BY Vince Cooper

THERE have been a number of different Anglo-Italian Cup competitions including, a little confusingly, two at the same time for a couple of seasons in the 70s

We’re going to clear up the confusion (or perhaps create more) with the definitive (or not) history of the tournament (or tournaments)

The idea was first mooted In 1967 when 3rd Division Queen’s Park Rangers shocked football by beating top-tier West Bromwich Albion to take the League Cup. What should have been a ticket into Europe was denied the West London team by a UEFA rule that prohibited third-tier teams from playing in continental competitions.

Swindon Town 1969


When the same thing occurred with Swindon Town beating Arsenal two years later, the Football League decided to compensate the Wiltshire club by organising a two-legged match with Coppa Italia winners Roma.

The Second leg programme

Swindon lost the first-leg in front of an estimated crowd of 50,000 at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico although the 2-1 defeat gave them hope for the return. In fact The Robins could well have returned all-square.

Fabio Enzo gave the hosts the lead from the spot after English referee Kevin Howley awarded a dubious penalty (one of the features of the two-legged ties was that the refs were from the visiting team’s country).

The Italians had dominated the first half but seven minutes into the second period their visitors levelled. A great run on the right by Rod Thomas ended with the Town man obstructed. From the resulting free-kick the ball ran loose and Peter Noble was on hand to drive it home.

Winning goalscorer Renato Cappellini

Renato Capoellini’s header restored home advantage but Swindon had good chances to equalise again in the closing stages and came away with a creditable 2-1 loss.

There were 11,976 in attendance at the County Ground for the return two weeks later and they witnessed a Swindon display that might have even outshone the Wembley win over Arsenal.

Action from the second leg at the County Ground

Arthur Horsfield struck after just five minutes to level the tie on aggregate and it was one-way traffic with Horsfield scoring twice more and Don Rogers also finding the net giving the Wiltshire team a 4-0 win on the day, 5-2 on aggregate to give Fred Ford’s men a famous win over Helenio Herrera and Roma.

Ford had been brought in to replace League Cup-winning manager Danny Williams after the latter had left to take over at Sheffield Wednesday and he would enjoy a fine first season with a pair of Anglo-Italian wins to go alongside a highest-ever league placing of 5th in the 3rd Division.

Swindon’s hat-trick hero Arthur Horsfield.


There was a slight name change for year two but the concept remained the same, Copa Italia winners v League Cup winners.

Manchester City had completed a cup double in the previous campaign, not only beating West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup final but also claiming the European Cup Winners’ Cup.  Bologna claimed the Copa Italia by winning a four-team league containing Torino, Cagliari and Varese.

Bologna’s first-leg scorer Francesco Rizzo

Bologna won the the first leg at their Stadio Renato Dall’Ara by a solitary goal from Italian international Francesco Rizzo. The return drew a crowd of 25,843 to Maine Road with most no doubt expecting a star-studded City to turn things around, especially with the Italians missing three first choice players.

City players applaud their conquerors

But the Italians had other ideas. They shocked their hosts when Marino Perani fired them into a 16th-minute lead which Francis Lee equalised ten minutes later. Veteran goalkeeper Giuseppe Vavassori then held the Citizens at bay and Bologna retook the lead when winger Bruno Pace, who had set up his team’s first goal did it again, this time crossing for Giuseppe Savoldi to score. George Heslop equalised on the night for City but that 1-0 home win meant that it was the Italians who claimed the trophy.

The third staging saw Tottenham Hotspur take on Torino and record a comfortable 3-0 aggregate victory in the last staging of the tournament.

Action from Torino v Spurs

Spurs travelled to Turin for the first leg and after an hour of goalless football, Steve Perryman burst clear on the right wing and saw his cross met perfectly by Martin Chivers who fired home to give the Londoners a lead they thoroughly deserved on a night where they dominated their opponents in front of 50,000 fans.

The line-ups for the second leg

The 31,403 in attendance for the second leg at White Hart Lane was further evidence of how much fans enjoyed seeing their team face continental opposition. This time they saw a dominant Spurs with goals from Chivers and Alan Gilzean, sealing the win. The victory was the first of two European trophies Spurs would win that season as they also took the UEFA Cup.

Spurs with the trophy


That competition then took a four-year break before returning in 1975 with a change as it was now between the Coppa Italia and F.A. Cup winners.

West Ham had taken the F. A. Cup with a win over Fulham whilst Fiorentina had claimed the Italian competition, which had by now reverted to a one-off final, beating Milan 3-2 in a thriller in Rome.

The first match took place in early September with The Hammers having made a decent start in England whilst I Viola’s season had yet to get underway.

