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Robba: “We are hoping to inspire people to help support and donate”

We caught up with goalkeeper Jamie Robba to talk about St Joseph’s season, the Calendar Club, and more.

We asked Jamie Robba what he made of St Joseph’s season, “Well, I believe it was a successful season with signs of progression from the year before. “Finishing” second above Lincoln and being in the title race against Europa till the end. We are showing as a club that we are growing each year and who knows what could have happened in the Rock Cup or League if we were allowed to continue competing.”

After 3 years at the club, we asked Jamie what has changed this season compared to the previous ones – “We have grown as a squad and showed that throughout the season. We still have to keep improving if we want to be better than Lincoln and Europa. The competition itself in the league is growing and splitting the league into two groups made the top group very competitive and each game very difficult.”

Two days ago, Jamie Robba ran for the Calendar Club in a wedding dress – we asked him what it is about, “We are running 465km in the month of June. There are four runners and we each have to run the kms in correlation with the day of the month. So on the 1st 1km, on the 3rd 3km, on the 20th 20km, 21st 21km – all the way up to 30km. We are are doing this to raise money for Calpe House, which is a charitable foundation that helps Gibraltarians who need specialised medical procedures in the UK.”

We asked Jamie what he hopes to achieve with the Calendar Club, “We set out a target of 10 grand but after the overwhelming support shown by the community, we might surpass that and look to hit another target of a larger sum! Through the Calendar Club, we are hoping to inspire people to help support and donate. Also to motivate people to run with us and perhaps aspire them to keep a fitter healthier life.”

Finally, Jamie spoke about his goals for next season – “I would love to get back in the National squad as it is any locals’ ambition to be a part of that squad. I will always work my hardest to try and get back in. Regarding my club, I want to keep growing and improving – pushing Lincoln and Europa to break that “Big 2” as we did this season.”

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FG Awards 20: Part 1 – Positional Awards and Manager of the Season

The first main part of the FG Awards 2019/20 sees the awards for goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and striker of the season dished out, as well as the award for the best manager in the league this season.


Goalkeeper of the Season – Dayle Coleing (Europa FC)

V Correa Photography

The 23-year-old keeper has really stepped into his own this season, establishing himself as Europa’s clear number 1 despite the talent and vast experience of Javi Munoz, and being part of the backline which only conceded nine goals all season. Coleing’s commanding presence in the box has mirrored the commanding style of his team this season.

As well as breaking through into the national team, where he battles alongside Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin for the Number 1 shirt for Julio Ribas side, Coleing has also picked up interest outside of Gib – he recently was picked up by the Capital Sport Management group – and the future looks promising for the Europa keeper.

Other contenders: 2nd – Jamie Robba (St Joseph’s), 3rd – Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin (Lincoln), 4th – Bradley Banda (Lynx)


Defender of the Season – Olmo Gonzalez Casado (Europa FC)

C Correa Photography

One of the more challenging positions to choose from with Olmo & Sergio Sanchez creating such a dominant partnership. Olmo executed his defensive work with ease, giving Sanchez the freedom to venture up the pitch and scoring a total of four goals in thirteen league appearances – not bad for his debut season.

We opted for Olmo’s consistency, playing in fifteen of Europa’s seventeen league games – the Spanish defender also kept seven clean-sheets. His experience is vital in this team and Escobar will be hoping to keep him on for another year.

Other contenders: 2nd – Sergio Sanchez (Europa), 3rd – Ezequiel Rojas (St Joseph’s), 4th – Bernardo Lopes (Lincoln Red Imps)


Midfielder of the Season – Liam Walker (Europa FC)

C Correa Photography

Walker has led by example this season for his side, captaining the league leaders and scoring 21 goals in the process from an attacking role. His set-piece abilities are well known, but some of Walker’s free kick’s, especially an opening day one in a victory vs Lincoln, especially caught the eye as the 32-year-old pushed eventual top scorer Juanfri all the way in the scoring charts.

