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Gibraltar National League Championship Group Review

With only four games remaining, the Gibraltar FA called off the league making it null and void. The European spots were handed out but no league winner announced. Here is our early review of the Championship Group.

Europa FC – 1st

While not being crowned champions has clearly left a very bitter taste in the mouths of all at Europa, they should no doubt still be happy at how their season went until the point of the league being terminated. From their opening week, eye-catching 4-1 win against Lincoln, Europa went on to be virtually unstoppable in the league, bar for a dramatic 2-2 draw against St Joseph’s in September which they were lucky not to lose.

They were of course expected to challenge for the title strongly, but few would have perhaps expected them to be unbeaten – past Europa sides have had a habit of very avoidable defeats that have cost them in the league dearly, but this Europa side, even when going behind in games, never looked like losing 99% of the time.

The emergence of Dayle Coleing in goal was a major plus for Rafael Escobar’s side, while the signing of Juampe from Balona was an inspired addition to a team who have never had trouble scoring. The plan for next season will be to try and maintain those levels, with St Joseph’s and Lincoln likely to be champing at the bit hoping to bring Europa down a peg or two.


St Joseph’s – 2nd

After years of coming so close in breaking the top two’s league dominance, Saints finally reached their potential this season. Sitting in second, five points behind Europa and five points in front of Lincoln with four games remaining.

Overall their season exceeded expectations – their Europa League campaign was memorable, came within minutes of beating Europa but would draw 2-2 in the final minute and did the league double of Lincoln.

The most important bit for Procopio and his men is to keep the same momentum and consistency going into whenever football restarts in Gibraltar.


Lincoln Red Imps – 3rd

For a team who have for so many years been the all-conquering, dominant force of local football, a third-place finish for Lincoln is disappointing – in fact, it is the first season they haven’t finished in the top two since the 1999/2000 season, where they finished fourth in a six-team league.

While they continued to beat the teams below them, normally with some ease, Lincoln came unstuck against both Europa and St Joseph’s, losing all four meetings against their title rivals. This saw their title hopes drift away in February, but there were some positive signs for the club, most notably the emergence of Julian Del Rio into the first team.

Next seasons aim for Lincoln has to be to appoint the right manager, after German Crespo’s departure earlier this week, and try to keep them in charge for a longer period than their last few managers – they have the squad, especially in attack, to challenge for titles, but stability is key if Lincoln wants to climb back on top of local football once again.


Lynx FC – 4th

Lynx was another team that started the season great, a 4th place finish is their highest since the 2014-15 season. Their three Croatians Hrvoje Bukvic, Ed Kokorovic, and Marko Marcius would play a big role in round one of the Gibraltar National League. Their departure would leave a big hole in the team and the results would show it with two wins from six games.

It has been a positive season for them though, Jaydan Parody has shown potential this season and Mohamed Badr has made the Gibraltar national team.


Brunos Magpies – 5th

Round one of the National League saw Magpies achieve their top half aims, albeit it was far less comfortable than expected, and saw the departure of David Wilson as manager, a move which proved unpopular among Magpies fanbase and seemed to hurt their attendances and atmosphere for a while after. They weren’t then helped by Alfonso Cortijo joining, only to leave for a job in China two months later, but he at least ensured they finished in the top six before the split.

Magpies issue seemed to be in beating the teams above them, with only a solitary cup win vs Lynx to their name vs the top four, so 5th place is a deserved finished, and perhaps around where the club would have hoped to finish, despite significant investment in both the summer and in January. Tight battles with St Joseph’s just before the league ended showed some hope they can battle with the big boys, presuming they don’t chop and change the squad too much this summer.


Lions Gibraltar – 6th

You can’t judge Lions’ season from their results in the Championship Group, with their financial resources not as strong as the others – the team itself knew what they were getting themselves into with a sixth-placed finish.

Lions did put in cracking performances in the Group and were unlucky not to get points on a couple of occasions. Looking at it from an overall perspective, Albert Ferri and his team showed great promise and that they don’t need to play so defensively to gain results.

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Gibraltar National League Challenge Group review

With the Gibraltar National League halted due to COVID with the Gibraltar FA’s decision to null and void the league after a 2-month suspension – here is our early review of the Challenge Group.


Mons Calpe – 1st

In truth, Mons would have found themselves very disappointed to end up in the Challenge Group in the first place – they must have fancied themselves to finish above Lions and enter the Championship Group.

However, a much-changed and improved Mons had a good 2020, which culminated in reaching the semi-finals of the Gibtelecom Cup and all but securing the top spot in the Challenge Group before the season terminated. The challenge for Mons is to try and settle some of their off-field issues and try to build on their progress in 2020.


