Tuesday, October 30, 2007

History of Torino F.C.

Foot-Ball Club Torino was founded on 3 December 1906 after a meeting at the Voigt brewery in Via Pietro Micca near the center of Turin. Its foundation involved some Juventus dissidents led by Alfredo Dick, who had left the bianconeri after some at the club wanted to move Juventus out of Turin. As well as Alfredo Dick, other prominent founders included the Swiss businessman Hans Schoenbrod (first chairman), and Vittorio Pozzo (later manager of Italy).

The first ground for FBC Torino would be Velodromo Umberto I in the La Crocetta neighbourhood, for which Dick owned the lease. Torino lured some players from other clubs, including FBC Torinese who became defunct as a result. The fact that Torino's split from Juve was not amicable, saw the rise of a heated local known as the Derby della Mole.

Italian Football Championship
Torino F.C. took part in the world's first international tournament, Torneo Internazionale Stampa Sportiva 1908 which was hosted in Turin itself organised by the Italian magazine La Stampa Sportiva. Torino lost in the final 3-1 to Swiss side Servette. In 1909 it was succeeded by the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, in which a Torino XI comprised of Juve and Torino players participated but did not make it to the final.

After the early years, Torino were denied their first championship attempt by the outbreak of World War I, and their first title was revoked in 1926/27 due to an irregularity in the match against Juventus. Torino won its first Scudetto, the Italian Serie A league Championship, the following 1927/28 season and, between 1942/43 and 1948/49, the "Grande Torino" (Great Torino), widely considered the best ever team in Italian football history, won five other straight scudetti, led by its captain, Valentino Mazzola.

On May 4, 1949, all but one player (who was out for an injury) of Grande Torino were killed when their plane crashed into the hills of Superga, on the outskirts of Turin. The club never recovered, and after a decade of mediocre seasons, they were relegated to Serie B in 1958/59, although they returned to Serie A the following season.

By the early 1960s and until the late 1980s, Torino had good results in Serie A, including another Scudetto in the 1975/76 season. Since the end of the 1980s, the club went up and down between Serie A and Serie B, the top two divisions with little success, except a Coppa Italia in 1992/93 and a Mitropa Cup win in 1990/91. Among the best results ever achieved in the club's history, it reached the UEFA Cup Final in 1991/92 only to lose it in two aggregate matches to Ajax Amsterdam without being defeated.

In 2004/05, Torino finished 3rd in Serie B and, after winning the playoffs, was promoted back in Serie A. However, the FIGC, the governing body of Italian football, expelled both Torino Calcio and F.C. Messina from Serie A, due to both clubs' financial problems. However, while Messina was re-admitted by a civil court of appeal, Torino was not and it was cancelled from the Italian sport panorama.

Thanks to the 'Lodo Petrucci' (Italian law which allows a sport club that is the direct heir of a cancelled one to be re-admitted one division below the previous one), a new club was founded under the current name Torino F.C. and was admitted to play the next season, again in Serie B. Bought by entrepreneur Urbano Cairo, Torino FC ended its 2005/2006 Serie B campaign in third place, being therefore qualified for the promotion play-offs. Torino subsequently defeated Mantova in the final to earn promotion to Serie A.

Even in its worst seasons, Torino has often achieved good results in epic matches (the so-called "derbies") against the other Turin team, Juventus. Since 1990 the club has played in the 69,040 capacity Stadio Delle Alpi, shared with Juventus. Prior to 1990 the clubs shared the Stadio Comunale for thirty years, Torino moving there from the glorious Stadio Filadelfia, home of Grande Torino. Starting with the 2006/07 season Torino will move into a new, smaller ground of its own, the Stadio Grande Torino (which is the renewed former stadio comunale).
Actually the Stadio delle Alpi (that is of Juventus Turin propriety) is closed for a future rebuilt: after that maybe Torino will still use it for a number of high profile matches. When playing at home Torino wears a maroon top and white shorts (sometimes is full maroon) but when playing else where the team wears all white. When practicing Torino wears red and white or red and black.

History of Calcio Catania

The origins of football being played by representatives of the Province of Catania can be traced back to English cargo ships, thanks to the workers who brought the game to Sicily. Specifically the earliest Catania team can be traced to match which took place on 2 May 1901 at San Raineri di Messina against Messina, the team was named Royal Yacht Catania; an English ship with a local Catanian crew.

The ship workers team was just a pastime however, Catania's first professional and most stable football club was founded on 19 June 1908, by Italian film director Gaetano Ventimiglia and Francesco Sturzo d'Aldobrando, who founded the club under the name A.S. Educazione Fisica Pro Patria. Early on they would always play against sailors visiting the port of Catania, particularly foreign ships. Though their first ever match was against Regina Margherita an Italian battleship, the game ended in a 1-1 draw and the Catania line-up that day consisted of; Vassallo, Gismondo, Bianchi, Messina, Slaiter, Caccamo, Stellario, Binning, Cocuzza, Ventimiglia and Pappalardo. Just two years later they changed the name to Unione Sportiva Catanese.

In the North of Italy, football was more organised and those clubs competed in the early Italian Football Championships, while Catania and other Southern clubs competed in competitions such as the Lipton, Sant' Agata and Agordad cups. U.S. Catanese surived the First World War and just after it played in the local Coppa Federale Siciliana. Seven seasons later in 1927 they were entered into the Campionato Catanese, which was won in the 1928-29 season. As they gained promotion the club were entered into the Second Division, and changed their name first to Società Sportiva Catania. They first competed in Serie B in the 1934-35 season where they finished 4th; that season Genoa won the Serie B title.

Catania played in the league for three seasons during this period, before being relegated. Down in Serie C, Catania were crowned champions in the 1938-39 season, finishing above Sicilian rivals Siracusa and Messina (who came in 2nd and 3rd respectively). Their return to Serie B was not a pleasant one, the club finished bottom of the league and won only three games that season. The club's name was briefly changed to Associazione Calcio Fascista Catania during the 1942-43 season in Serie C, which ended prematurely because of the 2nd World War.

After World War II ended, a local competition was organised, the Campionato Siciliano. US Catanese were back; at the end of that season a local team named Elefante Catania[5] were merged into the club. The merged club kept the Catanese name and competed in Serie C during the 1945-46 season, but finished last. In the same league that season a team called Virtus Catania were also present and finished 8th.

At the end of the season, Catanese and Virtus merged together to form Club Calcio Catania, with the first president as Santi Manganaro-Passanisi (who had been president of Catanese). They were entered into Serie C where they spent three seasons, after an epic duel with Reggina for first place Catania prevailed with stars such as Goffi, Messora, Ardesi and Prevosti, gaining promotion to Serie B during 1948-49.

Calcio Catania's Golden years
The late 1950s through 1960s are considered the golden years for the Catanian club, as they managed to achieve promotion to Serie A on two separate occasions during this time. Their first promotion from Serie B came, when in the 1953-54 season Catania feat out Cagliari and Lombardy side Pro Patria to be crowned champions of the division. Their first season in Serie A, saw Catania achieve a respectable 12th place finish, but the club were forcibly relegated due to financial scandal (as were Udinese).

Under the management of Carmelo Di Bella (who had played for the club in the late '30s) Catania gained promotion from Serie B in the 1959-60 season. The race for promotion in third spot went down to the last day of the season and was very tense. Catania had lost their final game 4-2 to Brescia and needed Parma to get a good result against Triestina for the Sicilian club to secure promotion. That is exactly what happened and Catania had thus gained promotion once more. .

Catania returned into Serie A for the 1960-61 season, to begin what would be a six-year stay in the league. Their return season was emphatic as the newly promoted club finished in 8th above top Italian clubs such as Lazio and Napoli. This season produced several notable wins; they beat Napoli and Bologna twice, Sampdoria 3-0 at home and most notably they beat AC Milan 4-3 in Sicily and then on the final day of the season they beat Internazionale 2-0, with goals from Castellazzi and Calvanese. This rubbed the salt into the wounds of Inter who lost the closely contested title that year to Juventus.

Four years later in 1965 they would also finish 8th in the league, this time above Roma and Sicilian rivals Messina. Many of the club's most notable stars played around this time, such as; midfielders Alvaro Biagini and the Brazilian Cinesinho, along with wingers Carlo Facchin and Giancarlo Danova in the side. Catania more than held their own amongst the giants of Italian football, with wins against Juventus (2-0), Fiorentina (2-0) and Lazio (1-0).

Mixed fortunes in the 70s and 80s
After their relegation in 1966 Carmelo Di Bella left and Catania stayed in Serie B; clashing with Palermo in the Sicilian derby before the Palermitan club were promoted. Catania followed in 1970-71 with a third place finish; though their stay in Serie A this time was very brief and they were relegated back down after one season. Their most impressive results that season was 3-1 win against Lazio and a draw at home against AC Milan, Catania lacked goalscorers at the time as they only scored 18 goals all-together in 30 games.

Worse was to come for the club, who in 1973-74 were relegated down to Serie C, but fortunetly for the club they were able to bounce straight back with a promotion into Serie B as champions. A similar situation happened in 1976-77, where they were relegated down to Serie C. This time however, they were not able to bounce right back; they finished 2nd and then 3rd before finally being crowned champions of what was now known as Serie C1 in 1979-80.

After three short seasons, Catania were promoted in 3rd place behind AC Milan and Lazio, into Serie A. They played the 1983-84 season in Italy's top league, but it proved to be an especially dismal season, with only one win (which came against Pisa) and 12 points despite the presence of Claudio Ranieri and Brazilian imports Luvanor and Pedrinho.

Decline and revival
The decline of Catania started most evidently after its last relegation to Serie B. The team was no longer able to reach the top division of Italian fooball, and instead continued to decline, being relegated for a while into Serie C1 for the latter part of the 1980s. The lowest point of the club's history, however, was reached in 1993, when the team was cancelled by the FIGC because of financial irregularities.

However, after a long judicial battle, the magistrature declared the Italian Federation decision as invalid, and forced it to include the team back into the footballing fold. Catania was thus included in the Sicilian Eccellenza (the sixth level of Italian football), but in the meantime another Sicilian football team, Atletico Leonzio from Lentini (in the Province of Syracuse), had been relocated in the city and renamed Atletico Catania. Despite all of this, the "real" Catania was able to rise back to Serie C in a relatively small number of years, and even back to Serie B in 2002.

During 2003, Catania was at the centre of a controversy that led to the enlargement of Serie B from 20 to 24 teams, known as Caso Catania. The club claimed that Siena fielded an ineligible player in a 1-1 tie, a result which saw Catania relegated, whereas the two extra points from a victory would have kept them safe. They were awarded a 2-0 victory, before the result being reverted, and then re-awarded again. In August, the FIGC decided to let Catania, along with Genoa and Salernitana stay in Serie B, the newly-reborn Fiorentina were also added for the 2003-04 season. The ruling led to protests and boycotts by the other Serie B clubs that delayed the start of the season.

