The History of AS Roma – Part 3

The following is an Italian article, the source of which is now lost to me, but I believe originally came from an Italian newspaper back in the 90’s. All credit for this translation goes to Dente di Lupo, a past member of ASRoma-Addict.com. Roma Addict is also where it first originally appeared, posted there by myself.

The History of AS Roma – Part 3

 

The AS Roma team at the start of the 1950 season 

Roma of that season was able to qualify themselves to the following phase, resulting in being one of the top four teams in the South-central division, together with Bari, Napoli and Pro Livorno. April 28, 1946 starts the final round: Roma – Torino 0-7: it’s the first impact, brutal (the first four goals were scored by Il Toro in eight minutes) with the great, greatest Torino of Valentino Mazzola who dominated uncontested Italian football in the postwar period up to the aerial tragedy from SuperGa.

Roma closed the championship in eight position in that strange formula of the championship which was broken in two divisions in 1945-46. With the successive season, 1946-47, they returned with one whole division, but the economical possibilities didn’t change for I giallorossi, around the old champions of 1943 in the offensive department, Amadei and Krieziu, there was very little in the technical point of view.

In January of 1947 it was the first confrontation in the history of the Roma fans towards it’s society: there were rumors going around of the selling of Amadei to the great Torino, because of the confrontation, the president, Baldassarre, was forced to cancel everything. In this way, the fans, not knowing in that moment, saved Amadei from the tragedy of Superga. But 1947 will be marked by a new mourning for the giallorossi colors: on May 8, in a game among friends, Attilio Ferrais IV died of cardiac arrest, at the funeral, Fulvio Bernardini gave his national jersey to cover the coffin of the great “Biodino di Borgo Pio”. Yet another ‘bandiera’ (flag) of Roma of Testaccio is gone. It wasn’t happy times for the giallorossi colors, the society didn’t have financial means to assure a formation worthy of the name of Rome, Amadei was the only one able to keep the team a float which was slipping dangerously in the lower quarters of the Serie A standings. The few satisfactions came from the derbys, where, for enchantment, Roma returned their glorious spirit from Testaccio.

Like in the derby on November 16 1947 won 0-1 by Roma with nine men, thanks to the goal by Amadei, with which, immediately after scoring the goal gets a fractured vertebra by the biancoceleste Ferri on a criminal tackle. Following that, the same Ferri repeats the gesture breaking the meniscus of Valle and forcing the Roma team to end in nine. In the summer of 1948 arrives another bitter bite to the giallorossi fans: Amadeo Amadei, the only remaining flag bearer, the favorite child, gets sold to Inter for thirty five milioni of Lire, at that time. President Baldassarre is justified by saying that Amadei, after so many sacrifices, deserves a more proper stage for his class. And, in truth, it was really with Inter which he gains a national team spot. This opens a bitter period in which Roman players in order to gain a position with the national team have to leave their city and to seek fortune in the north. May 3, 1949, the airplane that brings home the Great Torino of Valentino Mazzola, after a charity game in Lisbon, crashes at Superga, near Turin. No survivors. For Italian football the whole nation was in mourning. Roma closes the championship of 1948-49 with a mediocre tenth place.

The management of Baldassare ends this way: June 20, 1949 the presidency passes to senator Pier Carlo Restagno, who decides to revolutionize the technical staff entrusting the first squad to Fuffo Bernardini. Another pleasant return to the society is that of Renato Sacerdoti, already president in the ’30’s and certainly one of the greatest presidents in the history of AS Roma. Among the new players at the disposition of coach Bernardini we remember defender Armando Tre Re, attacker Adriano Zecca (nicknamed by the fans as ‘Danny Kay” for his acrobatic skills), the right winger Renzo Merlin and the Yugoslavian tender Alex Arangelovic. For Adraino Zecca until 1953, 91 games and 22 goals with the Roma shirt. The football coached by Bernardini is tactically innovative and will allowed him to win two scudetti with Fiorentina and Bologna. But at Roma, in the season of 1949-50, things didn’t go as good and on May 10 1950 Bernardini gives his resignation as the coach of Roma. The vice presidents, Sacerdoti and Crostarosa, to which president Restagno had delegated as functioning executives in November of 1949, entrust the bench job to Ligi Brunella who risks avoiding Serie B thanks only to the loss of Bari at home against Inter: they get demoted Bari and Venezia, Roma gets saved, they close the championship off in eighteenth place together with Novara (the championship was twenty teams, but at the time only two teams were demoted). This was the painful age of the “Rometta”: a much smaller team than the the name it carried and the tradition it brought. The disaster was complete in the following season.