Europa Point – 2nd

Compared to their 2016-17 season in the top flight, Europa Point can find plenty of positives especially from January onwards. Ian Hendon and his team hard work reaped its rewards but a 5-5 draw against College 1975 before the suspension, would have left a sour taste in their mouths.

Europa Point will be keeping hold of Hendon and his players but most importantly, finding a good nucleus of HGP’s, the lack of which let them down for most of the season.


Manchester 62 – 3rd

Things were always going to be hard for Manchester, but third in the Challenge Group perhaps reflects where they were in terms of strength in the league. They would have perhaps hoped for Jeff Wood to last longer in the job but struck well in getting David Wilson, another former national manager, as his replacement.

Their commitment to local talent showed in the HGP tally, and Kian Ronan especially impressed, even as a makeshift striker – however Manchester will hope an 11-1 loss to Mons Calpe in their final game was not a sign of things to come next season, and was merely a one-off.


FC Boca Juniors – 4th

An underachieving team, if you look at their squad in the summer. Their lack of funds was their main downfall with most of their players leaving as a result. Boca announced Juan Carlos Camacho as their new head coach in November which lasted until January and following him out the door was their technical team.

Credit to them, the changes made in January were swift and were a competitive side for their level. Europa’s loanees Daniel Tudela and Elias Juel-Saleh were ones which impressed us over a short period of time.


Glacis United – 5th

Glacis suffered from a very stunted start to the season, where they had issues getting players registered in time for the opening games – meaning their Intermediate squad had to fill a lot of the gaps especially against Magpies and Lincoln. This gave them no chance of finishing in the top six, but in the Challenge Group they at least showed they were on the level of the teams around them.

One of Gibraltar’s more well-known teams, Glacis will hope they can get off to a better start next season – as second-bottom of the league will no doubt disappoint them massively.


College 1975 – 6th

After 18 games, College managed to pick up one point in a 5-5 draw against Europa Point – a game which they led 4-0 at one point. 17 straight defeats came previously, a tough lesson learned.

A worrying stat would be finishing bottom and having the least amount of minutes given to HGP’s outside of the top three.

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Gib youngsters enjoying life at Peña Madridista Linense

We caught up with the five Gibraltarian youngsters who currently ply their trade in Spain with Peña Madridista Linense in category 3ª Andaluza Infantil.

Kai Bartolo, Michael Charvetto Parody, Jay Coombes, Daniel Smith, and Evan Villa gave us an insight into playing in Spain, their idols, and more.


  • Name: Mikey Charvetto Parody
  • Age: 12
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Idol: Alisson Becker because he is the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment. Makes difficult saves look easy while being brave on the pitch and a great sportsman.
  • An admirable player in Gibraltar: Jayce Olivero

Q: How have you found your time playing in Spain?

A: The standard of training and matches in Spain is higher than in Gibraltar and more intense. There are more teams in the league. You have to travel to other pitches on away matches and you don’t always know your opposition which makes things more interesting.


  • Name: Jay Coombes
  • Age: 13
  • Position: Defender
  • Idol: Carlos Puyol because he was a great captain, fantastic defender, and humble person.
  • An admirable player in Gibraltar: Lee Coombes

Q: What kind of impact has Lee Coombes & Jamie Coombes had on your development as a footballer?

A: Lee and Jamie have had a great impact on me as a footballer, watching them play from a very young age made me develop my passion for the game. It also made me realise I wanted more, football is my life and my dream is to make it happen.


  • Name: Daniel Smith ‘Dani’
  • Age: 13
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Idol: Steven Gerrard because he was a leader on the pitch and was a great example as a professional footballer.
  • An admirable player in Gibraltar: Roy Chipolina

Q: How has playing in Spain helped you as a player?

A: You start playing 11-aside at a younger age, and you play on a full-sized pitch. The football matches are very physical, so You have to work on your strength. You may not always start a game or play in the position you want to, so it has also helped me develop my mental strength. I have become more confident, and I am enjoying the experience of playing in a different country.


  • Name: Kai Bartolo
  • Age: 13
  • Position: Winger
  • Idol: Neymar Jr because he uses a lot of skill and pace. He is always aware of the pitch and is one step ahead of everyone else which leads to him creating chances and score goals.
  • An admirable player in Gibraltar: Lee Casciaro

Q: What’s changed in your approach to playing football in Spain compared to Gibraltar?