The league went down to 22 teams for 2004-05, while at the same time Serie A expanded from 18 to 20 teams. During the start of that season, Antonino Pulvirenti, chairman of the flight company Windjet and owner of Acireale, a Sicilian Serie C1 team, bought the club. Catania's new ownership let the team enjoy a revival, and in 2005-06 Catania ended in second position, earning promotion to Serie A.

Return to Serie A
The 2006-07 season saw Catania in Serie A for its first appearance in 22 years. In their first season back Catania began well, though they recorded a couple of heavy defeats, their home form saw them peak as high as 4th after 20 games.

Their return season changed drastically on 2 February 2007, due to the 2007 Catania football violence incident. It happened during the Sicilian derby with Palermo, policeman Filippo Raciti was killed during football-related violence caused by Catania ultras outside the Massimino stadium. The event led FIGC commissioner Luca Pancalli to cancel all football-related events in the country for a period of time; including league and national team matches. Catania chairman and owner Antonino Pulvirenti announced his willingness to leave the football world, stating it was not possible to go on producing football in Catania.

After the Italian football league restarted, Catania continued on but dropped in form largely. In truth their slump in form had started just before the derby incident and all together they failed to win for twelve games in a row, before beating Udinese 1-0 in late April 2007, they eventually finished 13th.

HIstory of Atalanta B.C.

Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, commonly known as just Atalanta, Atalanta Bergamo or the abbreviation Atalanta BC, is an Italian football club based in Bergamo, Lombardy. They are nicknamed the Nerazzurri and the orobici. Atalanta play in blue-and-black vertically striped shirts, black shorts and black socks.

The club stadium is the 26,638 seater Atleti Azzurri d'Italia. In Italy, Atalanta is sometimes called Regina delle provinciali (queen of the provincial clubs) to mark the fact that the club is historically one of the best among non-metropolitan ones.

The club was founded in 1907. A football club had existed in Bergamo since 1904. Founded by Swiss emigrants, it was known as FC Bergamo. The rival Atalanta club grew out of a division between different sporting societies in the town. The name is taken from the female athlete of Greek mythology. The FIGC was unimpressed with the new club and did not officially recognize them until 1914. The current club is the result of a merger between Atalanta and a third team called Bergamasca. The first, black and white coloured and the second wearing a blue and white shirt, merged in 1924 as Atalanta Bergamasca di Ginnastica e Scherma 1907. The team moved to the site of the current ground, on the Viale Giulio Cesare, in 1928.

Atalanta joined the Italian league in 1929. The club first reached Serie A in 1937, but was relegated immediately. The club returned in 1940 and remained in A until 1959; after a single season in Serie B the club was promoted and lasted a further decade in A, before relegation in 1973 led to an uncertain period of promotion and relegation between the two levels.

The club achieved its highest position in 1948, finishing in 5th place. In 1981 the club fell into Serie C1, a blow which revitalised the club. The team returned to B the next season and made it back to A in 1985. The club's form in Serie A remains uncertain, as it was relegated in 1988, 1995, 1998 and 2005.

In terms of titles the club has won little, their sole silverware is the 1963 Coppa Italia. The club has had very few good runs in Europe, the best spell ending in a Cup Winners' Cup semi-final in 1988; in 1991 Atalanta reached UEFA Cup quarter-finals.

The club has had very few famous players. However, Atalanta has been proven to run a successful youth system, producing footballers like Roberto Donadoni (Italy national team coach from July 2006), Alessio Tacchinardi, Domenico Morfeo, Giampaolo Pazzini, Riccardo Montolivo, Ivan Pelizzoli, and Samuele Dalla Bona who have quickly been grabbed by the bigger clubs. Other players who have graced the Atleti Azzurri d'Italia include Claudio Caniggia, Glenn Strömberg, Alemao, Paolo Montero, Christian Vieri, Filippo Inzaghi, Gianluigi Lentini, Cristiano Lucarelli, Cristiano Doni, and, in the past, Stefano Angeleri, Adriano Bassetto, Antonio Cabrini, Angelo Domenghini, Humberto Maschio, Giuseppe Savoldi and Gaetano Scirea.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

History of Udinese Calcio

The club was founded in 1896 as part of the Società Udinese di Ginnastica e Scherma. In its very first season, the club won a regional tournament organised by the National Federation of Gymnastics (FGNI). This is considered by some the first national Italian football title.

The club played in the regional leagues until 1929 when it joined Serie B. Never outstandingly successful, the club was quickly relegated and did not return to that division until 1939. Promotion to the top division was first achieved in 1950, and a final second place was reached in 1955, but the club was relegated in that same year, following a nine point deduction for irregularities; the club bounced back the next season.

The club was relegated in 1961-62 and fell all the way to Serie C by 1964. The club remained in C for fourteen seasons before returning to B, and then reaching A in 1979. The club stayed in A until 1987 and then moved between the top two divisions for a time before re-establishing themselves in A from 1995, with the club's second highest finish after 1955 coming in 1997-98 when they were third.

The club has never had success at the top level or in European competition. They have been Serie B champions twice (1955-56 and 1978-79), Serie C champions three times (1938-39, 1948-49, and 1977-78), they won the Anglo-Italian Cup once (1978), the Mitropa Cup once (1980) and the UEFA Intertoto Cup once (2000).

At the end of 2004-2005 season, the club gained the fourth position in the Italian league, and subsequently qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in its history, however not achieving qualification from the group stage.

History of Genoa C.F.C.

The club was founded on 7 September 1893 as Genoa Cricket & Athletic Club. In its earliest years, they only competed in athletics and cricket. Since the club was set up to represent England abroad, the original shirts worn by the organistation was white, the same colour as the England national team shirt. At first Italians were not permitted to join as it was a private club. Genoa's activities took place in the north-west of the city in the Campasso area, at the Piazza d'Armi. The men who founded the initial cricket and athletics club were;

* Charles De Grave Sells
* S. Blake
* G. Green
* W. Riley

* Daniel G. Fawcus
* Sandys
* E. De Thierry
* Jonathan Summerhill Sr.

* Jonathan Summerhill Jr.
* Sir Charles Alfred Payton

On 10 April 1897 the footballing section of the club was officially opened by James Richardson Spensley. It was amongst the oldest in Italian football as at the time, the only other founded clubs were two in Turin. With the football section of the club opened, Italians were allowed to join and they found a new ground in the form of Ponte Carrega. The first friendly match was participated at home, against a mixed team comprised of Internazionale Torino and FBC Torinese; Genoa lost 1–0. Not long after, Genoa recorded their first victory away against UPS Alessandria winning 2–0. Friendly games also took place against various British sailors such as those from HMS Revenge.

Championship dominance
Football in Italy stepped up a level with the creation of the Italian Football Federation and the Italian Football Championship. Genoa competed in the first Italian Championship in 1898 at Velodromo Umberto I in Turin. They defeated Ginnastica Torino 2–1 in their first official game on 8 May, before winning the first championship later that day by beating Internazionale Torino 3–1 after extra time.

Genoa returned for the following season, this time with a few changes; the name of the club was altered to Genoa Cricket & Football Club, dropping the Athletic from its name. A change in shirt colour was also in order, as they changed to white and blue vertical stripes; known in Italy as biancoblu. Genoa won their second title on 16 April 1899, by beating Internazionale Torino 3–1 for the second time. On their way to winning their third concecutive title in 1900 and proving their championship dominance, Genoa beat local rivals Sampierdarenese 7–0; a winning margain which would not be bettered by any team in the league until 1910. The final was secured with a 3–1 win over FBC Torinese.

The club strip was changed again in 1901, Genoa adopted its famous red-navy halves and therefore became known as the rossoblu; these are the colours used even to this day. After a season of finishing runners-up to Milan Cricket and Football Club, things were back on track in 1902 with their fourth title. Juventus emerged as serious contenders to Genoa's throne from 1903 onwards, when for two seasons in a row Genoa beat the Old Lady in the national final.

Notably Genoa became the first Italian football team to play an international match, when they visited France on 27 April 1903 to play FVC Nice, winning the fixture 3–0. As well as winning the Italian championship in 1904, the year was also notable for Genoa reserves winning the first ever II Categoria league season; a proto-Serie B under the top level. From 1905 onwards when they were runners-up, Genoa lost their foothold on the Italian championship; other clubs such as Juventus, Milan and Pro Vercelli stepped up.

The fall in part during this period can be traced back to 1908 when FIGC agreed to Federal Gymnastics protests forbidding the use of foreign players. Since Genoa's birth they had always had a strong English contingent. They disagreed, as did several other prominent clubs such as Milan, Torino and Firenze; as thus they withdrew from official FIGC competitions that year. The following season the federation reversed the decision and Genoa was rebuilt with players such as Luigi Ferraris and some from Switzerland. The rebuilding of the squad also saw the creation of a new ground in the Marassi area of Genoa, when built it had a capacity of 25,000 and was comparable to British stadiums of the time; it was officially opened on 22 January 1911.

Garbutt revival
With the introduction of the Italian national football team, Genoa played an important part, with the likes of Renzo De Vecchi; who was azzurri captain for some time, Edoardo Mariani and Enrico Sardi earning call-ups. Englisman William Garbutt was brought in as head coach to help revive the club; Garbutt was the first professional manager in Italy and he was considered to have a strong charisma, constantly smoking his tobacco pipe. He was dubbed "Mister" by the players; since then Italians have referred to coaches in general with the term.

Finally by 1914–15, Genoa had restored themselves as the top club from Northern Italy, winning the final round of the Northern section. However, a national final was not played due to the fact that Genoa did not have an opposition; the finals of the Southern Italian section was not decided due to the outbreak of World War I. Genoa would be awarded the title in 1919 after the end of the war, it was their first for eleven seasons. The war took a harsh toll on Genoa as players Luigi Ferraris, Adolfo Gnecco, Carlo Marassi, Alberto Sussone and Claudio Casanova all died while on military duty in Italy; while footballing founder James Richardson Spensley was killed in Germany.

Just after the war, Genoa remained a strong contender in the Northern section. Garbutt led Genoa to championship success in 1922–23 where they beat Lazio 6–1 in the final, over the course of two legs. The following season, Genoa made their way past Bologna in the Northern finals, but not without controversy; after riots in the second leg during the game in Bologna, the game was called off due to crowd rioting and FIGC awarded Genoa with a 2–0 victory. In the national final that season, Genoa beat Savoia 4-1 over the course of two legs; this would be their ninth and to date final Italian championship.

The squad during these two championship victories included; Giovanni De Prà, Ottavio Barbieri, Luigi Burlando and Renzo De Vecchi. With Genoa's championship victory in 1923–24 came the introduction of the scudetto patch; which means following the season which a club wins an Italian league championship, they are allowed to wear a shield shaped patch on their shirt which features the colours of the Italian flag. For the rest of the 1920s, the club did not win the championship, with the highest they were able to finish being second place, like in the 1927–28 season when they finished runners-up to Torino, with striker Felice Levratto scoring 20 goals in 27 games.

