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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

May 2, 1915: Lazio Sporting Pisa 4-2

Updated: Jun 4

Lazio win a battle for first place


In a match which saw very violent clashes between players, Lazio manage to win and now lead the Central Italy Championship.




Source Wikipedia

The season so far


In 1914-15 the Italian football championship was divided into two parts: a northern championship and a central southern one.


The Northern championship was divided into six local groups. The first two teams of each group plus the best four that arrived third qualified for the semi-final group. The 16 teams were then divided into four groups of 4, the winners of which would then participate in the final Northern Group. The winner of this group would then meet the winner of the Central South group for the scudetto final. The four teams competing in this final group were Genoa, Inter, Milan and Torino.


The central championship was divided into two groups, one for Tuscany and one for Rome. The top two teams would later face each other in another group phase; the winner of which would then meet the team that won the Campania group to determine the finalist for the scudetto.


There were six teams in the Rome group and Lazio came second behind Roman. These two teams hence went on to play against Lucca and Sporting Pisa.


In the first game of the second phase Lazio had lost to Pisa 4-0 but had then beaten both Roman and Lucca. At the end of the first three games of the group, Lazio, Roman and Pisa were all on four points.


Lazio were clearly the best team south of Bologna even though they had made a couple of faux pas in the Rome group. The game against Pisa was fundamental.


The match: Sunday, May 2, 1915, Campo della Farnesina, Rome


Sporting Pisa started well and in the first few minutes had a few chances, but it was Lazio who scored. In the 9th minute Carlo Maranghi flew down the wing and passed the ball to Giuseppe Fioranti whose shot beat the Pisa goalkeeper.


In the 22nd minute Guido Pera crossed inside the Lazio box and Scotti hammered the ball in to equalise.


Lazio were soon back in front. In the 26th minute Fernando Saraceni I dribbled a few Pisa players and once inside the box passed to Gino Donati who, from a difficult angle, put Lazio ahead. Five more minutes and Lazio made it three and this time it was Saraceni I who scored from an Augusto Faccani assist.


In the beginning of the second half tempers started rising and the referee had problems in calming down the players. Pisa reduced the deficit in the 60th minute with a Domenico Malfatti penalty (handball).


Lazio took control of the game again and in the 76th minute Maranghi moved from the right wing towards the centre and scored. 4-2 for Lazio and first place secured.


Who played for Lazio


Serventi, Bona, Levi, Zucchi, Faccani, Grasselli, Donati, Saraceni I, Consiglio, Fioranti, Maranghi.

Manager: Baccarini


Who played for Sporting Pisa


Giani, Malfatti, Bini, Poggetti, Zoppi, Donnini, Mattiello, Eschini, Garzella, Scotti, Pera


Referee: Bellucci


Goals: 9’ Fioranti, 22’ Scotti, 26’ Donati, 31’ Saraceni I, 60’ Malfatti (pen), 31’ Maranghi


What happened next


Lazio’s next match was against Roman. A win would almost certainly secure first place. The Biancocelesti destroyed Roman 5-1 and went top. Lucca had decided to drop out for financial reasons so the final verdict was that Lazio won the Central Division and now had to wait to see who they would meet in the Campania group.


In the North with one game to go Genoa had 7 points, Torino and Inter 5, Milan 3. The last two games should have been Genoa vs Torino and Milan vs Inter. Everything could still have happened.


But then World War I broke out and the Championship was stopped.


The title was initially not assigned, but in 1919 the Italian Federation gave the scudetto to Genoa and this apparently was ratified in 1921. But there are serious doubts over this attribution.


The Lazio Petition


In 2015 Gian Luca Mignogna, solicitor, and the Centro Studi Nove Gennaio Millenovecento, the Lazio research and documentation centre, launched an online petition to award the 1914-15 scudetto jointly to Lazio and Genoa and, thanks to the overwhelming support, asked the Italian Federation to give the title to Lazio.


Mignogna and the centre proved that Lazio were the finalists. Only two Neapolitan teams had signed up for the Championship and the two games had been annulled due to irregularities in the signing of players. The repeat games saw Internazionale Napoli beat Naples 3-0 in the first leg. But the second apparently never officially took place due to the suspension following the outbreak of the war and was demoted to a regional game. So there is doubt whether there would have ever been a Campania champion.


Furthermore, also proven was that Genoa self proclaimed themselves champions and that the actual scudetto was not assigned.


Genoa obviously dispute all of this. Since Genoa only needed a point in the last game to reach the final, and since the Northern teams always outclassed the central championship finalists, in their opinion it was only right to award the scudetto to the Rossoblù.


