Tag Archive: Castel Rigone

Castel Rigone: End of Watch

Blizzard14image [The story of Castel Rigone (21 chapters) in chronological order here.]

There is an ending to the story of Castel Rigone Calcio. And it is an unexpected one. Maybe. Well, perhaps it represents a final twist, then. I tell the tale in The Blizzard, issue 14, Sept. 8, 2014, pages 122-128: “Rise and Fall of Castel Rigone: The entrepreneur, the village team and the experiment in humanistic capitalism”…

“This story does not end with dramatic victory from a penalty. It begins that way — in Florence, at a quarter to five on a Sunday afternoon, 5 May 2013. Banks of dark grey clouds jostle over the Apennines along the Arno River. Tourists shuffle along to glimpse Botticelli’s Allegory of Spring at the Uffizi Gallery. And at Stadio Turri, fourteen men crowd in along a torn white arc to watch Dario Pietro Tranchitella place a ball carefully on the ground…”

You’ll have to go to The Blizzard’s website to find out the rest.

I’m a bit stunned to have published this in The Blizzard. I’ve been a reader ever since issue ‘zero’ appeared in 2011, as it represented the first real attempt at a football literary periodical. The founders weren’t after money (though they wanted it to succeed); its financial model is ‘pay-what-you-want’—as little as one pence per issue, though you’d have to look pretty hard in the mirror at yourself if you only shelled out that much for hundreds of pages of great writing and insight. “Intelligent Football Journalism,” it says on the ‘About’ page that tells the origin story. Exactly.

The editor, Jonathan Wilson (Twitter: jonawils), has written some of the best books and articles extant on the subject of soccer. He conjured the idea for The Blizzard in a Sunderland pub with the help of friends and colleagues. To have one’s name in the same table of contents as Philippe Auclair, Scott Murray, and Rob Smyth is an honor.

Due credit in the Blizzard article (though the journal didn’t insert it) is our friend Marzia, for her help and humor in certain translations that otherwise I would not have properly understood. My deep thanks, Marzia.

It was exactly one year ago when I first learned about Castel Rigone, the village club whose youth team was practicing on a sunny Wednesday upon the artificial turf at the Don Bosco Scuola di Calcio in Perugia. Never could I have imagined how it would turn out. Requiescas in pace, Castel Rigone Calcio.

<—Back to “Weeks 33-34: To Morality and Beyond”

Castel Rigone, Weeks 33-34: To Morality and Beyond

28 April 2014: fans of Vigor Lamezia celebrate their salvation after their team defeats Castel Rigone to remain in Serie C.

This past Sunday, May 4th at 15:00, at Stadio San Bartolomeo, Castel Rigone played their last match as a team in the professional division of Lega Pro (soon to become ‘Serie C’ again). They lost 2-0, their seventh setback in a row. They had already been relegated the previous week. I wasn’t there to watch. The eyes and ears of everyone in Perugia were at Stadio Renato Curi, where Perugia played Frosinone in the last game of the season for one of those two teams (the team that prevailed won the league, and was promoted to Serie B). For the other side, it was the start of a tortuous 8-team playoff to determine what other squad will be promoted. Heading into the match, Perugia led Frosinone by one point, and needed only a draw to return to Serie B, where they’ve not been since 2004-05, the (first) year they went bankrupt. The previous Sunday, when Perugia earned a draw in the mud of Salerno (winners of the League Cup), the commune set up a giant screen in Piazza IV Novembre, and the songs and shouts of the fans gathered in the pouring rain could be heard throughout the city as Perugia buried a late penalty to tie the match. The outcome of the Perugia’s season appears in another post. The philosopher-chairman of Castel Rigone, Brunello Cucinelli, is not finished, however, he has a “progetto speciale” in mind (Giornale dell’Umbria, 29 Apr. 2014, p. 36) which he will reveal in 2-3 weeks. I would not be surprised if he doesn’t invest even more deeply in his vision of a new calcio, one in which ideas, form, and comportment are still important than wins or losses. A more striking contrast could not be found than with Jose Mourinho, the incredibly successful yet hard-to-like manager of Chelsea. Continue reading

Castel Rigone, Weeks 30-32: Beauty and Loss



After the rain, after the game

On April 14, we went to watch the last real chance for  Castel Rigone to climb their way into a play-out place for Serie C next season. It was another Don Bosco outing, but this time instead of a hundred people, there were about twenty. Several of Jakob’s teammates stood around the edges of the pitch as ball-boys. At first Jakob wanted to join them, but then, when the rain came, the heavy rain, he was glad he hadn’t.