Fall from championship prominence
Due to the strongly British connotations attached to the name, Genoa were forced to change it by the fascist government to Genova 1893 Circolo del Calcio in 1928.
The club competed in a proto-European Cup in the form of the Mitropa Cup, where they went out in the quarter-finals after losing heavily to Rapid Vienna. They followed this with a runners-up position back at home in the league, they finished behind Ambrosiana in the 1929–30 season; this would be their last top level championship runners-up spot to date.

Winning the Coppa Italia in 1937, which was to be its last major trophy. World War II affected dramatically the entire Italian football movement, but Genoa did not recover as well as other clubs. Between the '50s and '90s, through cashflows and irregularities, Genoa slowly declined, with few notable seasons (two Coppa delle Alpi in 1962 and 1964) and more and more frequent descents into Serie B. Genoa even experienced their first relegation to Serie C in 1970.

European experience
In 1989 Genoa experienced a resurrection that led to promotion to Serie A and, in 1991, Genoa managed a fourth-place finish in the top division, and a subsequent UEFA Cup semifinal the following year. In doing so, they became the first Italian team to win at Liverpool's Anfield Road ground. In 1996 the club became the last winners of the Anglo-Italian Cup by beating Port Vale F.C..

However, the "glory" did not last and Genoa returned to Serie B in 1995 where they played for the past ten years, their longest spell there to date, whilst experiencing deep financial problems.

Recent times

Backed by a new club organisation, in 2005 Genoa finally won the second division, achieving promotion to Serie A. Yet, on July 27, 2005, Genoa was placed last (hence condemned to relegation in Serie C) by the Disciplinary Committee of the Italian football federation as consequence of accusations of fixing the last 2004-05 match against Venezia A.C. (Caso Genoa). The match was won by Genoa 3-2, but it did not affect promotion to Serie A which was achieved regardless.

On August 8, 2005, the appeal against the decision was finally turned down by the Italian federation and Genoa had to play the season in Serie C1.

The 2005-06 Serie C1 season for Genoa was very tormented. The team was handicapped by a three points penalty in the table related to the fraud in the previous season, and by a further three points penalty for fielding a disqualified player. Nevertheless, Genoa led the Serie C1/A table for most of the season. A number of consecutive poor performances early in 2006 appeared to compromise Genoa's efforts to achieve promotion and led to the temporary appointment of a substitute coach, Attilio Perotti. Following the return of Giovanni Vavassori at the helm Genoa ended the 2005-06 Serie C1/A regular season in second place, and thus took part to the playoffs; after having defeated Salernitana Calcio in the semi-finals, Genoa faced A.C. Monza in the promotion finals. Genoa won the away match 2-0 and lost 1-0 at home, thus achieving promotion to Serie B.

Genoa signed Gian Piero Gasperini as the new coach in July 2006.

The team proved itself to be one of the top clubs in the Italian Serie B division. For a significant part of the season Genoa was in second place, fighting for direct promotion to Serie A with Napoli. It would be on the final matchday that each team's fate would be decided when Napoli played 3rd placed Genoa in Genova. A win for either team would see that team promoted. A draw would see either Napoli or both teams promoted. But this latter scenario was not entirely in their hands. Fourth placed Piacenza Calcio, fighting to reduce the gap on 3rd place to less than 10 points to obtain a play-off, was hosting US Triestina who themselves were fighting to escape relegation to Serie C1. In order to do this, only a victory would do for Piacenza.

On June 10th 2007, Genoa obtained direct promotion to Serie A. The match finished in a 0-0 draw, but Piacenza were held to a 1-1 draw by Triestina after taking the lead, meaning both Napoli and Genoa were directly promoted to Serie A. When news came to Genova's Stadio Luigi Ferraris of Piacenza's final result, players and fans from both teams began to celebrate in euphoria raiding the pitch, unaware that the referee still hadn't called full time. The referee ordered that a minute of injury time was to be played. Once this finished, the celebrations officially began for two of Italy's sleeping giants.

Monday, September 24, 2007

History of S.S.C. Napoli

Naples Foot-Ball Club: the early years
Football was first brought to the city of Naples by English sailors during the early 1900s. The origins of a football club can be traced back to William Poths, an Englishman employed by maritime agency named Cunard Lines, he was an avid amateur footballer in his spare time and decided to found a club while in Italy. A meeting was called at via San Severino 43 in Naples, with the intentions of creating one; Poths along with fellow Englishman Mr. Bayon and three Neapolitans called Conforti, Catterina and Amedeo Salsi formed the club as Naples Foot-Ball & Cricket Club; Salsi was nominated as the first ever president.

Their first kit comprised of a sky blue and navy blue striped shirt, with black shorts. Naples played their debut match against British sailors from a ship named Arabik, they competed for a trophy named in honour of Naples first president "Coppa Salsi". Naples were victorious winning the game 3-2, a feat made all the more impressive when considering Arabik had beaten the famed Genoa CFC 3-0 just days earlier. The Naples team that day was;

* Kock - Goalkeeper
* Garozzo - Defender
* Del Pezzo - Defender
* Littie - Defender

* Steinecaer - Defender
* Marin - Midfielder
* Scarfoglio - Midfielder
* McPherson - Midfielder

* Chaudorir - Midfielder
* Poths - Forward
* Ostermann - Forward

Two years after its foundation, the "Cricket" part of the name was dropped leaving the club's name as simply Naples Foot-Ball Club. During 1909, Sir Thomas Lipton of the famous Lipton tea brand, was visiting Sicily while travelling with his ship; he set-up a competition called the Lipton Challenge Cup. In this competition Neapolitan and Sicilian teams would face off against each other annually; the majority of the finals saw Naples playing Palermo Foot-Ball Club. Naples won the competition in the opening season, with a 4-2 result. The trophy was disputed six times in total, with Naples also winning it in 1911 and 1914.

Rivalry with US Internazionale Napoli
During 1912 the foreign part of Naples FBC broke off, under Bayon and Steinnegger a second Naples club was formed under the name of US Internazionale Napoli. Meanwhile Emilio Anatra remained president of Naples FBC, this started off a footballing rivalry in the city during the following years. They competed against each other in the Campania section of the 1912-13 Italian Championship with Naples coming out on top, before losing to Lazio in the next round.

The following season, the situation was reversed with Internazionale Napoli knocking out Naples, before losing to Lazio in the next round. This rivalry continued into its third season in the Campania section of the Championship during 1915, but after the first leg (won by Internazionale 3-0), the competition was called off because of World War I. It resumed after the war as both clubs survived, however clubs such as Puteolana, Bagnolese and Savoia were also now competative in the region. In 1922 the two rival clubs, under financial pressure, merged as the Foot-Ball Club Internazionale-Naples abbreviated as FBC Internaples.

Associazione Calcio Napoli: 1926
On 23 August 1926 the members of Internaples resolved to adopt a new name for their club and Giorgio Ascarelli was appointed as the first president of the Associazione Calcio Napoli. By the time the next season started, the top league system of Italy was split into two groups consisting of 10 teams. Napoli finished bottom of their group with a dreadful 1 point earned from 18 games.

This is what got them the nickname I ciucciarelli which means "the little donkeys", previously the football club had carried with them the emblem of the city of Naples, which was a horse. But after the aforementioned season, some in the city derided them as donkeys, the club however adopted O Ciuccio as it was called, making it their mascot and displaying it with pride. The following two seasons they did gradually better, finishing higher with this system each time.

At Napoli the fans’ great pre-war hero was Attila Sallustro, whose family had moved to Naples from Paraguay when he was a child. Sallustro, on account of his well-to-do background, took no salary from the club; but he was rewarded with a luxury motor car. His talent for scoring goals was evident in the 1928-29 season, when he scored 22 goals in 28 games for the club.

Serie A: 1930s
As Italian football moved into the 1930s, the league was formatted into a way in which it remains today. The 1929-30 season showed what Napoli could do on a larger scale, they finished 5th in a season which saw them defeat the likes of Torino, Lazio and Milan. Notably, Sallustro along with Marcello Mihalic became the first Napoli players to be called up to the Italian national football team around this period.

The next six seasons Napoli consistently finished in the top 10, including two third place spots in 1932-33 and 1933-34 under legendary English coach William Garbutt. Another notable club hero from this period was Antonio Vojak; signed from Juventus in 1929 the Italian scored 102 goals in 190 games over a six year period for Napoli. Top scorer of the first World Cup, Argentine forward Guillermo Stábile, also played at Napoli during the 1935–36 season.

The Neapolitan club was set to go into a decline in the years leading up to World War II, with up and down results in Serie A. They flirted with relegation in 1937 and again in 1940, where they stayed up on a goal difference of four over Liguria. Just one season before this they had finished in 5th. 1942 saw Napoli finally going down to Serie B, just four points separating them from the next six teams. Down in Serie B, during 1943 Napoli missed out on a promotion straight back up, by two points, finishing in third place just behind Brescia. At the end of the season, left their Stadio Giorgio Ascarelli stadium and moved into the Campo Vomero.

Post-War Napoli
When the championship was contested on a regional basis for the 1946 season, Napoli proved themselves the best team in the Centro-Sud region losing just three matches en route to a narrow league victory, finishing level on points with Bari, but with a better goal difference. They only finished mid-table in the final group, but it was enough to ensure the Neapolitans a place in Serie A the following year.

Napoli only managed to survive one season in the newly formed Serie A before in 1948, they were relegated again, until becoming champions of Serie B in 1949-50. They managed to step straight back into the groove of Serie A in the following five seasons, finising in the top six. Interestingly along with Fiorentina, Napoli would be the subject of the first ever RAI television transmission of a Serie A football match in 1956. During the rest of the fifties their league finishes were up and down, two lower key seasons were followed by a 4th place in 1957-58, above both of the Milanese teams and Roma.

The 1960s were a mixed time for Napoli, they were relegated in 1961, but finished runners-up in Serie B the following season, regaining promotion. 1962 was also notable for its cup success, Napoli lifted the Coppa Italia by beating Spal 2-1 in the final with goals from Corelli, and Ronzon; this was the first time a club competing in Serie B had won the competition. Unfortunately for Napoli, they were unable to follow up their cup success with top league stability, as they were relegated once again.

Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli: on the rise
The mid-sixties saw the club rise up again, their name was changed to Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli on June 25, 1964 and they were promoted as runners-up from Serie B during the 1964-65 season. During their first season back in Serie A, the Neapolitan side managed to finished an impressive 3rd place in the league with Argentine manager Bruno Pesaola at the helm. They also won the Coppa delle Alpi trophy in the same year, beating out Juventus.

Napoli came very close to winning the league in 1967-68, finishing just behind AC Milan in second place. During this spell for the club, their squad boasted several players who achieved wide-spread recognition in the game, including future World Cup winner Dino Zoff, the record breaking striker José Altafini and Naples born defender Antonio Juliano. The club managed to keep their name amongst the elite of Italian football in the early 70s, with two third place finishes in 1970-1971 and 1973-74.

