Superga's Fiftieth: Grande Torino last matches, season '48/'49
The Commemorative Postcard and Poster by Ermanno Eandi
The ideal Grande Torino team:
- CASTIGLIANO (GREZAR)
- Coach. LESLIE LIEVESLEY
- D.T. EGRI ERBSTEIN
On May, 4th 1949, at 17,05, terminated the story of one of the most strong teams of the world. TORINO. Those names that introduce us in this story nowaday are in the legend. On that day started the legend and the myth of Grande Torino. Two emblematic places are connected with the Grande Torino myth: SUPERGA, where unfortunately on that terrible May day the airplane crashed, and the FILADELFIA, "magic" today yet because it was the stadium that let their deeds live.
But, how was that great team born? A great soccer team is created by a great president and in 1939 came FERRUCCIO NOVO, Turin industrialist and ex-Torino player. After him only ORFEO PIANELLI won the championship in 75/76 season, 27 years late the Superga crash. Ferruccio Novo had a great insight: he wanted a English-playing team, with the famous "system" or "WM" introduced by the Arsenal coach Herbert Chapmann, who first of all wanted not to keep goals.
Now, see how much did this Torino, born while the Second World War, cost by reading the table shown below, that helps us in better knowing its players.
|Player ||Role ||Team from ||Transfer price ||Season|
|Bacigalupo ||goalkeeper ||Savona ||160.000 lire ||45-46 |
|Maroso ||fullback ||young team || || |
|Tomà ||fullback ||Spezia ||change with 5 players ||46-47 |
|Grezar ||halfback ||Triestina ||450.000 lire ||42-43 |
|Rigamonti ||stopper ||young team || || |
|Castigliano ||halfback ||Spezia ||600.000 lire ||45-46 |
|Martelli ||halfback and forward ||Brescia ||5.200.000 lire ||46-47 |
|Menti ||wing ||Fiorentina ||300.000 lire ||41-42 |
|Ossola ||wing ||Varese ||55.000 lire ||39-40 |
|Loik e Mazzola ||inside (right and left) ||Venezia ||1.200.000 lire + Petron and Mezzadri ||42-43 |
|Gabetto ||forward ||Juventus ||330.000 lire ||41-42 |
|Ferraris ||wing ||Inter ||250.000 lire ||41-42 |
|Fabian || ||Cluij(Romania) ||3.000.000 ||41-42 |
|Biglino || ||young team || || |
The leader of this Torino was Valentino Mazzola, for the charisma he had in the changing-room and on the field, and for his technical capacities. But Grande Torino was also:
It is important to remember that Valentino Mazzola, one of the greatest midfielders of world soccer history (and father of Sandro Mazzola), before being football player worked at Alfa Romeo of Milan for help the family and his bright career started on the soccer field inside the factory.
Vado Ligure (SV)
March 12 1924
ALDO BALLARIN (I)
January 10 1922
DINO BALLARIN (II)
September 23 1924
March 19 1921
February 9 1921
Jolanda di Savoia
June 1 1927
February 24 1916
April 24 1922
November 25 1918
September 26 1919
Crosara di Marostica (VI)
June 26 1925
May 27 1923
Cassano d' Adda (MI)
January 27 1919
ROMEO MENTI (II)
September 5 1919
December 20 1926
August 23 1921
December 17 1922
December 12 1922
He was luck because he made his military service at Venice, in the Navy, on the cruiser Confienza, where was noticed by some scouts and taked to Venezia, that was a glorious serie A team with the knightmare of the war. He started as a reserve but his great qualities were soon noticed. The beginning in serie A, at Rome, against Lazio, then the National selection and finally Torino, where he became a legend...
His private life was not easy, the marriage with Sandro and Ferruccio' s mother came to grief and Valentino, got the annulment in Romania because at that time it was not accepted in Italy, married again in Vienna.
Comparing the birth date of these players with the Superga crash date we can notice that they were still too young, many of them were family fathers and at the top of a career that could be long and full of successes. Maybe Torino Calcio now could have more and more titles than actually it has.