A: When I first moved to Spain I joined a team that was a year older which enabled me to play in games in my team and the team of my age group. I found the training more intense and more physical. We trained three times a week and had a league game every weekend. I had to understand the style of play and learn new skills. It was competitive so I had to increase my pace. Overall, I believe my ability to play football has increased rapidly in such a short space of time. Spanish football has more competition within games, which enables me to focus and be in the right mindset for the game. In Gibraltar, the competition levels were not high because all the good players move to one or two good teams. I am glad that I play in Spain because I face different and difficult challenges in each game.


  • Name: Evan Villa
  • Age: 12
  • Position: Winger
  • Idol: Kylian Mbappé because of his commitment and how he plays on the pitch, his style of play, and his pace.
  • An admirable player in Gibraltar: Andrew Hernandez

Q: With Andrew once playing for one of Cadiz’s youth teams, does Spanish youth football match your playing style?

A: Yes, Spanish football does match my playing style as it is more tactical, physical and there is more competition in the league.

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Lynx come out in support of decisions to finalize football and futsal seasons

Lynx FC have this afternoon issued a statement, where they have said they support the decisions made to finalize the league in both football and futsal.

Photo (C) Lynx FC

Lynx, who were fourth in the Gibraltar National League, and first in the Futsal Premier Division, said it was “easier said than done” to try and not declare the leagues or cups null and void, while also confirming that it is “business as usual” at the club, who have confirmed they are maintaining their “posture toward protecting the interest” of their players and staff.

Lynx also reference the high number of minutes given to Home Grown Players in football season, as reported by Football Gibraltar earlier this week, where Lynx had given the third most minutes to HGP’s, and the most of any of the top six teams in the league. While they say that they had a mathematical chance of finishing third, and potentially securing a Europa League spot, they state they are “realistic and humble enough to say that Lincoln deserves the third spot and are the better team this season.”

Lynx have become the first team to publicly support the decision to finalise and null and void the leagues, after Europa FC and Mons Calpe SC voiced their opposition in earlier statements, and Lynx’s support is notable given that in futsal they have been denied a league title despite being 11 points clear of Europa in second, with a game to go before the playoffs.

The club also note they received the £5,000 prize money for qualifying for the UEFA Futsal Champions League, which the club, who are the only team to have represented Gibraltar in futsal in Europe, state that it was thanks to them the prize money was introduced. Lynx state “Considering the league Null or void, The Board was of the view that this amount should go to Lynx FC as its main purpose is to assist UEFA Futsal CL rep with the costs associated with the tournament.”

The final paragraph of the statement, which you can view here, sees Lynx say “The club will continue doing what we do best, and that is to speak the truth, support the community and push Locals to the highest stage of their careers.”

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Mons Calpe express disappointment regarding decision to finalise league and cup without a winner

Mons Calpe this evening issued a statement, where they expressed their disappointment at the recent decision made to finalise the League, without deciding a League winner, as well as the termination of the Gibtelecom Cup, where they were semi-finalists.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Mons, who earlier today announced positive news on the condition of their manager Luis Manuel Blanco, who was hospitalised a month ago after testing positive for Covid-19, came out this evening in agreement with Europa FC’s statement over the decision made to terminate and then null and void the league and cup.

The statement, in which Mons claims that there are “high possibilities in which defining matches could take place safely, behind closed doors“, came despite today’s ‘Unlock the Rock’ document, released by HM Government of Gibraltar, states that: “At this initial stage of the unlocking process, invasion and most ball sports cannot be considered, given that it will be practically impossible to keep to social distancing requirements. These are to include, but are not limited to, basketball, football, netball, hockey and rugby. There is an entirely unavoidable and natural level of contact associated to these kinds of sports and it would be a challenge to observe social distancing in most instances of anything resembling ‘normal’ training and play. It is therefore envisaged that it is unlikely that these sports will be able to resume any time soon”.

The club, who were due to face Europa in the Gibtelecom Cup semi-final, argued that they had the chance of winning the cup, and therefore securing a Europa League spot. They also argue against the established rule across Europe, that if the winner of the domestic cup already qualifies for Europe, that the spot drops to the highest ranked league team without guaranteed European qualification, a rule which was bought in in recent years – notably not until after 2013/14 when Manchester 62 thought they had qualified for Europa League football by finishing second in the league, only for Europa to claim the spot as cup runners up after a 1-0 loss to Lincoln in the Rock Cup final.

Mons statement further goes on to state their belief that Gibraltar “should be observing how other nations and leagues are managing the finalisation of competitions”, while also stressing that Gibraltar should “not be going against UEFA’s recommendation, but instead attempt to complete every significant to ensure fairness is abided by throughout rather than making an abrupt decision.” However, the fact that the Goverment currently do not see any contact sports returning any time soon would appear to make that very unlikely unless there are significant changes.