The 1974-75 season under coach and former Napoli player Luís Vinício, would prove to be the closest Napoli had ever come to capturing the scudetto at this point in history. They ended the season just two points behind champions Juventus and the goal difference between the clubs was also only two. Although their efforts did not gain them the scudetto, it did gain the club access into Europe for the UEFA Cup 1974-75. Here Napoli would reach the third round of the competition, knocking out Portuguese club FC Porto 2-0 on the way.

Their second ever Coppa Italia trophy was won the same season, knocking out AC Milan and Fiorentina en route to the success, they beat Hellas Verona 4-0 in the final, with goals from Ginulfi, Braglia, and two from Giuseppe Savoldi. In the Anglo-Italian League Cup, Napoli beat English side Southampton 4-1 aggregate; which included a resounding 4-0 victory at home in Naples, to win the competition.

Because the club had won the Coppa Italia the previous season, they gained access to the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1976-77, giving them their second shot at European football; Napoli managed to reach the semi-finals of the competition. The last two seasons of the 70s, Napoli came in at 6th.

The Maradona era: League and European success
The 1980s for the club started in relatively good fashion with 3rd and 4th place league positions early in the decade. But it wouldn't be until Argentine Diego Maradona joined the club from FC Barcelona, in 1984 that Napoli were truly put on the world football map.

Success with Maradona was not instant. The club had to work hard, first with an 8th position in 1984-85, then the following season they stepped up further, with a 3rd place. 1986-87 proved to be Napoli's year, with Diego; Napoli won the scudetto for the first time in their history. In doing so, they also became the first and only mainland Southern Italian team (not including Sardinian club Cagliari) to win the league, this record still stands today. It wasn't just Serie A that the club won that season either, they also beat Atalanta B.C. 4-0 in the Coppa Italia final to complete the double.

In the successive year the team were knocked out in the first round of the European Cup by Real Madrid but a runners-up spot in Serie A meant qualification for the UEFA Cup. Juventus and Bayern Munich were among Napoli's victims en route to the final where Maradona and Careca scored a goal apiece late in the second half to beat VfB Stuttgart two-one in the first leg. In the second leg, played in Stuttgart, the match ended in draw (3-3): so Napoli won their first European trophy. Napoli also reached the final of the Italian Cup that year, only to be beaten by Sampdoria.

In 1990, Napoli were champions again, although in rather less auspicious circumstances than their previous Serie A title. They were awarded 2 points after the Brazilian Alemão was struck by a coin away at Atalanta's Stadio Comunale. If this was not bad enough, Napoli's physio was caught on TV cameras exhorting the player to stay on the ground. Anyway, these 2 points weren't crucial, as AC Milan lost a match with Hellas Verona, so Napoli would've won the championship anyway. Worse was to come. Maradona made inflammatory remarks during the 1990 World Cup, appealing to Neapolitans to cheer on his Argentina team over the northern dominated Italy.

The Napoli "tifosi" responded by displaying a banner in their "curva" that read: "Maradona, You are our love, but Italy is our blood". It was touching for Maradona as Napoli was the only stadium during that World Cup in which the Argentinian national anthem wasn't jeered. Apparently, Napoli fans were the "black sheep" of Italy because they rooted for Maradona. He departed after testing positive for cocaine less than a year later, the club was in financial crisis. Although he let his nightlife affect his legacy with Napoli, Maradona will still go down as the greatest Napoli player ever. He has mentioned many times that his love for Napoli is almost as much for his native team Boca Juniors.

The following year the club won the Supercoppa Italiana, the last major trophy won by Napoli, beating Juventus 5-1. The game included two goals from Careca, two from Andrea Silenzi and the 5th from Massimo Crippa, Roberto Baggio grabbed the consolation goal for the old lady. The result was a record margin victory in the competition for any club, the record still stands today.

The club started a slow decline after wining the Supercoppa Italiana. One by one, players such as Gianfranco Zola, Daniel Fonseca and Careca departed. During the earliest part of the 1990s, the club were still holding their own in the league, although lower than the Maradona era. Since a fourth place finish was achieved in 1991-92 the club's league form diminished.

In 1997 Napoli reached the final of the Italian Cup only to be beaten by Vicenza (1-0/0-3 aet). By this time their league form was less successful, from 1996 onwards their league finishes were significantly lower, and a first relegation to Serie B came in 1998 when they recorded only two wins all season.

Napoli had to wait until the 1999-00 season to achieve promotion as runners-up in Serie B back to the Italian top division. During their season back in Serie A, Napoli were relegated straight back down; although the relegation battle was quite close, U.S. Lecce and Hellas Verona had only 1 more point than the azzurri but stayed up.

In 2001-02 Napoli failed to gain promotion, missing out by one place. This set off a spiral effect which saw the club slip further; the next season they finished a lowly 16th. Worse was to come for the club however, with a debt estimated up to €70 million, the club was declared bankrupt in August 2004.

Rebirth under De Laurentiis
Under the name Napoli Soccer a new club was born, thanks to film producer Aurelio De Laurentiis; the intention was to ensure the city of Naples would not be left without a football team. During the first season down in Serie C1, Napoli narrowly missed out on promotion to U.S. Avellino after losing 2-1 in the play-offs.

In the 2005-06 season, they went one better and won the Serie C1 championship. They secured promotion on April 15, 2006, after a 2-0 win at home to Perugia. Despite the fact that Napoli were playing in such a low division, they remained among clubs with the largest fan base in Italy. With higher average attendances than most of the Serie A clubs, (breaking the Serie C attendance record with 51,000 at one game) and six million fans worldwide. The club's name was restored back to S.S.C. Napoli in May 2006 by chairman De Laurentiis.

Return to Serie A
The team proved itself to be one of the top clubs in the Italian Serie B division. For a significant part of the season Napoli was in second place, fighting for direct promotion to Serie A with Genoa CFC. After temporarily slipping to third, they moved one point ahead of Genoa on the second-last game of the season. It would be on the final matchday that each team's fate would be decided when Napoli played 3rd placed Genoa in Genova. A win for either team would see that team promoted. A draw would see either Napoli or both teams promoted. But this latter scenario was not entirely in their hands. Fourth placed Piacenza Calcio, fighting to reduce the gap on 3rd place to less than 10 points to obtain a play-off, was hosting US Triestina who themselves were fighting to escape relegation to Serie C1. In order to do this, only a victory would do for Piacenza.

On June 10th 2007, Napoli obtained direct promotion to Serie A. The match finished in a 0-0 draw, but Piacenza were held to a 1-1 draw by Triestina after taking the lead, meaning both Napoli and Genoa were directly promoted to Serie A. When news came to Genova's Stadio Luigi Ferraris of Piacenza's final result, players and fans from both teams began to celebrate in euphoria raiding the pitch, unaware that the referee still hadn't called full time. The referee ordered that a minute of injury time was to be played. Once this finished, the celebrations officially began for two of Italy's sleeping giants. The 2007-08 campaign will be the first for Napoli in Serie A since its last relegation in 2001, and the first time in Serie A under the reformed club following their subsequent bankruptcy.

History of ACF Fiorentina

The club was founded on August 26, 1926 by the merger of Libertas and Club Sportivo Firenze. The club won its first trophy in 1939-40 with the Coppa Italia and its first scudetto (Italian championship) in 1955-56, the club were runners-up in the four following seasons. In the 1960-61 season the club won the Coppa Italia again and was also successful in Europe, winning the first Cup Winners' Cup against Rangers.

In the 1960s the club won the Coppa Italia and the Mitropa Cup in 1966 and were league champions again in the 1968-69 season. In 1974 the Viola won the Anglo-Italian League Cup. Success in the Coppa Italia was repeated in 1975, but from then until the late 1990s the club found itself in the doldrums, culminating in a season in Serie B (second division) in 1993-1994. Upon return to Serie A the club again proved able in the cup competitions, winning the Coppa Italia again in 1996 and 2000 and the Italian SuperCoppa.

2001 heralded major changes for Fiorentina, as the terrible state of the club's finances was revealed; they were unable to pay wages and had debts of around USD 50 million. The club owner, Vittorio Cecchi Gori, was able to raise some more money, but even this soon proved to be insufficient resources to sustain the club. Then, Fiorentina were relegated at the end of the 2001-02 season and went into judicially controlled administration in June 2002. This form of bankruptcy (sports companies cannot exactly fail in this way in Italy, but they can suffer a similar procedure) meant that the club was refused a place in Serie B for the 2002-03 season, and as a result, effectively ceased to exist.

The club was promptly re-established in August 2002 as Florentia Viola with a new owner, Diego Della Valle, and was admitted into Serie C2, the fourth tier of Italian football. The only player to remain at the club as they began their new life was Angelo Di Livio, whose commitment to the cause of resurrecting the club further endeared him to the fans. Helped by Di Livio, the club won its regional section in Serie C2 with considerable ease at the end of the 2002-03 season, which would normally have led to a promotion to Serie C1. However, due to the bizarre Caso Catania (Catania Case) the club skipped Serie C1 and was admitted into Serie B. This was only possible because the Italian Football Federation chose to resolve the Catania situation by increasing the number of teams in Serie B from 20 to 24. In the 2003 off-season, the club also bought back the right to use the Fiorentina name and the famous shirt design, and re-incorporated itself as ACF Fiorentina. Matches were still being played at the Artemio Franchi stadium.

The club's unusual double promotion was not without controversy, with some suggesting that Fiorentina did not deserve it; however, the club remained in Serie B and managed to finish the 2003-04 season in sixth place. This achievement placed the Viola in a two-legged playoff against Perugia (the 15th-place finisher in Serie A) for a position in Serie A. Fiorentina completed their remarkable comeback by winning the match 2-1 on aggregate, with both goals scored by Enrico Fantini, to gain promotion back to Serie A. In their first season back in Italian football's top flight, the club struggled to avoid relegation, securing survival only on the last day of the season, and avoiding a relegation playoff only on head-to-head record against Bologna and Parma.

In 2005-06, their form greatly improved, and they had qualified for the 3rd Qualifying round of the Champions League by earning the 4th place in the Serie A with 74 points. The combination of defence by captain Dario Dainelli and Czech international regular Tomáš Ujfaluši, midfield by Cristian Brocchi, wing by Martin Jorgensen, playmaking by Stefano Fiore and key marksman Luca Toni with Sebastian Frey as goalkeeper proved to be an outstanding force in Serie A. Fiorentina officially regained their status as an Italian elite, especially with Toni himself having scored an amazing 31 goals in just 34 appearances, the first player to pass the 30 goal mark since Antonio Valentin Angelillo in the 1958-59 season - which has seen him claim the European Golden Boot.

