As the club does not have any historical records in its possession relating to its formation one therefore has to turn to newspapers and other records to see whether any insight can be gleaned from them as to when and how the club came to be formed.
The GFA has no records relating to the period 1912 to 1920 and the Gibraltar Chronicle makes no mention of the establishment of the club in its edition of 1912. The only other surviving newspaper of the time is the El Calpense but as this is not accessible to the public for research purposes, it is not presently possible to establish whether any mention is made in that newspaper about the formation of the club in any of its editions lf 1912. Thus, the only other source of information available are the Government archives and thankfully after some search a 1912 file relating to the creation of the St. Joseph’s Recreation and Dramatic Club was found.
However there is an arguable reason to believe that the original embodiment of the club is that contained in the 1912 Government file found.
The Creation of the Club
On the 16th January 1912, a Mr Manuel Passano, the secretary of the St. Joseph’s Recreation and Dramatic Club, wrote to the Colonial Secretary’s Office as was required by section 6 (2) of The Summary Conviction Amendment Ordinance of 1904 requesting permission for the creation of the St. Joseph’s Recreation and Dramatic Club. Mr Passano informed the Colonial Secretary that the Club premises were to be situated at D.2 H.17 South Barrack Road South (it is not possible to accurately locate nowadays where these Club premises stood) and would be opening weekdays from 5 pm to 11 pm and Sundays and holidays from 11 am to 11 pm.
The application submitted was as per the then normal procedure passes onto the Chief of Police for investigation. The Chief of Police on the 19th January 1912 wrote to the Colonial Secretary informing him that “the place is suitable and there is no police objection”.
Thus it came to be that on the 20th January 2012 the Colonial Secretary issued the licence for the St. Joseph’s Recreation and Dramatic Club following the Governor’s approval being given in writing that same day.
The first officers and committee members of the Club were:-
|President||The Reverend Father C Grech|
|Vice Presidents||Mr. J. Rodriguez and Mr. J. Peake|
|Treasurer||Mr. A. Andrews|
|Hon. Secretary||Mr. M. Passano|
|Committee Members||Mr. J. Coelho|
|Mr. A. Dalmedo|
|Mr. J. Azopardi|
|Mr. W. C. Stark|
|Mr. L. Buggia|
|Mr H. Coelho|
The Patron of the Club was the Bishop of Gibraltar the Right Reverend H. G. Thompson.
The original Rules of the Club
The first thing that strikes one about the Rules is how closely they are linked with the Roman Catholic Church.
Rule 1 provided that the Club:-
“will always remain attached to St. Joseph’s church and under the Spiritual Direction of the Father in charge of the said church”;
whilst Rule 5 provides:-
“members are requested to attend Holy Communion monthly……………………. and to assist at the Benediction of M.H Sacrament on Sunday evenings …………”;
whilst Rule 14 provides that members will be given:-
“religious instruction ……… from 11 and to 11.30 am on Sundays”
Some may argue that thankfully the religious fervour seen in 1912 has not carried on to the present day.
The second thing that strikes one about the Rules is the lack of reference to anything to do with sports save that the Rules make it clear that:-
“wrestling, boxing, ball playing etc. will not be allowed within the premises”.
In those days the playing of sport by a club was very much a secondary consideration to the social aspects of the club.
The full text of the Rules will hopefully be on view at the Club premises shortly so that members and guests can in future all gasp in relief at the fact that they are no longer in operation.
As there is no accessibility to the El Calpense newspaper editions as stated above, one has to rely on the Gibraltar Chronicle for the purposes of trying to ascertain when the Club’s first football match occurred.
The first entry found in the Gibraltar Chronicle relates to a match that occurred on the 12th April 1913 when St. Joseph’s played Rovers F.C. at 3 pm at the North Front Ground in a match in the Junior League (the other two teams in the League being Calpe F. C. and George F. C.) organised by the Gibraltar Civilian Football Association (later in 1951 to become the Gibraltar Football Association). What the outcome of this match was is not known since the Chronicle does not provide either a report of the match or the final score.
The second entry in the Gibraltar Chronicle relation to the Club occurs in November 1913 when there is an indication that the Club, albeit as a result of having obtained two byes, got to the final of the first ever held Junior Cup competition also organised by the Gibraltar Civilian Football Association. Once again the Chronicle does not enlighten us with the name of the club St. Joseph’s played in the final or who won the match but as records show that George F. C. were the cup winners we can summarize what the end result was.
The third entry in the Gibraltar Chronicle relation to the Club shows that the Club also competed in the Junior League in the 1913/14 season playing against:-
08th November 1913 – St. Joseph’s v Merry Boys F.C.
29th November 1913 – Emerald F. C. v St. Joseph’s
20th December 1913 – St. Joseph’s v Coronation F. C.
03rd January 1914 – George F. C. v St. Joseph’s.