Walker’s vast experience both in Gib and abroad no doubt helps Europa massively, especially for some of their younger local talent, while his creative abilities have also set up countless goals for the likes of Manu Dimas, Juampe and more to get their fair share of goals this season.

Other contenders: 2nd – Cristian Pecci (St Joseph’s), 3rd – Alejandro Carrascal Aviles (Europa), 4th – Dan Bent (Bruno’s Magpies)


Striker of the Season – Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena

Black and Burst Photography

Goals, goals, and more goals – that pretty much sums up Juanfri’s time at St Joseph’s since joining in 2018. “El Killer” as known by his team-mates are those close to him, Juanfri scored twenty goals in his debut season and followed it up with 24 league goals this season with four games still remaining before the league was made null and void.

Juanfri will best be known for scoring in both legs of St Joseph’s win over Prishtina in the Europa League and pulling off that famous celebration at the Victoria Stadium. His partnership with Boro and Domingo Ferrer Lopez keeps improving and soon will be bringing silverware home to St Joseph’s.

Other contenders: 2nd – Juampe (Europa), 3rd – Kike (Lincoln Red Imps), 4th – Alberto Caravaca (Lions)


Manager of the Season – Rafael Escobar Obrero

C Correa Photography

A fairly straightforward choice, in reality, Europa manager Rafael Escobar has guided his team to being undefeated at the Victoria Stadium for over 12 months now, and bar a few shaky moments in games vs the likes of Glacis & Lions, Europa’s tendency to drop unnecessary points seems to have been all but eradicated under his management.

Getting the best out of the attacking side of his team, while also ensuring a strong defensive aspect has made Europa very hard to beat, and you have to give credit to the manager for doing that. Escobar came with a good reputation having managed both Balona and Los Barrios in Spain, and he’s so far held that reputation strongly.

Other contenders: 2nd – Raul Procopio (St Joseph’s), 3rd – Albert Ferri (Lions), 4th – Albert Parody (Lynx)

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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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Mouelhi: St Joseph’s showed this season we are competing for and fighting until the end for both the league and the cup

FG caught up with St Joseph’s defender Aymen Mouelhi about life at Saints this season, his sides chances in the league and cup this season, and more

Photo © Vanessa Correa

Mouelhi joined St Joseph’s in the summer after Gib United went out of business, so how has his time so far at his new club been? “As from the first training session I felt at home. The players and technical staff helped me to integrate very well into the group – the only problem was that I broke my wrist and that made my debut with the team a bit delayed as I recovered. Apart from that everything was good”

The defender has also found himself regularly in a defensive midfield position for both club and country this season, helping to shield the backline – has this versatility helped his career? “I try to give my all and help the team. It doesn’t matter which position I play and I think as a player you need to be used to playing in serval positions, so you can have more chances to get more minutes, so it was a good advantage for me.”

Saints are still in the battle for the league and the Gibtelecom Rock Cup this season, so does the 33-year-old feel his side can end the season with silverware? “St Joseph’s showed this season we are competing for and fighting until the end for both the league and the cup, which didn’t happen in the last few years. We are taking every game as a final so hopefully, we finish this season with a trophy as everything depends on us.”

Finally, what are Mouelhi’s goals for 2020? “On the personal, I’m aiming to win a trophy with St Joseph’s, and carry on representing and defending Gibraltar In the upcoming international matches. I wish peace and health for the whole world and everything goes back better than before.”

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-final review

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-finals brought no surprises as Mons Calpe, St Joseph’s, Europa and Lincoln Red Imps progress into the next round.


Mons Calpe 3-1 Europa Point

Mons rushed into an early two-goal lead against Europa Point, with Diego Diaz and Andre Dos Santos scoring in the first ten minutes before things settled down a bit more.

Europa Point was out of the traps early in the second half and got a goal back thanks to Diego Vera’s header, but their chances of a comeback were ended after Samuel Vermeeren’s own goal, and captain Antony Moulds late red card.

Mons is the only Challenge Group team left in the cup, and while they are now rank outsiders, they will look to make the cup final for the second time in three years.