Advantage Hammers? Not quite. At the Stadio Artemio Franchi West Ham ‘keeper Melvyn Day allowed Vincenzo Guerini’s shot through his hands after 20 minutes and that proved to be the only goal action the 30,000 crowd saw.

It was three months before the teams met in the second leg at Upton Park, both teams were struggling in their respective leagues with West Ham having tumbled down the table following a good start and Fiorentina second from bottom in Serie A.

England manager Don Revie was among a disappointing 14,699 crowd, no doubt in preparation for England’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Italy and with an eye on promising youngster Giancarlo Antognoni.

Giancarlo Antognoni

Once again the Italians took the lead in the 20th minute, with the goal this time coming from Walter Speggiorin. After that Antognoni ran the show and, try as they might, The Hammers couldn’t get in a blow falling to a second single-goal defeat.

The final staging came in 1976 when Southampton, who had shocked Manchester United at Wembley, took on Napoli who hammered Hellas Verona 4-0 to take the Copa Italia.

Walter Speggiorin of Napoli

Saints took a 1-0 lead to Naples courtesy of a Steve Williams goal in the first leg in September but they were overwhelmed when the teams met again, losing 4-0 at the Stadio San Paolo. Walter Speggiori, who had scored for Fiorentina against West Ham the year before had by this time moved on to Napoli and he again proved his liking for English opposition, netting twice.

Gigi Peronace


In the meantime Italian ‘super agent’  Gigi Peronace – the man behind the transfers of Jimmy Greaves, Denis Law and John Charles and others to Italy in the late 50s and early 60s’ – came up with the concept of a summer tournament between English and Italian teams and thus the Anglo-Italian cup was born.

The competition was initially seen (in 1970) as a way of paying players’ wages in an extended close-season due to the staging of the World Cup in Mexico.

The format was a little confusing. There was six teams from each country divided into three groups of four. However, within the group the team’s only met their foreign counterparts, home and away. All points (including one for every goal scored) were then added up to produce two national ‘group’ winners who met in the final.

So, the points that you got against one set of teams would count in a ‘league’ with a completely different set!


The six English sides in the first staging were Sheffield Wednesday, Swindon Town, Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Representing Italy were Juventus, Napoli, Lanerossi Vicenza, A.S Roma, ACF Fiorentina and S.S Lazio.

Swindon recorded a home and away double against Juventus and also won on the road against Napoli although they lost the home match against the men from Naples. The seven goals Swindon scored saw them finish above unbeaten Middlesbrough, who scored a goal less, and Wolves whose 2-0 defeat to Lazio on the last day saw them just miss out.

The winners of the Italian ‘half’ came from the same group. Naples won two and lost two of their matches but banged in 10 goals which gave them a 14-point haul annd enabled them to finish four points clear of second-placed Fiorentina.

Swindon Town with the trophy

So it was Napoli and Swindon Town who met in the San Paolo Naples in front of 55,000 fans to decide the outcome. The match was marred by crowd trouble but when football was played the Wiltshire club were clearly on top. Peter Noble had scored twice and Arthur Horsfield added a third when the referee brought the game to an early end after 79 minutes.

Horsfield‘s goal cued a barrage of missiles to be hurled from the stands and Austrian ref Paul Schiller ordered the players off after a linesman was struck. The Italian fans had, it seems, been incensed by their team’s inability to match their English counterparts who once again belied their lowly domestic position by proving masters of the Italians.


The 1971 tournament was played with the same format. The English representatives were headed by holders Swindon and joining them this time were Blackpool, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield Town, Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion. Representing Italy were Bologna, Cagliari, Inter,  Roma, Sampdoria and Hellas Verona.

There were some notable performances by English clubs in the group stages.

Crystal Palace v Inter Milan

Crystal Palace drew with Inter at home before beating them 2-1 in the San Siro with a brace from Bobby Tambling whilst Swindon were again impressive, putting four past Sampdoria at home before winning the return in Genoa.

But the holders were outdone by Blackpool who finished with an identical record of won 2 (both of their away games against Verona and Roma), drawn 1 and lost 1, but outscored their Wiltshire rivals by 10 goals to 9. Opposing them in the final would be Bologna, winners of the ‘Italian side’ of the draw after three victories and a defeat, and nine goals.


Blackpool and John Craven lift the trophy

Blackpool had endured a difficult league season finishing bottom of the 1st Division and at the end of it club legend Jimmy Armfield hung up his boots. Meanwhile, Bologna had managed a lofty 5th-place finish in Serie A and were considered hot favourites. By the time the final was played, six weeks after the end of the season,

Blackpool had replaced Les Shannon as manager with Bob Stokoe and the cup final was his first game in charge.

