Thursday, 29 April 2010

Rabat Ajax FC (Malta)

Based in the village of Rabat in the centre of Malta's main island, Rabat Ajax FC have become somewhat of a yo-yo club in recent years, dipping in and out of the second and third tiers of Maltese football with some regularity. However, they have a long and fairly complicated history. Founded in 1930 under the name Rabat Rovers, they joined with their local rivals Rabat Rangers and a team called Old City in 1937 to become Rabat Zvanks. A year later, they decided that this was too complicated a name, and changed it to the simpler Rabat FC, before joining with a club already called Rabat Ajax in 1980, finally settling on the name Rabat Ajax FC.

Their golden years were in the mid- 1980s, when they twice won the Maltese Premier League. Around the same time, they had a short but spectacular flirtation with European football - twice in the UEFA Cup and twice in the European Cup. 1983 saw them take a 16-0 UEFA hammering by Inter Bratislava, but they performed much better the following year against fellow stripes FK Partizan, losing by only two goals in each leg. However, their title wins saw them enter the big one, back in the day the Champions Trophy was for champions only. Their European Cup debut in 1985 saw them take two 5-0 batterings to Omonia Nicosia, but their biggest moment of all came in 1986 when they got a plumb first round draw against FC Porto.

In the home leg they only conceded a single goal to the high-flying Portuguese champs, so were full of expectation for the return leg. Unfortunately Porto denied the team whose home ground can only hold 400 the chance of playing at their massive Estádio das Antas, and the game was played at the much smaller Rio Ave stadium instead. Still over-awed by the occasion, Ajax took a brutal 9-0 beating, and it was the last time this plucky side would ever grace a European stage.

Their most noted player was Carmel Busuttil, who saw action away from the Island, at first with Italian amateur side Verbania, before joining the Belgian outfit Racing Genk. Also of note from their roster is a chap called Paddy Sloan, a much travelled Irishman who not only played internationally for both Irish national side, but became the first Irishman ever to play for in Serie A when Milan signed him way back in 1948. he also had spells at Manchester United, Arsenal, Fulham and Udinese, before finding his way to Malta, both playing for and managing Rabat Ajax, and eventually ending his playing days at Bath City.

See, we stripes like to keep it in the family!

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1 comment:

  1. Hey Great Article.
    I f you need some info about the club you can contact me on or follow

    From a Rabat Ajax Supporter