Besides a moral damage it was also a big economical damage. When the team died the championship were not yet finished (there were 4 matches to the end), the Figc (the Italian Soccer Federation), after an Inter, Milan and other teams demand, assigned the title to Torino, to the memory. The society sent to the field the reserve team, that was strong as the first team (also the young Torino won as first team and also today the young field is a one of the most rappresentatives of the society). They won all the remaining matches and the title was won on the field.
It is important to remember that also the opponent club played with reserve team for solidarity.
The matches and the results::
The ideal formation for this team was: Vandone, Motto, Mari, Macchi
(Biglino), Ferrari (Bersia), Lussu, Audisio, Francone, Marchetto,
- Torino - Genoa 4 - 0
Gianmarinaro, Marchetto, Lussu(pen.), Marchetto
played on 5/15/49
- Torino - Palermo 3 - 0
Marchetto, Francone, Gianmarinaro
played on 5/22/49
- Sampdoria - Torino 2 - 3
Audisio, Marchetto, Lussu(rig.), Pieri(2) for Sampdoria
played on 5/29/49
- Fiorentina - Torino 0 - 2
played on 6/12/49
Only Giuliano and Biglino played in the first team.
The first title of the Novo' s presidency, that let Torino be a success machine so acclaimed, arrived in 1943. It was not an easy season, it started also with the hootings of the fans, that were very near the field in the Filadelfia, also called the "Lions-pit" (today yet in the Maratona bend there is a banner that remembers the "Fila" for granata friends).
After the beginning of the season and the negative results, the coach Kutik left his place to Janni, that already guided Torino five years before with the president Cuniberti. Janni did not change the formation, he only tried to fill the players with determination and conviction.
After the first championship won arrived a number of telegrams and also an invitation from Argentinian Federation to play some matches in their country. The secretary and Novo' s right hand Giusti had a lot of work with all that mail to read and reply.
Unfortunately there were the war and on July, 13 1943 also the Filadelfia was bombed, the bombs destroyed a part of the tiers and for a while the Fila was unuseable. Thus Toro started to play in the Mussolini stadium, later called Comunale, that was used until World Championship '90, then replaced with the big and modern building of the Delle Alpi stadium. At least arrived the Liberation and, even if slowly, everything came back to normality.
On July, 29th 1945 came out the first number of "Tuttosport", founded by Renato Casalbore and Guido Fanti, already "La Stampa" editor. In that period everyone wanted to forget the bad years of the war, people loved soccer and then were born a number of sports papers like Gazzetta dello Sport, Guerin Sportivo, Corriere dello Sport, Brivido Sportivo, Vedetta Sportiva, someone of them published also today.
Now there is a chronologial sequence of the Grande Torino events
- 1939 - Torino is bought by comm. Ferruccio Novo, an industrialist from Turin.
- 1940 - On February, 4th Franco Ossola begins at Novara with Torino. This is the first Grande Torino stone.
- 1942 - Novo buys from Venezia the couple of insides Loik and Mazzola, who play in the National team.
- 1943 - On April, 25th Toro win the championship, the second of its history, by beating Bari at Bari for 1-0. Toro also win the Italian Cup at Venice, against Milan, for 4-0. It is the first Italian team that wins both Italian championship and cup in the same year.
- 1946 - On July, 28th, Torino win the third title by beating Pro Livorno for 9-1.
- 1947 - At Comunale stadium of Turin the Italian national team beats the strong Ungaria for 3-2; ten Italian players were Torino players. Torino wins the fourth championship.
- 1948 - Torino wins the fifth title.
- 1949 - On May, 4th the airplane that was bringing back Torino from Lisbon to Turin crashes on Superga's Basilica. 18 players die, beyond trainers, management, journalists and crew. Torino, with the reserve team, wins the sixth title, the fifth consecutively. On November, 6th, beated by Juventus, Torino loses the home unbeatablity that had been going on from January, 17th 1943.
- 1953 - On September, 12th Ferruccio Novo resigns from his charge. It is the end of a period.
In the brief, but intense Torino epoch various anecdotes highlighted the story of these soccer favourites. For example, in an away match in Switzerland (Torino was appreciated in the whole world) Gabetto had an accident, in that time was possible to substitute only the goalkeeper, then on for the injured forward went to the field the coach Ferrero, who was 41 years old.
