is a football (soccer) club from Italy.
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Unione Sportiva Alessandria Calcio 1912 is the professional Football in Italy club based in Alessandria, Piedmont.
In the current season, it plays in 2011-12 Lega Pro Seconda Divisione group A.
Founded in 1912, Alessandria spent 13 seasons in Serie A between 1929 and 1960 and 21 in Serie B (last in 1975); also reached one Coppa Italia final in 1936. The most successful period in the history of the team was the one between World War I and World War II, when was part with Novara Calcio, Pro Vercelli and A.S. Casale Calcio of the so-called Quadrilatero Piemontese
("Piedmont Quadrilateral"), which forged great players and gained important trophys.
One of the most famous players who has ever wore the characteristic grey 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 has finally left back 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 Foot Ball Club
Football arrived in Alessandria in the end of 19th century; there are reports regarding a match played in which a teams of Alessandria played against one from Genoa. In 1896 born Unione Pro Sport Alessandria
, followed in the same year by the soccer teams of athletic clubs Forza e Concordia
, which wore dark-grey shirt, and Forza e Coraggio
, with pearl-grey kits. Unione Pro Sport took part in some Exhibition game with teams based in Turin and Genoa between 1897 and 1898; in 1897 won in Genoa the soccer trophy at the National Gymn Competition. On 15 March 1898 was invited to join the constituents of Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio and Genoa Cricket and Football Club, with a large, vertical, white stripe in the center. The team was admitted to the Promozione (second division) for the season 1912–13, immeditely gaining a promotion after a decisive match played against Vigor Torino in Novara (3–0). In the same year businessman Giovanni Maino offered eleven grey shirts, similar to those wore by his famous cycling team, to Alessandria F.B.C.
The first national championships and the post-war
In 1913 the team signed up the English player-coach George Arthur Smith, coming from the ranks of the Genoa: he proved to be a great football teacher and, thanks to him, soon exploded in the Twenties talented players like Adolfo Baloncieri and Carlo Carcano, who in Thirties coached Juventus F.C in the "Quinquennio d'Oro" period and who became on 31 January 1915 the first Alessandria footballer wearing Italy national football team jersey. Already in 1914–15 season the grey team in Piedmont good shaped, missing for only two points the admission to final round.
After World War I Alessandria F.B.C. continued to improve its performances: in 1919–20 season clearly prevailed in the elimination round and then stopped in front of Genoa in the semifinals. In November 1920, F.B.C. merged with another Alessandria team, U.S. Alessandrina
, established in 1915, keeping the grey shirt and changed its name to Alessandria U.S.
. At the end of 1920–21 season the club gained admission to North-Italy championship semifinals after a playoff played in Milan against Modena F.C. On 10 July 1921 Alessandria U.S. lost the chance to qualify for the Northern Italy final, surrendering in front of U.S. Pro Vercelli in a violent match bitterly contested by grey players: 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 finding the right way to win a championship: the tournament was dominated by Pro Vercelli and Genoa, from Bologna C.F.C. 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 A.C. Pisa 1909, A.C. Legnano and Novara, came the first trophy: the Coppa CONI, an experimental sorta Coppa Italia, 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 Calcio, Alba Rome and S.S.C. 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 went close to winning the championship; after been qualificated for the eight-team final round, the grey team started to fight for the title against Baloncieri's Torino. It was a heavy, unexpected defeat at Casale to erase the glorious dreams of Carcano's team, for which was not enough to defeat Torino in the direct match to reach it at the top. Alessandria's Goalkeeper Curti, suspected by most of planning sport illicit, was soon expelled. Furthermore authorities, already heavily discredited after the "Luigi Allemandi Case", deemed unnecessary, to investigate on the mysterious trend of the match.