However, on July 14, 2006 Fiorentina were relegated to Serie B due to their involvement in the 2006 Serie A match fixing scandal and given a 12 point penalty. However, on appeal, the team was reinstated to the Serie A, albeit with a 19 point penalty for the 2006-07 season. The team also lost their UEFA Champions League 2006-07 place.[1] After the start of the season, upon appealing to the Italian courts, Fiorentina's penalization was reduced to 15 points from 19, which was still far heavier than club officials had hoped for. Despite starting the 2006-2007 season with the 15 point penalty, Fiorentina managed to secure a place in the 2007-2008 edition of the UEFA Cup.

History of Atalanta B.C.

The club was founded in 1907. A football club had existed in Bergamo since 1904. Founded by Swiss emigrants, it was known as FC Bergamo. The rival Atalanta club grew out of a division between different sporting societies in the town. The name is taken from the female athlete of Greek mythology. The FIGC was unimpressed with the new club and did not officially recognize them until 1914. The current club is the result of a merger between Atalanta and a third team called Bergamasca. The first, black and white coloured and the second wearing a blue and white shirt, merged in 1924 as Atalanta Bergamasca di Ginnastica e Scherma 1907. The team moved to the site of the current ground, on the Viale Giulio Cesare, in 1928.

Atalanta joined the Italian league in 1929. The club first reached Serie A in 1937, but was relegated immediately. The club returned in 1940 and remained in A until 1959; after a single season in Serie B the club was promoted and lasted a further decade in A, before relegation in 1973 led to an uncertain period of promotion and relegation between the two levels.

The club achieved its highest position in 1948, finishing in 5th place. In 1981 the club fell into Serie C1, a blow which revitalised the club. The team returned to B the next season and made it back to A in 1985. The club's form in Serie A remains uncertain, as it was relegated in 1988, 1995, 1998 and 2005.

In terms of titles the club has won little, their sole silverware is the 1963 Coppa Italia. The club has had very few good runs in Europe, the best spell ending in a Cup Winners' Cup semi-final in 1988; in 1991 Atalanta reached UEFA Cup quarter-finals.

The club has had very few famous players. However, Atalanta has been proven to run a successful youth system, producing footballers like Roberto Donadoni (Italy national team coach from July 2006), Alessio Tacchinardi, Domenico Morfeo, Giampaolo Pazzini, Riccardo Montolivo, Ivan Pelizzoli, and Samuele Dalla Bona who have quickly been grabbed by the bigger clubs. Other players who have graced the Atleti Azzurri d'Italia include Claudio Caniggia, Glenn Strömberg, Alemao, Paolo Montero, Christian Vieri, Filippo Inzaghi, Gianluigi Lentini, Cristiano Lucarelli, Cristiano Doni, and, in the past, Stefano Angeleri, Adriano Bassetto, Antonio Cabrini, Angelo Domenghini, Humberto Maschio, Giuseppe Savoldi and Gaetano Scirea.

History of F.C. Internazionale Milano

The club was founded on March 9, 1908 as Internazionale FBC Milano, following a "schism" from the Milan Cricket and Football Club. A group of Italians and Swiss (Giorgio Muggiani, a painter who also designed the club's logo, Bossard, Lana, Bertoloni, De Olma, Enrico Hintermann, Arturo Hintermann, Carlo Hintermann, Pietro Dell'Oro, Ugo and Hans Rietmann, Voelkel, Maner, Wipf, and Carlo Ardussi) were unhappy about the domination of Italians in the AC Milan team, and broke away from them, leading to the creation of Internazionale. From the beginning, the club was open to foreign players and thus lived up to her founding name.

The club won its very first Scudetto (championship) in 1910 and its second in 1920. The captain and coach of the first Scudetto was Virgilio Fossati, who was killed in World War I. In 1928, during the Fascist era, the club was forced to merge with the Milanese Unione Sportiva and was renamed Ambrosiana SS Milano two years later it was altered to AS Ambrosiana Milano. They wore white shirts around this time with a red cross emblazoned on it. This shirt design was inspired by the flag and coat of arms of the city of Milan (which is derived from the flag of the patron saint of Milan, St. Ambrose and dates back to the 4th century AD). By 1933 the name was changed again, this time to AS Ambrosiana Inter Milano.

Their first Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) was won in 1938-39, led by the great legend Giuseppe Meazza, for whom the San Siro stadium is officially named, and a fifth league championship followed in 1940, despite an injury to Meazza. After the end of World War II, the club re-emmerged under a name close to their original one; Internazionale FC Milano, they have kept this ever since.

La Grande Inter
Following the war, Inter won its sixth championship in 1953 and the seventh in 1954. Following these titles, Inter was to enter the best years of its history, affectionately known as the era of La Grande Inter (The Great Inter). During this magnificent period, with Helenio Herrera as head coach, the club won 3 league championships in 1963, 1965 and 1966. The most famous moments during this decade also include Inter's 2 back-to-back European Cup wins. In 1964, Inter won the first of those tournaments, playing against the famous Spanish club Real Madrid. The next season, playing in their home stadium, the San Siro, they defeated two-time former champion, Benfica.

Following the golden era of the 1960s, Inter managed to win their eleventh league title in 1971 and their twelfth in 1980. Inter were defeated for the second time in five years in the final of the European Cup, going down 0-2 to Johan Cruijff's Ajax Amsterdam in 1972. During the 1970s and the 1980s, Inter also added two to its Coppa Italia tally, in 1977-78 and 1981-82.

Led by the German trio of Andreas Brehme, Jürgen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthäus, Inter captured the 1989 Serie A championship and the Italian Supercup to open the following season.

Dark times
The 1990s was a period of disappointment. Whilst their great rivals AC Milan and Juventus were achieving success both domestically and in Europe, Inter were left behind, with some mediocre positions in the standings, their worst coming in 1994 when they finished just 1 point from relegation. Inter's fortunes started to improve in the 1990s. Inter achieved some European success with 3 UEFA Cup victories in 1991, 1994 and 1998.

With Massimo Moratti's takeover from Ernesto Pellegrini in 1995 Inter were promised more success with many high profile signings like Ronaldo, Christian Vieri and Hernan Crespo, with Inter twice breaking the world's record transfer fee in this period. However the 1990s remained a decade of disappointment and is the only decade in Inter's history in which they did not win a single Italian Serie A Championship. They were only 45 minutes away from capturing the Scudetto on May 5, 2002 when they needed to maintain a one goal advantage over Lazio at Rome's Olimpico stadium when Inter collapsed and let in three second-half Lazio goals that enabled Juventus to pip their bitter rivals to the championship. The 2003 Champions League was met with more disappointment. Being tied 1-1 with AC Milan, only for AC Milan to advance on the away goals rule.

On June 15, 2005, Inter won the Coppa Italia, defeating AS Roma in the two-legged final 3-0 on aggregate (1-0 win in Milan and 2-0 win in Rome) and followed that up on 20 August 2005, by winning the Supercoppa Italiana after an extra-time 1-0 victory against original 04-05 Serie A champions Juventus (before being stripped of this title). This Super Cup win was Inter's first since 1989, coincidentally the same year since Inter last won the Scudetto before 2006. On 11 May 2006, Inter retained their Coppa Italia trophy by once again, defeating AS Roma with a 4-1 aggregate victory (A 1-1 scoreline in Rome and a 3-1 win at the Giuseppe Meazza, San Siro).

Inter were awarded the 2005-06 Serie A championship as they were the highest placed side in the season's final league table after points were stripped from Juventus and AC Milan - both sides involved in the match fixing scandal that year. On 14 July 2006, The Italian Federal Appeal Commission found Serie A clubs Juventus, Lazio, Fiorentina, Reggina and AC Milan guilty of match-fixing and charged the 5 clubs with their respective punishments, (although all charges were later reduced in some capacity). So with the confirmed relegation of Juventus to Serie B (for the first ever time in their history) and the 8-point deduction for city rivals AC Milan, Inter became favorites to retain their Serie A title for the upcoming 2006-07 Serie A season.

During the season, Inter went on a record-breaking run of 17 consecutive victories in Serie A, starting on September 25 2006 with a 4-1 home victory over Livorno, and ending on February 28, 2007, after a 1-1 draw at home to Udinese. The 5-2 away win at Catania on February 25 2007 broke the original record of 15 matches held by both Bayern Munich & Real Madrid from the "Big 5" (the top flight leagues in England, Italy, Spain, France & Germany). The run lasted for almost 5 months and holds among the best in European league football, with just Benfica (29 wins), Celtic (25 wins) and PSV Eindhoven (22 wins) bettering the run. Inter's form dipped a little as they scored 0-0 and 2-2 draws against relegation-battlers Reggina and slumping Palermo (respectively), the latter game featuring a second-half comeback after Palermo went up 2-0 at halftime. They could not keep their invincible form near the end of the season as well, as they lost their first game of the domestic season to Roma in the San Siro 3-1 thanks to two late Roma goals. Inter had enjoyed an unbeaten Serie A run for just under a year. This was a feat that was never accomplished by any other club.

On April 22, 2007 Inter were crowned Serie A champions for the 2nd consecutive season after defeating Siena 2-1 at Stadio Artemio Franchi. Italian World Cup winning defender Marco Materazzi scored both goals in the 18th and 60th minute, with the latter being a penalty. This is the first time Inter have won the Scudetto, on merit alone, since 1989. In addition, within hours after clinching their 2nd consecutive league title, the club confirmed head coach Roberto Mancini had signed a 4-year extension to his current contract, with an option to extend it for a further 12 months, which, if extended, would expire at the end of the 2011-12 campaign. Inter president Massimo Moratti claimed that this contractual agreement was made "some time ago"

History of A.S. Roma

A.S. Roma was founded in July 1927. At the time, the city of Rome had several teams in the Italian football league: S.S. Lazio (1900), Roman F.C. (1903), S.S. Alba-Audace Roma (founded in 1926 through the merger of Alba (1911) and Audace) and Fortitudo-Pro Roma S.G.S. (founded in 1926 through the merger of Fortitudo (1908) and Pro Roma (1912)), however most of them were weak financially and uncompetitive. Spurned on by the desire for each Italian city to be competitive in Serie A (as was done in Florence, Naples and Bari), Alba-Audace, Fortitudo-Pro Roma and Roman merged to form A.S. Roma. After a short use of the Motovelodromo Appio stadium, the yellow-red team settled in the working-class streets of Testaccio, where it built the extraordinary all-wooden homonym ground. The area still remains the club's spiritual heartland. Other grounds that have been used by A.S. Roma are the Stadio Flaminio and the Stadio Olimpico (the latter was built in 1952).

A.S. Roma took part in their first national league in the 1929-30 season and won their first Scudetto in 1941-42. However, they would have to wait a considerable 41 years for their second triumph in the 1982-83 season and 18 years for their third in 2000-01. They have been runners-up in 1930-31, 1935-36, 1980-81, 1983-84, 1985-86, 2001-02, 2003-04, 2005-06 (after the final verdict on the match-fixing scandal) and 2006-07. A.S. Roma have been relegated only once in their 80 year history: this came at the end of the 1950-51 season, though they made a swift return to Serie A the following season.

