History in a Nutshell: the Forties

History in a Nutshell: the Forties

They were dark years. Football was just a past time between bombs, deaths and people wounded. Nevertheless, Reggiana fought through to keep itself alive in Serie B

After the promotion in Serie B, Ac Reggiana 1919 SpA started his leagues under the bombs of the World War Two. The first Serie B championship of the Forties, for the club, opened up by confirming the group that won the Third Division the year before. The only newcomers were Bianchi, Bonesini, Bandini, Violi (who came in later on) and Tortora. The turnover between Lusetti and

Ac Reggiana 1941.42

The turnover between Lusetti and Vasirani was still on. Duo and Milo Campari were in defense, while Malagoli, Bernardi, and Testoni were the midfielders. On offense, it was Biagini with Romanini. The Mirabello stadium went on a restyling, and from a racecourse that became a war airport (il “Campovolo”) arrived a new wood stand for the fans, and more than 5000 locals filled it to support the team against Anconitana, Padova, and Savona. Against Modena, at home, there were more than 8000 people and the derby finished 3-3. Germany, in the meantime, invaded Russia, but the Italian domestic leagues weren’t suspended. Reggiana lost Malagoli, Bianchi, and Bonesini on the market. The biggest new name was Colaussi. In that summer the club enjoyed its first official hymn of its history. After a more than decent start, Reggiana began to lose games. The club fired coach Vanicek and replaced him with Bernardi, who left his place of the team to Livio Spaggiari. Raggio Montanari is back with the team, but he played sporadically. Then, after the defeat against Fiumana, Bernardi is fired too. In his place, came William Ruozzi. The loss against Spezia, sent Reggiana back in Serie C. There were more important things during that period than football. The “solco fascista” newspaper was full of names of Italian soldiers born and raised in Reggio Emilia who were dead in Russia, during the disgraceful Russian campaign of our troops.

In 1942-43, Reggiana is in Serie C and played against Mossine Guastalla, a team of a village in Reggio’s province. Zecca and Marmiroli distinguished themselves, but many of the players had to leave to join the army depleting the squad. In July 1943, fascism was erased, Italy found itself in Germany’s hands, and in that Autumn, Reggio Emilia is almost entirely destroyed by the bombs. 270 were dead, and thousands wounded. Do you want to think about football during those dark years? Well, there’s always some space for it. Then it was invented an Alta Italia league. Reggiana played against Mantova in a Mirabello stadium that was almost entirely bombed. Liberation brought back “real” football and new management. The one by Mr. Carlo Visconti, who was born in Varese, but was living in Reggio Emilia. Who was followed by Mr. Gino Lari. Giorgio Degola would join them in 1952. Reggiana would take part to a mixed C-B League with the likes of Vasirani, Milo Campari, Panciroli, Testoni, Livio Spaggiari, Alvigini, Violi, and Ganassi. Losi, a striker, was a newcomer. Reggiana qualified for the B league, and it played in a playoff for the promotion in Serie A, but lost against Alessandria. On the 31st of March 1946, Reggiana upset Parma at the Tardini stadium, thanks to a double by Panciroli.

Ac Reggiana 1945/46
In the 1946-47, after having built a new stand in concrete and improved the “woody” ones, Ac Reggiana kept the team in Serie B with a solid season. Martinelli was in goal, Lucchese and Giaroli the fullbacks, Salvioli, Benelli, and Panciroli in midfield, Peruzzo (sometimes Foglio), Ganassi, Borri, Marmiroli, and Mantovani up front.

Then came the 1947/48 tournament. (Visconti and Lari resigned, and Dall’Aglio is the new club commissioner). The team arrived fifth in Serie B, while Nenni and Togliatti lost the elections. Reggiana sold Giaroli to Palermo, Suozzi to Pescara, while Beghi and Forlani came from Mantova. The Reggio Emilia born Paolo Manfredini came from Piacenza, to cover the spot on the net, and, from Ac Milan, the great Arcari IV, who will replace Piero Ferrari in the dugout. The goal was big, but the outcome was poor, as the club avoided relegation. The following year it was the same suffering as the year before. The newcomers were the right wing Baruzzi, the striker Scagliarini, the midfielder Montanari, the left winger Dal Bon.

Derby Reggiana-Parma

On the 16th of October 1949, the Mirabello was “jam-packed” with 14.000 people in the stands in occasion of the derby against Modena. After having won in Catania and Torino, the players were welcomed by the city band and the mayor, Mr. Cesare Campioli. Mirabello stadium was banned after crowd turmoils during the game against Napoli. In the end, Reggiana miraculously avoided relegation in a bizarre fashion. Nobody believed it, but thanks to an incredible combination of other games scores, to be relegated were Pro Sesto, Prato, Taranto, Alessandria, and Empoli. Reggiana won against Salernitana 1-0, and the party could’ve started.
Eventually, the Fifties came…

(to be continued)

Marco Bertolini

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