At the end of 1928–29 Divisione Nazionale Alessandria was admitted to the first edition of Serie A tournament (1929–30 Serie A, 6th place) and finally inaugurated the new stadium. In the early thirties several players left the club, still tied to amateur sports, to migrate to large centers; Carcano, Ferrari and Bertolini signed for Juventus and the grey team greatly lost its potential, not gaining anymore but middle-ranking positions.
In 1936 the team, after beating U.S. Cremonese, Modena, S.S. Lazio and A.C. Milan, joined 1936 Coppa Italia Final, played in Genoa on 11 June and lost to Torino (1–5). In the summer of 1936 S.S. Lazio, that 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 Umberto Busani, Giovanni Riccardi and Luigi Milano: grey 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 Serie A.
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 the classification for much of the tournament, went on an inexplicable crisis in the final games, being thus achieved and defeated from Modena and Novara. In sequent years, Alessandria was unable to fight concretly for the promotion; in 1943 the championships were suspended because of war. Just in Serie B-C Alta Italia 1945–46 Alessandria, led by coaches Renato Cattaneo (footballer born 1903) and Mario Sperone obtained the return in Serie A. The permanence in that category was not particularly rewarding and lasted just two years; on 2 May 1948 the club got the heaviest defeat ever suffered by a team in the Italian Serie A history, losing 0–10 against Torino F.C. At the end of that championship, the greys returned in Serie B.
In the Forties, Alexandria was the protagonist of a curious episode when, before a game against F.B.C. Unione Venezia, the referee ordered a change of the two teams split, 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 shows 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 Forties and during the early Fifties 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 Serie B 1956–57, after having successfully completed the comeback on Calcio Catania and later defeating after extra time Brescia in a qualification match. If in the first decades of its existence the club found its force in the oestrus of its brilliant forwards, in 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 FK Velež Mostar in Mitropa Cup.
This happy period for the Alexandrian club ended after 1959-60 Serie A. In the Sixties the greys declined in Serie C and in the first Seventies failed several times the promotion in B. In 1973 the club won the first edition of the Coppa Italia Serie C, defeating U.S. Avellino in the final match. At the end of Serie C 1973–74 the club was promoted in Serie B; that season ended up in a frantic way, with coach Dino Ballacci sacking and the subsequent resignation of chairman Sacco, disputed by supporters.
Serie C Years and 2003 Bankruptcy
In 1975, after losing a relegation playoff against A.C. Reggiana 1919, Alessandria returned in Serie C. Since that moment the gray team became a fixture in that category for almost thirty years. In the Serie C2 1986-87 the club, suffering by serious economical matters after the abandonment of the Calleri family, was sustained for a period by Massese chairman Bertoneri, who was planning to extend its interests in more than a club (he had tried to baste negotiations with the leaders of A.C. Prato and Carrarese Calcio): in that dramatic situation Alessandria relegated for the first time in regional categories, except to be later rescued summer of 1987, subsequently to Calcio Montebelluna failure.
In that same year came to head of Alessandria the founder of AGV Gino Amisano, which joined his name to the club for almost fifteen years; in this period the team gained two promotions in Serie C1 (in 1988-89 Serie C2 and 1990-91 Serie C) and obtained economical support by Kappa (company) clothing company. 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 playout by A.C. Pistoiese.
After the 1999-2000 Serie C2, 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.
It since the 2009-10 season, the club as taken part in the Lega Pro Prima Divisione championship. In the summer of 2011 it was relegated by the Corte di Giustizia Federale of Italian Football Federation
(the Italian Football Association's Court of Justice) to 2011-12 Lega Pro Seconda Divisione when former president Giogio Veltroni was found guilty of a betting scandal.
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(soccer) 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 have contained over 25000 spectators.
Notable Former Managers
- Federico Allasio
- Giulio Cappelli
- Carlo Carcano
- Bert Flatley
- Luciano Foschi
- Lajos Kovács
- Ferenc Molnár
- Corrado Orrico
- Roberto Pruzzo
- Pietro Rava
- Giuseppe Sabadini