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Saturday, April 23, 2016


Footballer, textile worker and salesman, film-maker, producer and canoeist: not a bad description of the life and times of any individual, but history has not so much been unkind to the man featured in this tale as somewhat forgetful of him.

The individual in question is one Edoardo Bosio, an Italian of Swiss descent who was born in the northern city of Turin on 9 November 1864. Nineteen years earlier, his grandfather, Giacomo Bosio, founded the first factory brewery in Turin, which, after being taken over by his father, Edoardo Sr., and his uncle, became known as the Bosio & Caratsch brewery in 1885.  (A quick note to beer enthousiasts: the company was taken over by the Pedavena brewery in 1937, and ceased production in 1969.)

By that time, Giacomo's two youngest sons, Pietro and Augusto, had long since set up the Maniffatura Fratelli Bosio textile firm in a small town near Turin, and the young Edoardo was working as a merchant for the Nottingham-based Thomas Adams lace-manufacturers and was travelling around England and beyond as a result. (Augusto, born in 1849, later became Honorary Swiss Consul to the provinces of Turin, Novara, Alessandria and Cuneo from 1895 until his death in Silvaplana, Switzerland, in October 1910 aged 61.)

Edoardo Bosio then resided in London for a time and there became acquainted with football, so much so that, when he returned to Turin to work for the company in 1887, he founded the Torino Football and Cricket Club, the very first football club in Italy. The club practiced cricket and rowing, at which Bosio was particularly adept, in the summer, and football and mountaineering in the winter.

In an article published in the Gazzetta del Popolo della Domenica in 1891, Bosio, who was apparently a prominent figure in the Società Nicola rowing club, was not only an adept rower, but a rather successful one, too: "He is 24 years old, weighs 72 kilograms and is 1 metre 81 in length," and the article mentioned that he had participated at the Venice and Casale regattas as third rower, and finished as runner-up in the former and won the latter. He won first prize in both two-man and four-man rowing at the Turin regatta in 1888, and took part in the Championship final in Stresa.

There was nobody for Torino Football and Cricket Club to play against in the first year or so of its existence, but other clubs did eventually spring up. One such club was Nobili Torino, founded in 1889 by eminent Italians of the time such as Prince Luigi Amedeo di Savoia-Aosta, Duke of the Abruzzi, and Alfonso Ferrero di Gubernatis Ventimiglia (who eventually went on to serve as president of the Italian FA during 1911 and 1912). 

The two teams met each other in the occasional friendly, and then went on to unite as Internazionale Foot-Ball Club Torino in late 1891 (the exact foundation date is lost). One of the players who played for Internazionale was a young man called Herbert Kilpin, who had come to Italy to work alongside Bosio for Thomas Adams, and who went on to co-found the Milan Cricket and Football Club, nowadays known to one and all as AC Milan.

The Genoa Cricket and Athletic Club was founded in 1893, and, under the title of Genoa Cricket and Football Club - which it adopted in 1899 - is currently the oldest football club still in existence in Italy (and, after some post-war troubles, is firmly ensconsed in Serie A), but not the first to have been founded, as is so often claimed in books, articles and by the club itself. 

Bosio was happily playing away for Internazionale Torino as the 19th Century drew to a close, and Genoa were opponents to a combined Internazionale Torino and Foot-Ball Club Torinese selection in early 1898. Bosio played as the combined team defeated Genoa 1:0.

The first Italian championship had been proposed by a gentleman called Angelo Mosso, who was president of a club called RS Ginnastica di Torino, which had been founded in 1844 but whose football wing was only created in 1897. (Mosso died in 1910 aged 64.)

It was held on a single day, 8/5/1898, in Turin, and the limited reach that football had in Italy at the time could be seen in the number of competing teams and the fact that the teams represented just two cities. A number of clubs had been founded by the time the inaugural Italian championship took place, including Juventus, but only four teams actually took part, and the competition featured not only Internazionale Torino and Genoa, but also Foot-Ball Club Torinese, themselves founded in 1894, and RS Ginnastica di Torino.

As they kicked off in the morning sunshine at the Velodromo Umberto I, the players of Internazionale and RS Ginnastica cemented their places in Italian football history as participants in the very first match in Italian championship history. It was Bosio's Internazionale who went on to win the match by 2 goals to 0 and go through to the final.

Genoa would join Internazionale in the final, having defeated Foot-Ball Club Torinese 1:0 in the other semi-final. The records do not show whether RS Ginnastica and Football-Club Torinese played a match for third place, but the final took place at five o'clock in the afternoon and finished with the score at 1:1 after normal time, before Genoa scored the winning goal in extra-time.

The same two teams went on to contest the final the following year, which took place at the Ponta Carrega velodrome in Genoa, and Genoa retained the championship, winning 2:0. (Internazionale had beaten RS Ginnastica 2:0 in their semi-final.) The match was to be Internazionale's swansong, as the club merged early in 1900 with Foot-Ball Club Torinese.