St Joseph’s 1-0 Brunos Magpies

If last weekend’s encounter was anything to go by, we expected a fiery contest and certainly got it. With the level of football being played below par, both teams didn’t hide away from any strong challenges.

Juanfri scored from the penalty spot to send 10-man Saints, who had Angel Guirado sent off, into the semi-final since 2017 but it was the altercation after the final whistle which was the main focal point.

An altercation between Kelvin Morgan and Juanma Gonzalez spurred on a brawl between both teams which took quite some time to calm down – a situation which you’d believe the Gibraltar FA will investigate further.


Europa 2-0 Lions

The Rock Cup holders went safely through to the semi-finals thanks to goals from Fernando Velasco and Manuel Dimas. The Green found it tough to break the well-organised Lions defence, an improvement from their 7-0 defeat last weekend.

Europa will need to be much better for Saturday when they come up against St Joseph’s – a doubt for that match could be Olmo who came off early with a suspected groin injury.


Lincoln 6-0 Boca

As expected, Lincoln beat Boca, by a score of 6-0 on Sunday afternoon. Boca made them work for it, but Pibe’s brace and Jamie Coombes first-half goal meant at the break the game was all but done.

Boca gave Lincoln a slight scare in winning a penalty, but they missed from 12 yards, and that led to Lincoln making sure there was to be no hint of a comeback – Oli, Gato, and Blas Alvarez all scored in the second half to put an end to a spirited Boca side, who before the game may have been fearing a bigger scoreline.

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Cano: “The team worked very well for yesterday’s victory”

FG spoke to St Joseph’s defender Francisco Cano about yesterday’s win against Lincoln, life at his new club and more.

Cano reflected on St Joseph’s 1-0 win over Lincoln Red Imps thanks to a second-half goal from Domingo Ferrer Lopez, “The team is very happy with the result because it was a very important game for us and the team worked very well for yesterday’s victory.”

We asked Fran how yesterday’s win will motivate his side in the second round of the Championship Group, “Yesterday’s victory gives us even more motivation to continue fighting for our goal. Beating our direct rival gives us even more motivation to face the final stretch of the league with enthusiasm and strength to keep fighting.”

The 28-year old joined St Joseph’s last summer from Gibraltar Phoenix – we asked Cano how he’s found it at Saints, “The truth is that since I joined St Joseph, they welcomed me very well and I am very happy here. I am enjoying a good spell at the moment and I want to continue contributing and helping the team in every way possible.”

Cano is largely known for his time at Glacis United before joining Phoenix in January 2018, then Saints in the summer of 2019 – we asked how it feels playing in such a competitive team with experienced players such as Juanfri, Pecci and so on, – “I feel very good and comfortable. I always like to play in a team that competes for everything like St Joseph’s and with players of that level, you always learn from them by having them by the side.”

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Raul Procopio signs new long-term St Joseph’s contract

Ahead of tomorrow’s crunch match with Europa – St Joseph’s manager Raul Procopio & his backroom staff have signed new long-term contracts at the club.

Raul Procopio Baizan joined St Joseph’s in December 2016, from Chiclana CF but will be well remembered from his triumphant time at Lincoln Red Imps from 2014-2016.

The Cadiz-born coach has been in charge of Saints for 97 games and won 58, losing 24 and drawing 15 – fans will be hoping he can make it 59 wins against title rivals Europa tomorrow.

Procopio has been instrumental in St Joseph’s progression over the years alongside hard-working individuals such as Juanjo Bezares, John Paul Hendrick and Stuart Rodriguez.

The club has qualified for Europe for two consecutive seasons, most notably the 2018/19 season where after finishing 3rd, they defeated Prishtina in the first round – going on to play Scottish giants Rangers – managed by none other than Steven Gerrard.

Saints have an excellent chance of putting an end to the continued dominance of Lincoln & Europa – an unfortunate draw in the final few minutes against the latter and a win against the former leaves the team second in the Championship Group.

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Gibraltar National League review

With the first round of fixtures complete and the league split into two groups – here’s our team by team review of how each has performed so far this season.