During the transfer market in the summer of 1950 Roma opted for two good Swedish halfbacks, Palmer and Skoglund, but there wasn’t enough money to close the deal and the two respectively finish up in Legnano and Inter. There arrives other three Swedish players: Knut Nordahl (brother of the much stronger and famous Gunnar Nordahl of Milan), the midfielder Sune Anderson Olympic champion in 1948 and winger Stig Sundqvist, for him, until the summer of 1953, 78 games and 20 goals with the Roma jersey. On the bench sits Adolfo Baloncieri, this is the formation that was the base of Roma’s disastrous season in 1950-51: Tessari, Nordahl, Cardarelli, Spartano, Tre Re, Venturi, Bacci, Maestrelli, Tontodonati, Andersson, Sundqvist. The first three matches of the season see three consecutive loses against Bologna, Palermo and Triestina, this was a bad signal. On the fifth day at Torino, Roma loses ungloriously to the campione d’Italia Juventus for 7-2 after having gone in advantage for 0-2 with goals from Sundqvist and Bacci: the team gave the impression of having a weak character. The following Sunday still another painful defeat, this time to Lazio in the away derby (1-0 and, following, the ‘Rometta’ goes and loses for 0-6 at home against Inter.

The romanisti fans are all in complete shock, but they don’t get discouraged, from that day gets born the first group of organized fans: “Associazione Tifosi Giallorossi” (Association of Giallorossi Fans). In December the fans gather 13,000 signatures for the return of Bernardini on the bench of Roma, among these signatures was that of the great writer Ennio Flaiano, romanista fan and author of the screenplays of the most important films by Federico Fellini. Unfortunately Bernardini has a contract with Reggina in Serie B and Roma isn’t able in freeing his position, they go towards disaster: on the thirteenth day at home, at the end of the first half losing 3-1 against Atalanta, who played in ten, ‘Rometta’ succeeds in missing two penalty shots, but thanks to goals by Tontodonati and Spartano the game ends 3-3. They follow with two defeats against Lucchese and Sampdoria and the firing of coach Balocieri: the team is entrusted to Piero Serantoni, but the season doesn’t change and the environment around the team becomes very intense.

On the eve of Roma-Bologna, player Tommaso Maestrelli gets fined for 20,000 lire for having returned from home late before the Roma-Bologna match: the fans reprimand Maestrelli saying that he’s not faithful to the jersey. Ironically, Tommaso Maestrelli would be the coach of the Lazio that brings them back to Serie A in the season of 1972-73 and leads them to winning the lope lope in the following year, 1973-74. February 18, 1951 Roma finally gives a test of pride beating at home Juventus for 3-0, but from that match followed five defeats consecutively among those a defeat in the derby by 1-2. On the thirty-third day, after a new defeat at home (Roma-Lucchese 0-1) Serantoni also gets fired: the team is entrusted to Guido Masetti one of the ‘vecchia bandiera’ (old flag bearer) of the team, ex-keeper of the Roma of Testaccio, in the extreme attempt of avoiding Serie B. The following Sunday Roma destroys Sampdoria 5-0, but they deal with a illusion because during the season they lost too many points, so they arrive this way to the last day of the cursed season in nineteenth place, one point away from eighteenth occupied by Padova. Padova hosts the Napoli of Amadei at home, whereas Roma wins 3-0 against Milan who were already mathematically campione d’Italia. Amadei gave everything he had to help Roma, but he’s forced to leave in the first half due to a terrible foul towards him. In the locker room the old Amadei,’il fornaretto di Frascati’ (“the small oven from Frascati”), one of the most loved romanisti players of all time, pours out bitter tears: Padova beats Napoli 2-0, Roma in Serie B.

