The Rise of Frosinone

With another Serie A season done and dusted, it is arrivederci to some of Italian football’s biggest names. Parma, who lit up the world of Calcio in the 1990s, bid farewell to the Italian top flight along with Cesena and Cagliari, but what about the new boys heading in the other direction?

Serie A fans may be forgiven for not being experts on the two sides who won automatic promotion from Serie B. Champions and top flight debutants Carpi will ensure Serie A still has two representatives from the Emilia Romagna region and joining them are fellow Serie A first-timers, Frosinone Calcio.

Based in the Lazio region of central Italy, the Frosinone Calcio we know today was born in 1945 after the Second World War had forced the cancellation of the football league. This was actually the third re-birth of Frosinone, who were originally founded in 1912 under the guise of Union Sportive Frusante. They held this title until the 1930s when a group of local citizens got together and formed Bellator Frusinate. However once war broke out across Europe, the club ceased to exist.

Led by presidents, Domenico Ferrante and Angelo Cristofaro, Frosinone returned to the field for the 1945-46 season, competing in the non-professional Seconda Categoria. By the 1950s the club was having a successful period as they rose through the leagues from Prima Categoria to the Quarta Serie Championship.

Another name change followed in 1963 when president Cristofaro, along with Dante Spaziani and Augusto Orsini, formed Sporting Club Frosinone. The club would compete in Serie D and in 1966 they created history defeating rivals Latina to reach Serie C for the first time. This success was ephemeral however and a season later the club were back in Serie D.

After another promotion to Serie C during the 1970-71 campaign, the Canarini (Canaries) would spend most of the 1970s and 1980s floating between Serie D and Serie C1. This included an impressive undefeated season in 1981, culminating in promotion to Serie C2. Yet despite this impressive start to the decade, doom and gloom lay ahead as the club fell foul to Italian football’s dark passenger.

The clubs good start to the 1988-89 Serie C2 season would prove temporary as goalkeeper, Marco Cari and coach, Alberto Mari, were suspended from football after the pair were caught up in a betting scandal. This may come as little surprise, especially after the most recent set of match-fixing allegations have implicated a number of clubs in Italy’s lower leagues. A case of old habits dying hard. Things would only get worse for I Gialloblu. A year later, the Italian Football Federation removed Sporting Club Frosinone from the professional leagues due to the clubs financial state as they were declared bankrupt.

Frosinone began the rebuilding process, and remarkably by the mid-1990s, they had worked their way through the leagues again, returning to Serie C2. But progress was stunted as the club oscillated between the professional and non-professional tiers once again.

The start of the new millennium would see Frosinone perform well, consistently fighting at the top end of the table. They would have to wait until 2004 to gain promotion back into Serie C1, the first time they had appeared in the division for 16-years. It was a promotion that went down in the clubs history thanks to the team doing the double over bitter rivals Latina during the 2003-04 campaign.

Just two years later, Frosinone would find themselves on the way up again, winning promotion to Serie B for the first time in the clubs history. Led by in-demand coach Ivo Iaconi, the Gialloblu emerged as serious contenders for the title, only missing out to fallen giants Napoli. The second placed finish meant Frosinone were forced to reach Serie B through the play-offs and despite carrying a weight of expectancy as favourites, the Canarini made no mistakes. Their victory over Grosseto was by no means spectacular, narrowly overcoming the Tuscans 1-0 over two legs thanks to an awful goalkeeping error from a Marco Martini strike. But it mattered little, Frosinone Calcio were in Serie B!

Now in Serie B, Iacono brought in reinforcements to ensure the club survived. The likes of Massimo Margiotta, Fabio Di Venanzio and future Catania stalwart Francesco Lodi joined the ranks. As significantly, the club also splashed out on expanding their stadium, adding an extra 5,000 seats to their tiny Stadio Comunale Matusa, increasing the capacity to just under 10,000. The Gialloblu would finish thirteenth in a positive first season in Serie B.

Serie B was where Frosinone remained, that was until 2011 when they propped up the table and were relegated. Their hiatus would be brief however, as Roberto Stellone guided the club back to Serie B in 2014 virtue of a 4-2 play-off victory against Lecce.

With Frosinone back in Serie B, the priority going into the 2014-15 season was survival. However a good start to the campaign would see them competing for places in the upper reaches of the division. Many expected Frosinone to fade away during the season, with Bologna and Vicenza emerging as favourites to finish in the automatic promotion places. However the team from Lazio kept plugging away and picking up results.

Frosinone would remain in the promotion places throughout the season and after Carpi secured promotion with four games remaining, Frosinone would battle it out with Bologna and Vicenza to secure the remaining automatic ticket to Serie A. And on June 7, 2015, Frosinone wrote an inedible page into their history. With two games remaining they overcame Crotone 3-1 at home to open up a six point gap between themselves and third placed Bologna with only one game remaining, thus securing their place in Serie A for the 2015-16 season.

The success of Roberto Stellone’s side was largely down to the goals of his dynamic front two, Daniel Ciofani and Federico Dionisi. At 29 years-of-age, Ciofani, is an experienced striker who has had his fair share of clubs over the years, including spells with Parma and Perugia before settling at Frosinone in 2013. At 6’3”, Ciofani proved a real handful for Serie B defences during a season in which he found the back of the net 13 times, including the opening goal in the famous 3-1 victory over Crotone.

Ciofani’s strike partner, the 27-year-old Dionisi, is perhaps best remembered for his four year spell at Livorno between 2010 and 2014, during which he racked up over 100 appearances for the Tuscans. Brought to the club as a foil to Ciofani, Dionisi would add to his partners 13 goals by scoring 14 of his own, including two against Crotone. With 27 goals between them, Frosinone’s all Italian front line will be relishing the chance to shine among the peninsula’s elite.

Many are yet to have seen the Canarini up close, however their Serie A debut will provide ample opportunity. They will no doubt be among the favourites to be relegated, but Stellone will be confident his side can both surprise the critics and avoid the drop.

With limited funds this summer, Stellone will be looking to youth to inspire and shine in Serie A. As well as having the strike duo of Ciofani and Dionisi, it is also worth keeping an eye on 21-year-old striker Luca Paganini. An exciting young talent, Paganini can play as striker but spent most of last season on the left wing, and his pace, skill and dribbling is sure to catch the eye when he takes to the Serie A stage in August.

Some will have you believe that little Frosinone are making up the numbers in Serie A. But minnows such as Chievo have conquered Italy’s top flight before, a club who arrived in Serie A with similar humble backgrounds to Stellone’s men. Frosinone will be out to cause a few upsets themselves. How they would love to topple one of their new local rivals, who just happen to be AS Roma and SS Lazio.

By Giovanni Dougall @giovannid86