I am back from the wilderness (it may even be forty days and forty nights since my last instalment) but, as promised, in this article I examine Maltese footballing superpower Marsaxlokk.
As usual, this takes the form of SEVEN facts about the club (all of which you probably didn't know given Malta's low football profile).
Why seven? Why is the world round!
1. Marsaxlokk F.C. was originally founded in 1949 as Marsaxlokk White Starsand the team is also referred to as the Southseasiders and the Blues (strange given that they play in yellow strips).
2. The club's squad, like that of many of its league rivals, is—a refreshing rarity in the modern game—almost entirely composed of nationals, with the addition of only two Brazilians and one Argentinian player. All of the club's permanent outgoing and incoming transfers for the 2008-09 season involved Maltese clubs exclusively.
3. Jamie McDonald Pace, a Hammersmith-born midfielder once of London clubs Barton Rovers and Tooting & Mitcham, earned his keep at Marsaxlokk for four year from 2004, during which time he scored seven goals from 77 appearances. Pace moved to Malta a few years earlier in a bid to play international football.
4. Between 2005 and 2008, former Arsenal midfielder and England international Brian Talbot (pictured) was the club's first team coach. His unexpected stint was highly successful as he guided the team to a first league title and a place in the U.E.F.A Champions League qualifying rounds. He has now accepted a job as the club's technical director.
5. An anonymous Marsaxlokk player was this season approached by crooks with an offer to help throw a match. Despite accusations from local media that other officials and players at the club were involved in the bribe, club officials have denied any wrongdoing and defended the organization's behaviour.
6. The club's performances in European competitions have questioned the criteria for qualification, having been beaten by Slovenians NK Primorjea and Bosnians HSK Zrinjski Mostar and thrashed by FK Sarajevo and NK Slaven Belupo in the last two seasons by eight goals on aggregate on each occasion.
7. Despite competing for the Maltese Premier League title with the elaborately-named Hamrun Spartans and Tarxien Rainbows (no really!), Marsaxlokk will look to win the BOV League and the U*Bet FA Trophy next campaign. It seems that even this idyllic and historic Mediterranean island has not escaped the greedy grubs of corporate fat cats.
Next up...Indian side East Bengal F.C. Stay tuned!