You can view Mons Calpe’s full statement here

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Chipolina: “Not the recovery we expected”

We spoke to Joseph Chipolina about his recovery from injury, a review of Lincoln’s season and more.

Just before the GNL took a break for Christmas, Joseph Chipolina suffered an injury in Lincoln’s 2-0 win over Manchester 62. We asked the 32-year old how his recovery has gone, “Not the recovery we expected as we have had a little setback. I will need some manipulation and little surgery clean up as my knee won’t bend as it should. But all in all still doing what I can and building the quads up.”

With Covid bringing a halt to football in Gibraltar, we asked Joseph what he is doing during these tough times – “I am training 2 times a day one at lunchtime and one just before dinner time roughly at 19:45. I can’t really do cardio so what I am doing are workouts which I can do with my knee as it is.”

Before Covid brought a halt to the GNL – Lincoln were third, five points behind St Joseph’s in second, ten points behind rivals Europa in first and in the Gibtelecom Cup semi-final. Joseph reviewed his side’s season, “It hasn’t been the best of seasons but these things happen in football. Too many changes within the club etc but always for the best of the club, but all in all it is what it is and another year where we learn as a club and move on for our next challenge together as one.”

Nearly six months on from Gibraltar’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, which ended in a defeat to Switzerland at the Victoria Stadium, Joseph reviewed Gibraltar’s campaign – “I think we did quite well on some games; maybe on others we could have done better but that all comes down to us players maintaining our A-game all throughout the games. Lack of concentration is what is letting us down but we have improved vastly since the arrival of Julio Ribas who is an amazing coach and person.”

Lastly, we asked Joseph about any goals he has set for himself – “At this moment in time my goals are to try and play football again. My injury was a very harsh one, I had my ACL torn into bits, had my ICL torn 60%, had Both Interior and Exterior Meniscus torn, and my patellar dislocated, aggravating the patellar tendon. So my goal is to get as fit as I can and try to make it back on the field and keep doing what I most enjoy and love.”

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Europa express their surprise at voiding of National League

Europa FC this evening have released a statement, expressing what they call their surprise at the GFA’s decision to null and void the Gibraltar National League yesterday.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

With Europa’s title hopes dashed by yesterday’s announcement, the club today put together a statement, in which they have stated that, of the 54 UEFA Nations to have a domestic league (Liechtenstein has no league system), that Gibraltar is one of only three nations to have gone down the null and void option (the others being Luxembourg and the Netherlands). The club have noted that some nations have “terminated competition, but have used other criteria to declare a champion.”

The club, who were five points clear at the top of the league with four games to go, and unbeaten at the point of the league being null and voided, also go on to mention that “it would be concerning to see Gibraltar in the small minority of those who thought it was best to declare competition both null and void, and without a champion.” Europa make reference to the situation in Belgium, where after originally looking to null and void the league, the situation appears to be that their FA are now looking to end the season but declare a champion (most likely Club Brugge).

Europa also choose in the statement to make reference to some of their on-field achievements this season, including scoring 85 goals in 17 games, as well as having the better head-to-head record over St Joseph’s and Lincoln. It is also almost a year to the day since a team beat Rafa Escobar’s side in a competitive match at the Victoria Stadium, when Lincoln won 2-0 to lift the 2018/19 league title on the 11th May 2019. The club have described this year as having “meant to be a vintage year for us (the club)“, and that “to have this denied with four matches to go by what we believe might be a premature decision is a bitter pill to swallow“.

Finally, the club also mentions that their closest title challengers, St Joseph’s, have been denied the chance to potentially overtake Europa and win the title themselves – Saints were due to play Europa in the week the season was terminated, and a win for Raul Procopio’s side would have given them a real chance of a first league title since 1996, and only their second league title in 108 years of existence. Europa go on to say that this decision “only leaves us to look forward to the weeks ahead and examine the denouement of this situation as concerns other UEFA nations.

The full Europa FC statement can be found here.

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Doody: “We will be back and we will be ready”

FG caught up with Lions Womens’ and Gibraltar’s Keshia Doody to talk about the season so far, the teams reaction to the postponement of the Womens Futsal Euro qualifiers, which were due to be held in Gib, and more.

Photo © Neil Wilson (Black & Burst Photography)

We firstly asked for her thoughts on how Lions Womens’ season had gone so far “Well before lockdown, our season had already ended with Lincoln being crowned champions. I personally don’t think we had a bad season overall but, it also wasn’t our best one. We’ve had a few changes to the squad bringing up younger players which I know they will be great assets to the team for the upcoming seasons. Us lionesses always give 100% in what we do, so I have faith we’ll be back stronger next season.