Bosio, along with five players (including Kilpin and Spensley) from Genoa, and players from Internazionale and Foot-Ball Club Torinese, featured in Italy's first-ever international match, played on 30/4/1899 against Switzerland at the Velodromo Umberto I in Turin. Switzerland came away with a 2:0 win against an Italian team featuring eight foreign players. Neither the Italian nor Swiss footballing authorities recognise the match as an official fixture.

Bosio was in the Foot-Ball Club Torinese side for the 1900 championship, which was being held once again in Turin, and they defeated the newly-formed CFC Milan 3:0 in the semi-final. Here, too, Bosio made history: he became the first player to score a hat-trick in an Italian championship match. Bosio faced Genoa in the final of the Italian Championship for the third time, and yet again it was Genoa who came out on top, winning by a goal to nil. In direct contrast to Bosio's misfortune, Genoa goalkeeper and co-founder James Richardson Spensley won his third championship medal in a row that day; he would go on to collect two more.

By April 1906, Foot-Ball Club Torinese themselves were to disappear into the history books when the club played its last game. The club's players, together with a number of players and staff from the newly-formed Juventus Football Club, went on to form the Football Club Torino. Bosio was not among those who were present at the new club's creation on 3/12/1906 (his name is missing from the club's records, at any rate), and, like his former clubs, he disappeared into history, at least as far as football was concerned.

However, that is not quite the end of Bosio's story; he was apparently well-regarded in commercial circles, and his name turns up in the records of the jury report for the International Exhibition of Industry and Work, which was held in Turin in 1911, presumably to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Italian state. Bosio was listed as a member of the Exhibition's Executive Committee.

He then delved into cinematography, becoming joint-owner of the respected Ferdinando Bietenholz studio the same year - it then became known as Bietenholz & Bosio - which was a photographic wholesalers specialising in English photograpic equipment, printer and enlarger, and an "artistic and industrial reproductions" studio.

The pair had employed a promising young film-maker, Carlo Emilio Moncalvo, who then moved to Naples to work for Vesuvio Films. He, Bosio and Bietenholz shot - and Bosio and Bietenholz directed - the acclaimed series of short films titled "La Vegli Negli Abissi del Mare" ("Life in the Depths of the Sea"), a collaboration between Vesuvio Films and Ambrisio Film di Torino which was released in April 1914. 

Whilst shooting the films at Naples Aquarium, they made use of artificial light and other techniques which were, at that time, considered extremely innovative. The Rivista Foto-Cinematografica (Naples) complimented the film for its overcoming the various technical difficulties, such as filming small and/or transparent marine life, by Moncalvo and Bosio employing "especially competent techniques and enormous tenacity."

After the end of the First World War, Bosio had assumed sole ownership of Bietenholz & Bosio, which became known as Ed. Bosio and continued to sell photographic equipment, print and take photographs and so on for clients large and small. Bosio sold his share in the company to Moncalvo (he did remain involved in other businesses, however) before moving to the Swiss town of Davos in 1925, near to the family's ancestral home of Zuoz.

It was there that Bosio died at 11:10pm on Sunday 31 July 1927, although there is no mention of the cause of death. (Whilst researching this article, the local hospital in Davos contacted but they were unable to provide any further information due to the fact that, in Switzerland, patient records are destroyed fifteen years after a patient's death.) He was cremated three days later.

Edoardo Bosio left behind a wife, Johanna (Giovanna) - née Nüssli - and they had a daughter, Giovanna, who was born in November 1907. A death notice which appeared in the Swiss newspaper Tagesszeitung a few days after his death stated that his family came from the tiny village of Zuoz. Due to the vagaries of Swiss law, his actual place of birth was not mentioned, but rather the village where his father was born. Johanna Nüssli died in 1931.

Regardless of the lack of information on his football career compared to the comparatively well-documented careers of Kiplin and Spensley, Edoardo Bosio surely deserves more of a mention in the annals of Italian football history than he receives. He was, after all, Italy's footballing pioneer, a man instumental in the creation and flowering of football in the country, and an extraordinary man in more ways than one.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks are due - in no particular order - to the following individuals for their assistance and patience: Daniela Celoria, Luigi Balice and Maura Baima (Comune Torino), who provided documentary proof of Edoardo Bosio's lineage, ditto Dr. Stefano Vitali (Torino State Archive), Andreas Frei (Davoser Zeitung) for, amongst other things, his assistance with deciphering Swiss law, Claudia Hirt (Spital Davos) and Tina Gruber (Gemeinde Zuoz).

Other information was taken from La Stampa, Wikipedia (to start with) and believe it or not, various websites specialising in the history of Italian beer (, for example), whilst John Foot's encyclopaedic book "Calcio" was the inspiration behind the above article. A plethora of Italian football websites/blogs connected to clubs such as Genoa, Torino and Juventus also provided information and inspiration. As always, the RSSSF website also provided plenty of statistical information.

Apologies for any errors contained in the above article (blame it on my poor Italian..and an on-line translator); they shall be corrected upon notification of same. 

BOSIO THE FILM-MAKER:!le-origini/l9tfl


1 comment:

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