After returning to Serie A in 1952, Roma spent the remainder 1950s and early 1960s in the top half of Serie A. From 1963 to 1979 AS Roma endured a period of mediocrity with 3rd place in 1974-75 being the best they could manage, punctured by either mid-table mediocrity or flirtation with relegation. Notable players in this period include defender Giacomo Losi and midfielders Franco Cordova and Giancarlo De Sisti.

1980s-Present Day
With talented players including Bruno Conti, Agostino Di Bartolomei, Roberto Pruzzo and Falcao, Roma would begin the 1980s in its best position to challenge for the title since 1942. After narrowly (and controversially) missing out in 1981 to Juventus, they broke through in 1983 amidst joyous celebrations in the capital. They reached the European Cup final the following year, only to lose to Liverpool on penalties. In the 1990-1991 season, Roma reached the UEFA Cup final in which they lost to Inter Milan 2-1 on aggregate.

They have more or less remained in the top half of Serie A ever since, occasionally mounting a serious challenge for the title, which they won again in the 2000/2001 season by beating Parma 3-1 on the last day of the season, edging out Juventus by two points.

Francesco Totti was one of the main reasons for Roma's victory that season and has since become an icon of the club equal in status to Pruzzo and Conti before him. He is a hero to Roma supporters, even more today thanks to Italy's 2006 FIFA World Cup success. Since then Totti has become Roma's top scorer beating Pruzzo's previous tally of 106 goals.

Roma came close to a successful defense of their title, but lost out as another title race with Juve went to the wire. They missed out by just one point and had to settle for second place and an automatic UEFA Champions League spot. Since they won the scudetto Roma have finished second every season in either the Serie A or the Coppa Italia. They lost out to AC Milan in the Coppa Italia final in the 2002-2003 season (losing 4-2 on aggregate), and again in the Serie A in the 2003-2004 season where they finished second.

2004-2005 was an abysmal campaign where Roma flirted with relegation before finishing in 8th place. They managed to secure a UEFA Cup spot by reaching the Coppa Italia final which they lost to Inter Milan 3-0 on aggregate. Their Champions League campaign was even worse as they only managed 1 point from 6 games before finishing last in their group. Their first game was a 3-0 victory for Dynamo Kiev as they got penalized because an object from the stands hit the referee. The match was called off, victory was given to the Ukrainian outfit, and Roma had to play 2 home games behind closed doors. Their only point came from the 1-1 draw at home with Bayer Leverkusen thanks to a late goal by Vincenzo Montella.

AS Roma also made to the final of the 2005/06 Coppa Italia to face Inter Milan. They drew the First leg 1-1 but lost the return leg 3-1, losing 4-2 on aggregate. This was the second year in a row they lost to Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia final.

AS Roma beat Olympique Lyonnais to reach the quarter finals of the Champions League in 2007, but after taking a 2-1 lead over Manchester United at home and being undefeated in 10 games in all competitions, they suffered a 7-1 defeat in the second leg at Old Trafford (8-3 on aggregate). This was their first defeat in Europe since losing 1-0 to Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage. It was also the biggest margin of victory in a quarter final match of either the European Cup or Champions League, since 1957-58, when Real Madrid beat Sevilla 8-0 (10-2 on aggregate).

The team secured second place in Serie A with three games to go, behind Inter Milan. Although the nerazzurri dominated the championship, they lost the match against Roma 1-3 in San Siro. The two clubs also faced each other in the two legs of the 2007 Coppa Italia final. Roma won the cup after an impressive 6-2 in the first leg, while lost 2-1 the second leg. It was the eighth Coppa Italia in Roma's history.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

History of Bolton Wanderers F.C.

Early history
The club was founded in 1874 as Christ Church FC, but changed its name to Bolton Wanderers in 1877. Bolton were one of the 12 founder members of the Football League, which formed in 1888. Having remained in the Football League since its formation, Bolton have spent more time in the top flight (Premier League/old First Division) than out of it.

In 1894 Bolton reached the final of football's oldest competition, the FA Cup, for the first time, but lost 4-1 to Notts County at Goodison Park. A decade later they were runners-up a second time, losing 1-0 to local rivals Manchester City at Crystal Palace on April 23, 1904. On April 28, 1923 Bolton won the cup at their third attempt to win their first major trophy, beating West Ham United 2-0 in the first ever Wembley final. The match, famously known as The White Horse Final was played in front of over 127,000 supporters. Bolton's centre-forward, David Jack scored the first ever goal at Wembley Stadium. They became the most successful cup side of the twenties, also winning in 1926 and 1929, beating Manchester City and Portsmouth respectively.

From 1935 to 1964, Bolton enjoyed an uninterrupted stay in the top flight- regarded by fans as a golden era, spearheaded in the 1950s by Nat Lofthouse. They would not return to the top flight until 1978, where they lasted but two seasons before a period of further decline set in.

In 1953 Bolton played in one of the most famous FA Cup finals of all time - The Stanley Matthews Final of 1953. Bolton lost the game to Blackpool 4-3 after throwing away a 3-1 lead. Blackpool were victorious thanks to the skills of Matthews and the goals of Stan Mortensen.

Bolton Wanderers have not won a major trophy since 1958, when two Nat Lofthouse goals saw them overcome Manchester United in the FA Cup final in front of a 100,000 crowd at Wembley. The closest they have come to winning a major trophy since then is finishing runners-up in the League Cup, first in 1995 and again in 2004.

At the end of the 1986–87 season, Bolton Wanderers suffered relegation to the Fourth Division for the first time in their history. But the board kept faith in manager Phil Neal and they won promotion back to the Third Division at the first attempt. The deciding goal was scored by Robbie Savage in a 1-0 win at Wrexham. Neal remained in charge until the summer of 1992 when he made way for Bruce Rioch, who a few years earlier had won two successive promotions with Middlesbrough.

In the early part of Rioch's tenure, Bolton gained a giantkilling reputation in cup competitions. In 1993 Bolton beat FA Cup holders Liverpool 2-0 in a third round replay thanks to goals from John McGinlay and Andy Walker. The club also defeated higher division opposition in the form of Wolves that year before bowing out to Derby County. In 1994 Bolton beat FA Cup holders Arsenal 3-1 in a fourth round replay, and went on to reach the Quarter Finals, bowing out 1-0 at home to local rivals (and then Premier League) Oldham Athletic. Bolton also defeated top division opposition in the form of Everton and Aston Villa that year.

Bolton reach the Premiership
Bolton reached the Premiership in 1995, under the management of Bruce Rioch, thanks to a victory over Reading in the Division One playoff final. After being 2–0 down at half-time, two goals from Bolton in the final 15 minutes of the game forced extra time and they went on to win 4-3 and return to top division football after a 15-year exile. They had been on the losing side at Wembley a few weeks earlier, having lost 2-1 to Liverpool in the League Cup final.

Rioch left to take charge at Arsenal after the promotion success. He was replaced by Derby County manager Roy McFarland, who was joined by his former assistant Colin Todd. Bolton were bottom for virtually all of the 1995-96 Premiership campaign and despite several new signings, Bolton dismissed McFarland on New Year's Day 1996 and appointed Todd in his place. Todd was unable to save Bolton from relegation but the board kept faith in him. It is worth noting, however, that Bolton's form improved noticeably under Todd with 19 points from their last 16 games.

The Bolton board's loyalty in Todd was rewarded when they won promotion back to the Premiership at the first attempt thanks to a season in which they achieved 98 league points and 100 goals in the process of securing the Division One Championship. They could have achieved 100 league points and 100 league goals save for drawing the last game of the season at Tranmere Rovers 2-2.

A second relegation and another promotion
Bolton were relegated on goal difference at the end of the 1997-98 Premiership campaign, going down to Division One with the previous season's other two promoted sides— Barnsley and Crystal Palace. Bolton reached the 1999 Division One playoff final but lost to Watford. Colin Todd resigned as manager soon after and was replaced by Notts County's Sam Allardyce.

1999-00 brought disappointment for Bolton under their new manager as they lost in the semi finals of the Division One playoffs, the League Cup and the FA Cup. However, happier times were around the corner as in 2000–01 Sam Allardyce and his team got it right by beating Preston North End 3-0 in the Division One playoff final with goals from Gareth Farrelly, Michael Ricketts and Ricardo Gardner respectively. The club was then promoted back to the Premiership.

Staying up
In 2000 Bolton reached the Semi Finals of the FA Cup at Wembley but were defeated by Aston Villa in a penalty shoot-out. The defeat meant that Bolton could not achieve the historic feat of featuring in the first and last cup finals at Wembley. Dean Holdsworth, who was the club's record signing at the time, scored his penalty after earlier missing a glorious chance to put Bolton in the final. Wanderers lost after Allan Johnston and Michael Johansen saw their efforts saved by future England goalkeeper David James.

Bolton went top of the Premiership after winning their first three games of the 2001-02 season, but failed to keep up their winning ways and wallowed away to 16th place in the final table - just enough to secure their first-ever Premiership survival, and their first top flight survival since 1979.

Bolton struggled throughout 2002-03 but managed to stay up, winning their final game of the season 2-1 against Middlesbrough thanks to goals from Per Frandsen and Jay Jay Okocha. The victory condemned West Ham United to relegation. In 2003-04, despite a poor start which saw them lose 6-2 to Manchester City and 4-0 to both Manchester United and Premiership newcomers Portsmouth, Bolton nevertheless enjoyed their best season for some 50 years. They reached the League Cup final, losing 2-1 to Middlesbrough. Despite this setback, Bolton finished eighth - much higher than most pundits had predicted them to finish when the season began, and could even have gone one higher on the final day in mid-May 2004 and qualified for Europe had they won their last match of the season; however, a 2-0 defeat at home to Fulham (Bolton's bogey team in the Premiership) saw their excellent season end on something of a disappointing note. However, although nobody could have known it at this time, better things were still to come...

Qualification for Europe
Bolton's impressive progress continued in 2004-05. They secured an impressive sixth place finish - equal on points with European champions Liverpool, who finished fifth by goal difference - and a 1-1 draw against Portsmouth in their penultimate match of the season guaranteed them qualification for a European competition (the UEFA Cup) for the first time in their history. With the outcome also assuring Portsmouth safety from the relegation trapdoor, the result was a carnival atmosphere that saw both sets of fans invade the pitch at the end of the match.

Bolton's renaissance continued into 2005-06, when they achieved another eighth place in the Premiership. The club's first foray into European football saw them knock out Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the opening round. In the group stage they played Turkish giants Besiktas, Vitória de Guimarães, Zenit St. Petersburg and eventual winners Sevilla in which they were unbeaten. They progressed in the knockout stages where they were knocked out by Marseille in the last 32.

A further sign of the club's recent progression came when Sam Allardyce was linked with the England manager's job after it was announced that Sven-Göran Eriksson would step down after the 2006 World Cup. Allardyce was also linked with the Newcastle manager's job until it was given to Glenn Roeder.

