The Sweden Cup: when Atlanta was the greatest of the boys (and of the greats too)

It grows from the foot, little music,
grows from the foot.
One two and three, right.
It grows from the foot.

Many beautiful football stories are written out of humility. Not all, of course, end well but since when is that essential to be happy? The poet Juan Gelman once explained it, when he was asked what team he was a fan of. “From Atlanta, even if I win,” he described accurately. Gelman, the same one who when mentioned as a possible candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature asked “how are they going to give the Nobel to me, who am a fan of Atlanta?”. But there was a time when being from Atlanta also meant not only neighborhood pride but (repeated) celebrations against the greats and even an Olympic lap. It was a story that started from humility and that ended well, that April 29, 1960 in which Atlanta took an epic final against Racing the Sweden Cup. A tournament that had started more than two years before.

To talk about the beginning of this joy Bohemia It is convenient to get on a boat that crossed the Atlantic in the 1920s. On board was traveling Leon Kolbowski, born in Baranowicz, a city hit by continuous wars and occupations: it was territory of Lithuania when Leon was born, and then he was alternately under the command of Germans, Soviets and Poles, while today it is part of Belarus. Like so many other Jews, Leon escaped from the continuous anti-Semitic persecutions in Europe. He came to Argentina to write a new story. “My father, Moisés, was 3 years old and León was a boy. The families met on the boat and they maintained the link afterwards, with cooperativism. And with Atlanta, of course,” he told Clarion Ricardo Gelblung, 72-year-old lawyer who will see the Bohemian since I played in the so-called Cajoncito. That old reduced-size court that León, as an adult and club leader, was going to help leave behind.

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Over the years, Kolbowski became a prosperous merchant in Villa Crespo, a neighborhood that was the refuge of many immigrants, especially Jews, in times of darkness in the 20th century. From there he approached Atlanta and began to consolidate himself as a leader – in the first shadow of Alberto Chisotti, a liquor businessman who dominated the club’s politics in those years – until in 1959 he became president.

In the center of the image, Leon Kolbowski, historical leader of Atlanta. (Photo: Clarín Archive)

In the center of the image, Leon Kolbowski, historical leader of Atlanta. (Photo: Clarín Archive)

The best loves grow,
they grow from the foot.
For its colors, the flowers
they grow from the foot.

I meanA little before Leon’s assumption, Atlanta had become a reference in Argentine soccer. After the promotion from First B in 1956, by the hand of Victorio Spinetto in the technical direction, the team had consolidated into First and gradually became the largest of the small teams of those years. And then, in 1958 (year in which he finished fourth in the local tournament), a golden opportunity appeared for that great team, which had Carlos Griguol and Osvaldo Zubeldía, among others, on the court, two who would be emblematic technicians of football Creole. The AFA decided to organize the Sweden Cup to keep the squads active in the period in which the Argentina National Team was going to play the World Cup against the Scandinavian country. The trophy was donated by the Swedish Embassy and the championship consisted of two groups of eight teams each: the first was classified for the final.

On April 20 it was the debut and Atlanta warned that it was going with everything: it nailed a 4-1 to River in the Monumental (a few months later, for the championship, it prevailed 3-0 against the same rival also in Núñez). The following week, he again thrashed a great: he was 4-2 against Independiente in Villa Crespo. And so the team continued with its triumphal march to take first place in group B, but at the end of June, when eleven Cup dates had already been played, the leaders of the AFA noticed a situation that they did not count on in time: they had They had to resume the regular championship as soon as possible (which had been halted on the third date, with Atlanta leading the way with an ideal score) and there were no dates to finish the adventure that had begun two months earlier in a fairly tedious way.

The journalistic coverage in 1960 of the final between Atlanta and Racing.

The journalistic coverage in 1960 of the final between Atlanta and Racing.

The week grows from the foot,
grows from the foot.
There are no early revolutions,
They grow from the foot.

The group stage of the Cup was finished playing dropper. Three dates were missing: one was played in August, another in October and the last frayed one between November, December (Argentinos beat San Lorenzo 5-0 on the 30th, when the glasses were already being served for the New Year’s toast), and January and April 1959.