Gabetto was considered a "rascal", during the return from the away match in Trieste a Police car ran after the bus of Torino. The "baron", as he was nicknamed, had filled the boot with smuggling cigarettes. So the Police retired the documents, confiscated the cigarettes and, thanks to granata management, Gabetto could return home.
To get back his documents he had to work hard, because the Police wanted him to play an important match in their team, luckly Torino accompainment succeeded in persuade them that the match of Torino in the championship was more important than their.
Memorable was the match in the Olimpico stadium in 1946 between, Roma and Torino, where Torino won for 7-0, humiliating the opponents with the crowd clapping the great granata players.
Also in Naples they won, for 2-0, but the climate was different: Napoli was second, a point under Torino, so Torino players where stoned.
Egri Erbstein, famous Torino coach, was an Ungarian Hebrew, he was closed in a nazi concentration camp where he suffered a lot of ill-treatments, but he succeeded in fleeing. He was found by Torino and came back in the team as a consultant.
Novo was a modern president and he really took care of his image, yet in that war and after-war epoch.
After the dangerous period of the war, Torino was one of the few teams that moved with a plane for longest transfers, even if the majority of the players and specially the coach Ferrero were unhappy, because they were afraid (maybe a presentiment). Flying with an airplane let them arrive less tired, but gave also an image on modern and springing society.
Gabetto and Issola opened a bar together, in the center of Turin, that was called "Vittoria" ("Victory"), also destination for famous people that lived or passed through Turin for job and shows, like Walter Chiari, Macario, Dapporto, Carlo Campanini. They also signed soccer balls: yet in that time players looked for other business beyond engagements, to secure a future after the soccer, but mainly to increase their fees there were not high like nowadays.
One of the strongest players in absolute was the defender Mario Rigamonti, that was also one of the most rascally: he really loved the motorcycle and was never punctual for the beginning of championship recall (at that time there wasn't the pre-championship recall), he arrived twice a few minutes before the starting of the first championship match, with coach and president desperate. He was the best of the two matches, perfectly in form, after running with his motorcycle on all Italy.
There was also more team mind: Novo, who spent a lot for that team, had to sell someone to cover some debt, so he decided to sell Martelli, then Bacigalupo and Rigamonti went to his office and asked him not to sell Martelli.
They had talked with all the others and established to reduce a fraction of their fees provided that their friend and fellow remained. So Novo had to change decision and sold Tieghi
In Torino played also the actor Raf Vallone, who leaved soccer to be a journalist before working for cinema and theatre. Sometimes, when he hadn't to work, he leaved the editing (he cured the third page and the relations with important writers of that time, like Pavese, Sartre, Hemingway) to go to play in the Filadelfia and stay a little with his ex-fellows.
In that epoch there was also Diego Novelli, yet kid, that bringed to Loik' s wife the dresses that his uncle sewn for her. Diego Novelli, who became Turin mayor and today one of the most important political and cultural figures of the city.
Torino, in the summer of 1948, was asked for a tourné in Brazil, its deeds of big European team arrived also there, and the team was treated with all the honours, various societies wanted to buy Torino' s jewels.
In any case it was a tiring transfer, because of the warm and the various matches they had to play to satisfy Brazilian population, champion par excellence of soccer.
The name Mazzola meant nothing for the fans, he was simply Captain Valentino. He was the real emblem of this memorable team, his leadership was ricognized by all the team, not only by the fans.
The famous "15 minutes" granata were deadly: Captain Valentino pulled up his shirt sleeves beyond the elbows and shouted his "alé": it was the signal of the attack. That quarter of hour was sufficient to let the opponent lose the head and the match, with numbers of goals and showtime soccer.
On the Filadelfia field Toro was unbeated for 6 years: from January, 17 1943 to the Superga crash. Not all the results were obtained in the Fila, but 12 were obtained during the War Championship in 1944 in the cycle-stadium of C. Casale, after the air-raids the crashed the Fila structures.
Torino went to Lisbon for the farewell match of Benfica Portoguese player Josè Ferreira. The match was combined by Mazzola, after the match between the Italian and Portoguese Nationals, in a restaurant, to please Ferreira who wanted Torino as guest team for his farewell match.