The rain seemed like a sign that it wasn’t meant to be, a cruel natural inevitability that belied the team’s efforts on the field and the club’s effort in the stands. Once again, playing one of the top teams in the division, Castel Rigone played harder and generally better than Teramo. Once again, they lost anyway, haunted by a habitual slackness at the start of every half which forced them to play from behind nearly the entire game.

It had started out so brightly, on a day of palm branches, daisy-chains, tulips, and redbuds.

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Castel Rigone, Weeks 26-29: Streaking

Kickoff between Castel Rigone and Ischia

Kickoff between Castel Rigone and Ischia

On January 5,  Castel Rigone had won five in a row and was in fifth place, solidly in place to retain a place in Serie C next season. At that point, they had 29 points. On March 23, they lost their fifth out of the last six games (the other was a draw), and have 34 points, fifth from bottom, and solidly in place to be relegated into Serie D next season.

When they were at their best, they were beating the top teams in the league; now they have lost to the two worst teams in the table. Gutted by injuries and suspensions they continue to accumulate due to too many red and yellow cards, they have not been able to keep a consistent lineup, which has shown in the stuttering linking of their play through the midfield. More and more they have resorted to booting the ball long up the field, hoping to pick up some scraps with their forwards. The last two games they even played 4-2-4, in the hopes of gaining more attacking opportunity, but with such a narrow midfield, can’t retain and build possession unless the wide forwards track back consistently for the ball. And it is a truism in soccer that it is easier to run forward than it is backward.

Well, they are streaking backward now.

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Castel Rigone, Weeks 23-25: Sliding

Scappini scoring his first goal, versus Tuttocuoio. From casterlrigonecalcio.it

I’ve been away for the last three matches, and having lacked the local newspaper, can’t give much detail about Castel Rigone’s recent struggles. With two losses and one draw, the team has slid down the table into the playout zone in 10th place.

Defensively, Castel Rigone has continued to have difficulty with crosses into the area (guilty of ball-watching and not minding the opposition’s runners). Offensively, they missed two penalties (a woeful team conversion rate of 42% for the season) which would have earned them three more points than they currently have. The team has given up an inordinate number of goals in the first 30 minutes of the game, as the Giornale dell’Umbria has recently described. Also, in each of the last two games, they’ve been reduced to 10 men after red cards, impeding their ability to mount a comeback. Finally, without the outstanding play of their keeper, Franzese, the margin of their last match might have been well worse.

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Golden Fleece

Phrixos, modeling a finely-woven himation around his waist, reaches towards his sister Helle as the golden ram carries him away; Fresco from Pompeii, Insula Occidentalis House VI.17, Naples Museum inventory: MANN 8889.

In the Argonautika, the Greek hero Jason goes on a quest with a ship full of heroes to the junction of the Black Sea and the Caucasus to find the Golden Fleece, the glittering pelt of a magic ram. That ram had once rescued a pair of royal twins, Phrixos and Helle, from the deadly designs of their stepmother Ino in the kingdom of Boiotia. The ram began to carry the twins to the kingdom of Colchis, at the eastern end of the Black Sea, but Helle swooned into the channel between Europe and Asia, thus naming the Hellespont. In Colchis, Phrixos sacrificed the ram to to the gods and gave its fleece to King Aietes. Aietes hung the fleece in a tree and set a dragon to guard over it as a guarantee of his wealth and power. Years later, Jason tries to retrieve the fleece in order to reclaim his own Thessalian throne from evil uncle Pelias.

Cashmere goats, from the Times. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Today the soft undercoat of capra aegagrus hircus, from the highlands of Central Asia (northern China and Mongolia), supplies cashmere for Brunello Cucinelli. Recently our friend Marzia and I got a tour behind the scenes of Cucinelli’s production facilities in Solomeo. Here is how hairs 14-15 microns thick (six times finer than a human hair) become fashion gold.

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