such successful campaigns, the Spartans faced financial difficulties. The team had to transfer its best players until finally they were relegated to the First Division in 1998–99. After one year, they were promoted back to the Premier League after winning the Division 1 title.

The last four seasons were years of ups-and-downs. They were relegated to Division 1 at the end of season 2003–04, winning promotion as First Division champions in 2004–05, being relegated in 2005–06 and winning the First Division championship once again in 2006–07.

The team won the Maltese First Division in 2006–07. Following the promotion to the Maltese Premier League the Spartans finished in 6th place in 2007–08 and met all their objectives and even ended up in the final of the FA Trophy against Birkirkara FC losing with honours in the last minute by a 1-goal difference. This season was also a great success to its supporters after winning the Malta Best Support Award.

Seemingly having been strengthened in several departments, Ħamrun Spartans aimed to challenge for a place in Europe the following season. Yet, the team failed to reach the championship pool. In the relegation pool Ħamrun started with an excellent 3–0 win over Msida St. Joseph, then suffered a shock 1–5 defeat against Tarxien Rainbows. Four points over the next three games were not enough to reach safety, and in the final game, a depleted Ħamrun side was easily defeated by Qormi FC. With Tarxien and Msida also reaching 16 points following the draw between them, Ħamrun Spartans were relegated on the worst head-to-head record. The corruption cases resulting involving Vittoriosa Stars and Marsaxlokk meant both "relegated" teams remained in the Premier Division for the 2009–10 season.

The 2009–10 season Ħamrun Spartans made success because they finished in the eight position of the Maltese Premier League with the last game was in the Relegation Pool against Msida with the final result was a draw of 2–2.

Ħamrun Spartans faced more difficulties and albeit staying in the top division for some years, they were relegated to the Maltese First Division in the 2012–13 season. Worse was to follow when the team was relegated to the Maltese Second Division – the worst ever placing in its history. Ħamrun Spartans gained promotion from the Second Division by placing in the second position in the season 2014–15. Ħamrun, now will play in the Maltese First Division (Season 2015–16).

The 2015–16 season ended successfully for Ħamrun Spartans FC. The team finished in second place in the First Division and was promoted to the Premier Division after an absence of four years. In this period the administration of the club improved greatly and many difficulties, mainly financial, were surmounted. New enthusiasm and optimism embraced the club. The supporters were looking forward for a fresh start.

In the 2016-17 season Hamrun regained Premier League status and the following season established themselves in the Premier League as the shout of "we're hear to stay" from the fans grew stronger.

The 2018-19 season was one of high success. The team, led by Italian coach Giovanni Tedesco defied the odds and finished in 4th place after getting a 94th minute equaliser in the last match of the season against arch rivals Valletta which forced the latter to play a decider for the title. Hamrun fans dreamt that European competition was once again in reach but Balzan beat Valletta in the final of the FA Trophy, which meant that Balzan occupied the 4th and last Maltese slot in European football.

The 2019-20 season saw the team under new Coach Manuele Blasi. The team performed well initially but due to financial difficulties had to release key players. Blasi was replaced by Andrea Ciaramella in early 2020 with the team ending in 9th position when the league was suspended due to the Covid pandemic in March 2020 with 6 matches left to play.

In the summer of 2020 intense negotiations took place to find solid financial backing for Hamrun Spartans F.C. These proved successful when J. Portelli Projects agreed to take control of the club. The club immediately signed three of the most promising young Malta National Team players - Juan Carlos Corbalan, Joseph Mbong and Matthew Guillaumier. A professional corporate image was given to the club and it began the 2020–21 season strongly, sitting top of the league at the end of 2020. After the halt of the league decided by the Malta Football Association in April, Spartans were declared champions of the league, 30 years after the last title.[3]

On 9 June 2021, the club was excluded from participating in the 2021–22 UEFA Champions League for being involved in a match fixing scandal back in 2013.[4]

On 11 August 2022, after a victory over Levski Sofia on penalties, Ħamrun became the first ever Maltese side to reach the play-off stage of a UEFA club competition; where they played against the famous Serbian club Partizan, who proved too strong. Having lost 4-1 in Belgrade in the first leg, Ħamrun managed to achieve a highly respectable and entertaining 3–3 draw in the second leg back in Malta. The Spartans had beaten Alashkert, Velež Mostar and Levski Sofia in the first three rounds of qualifying to set up a meeting with the Serbian side.