  • Europa FC (Position: 1st – Championship Group)

Full of confidence from their Pepe Reyes Cup victory, Europa started their league campaign with an emphatic 4-1 win over rivals Lincoln – who they had beaten for the Pepe Reyes Cup, just five days prior.

Apart from their fortunate draw against St Joseph’s, and a couple of minor wobbles against Glacis & Lions, the Greens have rarely looked troubled this season and would arguably be favorites to win the league this season.


  • St Joseph’s (Position: 2nd – Championship Group)

Seen by many as the “team to beat” this season – Saints have really pushed on from their success in the Europa League and become very strong title contenders.

Juanfri & Boro have picked up from where they left off last season with 27 goals so far between them and will be hoping to carry it on into the Championship Group.


  • Lincoln Red Imps (Position: 3rd – Championship Group)

An injury-plagued first few months has left the current league champions in third, four points off leaders Europa and two behind St Joseph’s – both teams which the Imps have recorded losses against this season.

With a replacement of manager on the horizon and the January transfer window opening in a few weeks – the Imps will be looking to spend big and try to turn their current deficit around.


  • Lynx FC (Position 4th – Championship Group)

Unbeaten in their opening five games, Lynx has turned a lot of heads this season by what may be seen as overperforming this season (considering when you look at how much clubs around them are spending).

The Croatian trio of Bukvic, Kokorovic, and Marcius gave Albert Parody the foundation to build a team that he has cleverly done. With his star man Marcius gone, Albert would need to find an ideal replacement quickly, while also find a full-back, which we have singled out as a weak point in his team.


  • FCB Magpies (Position: 5th – Championship Group)

There was a lot of promise surrounding Magpies at the beginning of the season. Last season’s Second Division champions had already been planning for the National League from early this year and looked to be putting a strong squad together.

Any promise was quickly dashed when Magpies were hammered 6-0 by Europa which then followed two straight defeats and the sacking of head coach David Wilson in-between.

The replacement with the experienced Alfonso Cortijo was a great choice and will now see how he fares in January when he is able to clear the deadwood from his squad and bring in his own style of players.


  • Lions Gibraltar (Position: 6th – Championship Group)

After a slow start, Lions managed to pick the pace at the end of October and since then, recorded 4 wins from 5 games to secure a spot in the Championship Group on the final round.

As expected, it will be difficult for Lions to compete against the top three but will be using this opportunity as a time to give valuable experience to Ferri’s younger players – while this is also a great chance to entice sponsors and help the club gain some revenue in the process.


  • Mons Calpe (Position 7th – Challenge Group)

This season has definitely been one to forget for Mons Calpe, compared to others. After competing at the top. the team found themselves scrapping against Lions which they would end up missing out on.

With their financial problems rising up once again, questions have been raised about whether Mons will even put out a team for the second half of the season.


  • Manchester 62 (Position: 8th – Challenge Group)

It looks like a choice between Mons or Man62 for the winner of the inaugural Challenge Group trophy. After Jeff Wood and Juanfran Fernandez Perez, the club appointed David Wilson as their new head coach – one which we feel is the right choice to take this young squad forward.

Wilson would already have an eye on a number of players he’d like to bring in, but one player which he may have trouble trying to hold down is Gibraltar U21 international Kian Ronan who has been excellent so far – we will be surprised if his competitive nature will see him wanting to play in the bottom group.


  • FC Boca Juniors (Position: 9th – Challenge Group)

After pulling together a squad at the expense of Gibraltar United – things looked quite promising for Boca with the squad which they were putting out in pre-season.

But, the lack of team gelling was clear to see, and the wrong choice of manager to go with it – Boca found themselves dropping lower and lower down the table – when you throw in a lack of funding by the final month or two of the season, it’s a good thing they didn’t move up group.


  • Europa Point (Position: 10th – Challenge Group)

The heights which Europa Point once found themselves seem like an eternity away. Now, they find themselves struggling at the bottom of leagues while scratching at results.