Bolton broke their transfer record in August 2006 with the £8 million signing of French striker Nicolas Anelka from Turkish side Fenerbahce. His first goals came in the 3-1 victory over Arsenal, his old side.

Bolton qualified for the Uefa Cup for the second time in 2007 finishing a point in front of Reading in 7th place courtesy of a 2-2 draw in their final game of the season against Aston Villa coupled with Portsmouth's failure to beat Arsenal on the same day.

Allardyce makes way for Lee
On April 29, 2007, Allardyce announced his resignation as manager after almost eight years in the job. It was revealed he had tendered his resignation two weeks earlier. Allardyce initially refused to disclose the reasons for his shock departure, while the club maintained the reasons for the split were private. Allardyce eventually revealed that his exit from Bolton hinged on the lack of forthcoming silverware amidst heavy speculation that he would be joining Newcastle United F.C.

Following speculation that Gary Speed might replace Allardyce, the club's assistant manager, Sammy Lee, took over as manager the day after Allardyce's resignation. On May 1st, 2007, Lee named Speed as his new first team coach alongside Ricky Sbragia and Jimmy Phillips.

The start to Lee’s managerial career with Bolton proved tense, with his first game in charge a 3-1 loss to West Ham United who were battling relegation. Lee’s second match in charge was at home to the Premiership's in-form side, Aston Villa. This match would decide the fate of Bolton’s hopes of gaining a UEFA cup for the second time in their history. Bolton twice threw away the lead with the game finishing a 2-2 draw after a late Luke Moore equaliser for Villa. However, with Reading and Portsmouth both also drawing their final matches, the result was enough for Bolton to seal 7th position in the league and qualification for the UEFA Cup.

History of Derby County F.C.

Early years
The club was formed in 1884 as an offshoot of Derbyshire County Cricket Club. They originally wanted to name themselves directly after the cricket club as Derbyshire County FC, but objections from the local football association (who thought the name was too long) led them to choose Derby County FC.

The Rams, as Derby County are known, initially played at the Racecourse Ground, like their parent cricket club. As well as competing in a number of friendly matches and informal competitions, Derby County also entered the premier British football competition of the time: the FA Cup.

Derby County were founder members of The Football League when it was launched in 1888. In 1891, they absorbed another Derby club, Derby Midland F.C., who had been members of the Midland League. Steve Bloomer, generally considered to be Derby County's best-ever player, joined the club in 1892. In 1895 the club moved to a new stadium, The Baseball Ground (so called because it was previously used for baseball), which became their home for the next 102 years, and adopted their traditional colours of black and white.

On 16 April 1898, Derby appeared in their first FA Cup final at Crystal Palace, but unfortunately lost 3-1.They were losing finalists again on April 15, 1899 (4-1 to Sheffield United) and April 18, 1903 (6-0 to Bury). Derby's luck didn't get any better and they were relegated to the Football League's Second Division for the first time in 1907, but under Jimmy Methven's management they re-signed Steve Bloomer and regained their First Division place in 1911. Bloomer's captaincy of the side that contained 'The 5 Bs' of himself, ('Major' Frank Buckley, Tommy Barbour, Horace Barnes, Jimmy Bauchop) was a feature just before World War I.

In 1914 they were relegated again, but instantly won the Second Division to get promoted (though World War I meant that they had to wait until 1919 to play First Division football again). After just two seasons, they were relegated yet again in 1921.

However, more successful times lay ahead, instigated by Derby's promotion in 1926. Despite not winning anything, the club became a formidable force, with constantly high finishes, from the late 1920s and all the way through the 1939-1940 season, which was abandoned due to World War II. For example, in the 1929-1930 season Derby County finished in second place in the First Division with 50 points behind Sheffield Wednesday on 60 points.

FA Cup triumph
The FA Cup restarted in the 1945-1946 season. Derby got to the final again, but this time managed to go all the way and win by beating Charlton Athletic 4-1 after extra time. (Derby's previous lack of success in the FA Cup — they also regularly lost at the semi-final stage — gave rise to a superstition that the club was subject to a gypsy curse, supposedly because of Gypsy anger that the Baseball Ground was built on a Gypsy camping ground. Prior to the 1946 final, Derby County players went so far as to ask the Gypsies to lift the curse.)

The Football League restarted the following season and, despite the Cup win, Derby could not reproduce their pre-War form and were eventually relegated in 1953. Things went from bad to worse and in 1955 they were relegated to the Third Division North for the first time in their history. The third tier proved easy for Derby, though: they finished second at the first attempt and then bettered it by finishing first (and gaining promotion) the following season.

The Brian Clough years
In 1967, the now-legendary Brian Clough took over Derby County (in partnership with assistant manager Peter Taylor) and led them to their greatest glories. When Clough took over the team, the Rams were treading water in the Second Division and the club's only honour, the 1946 FA Cup win, was becoming a distant memory. There was little expectation that the young manager was going to lead his team to the club's first League Championship.

With Clough having clinched the influential signing of Dave Mackay, Derby were promoted to the First Division in 1969, finished fourth in 1970, got banned from competing in Europe due to financial irregularities in 1971, and won their first ever Football League Championship in 1972. With their season ended, Clough traveled to the Scilly Islands with his family while his Derby side flew to Majorca. Back home, Leeds United and Liverpool failed to get the results necessary in their last games and the Rams clinched the title on May 8, 1972.

Though Derby did not retain their title the following season, they did reach the semi-finals of the European Cup, eventually losing to Italian side Juventus in a controversial match which was subject to subsequent allegations that the Italian club had bribed the match officials, leading Clough to call the Italians "cheating bastards".

Clough's frequent outspoken comments against football's establishment (which had led to Derby being threatened with expulsion from the Football League) eventually led to him falling out with the board of directors at the club, and Clough and Taylor both left in 1973, to widespread uproar from Rams fans, who demanded the board resign and Clough be reinstated.

Second Football League Championship
With the high profile signings of Francis Lee and Bruce Rioch, Derby's League success was repeated in 1974-1975 season when they won the title again, this time under Dave Mackay. Before the 1975-1976 season the Rams made another big name signing in Charlie George and that season saw the Rams face mighty Real Madrid in the European Cup. In one of the greatest games at the Baseball Ground, Charlie George scored a hat-trick as Derby ran out 4-1 winners. Progress in the competition was halted by a 1-5 loss in the second leg at Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

Declining fortunes
Derby's form declined towards the end of the 1970s and they went down to the Second Division in 1980.

Though they challenged well in their first season, Derby's stay in the Second Division was not a happy one and they were relegated to the now-national Third Division in 1984, their centenary year and just nine years after their last Championship.

Return to the top
After the relegation, the club appointed former Newcastle United manager Arthur Cox to stop the rot — and stop it he did. After a two year stint in the Third Division, Cox's emerging side were promoted to the Second Division and won it at the first attempt, returning to the old First Division in 1987.

The club finished fifth in the 1988-1989 season, with the team now containing stars like Peter Shilton, Mark Wright, Dean Saunders and Ted McMinn. However, English clubs were banned from European competition at the time, so the Rams missed out on a place in the UEFA Cup that their high finish otherwise would have earned.

This was Cox's team at its peak; a lack of further investment from controversial chairman Robert Maxwell lead to a decline shortly after. With Maxwell soon dead from suspected suicide, the club was relegated back to the Second Division in 1991 (which became the "new" First Division a year later when the old First Division clubs broke away to form the FA Premier League). At this time, local newspaper businessman Lionel Pickering became the majority shareholder of the club.

Derby's hopes of earning immediate promotion to the new FA Premier League in 1992 were ended when they lost to eventual winners Blackburn Rovers in the play-off semi-finals. The same year, Derby paid £2.5 million for Notts County's central defender Craig Short. At the time — and for five years afterwards — he was the most expensive player to be signed by a club outside the top flight.

The FA Premier League (or, more precisely, the money it brought) made it even more difficult for Derby to gain promotion to the Premier League, let alone stay there. Cox resigned in late 1993 citing health problems, and Roy McFarland returned as manager. Despite big spending, however, McFarland failed to get the side anywhere near the top of the division apart from a defeat at the hands of Leicester City in the 1993-1994 play-off final and was sacked in 1995 after a mid-table finish. Jim Smith was appointed as the club's new manager. Although the season started slowly, the hugely influential signing of sweeper Igor Stimac proved pivotal. Throwing his brief of 'a top-half finish' out the window, Smith guided the Rams to a second-place finish and, more importantly, the Premier League.

Premier Rams and Pride Park Stadium
Derby County made an excellent Premiership début in the 1996-1997 season, finishing 12th in the final table with a side containing quality players like Paulo Wanchope, Aljosa Asanovic, Igor Stimac and Jacob Laursen.

The club moved into the new 30,000-seat (later upgraded to 33,597-seat) Pride Park Stadium for the 1997-1998 season and was able to attract quality signings like Stefano Eranio and Francesco Baiano.

Progress continued in the next two seasons. The Rams finishing ninth and eighth places before a decline in form saw the club finish 16th at the end of the 1999-2000 Premiership campaign. Another relegation battle followed in 2000-2001 when Derby narrowly avoided the drop by finished 17th in the Premiership — one place clear of relegation.

Jim Smith resigned as manager in October 2001 after rejecting an offer to become the club's director of football. He was replaced by assistant manager and former player Colin Todd. Todd remained in charge for just three months before he was sacked in the aftermath of a humiliating FA Cup Third Round home defeat against Third Division strugglers Bristol Rovers.

At the end of January 2002, John Gregory was appointed Derby manager less than a week after walking out on Aston Villa. Derby won their first two games under Gregory's management and also held title chasing Manchester United to a draw, suggesting that Gregory might be able to save Derby from relegation. But seven defeats from their final eight fixtures condemned Derby to relegation from the Premiership after six successive seasons of top division football.

Back in The Football League
Derby County's relegation back to The Football League saw the club enter a serious financial crisis, which forced them to sell many key players and build a team mostly of home-grown youngsters like Tom Huddlestone and Lee Grant. Gregory was suspended from his managerial duties over alleged misconduct and former Ipswich Town boss George Burley was drafted in as a temporary manager. An 18th place finish was secured. At the end of the season Gregory's contract was terminated and Burley received the job on a permanent basis.

The club's parent company went briefly into liquidation in October 2003 and the majority shareholder Lionel Pickering gave way to a new board of John Sleightholme, Jeremy Keith and Steve Harding, who bought the club for £3. Derby finished 20th in the 2003-2004 First Division campaign, but improved dramatically in the 2004-2005 season and finished 4th in the Football League Championship (the new name for the Football League First Division) and qualified for a promotion play-off spot, though lost in the semi-finals to Preston North End.

Soon afterwards, Burley resigned citing differences between himself and the board. He was replaced by Phil Brown. Brown failed to find much success in the job, however, and was sacked in January 2006, after a bad run of results, including a 6-1 hammering at Coventry City and an embarrassing 3-1 FA Cup exit to League One side Colchester United. Terry Westley, the academy coach at the time, took over first team duties until the end of the season and saved Derby from relegation.