Sauro Tomà, who entered some time before in the first team, could not go to that friendly because of a bad injury at the knee, that also prejudiced some of his future career. He was unhappy but, ironically, it was a luck because it saved his life.
Also Mazzola was not in perfect form, because of a little flu, but he wanted to go anyway, because he had organized the match and he wanted to be in the match, so he went towards his tragical fate.
Benfica won 4-3, for Toro scored Ossola, Bongiorni, Menti and those were the last goals scored by that great team. The plane crashed into the hill of Superga, into the Basilica, wrapped by the fog. Actually, the plane should go to Milan and nobody could say why the pilot directed to Turin.
Vittorio Pozzo had the sad job of recognizing the corpses.
31 were the killed of Superga.
The players: Valerio Bacigalupo, Aldo e Dino Ballarin, Milo Bongiorni,
Eusebio Castigliano, Rubens Fadini, Guglielmo Gabetto, Ruggero Grava,
Giuseppe Grezar, Ezio Loik, Virgilio Maroso, Danilo Martelli,
Valentino Mazzola, Romeo Menti, Piero Operto, Franco Ossola, Mario Rigamonti
and Giulio Schubert.
The managers Arnaldo Agnisetta and Ippolito Civalleri, the trainer Egri Erbstein and the coach Leslie Lievesley, the masseur Ottavio Cortina, the journalists Renato Casalbore (Tuttosport), Luigi Cavallero(La Stampa), Renato Tosatti (Gazzetta del Popolo), the organizer Andrea Bonaiuti.
The aircrew was composed by the captain Pierluigi Meroni (sad homonymy with Gigi Meroni, the strong granata player tragically died years later),Antonio Pangrazi, Celestino D' Inca e Cesare Biancardi.
Their coffins were displayed in the Madama Palace. Turin completely stopped on the funeral day. More than 500.000 people were present, not only from Italy, but also from outside Italy, were pratically present every main international delegations.
The government was represented by the young Andreotti. The president of F.I.G.C. (Italian Soccer Federation), Ottorino Barassi, made the roll-call of the team like if they had to go to the field: Bacigalupo, Maroso, Ballarin, Mazzola, ...............
"Captain Valentino, this is the fifth Cup, the Torino Cup, look out how is great, it contains the heart of all the world"
These were his words for the team while getting up the fifth title, office assigned.
It was May, Friday 6th 1949, it was raining and the tears of who had loved that great team were a lot.
Novo left Torino in 1956 after bad transfers, a difficult health and other familiar mourning. He hadn' t the right recognitions for what he had made for all the Italian soccer.
What was the most important ingredient of this great team? Beyond the strongest technical side, it was the friendship that united these great players. And because of this the fate united them all together also in death. Where could they arrive if there was not the Superga crash!
Grande Torino remembered by Pozzo and Fattori
I am a young fan of Torino, I didn't know this team, but at home it was a legend, because my father told me about it and let me love it, also thanks to a poster we had at home, to remember a good story not only of sport, but of Turin.
I think that Grande Torino histoy is a pride for all the city, not only an event of sport, but also of culture.
In my youth I spent a lot of days in the Filadelfia looking my champions training, it was almost my second home. When I was a child I saw Meroni and Ferrini die, I saw a lot of matches if the old Comunale and I still suffer in the Delle Alpi.
Writing this story I was moved various times and became fond of it that looked like I was living the deeds of this team, imaging Turin of that epoch that I could not know. I hope that who reads this loves and becomes fond of Torino more than I ever did.
I have a dream: I would see personally the deeds of another Grande Torino. To do it we need a lot of passion, but mainly we can't desert it never, in the bad and in the good events.
GRAZIE MAGICO TORO.
This story of Grande Torino wrote by Marina Beccuti
Information got from Il romanzo del Grande Torino (Grande Torino romance) by Franco Ossola and Renato Tavella, Newton Compton Publishers
Images got from La storia del Torino (the story of Torino) to the cure of Perucca-Romeo-Colombero, la casa dello sport publisher
Tables got from Vecchio Cuore Granata (Old Granata Heart) by Sauro Tomà - Graphot Publisher
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