Club officials Edit

Current squad Edit

As of 11 April 2023[5]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   MLT Henry Bonello
3 DF   MLT Sean Schembri
4 DF   MLT Steve Borg
5 DF   MLT Sven Xerri
7 FW   MLT Luke Montebello
8 MF   MLT Bjorn Buhagiar
10 MF   MLT Joseph Mbong
12 MF   CRO Roko Prša
14 MF   BRA Elionay
17 MF   BUL Yuliyan Nenov
19 DF   MLT Joseph Zerafa
22 GK   ITA Federico Marchetti
No. Pos. Nation Player
23 FW   MNE Uroš Đuranović
25 MF   BRA Eder
27 DF   SRB Ognjen Bjeličić
28 MF   MLT Juan Carlos Corbalan
30 FW   GHA Seth Paintsil
31 GK   BRA Tom
42 MF   SRB Nemanja Krstić
45 FW   NGA Hamza Muhammad Sani
69 DF   CRO Karlo Bilić
91 MF   BRA Emerson
94 MF   MLT Ryan Camenzuli
98 FW   BRA Jonny

Youth players Edit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF   MLT Kian Vella

Former players Edit

Recent managers Edit

Honours Edit

European record Edit

Season Competition Round Opponent Home Away Aggregate
1983–84 European Cup 1R   Dundee United 0–3 0–3 0–6
1984–85 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1R   Ballymena United 2–1 1–0 3–1
2R   Dynamo Moscow 0–1 0–5 0–6
1985–86 UEFA Cup 1R   Dinamo Tirana 0–0 0–1 0–1
1987–88 European Cup 1R   Rapid Wien 0–1 0–6 0–7
1988–89 European Cup 1R   17 Nëntori 2–1 0–2 2–3
1989–90 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1R   Real Valladolid 0–1 0–5 0–6
1991–92 European Cup 1R   Benfica 0–6 0–4 0–10
1992–93 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup QR   Maribor 2–1 0–4 2–5
2022–23 UEFA Europa Conference League 1QR   Alashkert 4–1 0–1 4–2
2QR   Velež Mostar 1–0 1–0 2–0
3QR   Levski Sofia 0–1 2–1 2–2 (4–1 p)
PO   Partizan 3–3 1–4 4–7
2023–24 UEFA Champions League 1QR   Maccabi Haifa 0–4 1–2 1–6
UEFA Europa Conference League 2QR   Dinamo Tbilisi 2–1 1–0 3–1
3QR   Ferencváros 1–6 1–2 2–8

Youth Nursery Edit

Hamrun Spartans Youth Nursery was founded by Tony Bajada in December 1987. At the time the Nursery catered for around 40 players.

Further reading Edit

  • Armstrong, Gary; Mitchell, Jon P. (2008). Global and Local Football: Politics and Europeanization on the Fringes of the EU. Routledge. pp. 58–105. ISBN 9781134269198.

References Edit

  1. ^ Camilleri, Valhmor (5 March 2020). "Watch: Joseph Portelli appointed new president of Ħamrun Spartans". SportsDesk. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  2. ^ "LaLiga: The best show in Malta | News | Liga de Fútbol Profesional 2016". Archived from the original on 16 July 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  3. ^ Camilleri, Valhmor (9 April 2021). "Ħamrun Spartans declared as Malta champions as MFA halt Premier League". SportsDesk. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  4. ^ "AB: Hamrun Spartans FC admission criteria". UEFA. 9 June 2021.
  5. ^ Hamrun Spartans squad list 2019-20 season, facebook.com, 21 August 2019
  6. ^ Camilleri, Valhmor (3 February 2020). "Spartans sack coach Blasi". Times of Malta. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  7. ^ Camilleri, Valhmor (15 February 2022). "Branko Nisevic agrees terms to take over as Ħamrun Spartans coach". SportsDesk. Retrieved 16 February 2022.

External links Edit

  • Profile on Malta's Football Association website