|"Under the Shadow of Mighty Vesuvius"
NAPLES 0 SWINDON 3 ANGLO ITALIAN CUP FINAL MAY 28TH 1970 55,000
Swindon's victory in the League Cup Final of 1969 had placed FA administrators in something of a dilemma. As a 3rd Division club they could not be admitted to the European Fairs Cup (now UEFA Cup), the usual reward for such a victory, but clearly some sort of reward was necessary to commemorate their achievement. Thus was inaugurated the innovative series of Anglo-Italian tournaments, that lasted from 1969 to 1976. There was also a further more pragmatic reason for such a competition; a search for additional revenue for major and later minor clubs, who had not other European engagements. The inspiration for these tournaments came largely from Gigi Peronace, the well-known Anglophile of Italian soccer and indeed in theory, the whole concept was laudable. In practice, however, the competition had a stormy career, marred by outbreaks of violence.
The initial Anglo-Italian competition was a two legged tie between the respective countries' League Cup Winners. Swindon were the first winners in 1969 defeating AS Roma (the same AS Roma that contested the 1984 European Cup Final against Liverpool!) 5-2 on aggregate. With this new trophy safely in the Swindon Boardroom, the club looked forward with enthusiasm to the full scale Anglo-Italian Tournament, organised by Gigi Peronace, for the end of the following season - May 1970.
The English teams competing were, Swindon, Middlesbrough, Wolves, West Brom, Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday. From Italy, Naples, Fiorentina, Lazio, Juventus, Roma and Vicenza were invited. The teams were drawn into three groups, each group consisting of two English and two Italian clubs. Swindon were paired with Sheffield Wednesday, Naples and Juventus. The Italians came to England where the first matches would be played, the English clubs then journeying to Italy for the concluding group matches. The Final would be played there between the two clubs from each country with the best points total (it was certainly a complicated tournament!).
Swindon opened the Tournament in fine style, defeating a lack lustre Juventus 4-0. In the second game, they were beaten at the County Ground, 2-1 by Naples. In Italy, the Town won praise from the critical Italians in winning both the return games, against Juventus (1-0) and Naples (1-0). These victories took Swindon into the Final as the most successful English team, where they would meet Naples, the leading Italian side.
The Final, played at St Paul's Stadium, Naples, on May 28th 1970, was to erupt into violence and had to be abandoned after 79 minutes because of crowd disturbances with Swindon leading by 3 goals to nil. Swindon were declared the first winners of the Anglo-Italian Tournament, and were presented with the trophy. An unsavoury conclusion that unfortunately did much to tarnish the reputation of the competition. Equally disappointing (from Swindon's viewpoint) was newspaper reaction to the Final. They had to take second place to a riot, which overshadowed their performance against Naples. While the headlines ("Rock hurling fans halt final", "Latin Landslide") concentrated mainly on the antics of a mob of concrete-throwing hooligans, relatively little mention was made of Swindon Town's achievements. At the time, the game was brought to a premature halt, they were leading 3-0 and their behaviour was exemplary, a credit to British football. It was a remarkable performance on a ground where eighteen months previously, Leeds United had been beaten 2-0 by Naples in the Fairs Cup.
Trouble started when Arthur Horsfield scored Swindon's third goal in the 63rd minute (*Peter Noble had scored for Swindon in the 24th and 58th minutes). Disgruntled fans, angered at the home side's failure to check brilliant Swindon, hurled a fusillade of rocks and bottles on the field, prompting the police to retaliate with teargas. Groups of youngsters then started breaking up stones and wooden benches and hurling them over the wide moat and onto the pitch. A linesman was struck and the referee ordered the players towards the main stand as clearly it was impossible for play to carry on. The players had to run the gauntlet to escape to the dressing rooms and several Swindon players were struck by missiles. Horsfield, in particular, had a nasty bruise on his thigh. To their credit, Swindon never lost their composure and thoroughly deserved their victory. The defence with Harland, Thomas and Trollope outstanding, held on easily. In midfield, John Smith and Joe Butler were always in control so that Swindon paced their game splendidly.
On the eve of the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico, Swindon had given English soccer the finest possible boost.
Swindon - Jones, Thomas, Trollope, Butler, Burrows, Harland, Smith, Horsfield, Noble, Rogers.
Naples - Trevisani, Floris, Monticolo, Zurlini, Panzanato, Bianchi, Amrin, Montefusco, Altafini, Improta, Barison.