from birth to the first Serie A period in the 1960s (1/3)


As the sweet emotions of the end of the year festivities began to pervade many homes in Italy, the people of Catania, and more, the tifosi of Catania Calcio, learned a sad news: bankruptcy by the Italian justice of a centenary club, strong figure of football in Sicily. Thus, after Messina then Palermo, a new società regional disappears from the professional world. On this occasion, Calciomio looks back in three parts on the history of Elefanti, starting with the creation of the club until its arrival in Serie A.

The first emotions

If the Pro Patria Calcio team was set up in 1908, under the aegis of Baron Gaetano Ventimiglia, it was not until the end of the 1920s for it to become a real club. In 1929, in the midst of the professionalization of Calcio dans la Botte, the Società Sportiva Catania was created thanks to the merger of the US Catanese and Juventus Catania. Its founding father is Ruggero Albanese, journalist born in Catania, involved in local football since the days of Pro Patria. The colors chosen are red, for the lava of Etna, the volcano which dominates the city, and light blue, for the sky: the Rossoazzurri were born.

However, at the turn of the 1930s, football struggled to develop in Sicily despite Palermo’s presence in Serie A. Albanese was forced to look for equipment outside Italy:  » With his steamboat, my grandfather went to Malta to buy, at his expense, the jerseys, crampons and shorts.. »Catania took part in regional championships, then, in 1934, thanks to his first place in Pool H of Prima Divisione, accesses Serie B.

The overhaul in the aftermath of the war

In 1943, Sicily was the first European territory liberated by the Allies during World War II. The disembarkation causes the exclusion of Catania from the final stages of its championship. The following year, the club which, on the eve of the Second World War, became Associazione Fascista Calcio Catania, disappeared along with Mussolini’s regime. A temporary disappearance since in 1946, a new club was born at the foot of Etna: the merger of Virtus Catania and Catanese Elefante allowed Calcio Catania and its colors to be resuscitated. rossoazzurre.

After three years, return to Serie B, with in particular in the middle Enzo Bearzot, coach of the Nazionale during the victorious 1982 World Cup. Five seasons later, Gli Elefanti reach the elite but stay there only one season. If the Sicilians are up to the pitch, they dive for a referee corruption case, revealed by journalist Giulio Sterlini. It’s only a good bye.

Stabilization in the elite

After this brief stint in Serie A in 1954-1955, Gli Etnei returned to the highest level of Italian football in 1960. Third behind Torino and Lecce, Catania returned to the elite and settled there comfortably for six seasons, under the orders of Carmelo Di Bella, who remained in charge of the first team until 1966. On three occasions, the Sicilian club finished eighth, its best performance in Serie A. During this glorious period, we find several emblematic figures of the club such as captain Mario Corti, who played more than 190 matches with the Rossoazzurri. There are also forwards Adelmo Prenna, the club’s fifth highest scorer in the history of the club with 48 goals and the Argentinian Toto Calvanese. They both participate in the spectacular victory against AC Milan (4-3).

In their Cibali stadium, Di Bella’s men also defeat Inter on the last day (2-0), allowing Juventus to afford the Scudetto to the detriment of Nerazzurri : this surprise victory of the Sicilians against a contender for the title gives birth to the famous radio expression  » Clamoroso al Cibali »(Amazement / surprise to Cibali) pronounced during the program Tutto il Calcio minuto per minuto. A real revenge for the players of Catania, swept 5-0 in the first leg at San Siro and qualified  » postal service employees By Herrera, Inter coach.

However, despite a few shocks, the national record of Catania remains blank. Gli Elefanti can’t even beat Palermo in the derby di Sicilia in four matches in Serie A (four draws). In 1966, the club returned to Serie B. It was the start of a long period of roller coasters.

Also to be found :

Episode 1 – From birth to the first Serie A period in the 1960s
Episode 2 – Forty Years of Roller Coaster
Episode 3 – The club’s heyday in the 2000s

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