De facto though, the only real finalists were Lazio.


The response of the Italian Federation


The President of the Italian Football Federation in 2016 called upon a special Commission to determine what would be the best way forward. This Commission advised to give the scudetto to the two teams. The Federation should then have ratified the decision but they did not.


Gabriel Gravina was elected President in 2018 and a year later he asked for the creation of another commission to examine this request plus the Genoa claim to the 1924-25 title and Torino’s for the 1926-27. Apparently even Udinese have claims on the 1896 scudetto. The Commission was created under the coordination of the deputy President of the Football Museum and Sky journalist Matteo Mariani (recently elected President of the Lega Pro League). There has been no news since.


It is important to note that this is not a SS Lazio initiative, but a private one. However, Gravina and Lotito are not exactly friends, and this probably explains why there has never been a decision.


Lazio 1914-15

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Lazio League

10

7

1

2

39

Semifinal Group

6

5

-

1

15

Total

16

12

1

3

54

Top five appearances

Players

Total

Lazio League

Semifinal Group

Saraceni

15

10

5

Levi

14

10

4

Grasselli

13

9

4

Faccani

13

8

5

Zucchi

12

7

5

Maranghi

12

7

5

Bona

12

8

4

Top 5 goal scorers

Players

Total

Lazio League

Semifinal Group

Consiglio

11

9

2

Grasselli

10

9

1

Bona

7

7

-

Maranghi

5

3

2

Saraceni

5

3

2

Let's talk about Fernando Saraceni I


Fernando Saraceni is botton row, second from right. Source Wikipedia

Fernando Saraceni is a Lazio legend. One of their earliest players, he was part of the team that reached the National Championship finals in 1913, 1914 and 1923. A forward, later on in his career he progressively moved back to defence.


Born in Rome on January 20, 1891, Saraceni, known as Cecè, started playing for Lazio at the age of 16 and he was one of the players who won the three games in one day.


Legend has it that Lazio were supposed to play a game in Tuscany in June 1908. The Biancocelesti arrived in Pisa the day before the game. On the next morning, while busy being tourists, Lazio were approached by the organising committee and asked to play a game against Lucca. Lazio won 3-0 just before lunchtime. While the team were eating, they were asked to play a second extra match, this time against Spes Livorno. 4-0 for Lazio with a Saraceni double. Time for a rest? No, because here came Virtus Juventusque ready for the scheduled match. The players protested but Sante Ancherani told them to stay back in the front of the goal and stop all opposition attempts (an early form of “catenaccio”?). The game was almost over and it was still 0-0. But Ancherani in the dying minutes scored from a Corrado Corelli cross and Lazio won. Ancherani sent a telegram: “Won tournament 3-0, 4-0, 1-0”. No other team in the world has ever won three games on the same day.


Saraceni was little but very fast and had a powerful shot. He was also an excellent athlete, swimmer and long jumper. He won everything that could be won in the centre south regions those years and was a fan favourite. In 1915 he joined the army and fought in the First World War. When he came back he continued to play for Lazio. He left active sport in 1924 after having taken Lazio to their third national final. Before he left, he made sure his little brother Luigi would play for Lazio and convinced the club to sign the legendary goalkeeper Ezio Sclavi.


He continued to work for Lazio and was one of its directors.


He died on August 23, 1956. Diagnosed with cancer, with incredible pains, he committed suicide in hospital.


Fernando Saraceni was one of Lazio’s greats. He played 183 official games and scored 101 goals.


Lazio Career

Season

Total games (goals)

Roman 1st Category Champ.

Lazio 3rd Category Champ.

Roman 3rd Category Champ.

National Champ.

Other Tournaments

1907

2

2

-

-

-

-

1908

6 (4)

-

-

-

-

6 (4)

1909

2

-

-

-

-

2

1910

7 (1)

-

5 (1)

-

-

2 (1)

1911

5 (8)

-

3 (4)

-

-

2 (4)

1912

12 (21)

-

-

10 (18)

-

2 (3)

1912-13

21 (29)

-

-

-

13 (20)

8 (9)

1913-14

20 (20)

-

-

-

16 (16)

4 (4)

1914-15

19 (10)

-

-

-

15 (5)

4 (5)

1916

2 (2)

-

-

-

-

2 (2)

1919-20

17 (3)

-

-

-

11 (2)

6 (1)

1920-21

16

-

-

-

16

-

1921-22

17 (2)

-

-

-

14 (1)

3 (1)

1922-23

20

-

-

-

20

-

1923-24

17

-

-

-

17

-

Total

183 (101)

2

8 (5)

10 (18)

122 (44)

41 (34)

Sources



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