Thursday, October 25, 2007

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 PrĂ , 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.

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