Bruges and Vicenza, the different fate of two "twin" teams

Bruges and Vicenza, the different fate of two twin teams 17/01/2018 11:34 CET | Updated 17/01/2018 11:34 CET
Piero Faltoni
Political Science graduate, reader, communicator

A few days ago the news of the miserable conditions facing Vicenza Calcio. He seems unable to pay salaries to his athletes in Serie C, the club that forty years ago, with the late G.B. Blacksmiths on the bench, Paolo Rossi on offense and Filippi "pony" everywhere, surprisingly finished second in Serie A.

"I have many players who earn very little, we are talking about 1000-1200 euros per month. I can't ask a guy to do 1000 meters if he doesn't have the money to pay for food."

It will be the cold of winter, it will be the capital that flies, but it does not bring a very good air for the "provincials", neither in Italy nor in the rest of Europe. From Spain to Germany, via France and England, the top positions in the ranking in the season preceding the World Cup are occupied by teams from metropolises or medium-large cities.

Small Belgium is an exception where the team of a small town, Club Bruges or Brugge, is dominating the first division, called the Jupiter Pro League there. Indeed, there is a second city team, the Cercle, which is among the first in the ranking of the local Serie B.

The capital of north-west Flanders has in common with the city of Palladio the relatively small number of inhabitants - less than 120,000 - and the inclusion of their respective historical centers in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Two so-called cities on a human scale, especially if this man or woman is a tourist: visiting the Palladian monuments of Vicenza or strolling in the Market square or along the canals of Bruges is a refreshment for the eyes and soul ; "not even a child is lost", Lucio Dalla would say.

Flemish hardworkers have transformed little Bruges into the world capital of lace and a mainstay of the textile industry. And, by dint of sewing and weaving, they built on the muddy bottom of what was once a marsh one of the most solid football realities not only of Belgium, but of the European continent.

The golden age of the club founded in 1891 was the decade 1971-80, which saw "Venice of the North" rivaling Anderlecht, the great club in the capital Brussels, on an equal footing. Five league titles, a UEFA Cup final and a European Cup final (both lost against Liverpool) are the record of this season.

Even the most distracted Italian fans must look up and notice this city jewel set in front of the North Sea when our teams - Rome, Milan, Juventus - are faced and beaten by Club Bruges in European competitions.

The center-forward Raoul Lambert, a goal machine - 270 in his career, all with the Club-, the strong median Cools, the elegant Danish Le Fevre, with a deadly left, the laconic Austrian coach Happel, the director Vandereycken, the left-handed "big horse" Ceulemans: they all become familiar names to the people of football fans.

Curiously, but not too much, the top vintage of Vicenza, then still Lanerossi, coincides with that of Club Bruges: 1977-78. But if that year the Venetian red and white arrived second in Italy behind Juventus, the Flemish nerazzurri arrived second in Europe after having eliminated Juventus. Already here the sign of a different destiny for the clubs of two cities in many ways "twins".

Until 2005, on average every four to five years the Club Bruges has pinned a badge on its players' shirts. An eleven year break and then the return to the title in 2016, with a team whose only known name is that of coach Michel Preud'homme, considered together with Pfaff and Courtois the best goalkeeper in the history of Belgian football.

There is no more Preud'homme and there are no other famous names even in the squad of the team that is easily winning the regular season of the current championship. To add the number 15 shield to the rich gold register, the Nerazzurri will have to overcome the playoffs in May, according to the "American" formula introduced in Belgium in 2009.

The lack of names is not a problem, however, for the managers of the Flemish company who teach their members first of all to apply the Club's motto: "No Sweat, No Glory", there can be no glory without sweat, without the hard daily work.

This could be a first key to understanding the many successes achieved in the last fifty years in the sports field by this small city in Belgium that has earned the right to boast the title of Queen of the provincials of Europe.

A study model for the presidents and managers of the various Borgorosso Football Clubs that inhabit the Italian football scene.

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