At the end of that mamarracho, Racing was leader of group “A” and Atlanta and Central were equal on top of B, with 17 points. They broke the tie on April 29, 1959 in Rosario and the Bohemian won 1-0 with a goal from Uruguayan Walter Tasting Roque. But there was one problem: when would the final be played in a tournament that for the AFA had become a nuisance.

By then, Atlanta was a model of organization in the hit Argentine soccer. The AFA not only took Spinetto to the Selection for the technical direction. Also to Adolfo Mogilevsky, pioneer of physical training in the country and whom Kolbowski had approached the club to shore up that brilliant team. Together they were part of the conquest of the Copa América in 1959, just one year after the very hard blow that the World Cup in Sweden had resulted (with elimination in the first round and a 6-1 win against Czechoslovakia included). Meanwhile, the Bohemian it was still showing off in the championship and at the close of the first wheel it had been on the edge of the tip. “With a little bit of money, we were champions. The delays to collect began and it seems not, but that bothers”, he would tell years later in an interview with the site “Manicomio Bohemio” Salvador Toto Calvanese, a great scorer for that team, who died in December last year. In the end the title was taken by the glorious Racing of those years. But time would give Atlanta a rematch.

The journalistic coverage in 1960 of the final between Atlanta and Racing.

The journalistic coverage in 1960 of the final between Atlanta and Racing.

I meanDon’t forget that the day and time
they grow from the foot.
After night the dawn
grows from the foot.

It was only in the early 1960s that the AFA deigned to put a date on the outcome of the tournament. And he set it for April 29, exactly one year after that semifinal in Rosario. Two years and nine days after the already distant debut against River, with a different roster, the opportunity came to Atlanta for his first First Division title.

It was in the Old Gasometer, the San Lorenzo court, with a team made up of many who emerged as the club’s heroes. The formation, with Manuel Giúdice as DT, started with Néstor Errea, a pioneer among the goalkeepers who began to play further from the goal and inspiring Hugo Gatti, who at that time watched him from the club’s youth divisions. In defense, Clariá and Nuin. The midfield was a historic bohemian midline: Desanzo, Carlos Griguol and Rodolfo Bettinotti (the man who wore the blue and yellow shirt the most minutes). And ahead Mario Griguol, the youthful Alberto González (who would soon go to Boca), Domingo Rodríguez, Bellomo and Walter Roque. In front was a fearsome Racing, current Argentine soccer champion: Negri; Anido and Juan Carlos Murúa; De Vicente, Cap and Gianella; Manuel Alberto Murúa, Ferrero, Pizzuti, Sosa and Belén.

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The story started very well for Atlanta, with a free kick goal by Nuin in the 11th minute. But at 24 everything was complicated because Mario Griguol tore: since back then there was no possibility of changes, the team had to row from there with ten players. Even in numerical inferiority, Bellomo stretched the difference to 41. Already in the complement it was necessary to suffer for the discount of the Marquis Sosa at 18. But at 29 Gonzalito put the final 3-1 that gave the title to Atlanta.

It was celebrated in the neighborhood and in the Old Gasometer, even despite a small spot that appeared on the road, told by the Pocho Bettinotti in the book “Atlanta – A story of the brave”: “From the stalls they gave a coin to the glass cup. They broke a little piece and it had to be fixed.” That glorious team finally had its prize. Although the club’s glorious cycle at that time had room for more: On May 25, less than a month after that coronation, Atlanta opened its new court. The one that had its historical leader as a great promoter and that today, in all fairness, is called Leon Kolbowski. That man who, as Alfredo Zitarrosa would sing, understood that everything can be reached if done little by little. From the foot.

Guenzatti, Mario Griguol and Artime, some of the bohemian glories that were honored in 2011 by the group Bohemios del Norte for the title in the Sweden Cup. (Photo: Clarín Archive)

Guenzatti, Mario Griguol and Artime, some of the bohemian glories that were honored in 2011 by the group Bohemios del Norte for the title in the Sweden Cup. (Photo: Clarín Archive)

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