The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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Pro Vercelli: Delivering the Unthinkable

We won the league with five games to spare, and we did it in style, with 61 goals and counting. Last year, the most prolific team had 47 and we had 28. I made a promise when I took this job that we would crater the earth with meteors, and after the high hopes of our first season took to the wind like dust, it’s nice to see the first sign of fire. Even if the clinching game was a weak draw at Pizzighetone. Juventus may not know it yet, but the nightmare just edged a little closer.

I’ve probably made an unholy bargain by relying on so many loan players this season, and the major goal now is to try to keep from paying for it. The fear is that we’ll be arriving in Serie C1 with the slightly stronger core of a team that finished 10th in Serie C2/A two years ago—and maybe not even slightly stronger, since the blossoming of Jorge Ibáñez and Marciano van Dijk is going to be offset by the loss of Marco Conchione and OVDE, aging players whose contracts I don’t plan to renew. We’re still going to be broke, we’re still going to be vacant of transfer money, and we’re still not going to have any mentionable assets to sell. The first order of business will be trying to extend some loans.

But that’s for summer. For now, we’ve got five games between us and an unbeaten season. It’s going to be tough to motivate a group of teenagers who’ve just won an unforeseen championship to move in with passion on history, but I’m going to do what I can and hope the Vercellese nightlife doesn’t turn their heads completely.

Canavese. Sambonifacese. Como. Itala. Olbia. These are the final obstacles between us and never having to act impressed around Thierry Henry again. And don’t forget, it was Canavese who ended our winning streak at the start of the year by giving us our first draw game. There’s revenge in the air. I hope my players can sense it.

Most important of all: the Vercellese dinner is happening. Sometime after Christmas. There will be robust red wines of the Piedmont region. I will keep you informed.

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Pro Vercelli: Delivering the Unthinkable

by Brian Phillips · December 24, 2008

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