U.S. Alessandria Calcio 1912
|Full name||Unione Sportiva Alessandria Calcio 1912|
I Grigi (The Greys),|
L'Orso (The Bear)
Stadio Giuseppe Moccagatta,|
|Chairman||Luca Di Masi|
|2015–16||Lega Pro/A, 4th|
|Website||Club home page|
In the current season, it plays in Lega Pro group A.
Founded in 1912, Alessandria spent 13 seasons in Serie A between 1929 and 1960 and 21 in Serie B (last in 1975); it also reached one Coppa Italia final in 1936. The most successful period in the history of the team was between World War I and World War II, when it was, with Novara, Pro Vercelli and Casale, part of the so-called Quadrilatero Piemontese ("Piedmont Quadrilateral"), which forged great players and gained important trophies.
One of the most famous players who has ever worn the characteristic gray shirt of the team is 1969 European Footballer of the Year award-winner Gianni Rivera; also, World Champions Luigi Bertolini, Felice Borel, Giovanni Ferrari and Pietro Rava, and famous footballers like Carlo Carcano and Adolfo Baloncieri played for Alessandria. With the promotion in 2009 in Lega Pro Prima Divisione, the team finally left a period of financial troubles, with internal problems that led the club to bankruptcy in 2003.
From 1912 to today
First football teams in Alessandria and birth of Football Club
Football arrived in Alessandria in the end of 19th century; there are reports regarding a match played in which a team of Alessandria played against one from Genoa. In 1896, the Unione Pro Sport Alessandria was created, followed by the football teams of the athletic club Forza e Concordia, which wore dark-grey shirts, and Forza e Coraggio, with pearl-grey shirts. Unione Pro Sport took part in some exhibition tournaments with teams based in Turin and Genoa between 1897 and 1898; in 1897, it won the football trophy at the National Gym Competition in Genoa. On 15 March 1898, it was invited to join the constituents of FIF, then took part in the first official championship qualification round and, feeling itself penalized in favor of F.B.C. Torinese and Genoa CFC, it preferred to leave and keep on participating in tournaments organized by FGNI.
In 1908 Forza and Coraggio members decided to set up a team which could finally dispute the Italian Championship. It happened on 18 February 1912 with the foundation of Alessandria Foot Ball Club by Enrico Badò, Amilcare Savojardo and Alfredo Ratti, who was elected first director (chairman). The first shirts, bought from Vigor Torino, were azure, with a large vertical white stripe in the center. The team was admitted to the Promozione (second division) for the 1912–13 season, immediately gaining a promotion after a decisive match played against Vigor Torino in Novara, of which the score was 3–0. In the same year, businessman Giovanni Maino offered eleven grey shirts, similar to those worn by his famous cycling team, to Alessandria FBC.
The first national championships and post-war
In 1913 the team recruited the English player-coach George Arthur Smith, coming from the ranks of Genoa; he proved to be a great football teacher and, thanks to him, talented players like Adolfo Baloncieri and Carlo Carcano—who, in the 1930s, coached Juventus F.C. in the "Quinquennio d'Oro" period and who became on 31 January 1915 the first Alessandria footballer wearing the national football team's jersey—soon exploded in the 1920s. Already in the 1914–15 season, the grey team in Piedmont was very good, missing for only two points the admission to the final round.
After World War I, Alessandria F.B.C. continued to improve its performances: in the 1919–20 season, it prevailed in the elimination round and then lost to Genoa in the semifinals. In November 1920, FBC merged with another Alessandria team, US Alessandria, established in 1915, keeping the grey shirt and changing its name to Alessandria US. At the end of the 1920–21 season, the club gained admission to the North Italy championship semifinals after a playoff in Milan against Modena F.C.. On 10 July 1921, Alessandria US lost the chance to qualify for the Northern Italy final, losing to U.S. Pro Vercelli in a violent match bitterly contested by Alessandria: they chose to withdraw in protest after just an hour of play (0–4), after a serious head injury occurred in Carcano.
In subsequent years Alessandria U.S. continued to show excellent performances, but never succeeded in winning a championship, as the tournament was dominated by Pro Vercelli and Genoa, from Bologna CFC and Turinese teams.
The CONI cup, the lost championship and the Serie A tournaments
In 1927, after a disappointing season after which the salvation from relegation in Division I came only after a series of playouts against Pisa, Legnano and Novara, came the first trophy: the Coppa CONI, won after a double final played against Casale (1–1 in Casale Monferrato and 2–1 in Alexandria). In the first round, Alessandria, which was trained by Carlo Carcano, defeated Livorno, Andrea Doria, Brescia, Alba Rome and Napoli. Later that year the works for the new stadium started. Alessandria players at the time were Giovanni Ferrari, Luigi Bertolini and Adolfo Baloncieri, which in the summer of 1927 signed for Torino F.C..