Recent times
Derby's Chairman, John Sleightholme, resigned in April 2006, saying his position had become untenable. The rest of the board followed him later that month. A popular consortium of local businessmen led by former vice-chairman Peter Gadsby bought the club, reducing its debt and returning Pride Park Stadium to the club's ownership in the process. In June 2006, former Preston North End boss Billy Davies was appointed Derby County's new permanent manager, with Julian Darby as his first-team coach. In his first season, Davies took Derby to the Championship play-offs, where they beat Southampton on penalties in the semi-finals before defeating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 with a second-half Stephen Pearson goal (his first for the club) at the new Wembley Stadium to secure a return to the Premier League and the £60m windfall that achievement is reputed to bring.

History of Reading F.C.

Reading were formed on 25 December 1871. They were originally nicknamed the The Biscuitmen after one of the main trades in the town, Huntley & Palmers biscuits, but changed to the Royals in the 1970s, when the company closed their factory[2]. This history is reflected in the name of the club's unofficial fanzine, Hob Nob Anyone?, named after a popular British biscuit.

The club played at Reading Recreation Ground until 1878, before moving on to Reading Cricket Ground (1878–1882), Coley Park (1882–1889) and Caversham Cricket Ground (1889–1896). The switch to professionalism in 1895 resulted in the need for a bigger ground and, to this end, the club moved again, to the purpose-built Elm Park on 5 September 1896. The crest design is based upon the club colours, a crown which in heraldry represents royal sovereignty for the County of Berkshire and a lion which is an image of Reading most famous landmark, the Forbury lion.

In 1913 Reading toured Italy and beat Genoa 4-2 and A.C. Milan 5-0, narrowly lost 2-1 to Casale, before beating Italian champions Pro Vercelli 6-0 and the full Italian national team 2-0, prompting the leading sports newspaper Corriere della Sera to write "without doubt, Reading FC are the finest foreign team seen in Italy." Reading were invited back for another tour the following year, but there is no evidence it took place. It is possible it was cancelled due to the imminence of World War I, which claimed the lives of many Reading F.C. players, including Alan Foster, who put a hat-trick past Milan.

Reading were elected to the Third Division of the Football League in 1920, and have spent the majority of the time since then in the third tier of the league, with occasional flirtations with the second and fourth tiers.

Reading's best performance in the FA Cup came in 1926–27 when they lost to eventual winners Cardiff City in the semi-final. The side's moment of cup glory came in 1988 when they won the Simod Cup, beating a number of top flight sides en-route to their Wembley win over Luton Town.

Reading were promoted to the Second Division as champions in 1986 under the management of Ian Branfoot, but were relegated back to the Third Division in 1988. Branfoot left in October 1989, having failed to get the Royals back into the Second Division. His successor, Ian Porterfield, lasted just 18 months before further failures cost him his job. The appointment of Mark McGhee as player-manager in June 1991 saw Reading move forward.

They were crowned champions of the new Division Two in 1994 and, when McGhee moved to Leicester City halfway through the following season, Reading still appeared in with a chance of a second straight promotion. 35-year-old striker Jimmy Quinn was put in charge of the first team alongside midfielder Mick Gooding and guided Reading to runners-up in the final Division One table — only to be denied automatic promotion because of the streamlining of the Premier League, from 22 teams to 20. Reading had eased past Tranmere Rovers in the play-off semi-finals and looked to have booked their place in the Premiership after building up a 2-0 lead over Bolton Wanderers by half time in the final. Two late goals from Bolton forced extra time and the match ended 4-3 to Bolton. Quinn and Gooding's contracts were not renewed two years later after Reading had slid into the bottom half of Division One.

Their successor, Terry Bullivant, lasted less than one season before being sacked in March 1998. The Royals finished that season bottom of Division One and slipped into Division Two. Former Celtic boss, Tommy Burns lasted just 18 months before being replaced by Alan Pardew who had previously been reserve team manager before being released. 1998 also saw Reading move into the new 24,200-seat Madejski Stadium — named after chairman John Madejski — in the Smallmead area of the town.

In 2001, Reading became the first football club to register their fans as an official member of their squad, in recognition of the fact that the supporters in the stadium on a match day can sometimes influence the match just as much as a player on the pitch. The idea came from supporter Andy Manson in the summer of 2001 when the number 13 was left vacant by then boss Alan Pardew after the departure of the club's number 13, Keith Scott. Since then the "player" registered with squad number 13, has been named 'Reading Fans'.

Reading made it back to Division One in 2002 after finishing runners-up in Division Two. Good form the following season saw them finish fourth in Division One and qualify for the play-offs. Their promotion hopes were ended by a defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semi-finals, Reading's third unsuccessful attempt to gain promotion via the play-offs. Pardew acrimoniously moved to West Ham United the following October and was replaced at Reading by Brighton & Hove Albion's Steve Coppell.

In 2004–05, Reading finished seventh in the Football League Championship and just missed out in the play-offs.

Reading reach the Premiership
On 25 March 2006, Reading won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history. A 1-1 draw away at Leicester, coupled with Watford's defeat against Millwall, and Leeds United only drawing with Stoke City, secured Reading one of the top two automatic promotion places in the Championship. MPs congratulated Reading's successful season with two early day motions shortly after Reading finally secured promotion. The following week, they celebrated winning the Championship after defeating Derby County 5-0, while Stoke City held Sheffield Utd 1-1. This sparked a pitch invasion and the players celebrated in front of the fans from the safety of the directors' box. The Club also secured a record amount of points for the second tier — 106 — and fell only one short of scoring 100 goals. Reading lost only two games during the season.

First Premier League season - 2006–07
The 2006–07 season saw Reading make their first ever appearance in the top flight of English football. In the club's first Premiership game, Reading found themselves down 2-0 inside the first twenty minutes to Middlesbrough, but in a stunning turnaround the Royals netted home their first Premiership goals and won 3-2. Striker Dave Kitson became the first player to score for Reading in the top flight of football. While it is commonplace for teams who get promoted to the Premiership to experience a one-and-done season before being relegated, Reading distanced themselves from that curse (rather like fellow promoted clubs in the past, e.g. Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth), proving themselves more than worthy opposition for any team in the division.

Reading notched up some impressive results during the early stages of the season, including a draw against Manchester United and a narrow defeat to defending champions Chelsea, leading many commentators to change their opinion of the Premiership's newest member.

Perhaps one of the highlights of the season came on 1 January 2007, when Reading beat West Ham United 6-0. It represents the club's first ever 'double' in the top flight, as Reading had won at Upton Park 1-0 previously in the season. The 2-0 victory over Manchester City on 3 February 2007 took Reading to 40 points in the Premiership, the total seen by some as that required to avoid relegation. After that impressive start to 2007, the Royals recorded three defeats in quick succession to Middlesbrough, to Manchester United in an FA Cup Fifth Round replay, and to Arsenal. John Oster scored his first Premiership goal for the club against Middlesbrough, and his first goal in the top flight since scoring for Everton in the club's 4-2 win over Barnsley in September 1997. The FA Cup replay against Manchester United was notable in that Reading contrived to concede three goals in the opening six minutes of the game. The final score was 3-2 to Manchester United. Reading's final game of the season was an away fixture to Blackburn Rovers, which ended 3-3 from which Reading came from behind three times, with goals from Seol Ki-Hyeon, Kevin Doyle and Brynjar Gunnarsson. The result was not enough for qualification for the UEFA Cup for the 2006–07 season as it meant that Reading finished the season in eighth place with 55 points. Reading also turned down the chance to play in the Intertoto Cup meaning it was passed down to Portsmouth, who also rejected it, passing it to Blackburn who accepted the offer. The club's top scorer in the league was Kevin Doyle with 13 goals, whilst top scorer overall was Leroy Lita with 14.

Peace Cup 2007
Reading took part in the 2007 Peace Cup in South Korea. After defeat to River Plate and victories over Lyon and Shimizu S-Pulse, Reading failed to qualify for the final on goal difference.

2nd Premier League Season - 2007–08
Reading's second season in the Premier League began on 12 August 2007, with an away fixture against champions Manchester United, in which the match ended in a scoreless draw, Dave Kitson being controversially sent off after less than a minute for a challenge on Patrice Evra. On 15 August 2007 Reading's first home game of the season finished with a 1-2 defeat to Chelsea. Reading took the lead through André Bikey, but two goals in the five minutes immediately after half time from Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba condemned Reading to their first defeat of the season. Reading's next home game on 18 August 2007 against Everton finished with a 1-0 win for Reading as a consequence of Stephen Hunt's 44th minute volley. Reading then took on Bolton Wanderers and were defeated 3-0 away. Reading next played Swansea City away on 27 August 2007 in the first round of the League Cup, Reading won 1-0 because of Leroy Lita's goal in extra time, Sam Sodje was sent off for two controversial yellow cards in this match. Reading were yet again defeated 3-0 this time at home to West Ham United with two goals from Matthew Etherington and one goal from Craig Bellamy. Reading's next game was away to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light where they lost 2-1, with Kenwyne Jones and Danny Wallace scoring for Sunderland, and Dave Kitson getting Reading's goal.

Reading hold the English league record for the longest winning sequence at the start of a season with 13 victories in succession at the beginning of season 1985-86.

In 1979, Reading goalkeeper Steve Death went 1103 minutes without conceding a goal, also an English league record.

They also hold the embarrassing honour of having experienced more FA Cup defeats than any other team. This is because Reading are the oldest club still competing in the competition never to have won the Cup. Notts County entered the competition at the same time as Reading, in 1877-78. However, because County won the cup in 1894 (and so were unbeaten in that season), they have suffered one fewer defeat in the competition than Reading. In the year that County won the Cup, Reading suffered their worst ever defeat, losing 18-0 to Preston North End, at least partly because the Preston players used studs on their quagmire of a pitch.[citation needed]

During their successful 2005-06 Premiership promotion campaign, Reading broke another record when they went 33 matches unbeaten, the longest in the history of England's second tier, from 9 August 2005 until they lost to Luton Town on 17 February 2006. In the same season, Reading broke Sunderland's record for most points in a season in English football history, finishing with 106 points, and breaking the previous record by a single point.[16] Reading narrowly failed to become the first team to finish a season with both 100 goals and 100 points, but fell short by one goal, scoring "only" 99 times.

Reading staked its claim to one of English football's more unlikely records in the FA Cup competition of its fledgling Premiership campaign. Having reached the 5th round of the competition for the first time in nearly a decade, Reading secured a creditable 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford, only to concede three goals in the first 5 minutes and 41 seconds of the replay, eventually losing the game 3-2. The Independent suggests that this represents the worst ever start to a game by a team in English football[18], superseding the three goals conceded by Derby County in the first nine minutes of its home Premiership match with Leicester City in 1997-98.