Thursday, 6 May 2010

AC Siena (Italy)

Any team in Italy playing in the historic black and white stripes is in for a tough time, when you've dragged yourself to the top table after years of under-achieving the pressure is really on. And since Siena finally dragged their way to Serie A in 2003 it's been a constant battle with relegation - one they finally lost in the last few games of this season.

They formed in 1904, as a sports club with the slightly cumbersome name of Società Studio e Divertimento  or The Society for Study and Entertainment if you're not so good with your Italian. A general sports club, they chose their back and white colours in tribute to the city's coat of arms - so they most definitely can't be accused of pinching them from their illustrious cousins in Turin.

Once the football club really got going in 1908, they renamed themselves Società Sportiva Robur (Robur the Italian for Strength, still features on the club's crest). They then pottered about moderately in the middle leagues until the immediate post war years when Serie A and B merged and split into regional leagues - but even though they finally reached the top level of Italian football, the unusual circumstances meant they still were considered a full blown Serie A club.

In 2007 they briefly flirted with another name change. Their sponsors, the local bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena suggested that they could change their long-standing title to AC Siena Montepaschi for a bit more cash, and although they formally announced their new name, the Italian FA refused to recognise it, so they reverted back to their less commercially motivated moniker.

Famous old boys include the Norwegian ex-Chelsea and Leeds star Tore André Flo, briefly good Middlesbrough goal machine Massimo Maccarone, the marginally unhinged German keeper Alex Manninger and a quick stint for Brazilian international Roque Júnior.

After seven years of constant relagation battles it will probably come as something of a relief for the Siena fans to actually win a few games next season. Let's hope they spring right back and give their more famous stripe-alikes a bit more of a challenge next time they make the top flight.

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