I would like to take the chance to congratulate Lincoln ladies for their title once again.”

Gibraltar were set to face Belgium and Kazakhstan in the Women’s Futsal Euro Qualifiers, in a week’s time, with Doody set to be part of that squad – were the team disappointed when the lockdown inevitably led to the qualifiers being postponed? “I think more than disappointed, we’re gutted about it. When we heard Gibraltar had been put down for the draw we were over the moon, at first it didn’t seem real as we had been waiting for this opportunity for years. The squad had already been training very hard for the past months due to having the friendly international matches over in Northern Ireland early in January which had been planned as a lead up to the upcoming Euros. So when the pandemic occurred, we couldn’t believe how close but far away our dream was.

Luckily we are all managing to stay positive about this and just waiting patiently for the time to come. Like I’ve already said to them before, we’ve waited countless of years for this opportunity, so I guess we can wait a further few months. Our health and the rest of the community’s health & safety comes first.”

With lockdown approaching two months now, we asked how the Lions Womens’ captain has approached keeping up fitness during this time: “Personally I have found it hard as I am very much a team player and don’t motivate myself to train alone. Luckily my partner is into cycling so I have been doing Gib rides as much as possible accompanied by him and motivated by him when I’ve not been at work. We have also been provided with a workout program by the GFA to do at home which I am also doing At least 3 times a week. That way I/we are as ready as possible for when we begin to get ready for the Euros once again.”

Finally, we asked Doody for her goals for the rest of 2020: “If football returns which I hope it does, my overall goal is to maintain my fitness, train hard with the girls/ squad & get back to routine with all of them. Locally my goal would have to be in winning the Rock Cup & Futsal league (*note – this interview took place before the announcement of the domestic season being terminated) and last but not least internationally my goal would be to make sure we are as ready as we can be to perform at our best at International Level when the opportunity arises again. Hopefully we will still be hosts in our homeland and make ourselves and Gibraltar proud. We will be back and we will be ready.”

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GFA confirm the ending of the 2019/20 domestic season

The Gibraltar FA have this evening confirmed that the 2019/20 domestic season has been terminated, with immediate effect.

Photo (C) William Gracia

This decision has been made by the GFA after the Gibraltar Government confirmed to them that the domestic season would not be able to be completed by the 20th July, which is UEFA’s deadline for competitions to be concluded.

In a statement, the Gibraltar FA confirm that Europa will enter into next season’s Champions League, being first in the league at the time of the season ending, while St Joseph’s will enter the Europa League. As the Gibtelecom Cup can’t be completed, the Europa League spot from that tournament will be given to the third placed side, Lincoln, who were in the semi-finals alongside Europa, St Joseph’s and Mons Calpe. All decisions regarding European spots are pending compliance with the UEFA Club Licensing Process, which all three teams are expected to pass.

No confirmation yet has been announced about the conclusion of this season’s league, which will include whether Europa, currently five points clear of second place St Joseph’s with what was four games to play, will be crowned champions (like in France with Paris Saint-Germain), or no team will claim the title (like in Netherlands). The GFA statement says “In order to finalise the Gibraltar National League, the Gibraltar FA Board of Directors will convene early next week together with the Gibraltar FA President and Members of the Governance & Strategy Board to reach a decision.”

The full GFA statement can be found here.

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Torrilla: “I look forward to repaying them in the future”

We spoke to 22-year old midfielder Graeme Torrilla about his injury, new club Lincoln Red Imps and more.

Nine months on from his operation which has kept him out of football for just over one year, we asked Graeme how his rehabilitation is going – “Rehabilitation is going well but took a while to get going as in the previous club, I was never given the full support or facilities required to recover from such a big injury.”

Recovering from injuries is never easy and with Covid-19 bringing a halt to everything worldwide – we asked him how he is keeping active during these tough times, “I was reaching the final stages of my rehab just before quarantine began. Mainly pitch work, which is something I’m unable to do now. I’m mainly sticking to exercises at home & going for a jog or bicycle ride to remain as active as possible.”

Graeme joined Lincoln Red Imps from Mons Calpe this January, a big move for a promising talent – the 22-year old told us how the club is playing a big part in his comeback, “Lincoln has not only offered me the facilities needed but also their full support in allowing me to take the time I need to get back on the pitch when fully recovered. I look forward to repaying them in the future.”

Lastly, we asked Graeme what his goals are when he returns to full fitness – “For starters, I want to get back to the level I was at before my injury which will take time having been out for so long. Then from there just aim as high as possible to perform at my best at club level & hopefully at international level if given the chance.”