In Rome the city lives this day with great pain: the great Roman actor Renato Rascel, one of the greatest Italian actors of all time, learns of the news while in the theater: Rascel goes out on the stage and pronounces, with tears in his eyes, this famous sentence: “Signori, da questo momento la Roma è in Serie B. Ma la Roma non si discute, si ama!” (‘Ladies and Gentlemen, from this moment Roma is in Serie B. But Roma is not argued, it’s loved!”. La Roma non si discute si AMA: it’s all here, the spirit and the heart of the fans of Roma, from yesterday, to today and to tomorrow; it’s all here, in this phrase that will remain in writing for decades on giallorosse scarfs of Roma fans that are sold outside the Olmpico.

It’s June 17th 1951: the fans gather spontaneously going down the streets to the center and formed a procession behind a banner they made: “La Roma è sempre la prima squadra del mondo” (‘Roma is always the first team of the world’). This is our History and the History becomes correct for those that merit it: exactly 50 years after, June 17th 2001, the children and grandchildren of those proud fans would go down in the piazza to celebrate Roma’s third lope lope! This was the final standings in the 1950-51 season: Milan 60, Inter 59, Juventus 54, Lazio 46, Fiorentina 44, Bologna and Napoli 41, Como 40, Udinese 35, Palermo and Pro Patria 34, Novara and Sampdoria 33, Atalanta 32, Lucchese, Triestina and Torino 30, Padova 29, Roma 28, Genoa 27. But, in the summer of 1951, there wasn’t time for tears, Renato Sacerdoti firmly takes control of the society with the purpose of returning as quickly as possible to Serie A: Maestrelli, Tontodonati, Tessari and Bacci all get let go; players adapted to the Serie B style of play come in, experts in this category like Acconcia, Perissinotto and Bortoletto. The top scorer of Serie B of last season gets signed, Lorenzo Bettini, the excellent Carlo Galli and the keeper Albani. The coach is the great Gipo Viani, inventor of the tactic called “Mezzo Sistema” (‘Half system’) or “Vianema” which brings the base to the most famous Italian invention of football ‘Catenaccio’.

At that time, teams were only guarantee promotion to Serie A from a first place finish because the reduction of the number of teams in Serie A went from 20 to 18 and therefore the second place team in Serie B had to play a play-off game with the third last team in Serie A. The only objective is, therefore, first place, you’re not allowed many mistakes. This was the base formation for Roma in the season of 1951-52, the only season disputed in Serie B by the capital team in all it’s history right till 2002: Albani, Tre Re, Cardarelli, Acconcia, Bortoletti, Venturi, Andersson, Zecca, Bettini, Galli, Sundqvist. On the first day, September 9, Roma beats Fanfulla 2-1 with a double by Carlo Galli, nicknamed by the fans “testina d’oro” (‘golden head’), who remained a giallorosso for five seasons collecting 123 presentations and 54 goals. Roma close the away leg with a victory over Verona for 1-0 (January 27, 1952): campione d’inverno (winter champions). That was a definite march by Roma and without interruptions towards the return in Serie A: which became almost mathematically certain on the last day of the championship with a dominating 6-0 win at home over Siracusa: goals by Cardarelli, Merlin, Zecca, Galli and a double by the great Andersson. June 22 1952, draw at home against Verona, Roma closes in first place and another party in the streets of the capital city, with yet another historical coincidence: exactly ten years before, on June 22 1942, Roma won it’s first lope lope. This was the final standings for the Serie B season of 1951-52: Roma 53, Brescia 52, Messina 45, Catania 44, Genoa 42, Piombino and Treviso 41, Modena and Salernitana 39, Vicenza and Verona 38, Fanfulla and Siracusa 37, Marzotto and Monza 36, Venezia and Livorno 34, Pisa 31, Reggiana 24, Stabia 18.

