Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Owen Neilson On September - 15 - 2011

Serie-B: Juve Stabia’s 60-year Pain Continues

June 22nd. Like most days since records began it has its fair share of anecdotal importance. Scanning over some of the better known; 1911 King George V was coronated at Westminster Abbey; 1938 Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling in Yankee Stadium; 1981 John McEnroe called Wimbledon chair umpire Ted James “the pits of the world”.

June 22nd, 1952 was relatively quiet by those standards; Al Martino aka Johnny Fontane in The Godfather was perhaps loudest with his US no.1 ‘Here in my heart’. But for a little town in Campania that day would live long in the memory.

The previous year Sporting Club di Stabia had finished the season tied 1st in Group D of Serie C and everything rested on a play-off final in Florence. 17th June, 1951.

Coached by former Napoli goalkeeper Arnaldo “cherry” Sentimenti Stabia triumphed 2-0 over Foggia with striker Cereseto getting both in the first half. At the final whistle with the Tuscan sun beating down Stabia’s fans threw biscuits, famous in Castellammare onto the pitch as well as cold water for the exhausted champions. Drunk with victory they took to the streets of the Renaissance capital led by their blue and yellow banners to celebrate a first appearance in Serie B since the clubs’ formation in 1907. When the side returned to Stabia the day after the final Il Giornale Sportivo acclaimed there was indescribable jubilation as the whole town welcomed the heroes home.

The next year on June 22nd as Roma took the title the SerieB dream was over. Stabia won only five matches, lost twenty four, conceding eighty-one goals and were relegated in last place. Not a total embarrassment, however worse was to come. The following season they finished 16th and fell into Serie D, and then in 1953 collapsed in debt.

It sounds strangely familiar. Renamed as Societa Sportiva Juventus Stabia in 1953, almost 60 years of promotions tempered with relegation were to follow; losing two play-off finals to return to Serie B in 1993 and 1998, then going bankrupt in 2001. For a season the club was idle, and surely the lowest ebb for devoted fans of Le Vespe.

A triumph sandwich with miserable filling followed. 2003-4-promoted. 2004-5-lost in playoff semi-final. 2005-6-playoff win to avoid relegation. 2008-promoted. 2009-relegated.

After demotion in 2008-9 fans might have expected a customary few years fighting for survival in the Pro League Second Division, but instead were treated to an all conquering display with 22 wins and the best attack in the competition.

Promoted as champions Stabia didn’t rest on their laurels finishing fifth last season, then upset second placed Benevento 2-1 in the play-off semi final. All that lay between Stabia and that coveted return to Serie B was a two-legged final versus Atletico Roma.

The first in Castellammare was 0-0 which made the return leg at the Stadio Flaminio a must win as Le Vespe finished below Atletico in the season’s standings.

On June 19th, 2011 almost 60 years to the day after the team led by Cereseto’s brace passed into folklore Stabia found new heroes. Defender Morris Molinari gave his side the lead seconds before half time with a sweetly hit volley; running the length of the pitch to salute the travelling Stabiese. It was tight until the 88th minute when Giorgio Corona slotted home inside the box to cue joyous scenes on the terraces.

Decades of hope was released in that moment, players climbed the fencing to celebrate with the thousands that had again travelled from Campania. The blue and yellow banner this time proudly taken to the streets of Rome, and another rapturous welcome awaited in Stabia.

But as with all promoted sides the battle had only just begun.

On Saturday Brescia kept pace with Padova at the top of Serie B after inflicting Juve Stabia’s third defeat in four games, marking a torrid start for the minnows.

Piero Braglia showed a 3-4-3 formation was workable as his side overran Brescia in midfield, outnumbering the Biancoazzurri’s isolated central three with quick counter-attacks, but crucially they couldn’t find the goal. Young defender Alessio De Bode, loaned from Genoa in the summer had the best chance for the home side, hitting the crossbar with a header, before Brescia coach Giuseppe Scienza tweaked his formation, bringing Polish 20 year old Bartosz Salamon in to solidify the midfield.

Nullified, Braglia made substitutions, but couldn’t stop Hungarian Fescezin stealing all three points in the final ten minutes.

Build up to the game was over-shadowed by former Brescia striker Savio Nsereko’s vanishing act last week. The Ugandan born German, owned by Fiorentina moved from Bulgarian outfit Chernomorets Burgas in the summer.

Savio, as he’s known, was one of the players of the tournament in the European Under-19 Championships playing for Germany which paved the way for a £9 million move to West Ham in 2009, however the striker managed only 10 appearances.  A €3 million return to Florence failed to improve his fortunes as he was soon loaned to Bologna, then 1860 Munich, Burgas and this year Stabia.

His addition to Le Vespe’s roster “ignited the imagination of the fans” according to Campania’s online media, but Stabia coach Braglia was aware his career has been stereotyped by indiscipline. This latest disappearance follows a similar absence last October while at Munich. He subsequently turned up at his sisters’ apartment a week later but his contract was rescinded.

The last contact was eight days ago, a text message informing the coach he wouldn’t make training, and officials at the club were sufficiently concerned to report his absence to local police.

Salvatore Di Somma, the technical manager of Juve Stabia, told Sky Sports 24: “We are concerned about the player because he’s been missing for eight days. We have no news, [other than] we know that suddenly he disappeared. We hope nothing has happened. ”

Italian media first speculated he’d returned to Germany but is now questioning whether the 22 year-old is still alive after his family declared he hadn’t made contact with them either, though police felt it was possible he’d left on his own volition.

Further trouble for Stabia materialized this week as they prepare to face Livorno. Defender Cesar Vinicio who joined only two weeks ago from Padova has left the club by mutual consent, after stating he missed his native Brazil and could no longer stand the rigours of training. The 32 year-old was another much vaunted arrival after an eight year career in Italy with Chievo, Catania and play-off finalists Padova last season. It was hoped Cesar would bring much needed experience as well as depth to the centre of defence, and his loss will be felt more acutely in the run up to Christmas.

Despite all the confusion and concern surrounding the club Braglia has to focus his squad ahead of the away game against Livorno on Saturday. With only a scoreless draw and three defeats, Stabia’s dream is fast turning into another nightmare, but the blue and yellow banner is still flying.

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