It is not known what the scores in those matches were but the Junior League was won by Coronation F. C. that season.
Due to the First World War no league of cup competitions for juniors were held during the 1914/15 or 1915/16 seasons by the Gibraltar Civilian FA and when the Junior league was restarted in the 1916/17 season St. Joseph’s do not appear to have taken part. It is to be pointed out that the fact that St. Joseph’s may not have been mentioned in the Gibraltar Chronicle and/or taken part in any Gibraltar Civilian FA competition in any particular season does not necessarily mean that the Club was not in existence during this time. There is plenty of football played on the Rock outside the confines of competitions organised by the Gibraltar Civilian FA but such football matches were never referred to in the Gibraltar Chronicle. During the season 1928/29 St. Joseph’s won their first trophy, the Junior League, in that same season the Club visited Tangiers and played vs. Alfonso XIII and won 5-1 (trophy in Club’s trophy cabinet). The following season on the 9th March 1930 St. Joseph’s played Duke of York F. C. in the junior cup final losing 3-1.
Further references to the Club appear in the Gibraltar Chronicle of the 1930s and 1940s.
In the late 40s the late Eduardo Negron took over the Club and since then the priority became football.
In the 1951/52 season Rosia Rovers F. C. won the Junior League and therefore were promoted to the Senior League for the 1952/53 season; St. Joseph’s competing in the Junior League in that same season. It is known that on the 31st August 1952, St. Joseph’s Recreation and Amenity Club (as it was known then) informed the GFA St. Joseph’s played its first match in the Senior Division on the 4th October 1952 against Britannia F. C. watched by 1,613 spectators we lost the match 5-0. It is to be said that six days later we beat Gib Utd 3-1 in front of 772 spectators.
Despite winning the Yule Cup in seasons 1954/55 and 1955/56 and the N. P. Cortes Junior Cup in 1958/59 and the Sergeant J. J. Zammitt RAF Memorial Cup in 1959/60 St. Joseph’s first major trophy was in the season 1955/56 when we won the Senior Cup.
During the 60s and 70s the Club focus was on football, the Club moved premises from the South Barracks South Pavilion to the KGV Hospital and then back to the South Barracks North Pavilion, the word football was introduced to the Club’s name and Miss St. Joseph’s and the Blue Disco became a popular event around Gibraltar, but one thing that can’t go without mention is the trophies, despite winning cups and people saying that the team of the late 60s/early 70s was one of the best the Club has ever had, the 1st Division title could never be won, it got to the point that after being top of the League with a handful of games remaining the GFA suspended 8 players for opting to play a friendly for us and not the GFA whilst both were playing at the same time against Military teams in the Naval Grounds. In 1978 the Club visited Nottingham for the first time playing two games; this was repeated the following year.
The 80s started well for the Club both on and off the field of play, for the 3rd time the Club visited Nottingham again playing with Hucknall F. C. and a Derby youth team. The ever popular Blue Disco and Miss St. Joseph’s have continued to be the Club’s main functions for members and guests. On the field of play the Club won 4 Rock Cups three in a row seasons 82/83, 83/84 and 84/85 and one Senior Cup all of this under the guidance of a man who gave all for this Club, the late Frances Negron. The 4th Rock Cup was won in the 86/87 season. In April 1982 the Club moved again from South Barracks North Pavilion to be where we are today the then Chief Minister, Sir Joshua Hassan and our then President Frances inaugurated the Club in front of a packed club house. Francis left the Club in 1985 and Pepe Gaivizo took over the reigns, my mentor as I would call it has been there throughout the 80s, 90s and until last year when I could not convince him to carry on.
The team was relegated in the 87/88 season for just one year; we bounced back the following year as Division 2 Champions.
The 90s saw the Club win its last major honour to date, the 1991/92 season saw the Club win its 5th Rock Cup a then record and legend Francis Picardo collects his 5th Winner’s Medal, but it was the season 1995/96 that the Club will cherish forever, with Gonzalo Aguilera as manager we won our 1st Senior League title 26th March 1996 a Tuesday evening saw our late Life President alongside Club Captain Jerry Aguilera lift that Shield that had eluded us for years.
Following that season to date the Club has not won any major trophies but it is true to say that we have who one Division 2 title and 2 Reserve League cups. It is in Junior where the Club has developed in the past decade there is where the Club has put an immense effort and records show the number of leagues and cups won at the different age groups we have competed in. Proof goes to show the several players who now play for the Senior Team and have come through the ranks, hopefully this will continue and sooner rather than later we will end this 12 year wait for a major trophy.
All in all the Club has year in year out put its best foot forward turning out teams in various GFA leagues and competitions through the sheer hard work of a handful of individuals who have given their time, energy and commitment to ensuring that the life of the Club continues to flow. The holding of the 100th Anniversary is a tribute to all of you here as those who unfortunately can’t be here with us because without your help in any way or form the Club could not go forward.