Credit to them though, they have found a number of good players, such as goalkeeper Conor O’Keefe, who has been their standout performer while also giving some valuable game time to experienced striker Jeremy Lopez, and 17-year old Omar El Yettefti; we sure clubs will be keeping an eye out on the teenager in the next few years.


  • Glacis United (Position 11th – Challenge Group)

From the glory days of Glacis in the past, the club has been hit with a prime example of how money has changed football. From winning trophies, Glacis now find themselves fighting in the bottom half for most seasons with very little hope of ever returning to what they used to be.

The club has been a stepping stone for players such as Michael Ruiz to get regular action in the top flight, while using the experience of Jonny Di Toro and Michele Di Piedi to pass on their knowledge to their young squad.


  • College 1975 (Position 12th – Challenge Group)

Unfortunately, College has turned out to be the league’s whipping boys with a goal difference of minus 62 and recording heavy defeats on six occasions.

It is quite bizarre when you see 18-year old Zayne Da Costa rarely featuring in the National League, yet he is top goalscorer of the Intermediate League with 10 goals – maybe we will something different from College in 2020.

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Robba: “we have I think the best squad in the league”

We caught up with goalkeeper Jamie Robba to get his reaction on St Joseph’s win over Lincoln Red Imps yesterday, the Gibraltar national team and more.

Second-half goals from Juanfri & Domingo Ferrer Lopez secured Saints a 2-1 win over Lincoln – we asked Robba how he felt the team played, “The team performed exceptionally well, every individual did his part and that gave us the win.”

We asked Robba how confident he feels heading into the league split after the result, “Well against Europa although we played well and dropped two points in the last 5 minutes, we were left with a bitter taste. We know that we have a very good squad but in football, it doesn’t count for anything if you don’t get results. The win against Lincoln confirmed our belief and showed everyone else, that this season, we are here to compete for the title.”

Jamie Robba hasn’t featured for the Gibraltar senior team since 2016 and despite holding the most clean-sheets for any Gibraltarian goalkeeper last season, he is yet to turn the head of head coach Julio Ribas, much to be bemusement of others.

With Matt Cafer & Chino not in the greatest of forms for their clubs, people are starting to wonder if this is Jamie’s time to get that deserved call-up which has eluded him for so long. We asked him if he would welcome a return to the squad, “What Llanito wouldn’t want to be in the national squad?”

St Joseph’s will now go into the league split in the top two – we asked Robba if he feels this current Saints squad is the best he has been involved in and has enough to win the league, “100%. We have, I think, the best squad in the league and by far the best team atmosphere that I’ve ever been around.”

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Juanfri and Afonso win FG monthly awards in October

As we get closer to the league split after the first round, St Joseph’s Juanfri and Lincoln manager Victor Afonso pick up Player of the Month and Manager of the Month for October.

Photo © C Correa Photography

FG Player of the Month – Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)

With most of the top 3 only in action once or twice this month, October was never likely to have too much of a say in the title race, but St Joseph’s, who did play twice, made sure they kept up their unbeaten start to the season. With 7 goals in 2 games, as well as consecutive TOTW appearances, Juanfri edges his team-mate Boro, who got 5 in 2, to the top spot this month. Like last season, the vast majority of Saints goals come from this pair, and if they stay fit, they could be key for the title race in 2020.

  1. Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)
  2. Salvador Manuel ‘Boro’ Alegre Delgado (St Joseph’s)
  3. German Cortes Narvaes (FC Boca Gibraltar)

FG Manager of the Month – Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)

With seemingly so few games in October, this was actually a hard decision to make with regards manager of the month. The only two coaches to win two games were Raul Procopio and Lincoln’s Victor Afonso, but on paper Lincoln’s two games were the harder matches so we’ve chosen to give the Lincoln manager the award for a second consecutive month. A special mention should go to now-former Boca manager Juan Maria Sanchez, who led Boca to a draw and win in October but stepped down from the club this morning.

  1. Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)
  2. Raul Procopio (St Joseph’s)
  3. Juan Maria Sanchez (FC Boca Gibraltar)