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City DNA #51: A European competition nobody wanted

City DNA #51: A European competition nobody wanted
If ever there was a bad idea for a competition (the Anglo-Scottish Cup will be covered at a later date), the Anglo-Italian Cup was most definitely it.

It was the brainchild of an FA executive, due to the fact that from 1967, the winner of the League Cup (now Carabao Cup), would be awarded a place in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – a forerunner of the UEFA Cup.

However, Third Division QPR were the 1967 League Cup winners and UEFA didn’t allow third tier sides into the Inter-City Fairs Cup – so QPR were denied their richly-deserved European spot.

In 1969, the same scenario happened again, when Third Division Swindon Town won the League Cup but weren’t allowed into European competition.

READ: Steve Daley: The Million Pound

As a result, the Football League concocted the Anglo-Italian Cup – a two-legged match between the winner of the English League Cup and the Coppa Italian champions.

Bizarrely, after losing the first leg 2-1 against Roma, Swindon won the replay 4-0 at the County Ground to claim the inaugural Anglo-Italian Cup by virtue of a 5-2 aggregate score.

City’s role in the somewhat niche competition came after winning the 1970 League Cup..

The Blues had already qualified for the 1970/71 European Cup Winners’ Cup as a result but took part in the competition anyway.

The Coppa Italian winners were Bologna and there was interest in the game, with 28,000 attending the first leg the Stadio Comunale – a game the hosts won 1-0 courtesy of a fourth-minute goal from Rizzo.

Three weeks later, 25,843 fans turned out at Maine Road to see the second leg and the Italian side were soon ahead again through Perani on 16 minutes.

Francis Lee levelled on 25 minutes, but Joe Mercer’s side could never get their noses in front and when Savoldi out Bologna back in front on 73 minutes, the tie looked over and done.

But George Heslop made it 2-2 on 75 minutes and City pressed for a third – which sadly never came and Bologna won the trophy 3-2 on aggregate.

For the home leg, City wore their AC Milan-inspired change strip and the City players applauded Bologna off at the end pf the game.

Spurs won it in 1971 before it went into hibernation and returned in 1975 and 1976 (won by Fiorentina and Napoli with West Ham and Southampton the respective losers) before being scrapped all together.

And odd competition, but City DNA will bring you others in the coming weeks…

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