In 1928 Alessandria came close to winning the championship; after qualifying for the eight-team final round, they started to fight for the title against Baloncieri's Torino. It was a heavy, unexpected defeat at Casale that erased the dreams of Carcano's team, for it wasn't enough to defeat Torino in the direct match to win the championship. Alessandria's Goalkeeper Curti, suspected by most of illicit activities, was soon expelled. Furthermore, authorities, already heavily discredited after the "Allemandi Case", deemed it unnecessary to investigate further into the match.
At the end of the 1928–29 season Alessandria was admitted to the first edition of Serie A tournament (1929–30, 6th place) and finally inaugurated the new stadium. In the early 1930s, several players left the club, still tied to amateurism, to migrate to large centers; Carcano, Ferrari and Bertolini signed for Juventus and Allesandria greatly lost its potential, not gaining anything but middle-ranking positions.
In 1936, the team, after beating Cremonese, Modena, Lazio and Milan, joined the Coppa Italia final, played in Genoa on 11 June and lost to Torino (1–5). In the summer of 1936 S.S. Lazio, who was trying to set up a team which could win the championship, offered the team the considerable amount of 400,000 Italian lire for the three promising midfielders Busani, Riccardi and Milano: Alessandria managers agreed, but the team was no longer up to expectations and fell for the first time in Serie B at the end of 1936–37 season.
1937–1956: return in Serie A and first Serie C championships
The first Serie B championship ended with a new disappointment for Alessandria which, after leading for much of the tournament, fell in the final games, suffering defeats from Modena and Novara. In subsequent years, Alessandria was unable to fight effectively for the promotion; in 1943 the championships were suspended due to the outbreak of World War II. In the 1945–46 season Alessandria, led by coaches Renato Cattaneo and Mario Sperone obtained the return in Serie A. The team was only able to secure the position for two years; on 2 May 1948 the club suffered the heaviest defeat ever by a team in Italian Serie A history, losing 0–10 against Torino F.C. At the end of that championship, they returned in Serie B.
In the 1940s, Alessandria was the subject of a curious incident when, before a game against Venezia, the referee ordered that Alessandria change uniforms, because in his view, the gray shirt was indistinguishable from the black one of the opponents. After the match, F.I.G.C. asked the arbitrator to undergo an eye examination, which determined that he was color-blind: a visit then became mandatory for all referees. Also in those years, the club launched the young talent Gino Armano.
In the late 1940s and during the early 1950s, Alessandria alternated years of Serie B to the first championships in Serie C, following the unfortunate relegation of 1950.
Last seasons in Serie A and decline
A few months after the beginning of the presidency of the Sacco family, Alessandria returned to Serie A. It happened at the end of the 1956–57 season, after having successfully completed the comeback on Catania and later defeating Brescia in extra time in a qualification match. If in the first decades of its existence the club found its force in its brilliant forwards, this period proved to be an excellent interpreter of the so-called catenaccio. In 1959 a young Gianni Rivera debuted in Serie A. Also in the same year Alessandria played its first match in an international competition, facing the Velež Mostar in Mitropa Cup.
This happy period for the Alessandria club ended after 1959–60 relegation. In the 1960s, they declined in Serie C and in the early 1970s failed several times in earning a promotion to Serie B. In 1973, the club won the first edition of the Coppa Italia Serie C, defeating Avellino in the final match. At the end of the 1973–74 championships, the club was promoted to Serie B; that season ended up in a frantic way, with coach Dino Ballacci being sacked and the subsequent resignation of chairman Sacco, disputed by supporters.
Serie C years and 2003 bankruptcy
In 1975, after losing a relegation playoff against Reggiana, Alessandria returned in Serie C. Since that moment they became a fixture in that category for almost thirty years. In the 1986–87 season the club, which was suffering economically after the abandonment of the Calleri family, was sustained for a period by Massese chairman Bertoneri, who was planning to extend his interests in the club (he had tried to negotiate with the leaders of Prato and Carrarese): in that dramatic situation Alessandria relegated for the first time in regional categories, though they improved in the summer of 1987, before losing to Montebelluna.
In that same year the head of Alessandria became the founder of AGV Gino Amisano, who was head of the club for almost fifteen years; in this period the team gained two promotions in Serie C1 (in 1988–89 and 1990–91) and obtained economical support from the clothing company Kappa . In Serie C1 the club obtained good results, but never ran for promotion; in 1998, after a hard championship, Alessandria fell again in Serie C2, overwhelmed in the relegation playoff by Pistoiese.
