What constitutes a Derby match? Is it the proximity of the teams involved? Is it the history, size, reputation or the politics of the fixture? Or even just a dispute because of a player sold to a teams fiercest rivals?
Italy is a country blessed with some of the most evocative Derby’s in the world, from the Derby Della Capitale between Lazio and Roma, the Milanese Derby della Madonnina to the Derby della Lanterna between Genoa and Sampdoria. But can a derby that has only ever been played twice on a competitive level still be considered a genuine derby? Can a derby with so little of the above criteria still be considered a great rivalry?
Crevalcore is a small town in the Emilia-Romagna region with a population of roughly 13,500 people. Situated in the Po valley, the town straddles the provinces of Modena and Ferrara, yet despite this, it is the province of Bologna that it calls home.
Crevalcore is perhaps better known for tragedy than football. On January 7, 2005, an inter-regional train travelling from Verona to Bologna via Crevalcore collided with a freight train resulting in the deaths of 17 people.
Seven years later, parts of Crevalcore’s historic centre were declared red zones after an earthquake afflicted the region of Emilia Romagna. However it is not all doom and gloom, the town has also had its fair share of good days and it wouldn’t be Italy if the majority of those good days didn’t come thanks to Calcio.
Football first reared its head in the town in the early 1920s when former Modena player Silvio Secchi began to train a group of local youngsters. From there, the club that became known as Societa Calcio Crevalcore grew.
In 1945 they reached the old Serie C thanks to a win over neighbours and bitter rivals Vignolese. The win was all the more sweet due to the fact that it saw Crevalcore leap over their opponents in the league table on the final day of the season.
However their stay in Serie C only lasted one season as the club soon fell into difficulty and ceased to exist. By 1952, a new club was born under the guise of AC Crevalcore. It wasn’t too long before this new entity began to make its mark, winning both their regional and provincial championships in 1959.
For the next 30-odd-years the club pottered around the local leagues before finally winning promotion to Serie D in 1988. Come 1993 the club achieved the seemingly impossible by winning promotion to Serie C2, and more importantly, professional football for the first time in their history.
They weren’t finished there however and the following campaign they were promoted once again to Serie C1. Crevalcore calcio had reached the zenith of their powers. Meanwhile only a 50 minute drive away one of the most historic names in Calcio were at one of the lowest ebbs in their history.
It may be hard to believe, but Bologna F.C have more Scudetto titles, seven in total, than the two Roman teams put together. Yet in the summer of 1994, having only just recovered from bankruptcy, the club were facing the prospect of a second year playing third division football.
If that wasn’t bad enough for the Rossoblu faithful, they now had to reconcile themselves with the fact that they shared a division and a stadium with the newly promoted upstarts Crevalcore. Crevalcore’s success and Bologna’s travails also gave rise to the prospect of something completely new, the first ever Derby Del Bologna.
That first ever derby would take place on week eight of the season. Due to the fact that Creva’s ground was not up to a sufficient standard, the club had to ground share with their new found rivals, playing their home games at the Stadio Dall’Ara.
So on October 16, 1994, Bologna took to the field in their own stadium in the first ever Derby Del Bologna as the away side. It would matter little though as the Rossoblu would crush their neighbours 3-0 on the day with goals coming from Dario Morello and a Luca Cecconi double.
As an encounter it was hardly the most fearsome to take place around the peninsula, nonetheless a new Italian derby had been born.
As the season progressed it became clear that the two clubs would be operating at opposite ends of the table. Bologna were steamrolling their way to the title and a return to Serie B, while Crevalcore battled for their lives against teams such as Pro Sesto, Massese and Ospitaletto.
With the season hurtling to its inevitable conclusion the second and final ever competitive Derby Del Bologna came into focus once again. This game though would not prove as easy for the Rossoblu. This was to prove a real derby game.
So on March 19, 1995, the two teams took to the field at the Stadio Dall’Ara for the second time. Despite the sun shining, it was a blustery day with the flags in the Curva Bulgarelli swaying in the wind.
As for the match itself, it started as expected with Bologna on top. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fine acrobatics of Crevalcore keeper Gandini, the Rossoblu would have found themselves a few goals ahead early on.
Bologna did make the eventual break through, but it came from the most unlikely of routes. A corner from the left by David Olivares caught in the swirling wind deceiving a now stranded Gandini and the ball proceeded to curl into the far corner unaided. A repeat of the first derby seemed on the cards.
Creva though were determined to ruffle the feathers of their neighbours and came close to levelling after striking the crossbar just before the half was out.
Their equaliser did come in the second half though. A delicate chip over the top was steered under the advancing keeper by the outstretched foot of 20-year-old striker Michele Pietranera. Pietranera’s career would prove typical of many lower league forwards, not quite good enough for Serie A but prolific at this level. Pietranera would retire in 2013 with 138 career goals to his name.
Sensing the vitriol they would be subject to if they failed to beat the minnows of Crevalcore, Bologna soon restored their lead courtesy of Dario Morello before Carlo Nervo added a third. Creva though refused to go quietly and hauled themselves back into the game when Paolo Monelli smashed home a penalty into the top left corner.
With time running out Creva pushed frantically for a leveller and came within a whisker when an effort from a ludicrous distance cannoned back off the bar. Bologna would hold on for the win, but this time they were put to the pin of their collar in this pulsating derby.
Seventeen years later, on May 10, 2012, the clubs would meet again in a pre-season friendly. In the intervening years, Crevalcore had returned to the lower levels of the Italian game while Bologna had made it back to the top. The match would end in a facile 8-0 win for the Rossoblu. In the season just past, Bologna won promotion back to Serie A while Crevalcore floundered in the Promozione Emilia-Romagna, amateur football.
The chances of the Derby Del Bologna being played again seem very remote. So the question remains can a match that was only ever played twice still be considered a derby like so many of Italy’s other greats? Try telling Crevalcore it wasn’t.
Follow Kevin Nolan on Twitter: @KevinNolan11