Valletta FC of Malta travel to Wales to face Newtown in the Europa League on Thursday, but there’s a long history of European games between Welsh and Maltese teams.
The Maltese capital’s team have won once before against a Welsh team, when they won their first ever European tie against Barry Town in 1998, but the first game between clubs from Wales and Malta was contested all the way back in 1963.
Borough United, a small club based in Llandudno Junction, was the first Welsh team ever to progress in European competitions and they did so by beating Sliema Wanderers of Malta.
Less than a decade after being formed in 1954, Borough United had won the Welsh Cup by 1963, beating Newport County in the final in a huge upset. Borough United were drawn against Sliema Wanderers in the Cup Winners’ Cup first round and a fund-raising committee even raffled a bungalow to pay for the journey to Malta!
The flight to Malta turned into a 31-hour saga after the plane encountered engine problems and had to land in Marseille, which meant that the team only arrived on the island hours before kick-off. Despite the difficulties, Borough came home with a 0-0 draw from the first leg, then a 2-0 win in the second leg at the Racecourse, Wrexham, secured Borough’s place in the second round.
Unfortunately, Borough United lost in the second round against Slovan Bratislava, who downed The New Saints in last year’s Champions League, and the club eventually folded in 1969, only 6 years after their great European triumph against Sliema.
As you can see in the video above of a feature shown on Sgorio back in 2010 before Llandudno Junction were to play The New Saints in the Welsh Cup, Borough United and the Maltese connection is a special story.