After the 1999–2000 season, hopes of promotion subsided the following year, due to declining performances. The next several years were especially turbulent for the club as the Spinelli family struggled with their finances. Alessandria was dropped to the amateur leagues and the club was declared bankrupt in 2003.
The Comeback in Lega Pro
Despite the strong opposition of Alessandria supporters, a new club called Nuova Alessandria was founded; it took part in the Eccellenza championship. In 2004 a consortium of local businessmen purchased the original brand.
Ever since the 2009–10 season, the club took part in the Lega Pro Prima Divisione championship. In the summer of 2011 it was relegated by the Corte di Giustizia Federale of FIGC (the Italian Football Association's Court of Justice) to Lega Pro Seconda Divisione when former president Giogio Veltroni was found guilty of a betting scandal. Alessandria finally finished Seconda Divisione as 3rd and qualified to Divisione Unica for 2014–15 season.
Alessandria defeated Genoa in the 2015–16 Coppa Italia to become the first team from the third tier to reach the cup's quarter-finals since Bari in 1983–84. They then defeated Spezia 2–1 to reach a semi final against AC Milan. They lost against AC Milan: 6–0 on aggregate.
The "Stadio Giuseppe Moccagatta" was built in 1929 and it can hold 5827 spectators. It is a multi-use stadium, however it is primarily used for football matches. The stadium is owned by the Municipality of Alessandria. It has a grass pitch whose dimensions are 105 by 68.4 meters. In the past the stadium has contained over 25,000 spectators.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Notable former players
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Federico Allasio
- Giulio Cappelli
- Carlo Carcano
- Bert Flatley
- Luciano Foschi
- Lajos Kovács
- Ferenc Molnár
- Corrado Orrico
- Roberto Pruzzo
- Pietro Rava
- Giuseppe Sabadini
- Citation by Vittorio Pozzo.
- U.S. Alessandria 1912 – Short Historical Overview 1896–1961, rsssf.com
- Roberto Gelato. «Scudetto ad Alessandria», da «La Stampa» – 19 September 2003, pg. 53.
- Gianluca Marchionne, 1898–2008. 110 anni dal primo campionato italiano di calcio
- Aldo Padovano (a cura di), 1898–1906, il primo grande Genoa
- Roberto Beccantini. Un secolo allo stadio, da «La Stampa» – 8 May 1998, pg. 21.
- L'Alessandria Calcio in vetrina, giornal.it
- Ugo Boccassi. Riscriviamo la vecchia storia dei grigi, da «La Stampa» – 15 August 2003, pg. 44.
- "Perché le maglie grigie", da Alessandria U.S.: 60 anni
- Tabellino di Italia-Svizzera 3–1 del 31 gennaio 1915
- Marino Bartoletti, Viva la gloriosa Alessandria che ha fatto... novanta
- «Grigincampo», year I n. 4, January 2002
- Foto Alessandria-Casale, da cinghialecasale.blogspot.com
- «Grigincampo», year I n. 3, December 2001
- La via alessandrina al... Moccagatta, da alessandriacalcio.it
- Carlo F. Chiesa. Tempi grigi per il vecchio quadrilatero, from «Calcio 2000» – February 2002, page 68.
- Interview to Franco Ossola on comune.torino.it
- Cassiano Ricardo Gobbet, Alessandria: Mais um na boca do fosso
- Corrado Sannucci. Rivera, 60 anni e molti nemici, from repubblica.it – 18 August 2003
- Mimma Caligaris. Alessandria: la storia, da seriednews.com
- Nicola Binda. Alessandria-Livorno, uno Spinelli di troppo, from «La Gazzetta dello Sport», 1 August 2000
- Dichiarato fallito il glorioso club grigio, from «La Stampa», 14 August 2003.
- Lo ribadiamo: ci pare un'operazione poco seria, from «La Stampa», 12 August 2003
- Associazione Orgoglio Grigio
- "Third-tier Alessandria beat Genoa to reach Italian Cup quarter-finals". BBC Sport. 16 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
- "Rosa | U.S. ALESSANDRIA CALCIO 1912" (in Italian). Alessandriacalcio.it. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
- Official Site (Italian)
- Unione Sportiva Alessandria 1912 – Short Historical Overview 1896–1961 (English) prepared by Enrico Acerbi for RSSSF
- Associazione Orgoglio Grigio (Italian) ‘Grey Pride Association’: a supporters site