Ground: Stadio Silvio Piola (Vercelli)
Date: 30th October 2012
Match: Pro Vercelli - Spezia 1-0 (Serie B)
Attendance: 2 472
As in recent years I knew I would be free from work the last week of October and after looking at fixtures throughout Europe I decided for Italy. With midweek matches in Serie A and Serie B I had plenty of choices. Juventus vs Bologna on Wednesday evening was my main match and on Tuesday evening there was a full round of Serie B matches. Knowing Vercelli is situated between Milan and Turin it was not difficult to decide the first match on this tour, Pro Vercelli vs La Spezia. After working on Monday I then left for Copenhagen where I boarded the 20.55 flight to Milano Linate. The flight arrived shortly after 11 pm but as Linate is quite close to Milan city centre I actually was at my hotel (close to Stazione Centrale) before midnight. For this tour I was joined by German groundhopper Andreas and we had decided to base ourselves in the village of Alice Bel Colle, which is situated in the countryside south of Alessandria. At 12.27 my train rolled into Alessandria train station where Andreas waited for me. Alice Bel Colle is in the middle of a wine district and from the village you hade a very nice view of the landscape.
At 14.30 we made the 50 minute journey from Alice Bel Colle to Vercelli. We found a strategic parking place and 5 minutes later we were outside the ground. Pro Vercelli is a club with a glamorous history. Between 1908 and 1922 the club won seven Italian Championships. In recent years the club have been in the lower divisions but after being promoted from Lega Pro 1 last season they are now back in Serie B. This meant their home ground had to be renovated and the refurbished ground was actually inaugurated this evening. The first four home matches in 2012/13 were played in Piacencza. Silvio Piola is Vercelli´s greatest ever player and the ground is named after him. The ground in nearby Novara actually has the same name which might be a bit confusing. Stadio Silvio Piola in Vercelli has a really nice main stand. Built in 1932 it has some obstructed views but as we sneaked inside it was obvious this was a stand with character. Stadio Silvio Piola has a capacity of 4 600 according to the club employee who gave us a private mini-tour. He was a bit surprised to hear I was from Sweden and was keen to make me (and Andreas) feel welcome. Apart from the main stand the rest of the ground used to be terracing only but after the renovation Stadio Silvio Piola is all-seated. The other seated stands are not covered but with shiny new seats the ground felt, unlike most other grounds in Italy, quite new and fresh. The only place to buy tickets in advance was in the tobacco store opposite the main stand but after showing our passports we had no problems getting two tickets for the North Stand.
After a tour of Vercelli city centre, including a visit to the impressive Basilica Sant Andrea, we returned to the ground around 19.30. Kick-off this evening was at 20.45 and at 19.45 the gates opened. After some very thorough checks I was inside Stadio Silvio Piola with 45 minutes to go before kick-off. La Spezia brought around 200 fans to Vercelli this Tuesday evening and being 7th in the table (and Vercelli 21st) most away fans probably expected a win. La Spezia had the best chance in the first half but it was 0-0 at half-time. The second half was better than the first and when La Spezia three times within a minute came close to scoring I was expecting an away goal. That never happened though. Instead Pro Vercelli played better and better and in the 70th minute they somehow scrambled the ball over the line, 1-0 to the home team. Pro Vercelli manged to hold on and their fans could celebrate at the end of the match. Tomorrow in Turin I will celebrate myself (250th ground visit) but the Vercelli fans are probably smiling then too. They have returned to their beloved ground and are winning again.
View from my hotel in Alice Bel Colle
Basilica Sant Andrea
Rear of the Main Stand
Stadio Silvio Piola
Inside the Main Stand
7 Scudettos and that is not all
View of Stadio Silvio Piola
Tifo, Curva Ovest
La Spezia fans
View of Stadio Silvio Piola
View of play
Pro Vercelli youth teams