In their only season in Serie B Roma was not abandoned by it’s fans: in 1951-52, Roma was the second team in absolute (behind Milan) for the number of paid spectators among all the societies in Serie A and B. Thanks to the excellent attendance of that season and of new subscriptions (season ticket holders) it was possible enough to conduct a good transfer market to guarantee Roma a good team for Serie A, because no more would our colors be known in Serie B. In effect, after Juventus and Inter, Roma is the team that has one of the most number of presentations in Serie A. This cannot be said for our cousins Lazio who in Serie B passed a long 11 years. Arriving was the milanista attacker Renosto, the wingback from Genoa Azimonti and the two azzurri national team players Piero Grosso and Pandolfini. The cherry on the cake came from Palermo: the Danish champion Helge Bronée. But, because of the new Dane, Gipo Viani leaves Roma because both fought during their days when they both played for Palermo. Also to point out that the return of keeper Tessari from Fiorentina, who was sent on loan and Lucchesi. Leaving instead were Andersson, Risorti, Acconcia and the mediocre Knut Nordahl. November 1952, the great Renato Sacerdoti returns to his position as President and we can say, without a doubt, that he deserves it from what was seen on the field.

The return to Serie A was marked by a dignified championship which concluded with a sixth place finish which also had some moments of glory like the 3-0 win against the always hated Juventus who, actually from that defeat, lost the lope lope in favor of Inter. The players most loved by the romanisti were, Bronée, tremendous class, but discontinuous and had a very difficult character, in fact he succeeded in fighting with all of his teammates and even with the executives. But the fans loved him the same. In the summer of 1953, Sacerdoti announces a new great signing: the World cup champion from Uruguay (Italian origins), Alcide Ghiggia signed for Roma. Alcide Ghiggia was surely one of the great protagonists in the history of Roma. Extraordinary right foot, not strong physically but excellent technically, he was author of the goal that sunk Brazil in the final of the World Cup in 1950. Ghiggia arrived to Roma 27 years old, debuting in the 1953-54 season with a goal against Genoa He remains in Rome for 6 championships, playing 201 games and scoring 21 goals. But his private life was quite shady: even though married, he was very attracted by under age girls and he was caught in some legal troubles for being found with a 15 year old girl. He was also convicted for two months in jail for “indecent exposure in a public place” and at the end Roma was forced to sell him to Milan where, in the season of 1961-62, the Italo-Uruguayan won the lope lope. Despite the money earned during his long career, he was poor and at the end of his turbulent existence ended up working at Casinò di Montevideo.

Roma closes the championship of 1952-53 again in sixth place but during the transfer market came the Hungarian champion Stefan Nyers, protagonist of the scudetti won by the great Inter of 1952-53 and 1953-54. Again on the bench sits another foreign coach, speaking of English trainer Jesse Carver. But the year of 1953 should be above all remembered for the debut of the Stadio Olympico (Olympic Stadium), the actual field where AS Roma play today. December 26, 1954 it’s another particular date in the history of AS Roma. The talented scout Montanari suggests to Bologna (a very important society in those years) two emerging players from Cremonese, the center midfielder Noli and a certain Giacomo (called “Giacomino” for his low stature) Losi. The president of Bologna responds to Montanari: “You take the dwarf, we will take Noli who will certainly be a national team player in the future”, so this is how Montanari knocks on the door of Roma to signal Giacomino. A myth was born: March 20, 1955, Roma-Inter 3-0, debuting on the field for the first time with a giallorossa shirt Giacomo Losi and the legend says that Jesse Carver before sending him on the field said to him in broken Italian: “Dove tu passare non crescere erba. Tu capito?” (‘Where you pass, grass doesn’t grow. You understand?). Giacomo Losi, universal player in midfield just like in defense, is the one man that wore the giallorossa jersey the most times in the history of AS Roma collecting 452 presentations, 389 in Serie A, 28 in Coppa Italia, and 39 in UEFA cup games, winning one Coppa Italia and one Coppa delle Fiere. It’s impossible to describe with the right adjectives a champion of his style and of his correctness that on the field he always gave to Roma and even more. Enough is the nickname that the fans of Roma gave him: Giacomino Losi was simply “Core de Roma” (‘Heart of Roma’).

 

The History of AS Roma – Part 1
The History of AS Roma – Part 2
The History of AS Roma – Part 3
The History of AS Roma – Part 4

 

The History of AS Roma – Part 4
The History of AS Roma – Part 2

@edmoynihan

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