A crowd of 26,00 were at the Stade Communale and they saw the home team take a first-half lead through Bruno Pace. However anyone who might have expected The Tangerines to fold would be wrong.  John Craven hit the equaliser after an hour and after no further score the match went into extra-time where Micky Burns popped up with the winner.

Bottom of the 1st Division, Anglo-Italian Cup winners


In 1972 the English entries were holders Blackpool, Birmingham City, Carlisle United, Leicester City, Stoke City and Sunderland while Italy were represented by Atalanta, Cagliari, Catanzaro, Lanerossi Vicenza, A.S. Roma and Sampdoria.

Blackpool again made it to the final having finished the group stage with an unblemished record that included a quite incredible 10-0 win over Lanerossi Vicenza in their final game. The Bloomfield Road club finished eight points clear of Carlisle United who had the consolation of having beaten Roma 3-2 in the Stadio Olimpico.

The Italian side of the draw was much tighter with Roma progressing despite that defeat to Carlisle, by virtue of the fact that they had scored one goal more than Atalanta.

Gianfranco Zigoni

75,000 were at the Stadio Olimpico and they saw Blackpool unable to repeat their heroics of a year before. Goals from Renato Cappellini (who had also scored against Swindon in 1970) Francesco Scaratti and Gianfranco Zigoni put Roma three up and it wasn’t until the last minute that Tony Alcock grabbed a consolation for the visitors.


The 1973 edition saw the number of competitors rise to eight from each country. The teams were split into two groups, each playing their foreign counterpart once with the top from each country progressing to a two-legged playoff to determine the finalists. There was another change as the ‘goals scored’ rule was dropped in favour of the more traditional goal average.

Newcastle United and Crystal Palace made it through to the English final with Palace winning three out of four, and drawing the other to edge out Manchester United. Newcastle won all of their games as did Blackpool but the Mags’ superior goal average saw them progress.

On the Italian side Fiorentina and Bologna made it to the semi, Bologna qualifying despite a record of two draws and two defeats. In more than one match there was violence both off and in the pitch and the Hull City v Lazio game ‘deteriorated into a rough and tumble that twice threatened to develop into a wholesale punch-up’ according to one contemporary report.

The first leg of the English semi finished goalless but Newcastle hammered their London rivals 5-1 in the return. Over in Italy Fiorentina made the final courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate win over Bologna.

Newcastle on their way to Italy

So, Newcastle travelled to Florence for the final (as you can see, all finals were held in Italy).

The visitors went in front when home goalkeeper Franco Superchi put through his own net then doubled their advantage through full back David Craig. Sergio Clerci pulled one back with 10 minutes left but Newcastle held on to claim the trophy.

Bobby Moncur receives the trophy

With attendances dwindling and violence both on and off the pitch escalating the competition was disbanded after Newcastle’s win. But three years later it was back.


The reincarnation was competed for by semi-professional teams and was played 11 times. Only one English club was successful during this period, when Sutton United triumphed in 1979. There were name changes during this period as the tournament became first the Alitalia Challenge Cup, then the Talbot Challenge Cup and, in 1981, the Gigi Peronace Memorial in honour of the Cup’s founder who had passed away in 1980.


There was one more rebirth for the tournament when it replaced the Full Members Cup and was competed for by second tier teams in 1992-93. Cremonese won the first edition of the revamped event, beating Derby County in the final. The following season saw Brescia beat Notts County.

In 1994-95 the same Notts County became the only English winners of the new iteration when they beat Ascoli in the final. The last final was played on 17 March 1996 when Genoa beat Port Vale 5-2. The following year the two leagues couldn’t agree on dates and with crowd violence still causing problems the Anglo Italian Cup became no more.

There was also an element of violence on the pitch to deal with. In the 1992-93 competition, David Speedie refused to play in the event, citing a fear of injury. Speedie, on loan at Birmingham from Southampton at the time, said: “I don’t see much point in going all the way to Italy just to get kicked”.

Inter v Crystal Palace in 1971

The tournament had thrown up match-ups that seem unlikely these days (Juventus v Swindon Town, Inter v Crystal Palace and AS Roma v Carlisle United spring to mind) and had given fans in both countries the opportunity to see clubs that had only been names in ‘World Soccer’ and newspapers before.

Carlisle United v A. S. Roma

Sadly, it will also be remembered for the violence, both on and off the pitch, perpetrated by the participants. With that part of the game now (mostly) a distant memory perhaps there is hope for a rebirth. Sadly, with today’s crowded fixture-list and the lack of ‘romance’ in the match-ups it is highly likely that we’ve seen the last of the Anglo-Italian Cup.