Blog Written by Russell Bedford (@alwaysred010):
For many the miracle ended with the last page of Joe McGuinesses’ book, The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, but for me it has continued and today I count myself a fan and luckily a board member of the current version of the team. Before we look at how A.S.D. Castel di Sangro Calcio are faring, let's wander back in time to the heady days of Cep 1953 at their best when the curtain closed on that inaugural season in Serie B. As the shock of surviving the threat of relegation had settled, more and more people from the small Abruzzo village began to find an interest in the exploits of the local team. The expectations were still modest though, nobody was thinking relegation could be avoided again. It would be tough, especially with the then-president Gabriele Gravina selling 14 of the miracle makers. The manager, Osvaldo Jaconi, found his way to the exit too; a journeyman of an allenatore, led the team into the season with hope but after a run of 5 games without a win or a goal, he was gone. The team lost its way and struggled with just five wins all season, seeing the miracle come to an end. Castel di Sangro finished bottom of the table and were relegated back to Serie C1. A strong Coppa Italia run saw wins over Perugia and Salernitana before a lucrative tie with Inter bought their campaign to an end. From then on it was a familiar story of flirting with the mid-table positions of Serie C1.
The season of 2001/02 saw the team lose a play-out to G.C. Sora which meant relegation to C2 and from then on, it only got worse for the Giallorossi. The next two seasons saw the club play chicken with a further indignation of being relegated to Serie D. The threat was staved off until the 2004/05 season where an 18th place finish meant the dream was really over. The club folded after being declared bankrupt but was reborn in the Promozione division of the Abruzzo region under the name A.S.D. Pro Castel di Sangro and could rely on the help of former miracle workers Claudio Bonomi and Tonino Martino. A strong debut season saw them narrowly miss out on promotion to La Eccellenza, losing the play off semi-final to Mosciano. The 2006/07 campaign was much more successful with the team finishing top spot and earning that place in Italian footballs next step on the ladder. This first season in a new league was challenging but the club managed a respectable 9th place. Progress was made the following year when the squad achieved a 4th place finish but it wasn't to end as hoped though with a play-off defeat to San Nicolo putting pay to any more progress that season. Heading into 2009/10 there was a sense of optimism, the Giallorossi put together another strong run and matched the previous seasons 4th place finish, once again though the hurdle of a play-off got the better of the young team from the Abruzzo as a defeat to Mosciano (again) literally put a nail in the coffin as this was the highest position Castel di Sangro would see for some time. 2010/11 saw an unspectacular 7th place finish but the following season was a disaster and the team finished a lowly 17th meaning a dreaded play-out was needed to try and avoid relegation. The opposition was Rosetana Calcio and a defeat ended the exploits of the small team for another season.
Relegation was costly, the owners that reinvented the club in 2005 jumped ship at the earliest opportunity and soon the small village found itself without a team, again. Until a small group of people decided that the miracle should never end, Cep 1953 was formed. Taking the name used by the team when it originated in 1953 (C.E.P. Centro di Educazione Popolare) they had to register in the Molise Regional League. The irregularities which caused the previous bankruptcy and dissolution of the more recent version of the club meant that the Abruzzo leagues were a no-go area, the club were still able to play at Teofilo Pantini using Campo B. Unfortunately due to the previous financial issues the new team were no longer able to use the name Castel di Sangro though, so paid homage to their forefathers by using C.E.P. Last season was a moderate success by reaching the 2-leg play-off final but suffering defeat to Ronchetta. A new season dawns with a huge amount of optimism. The club is in good hands and maybe the miracle could be reborn. The other team from the village, Castello 2000, still play and for a while were classed as the bigger club due to the fact they played in a higher league of the regional divisions. Castello 2000 even use the original Castel di Sangro stadium and had the honour of having Claudio Bonomi as both a player and manager, achieving promotion, but he was sacked in 2010 and retired shortly after. They still play out of the amateur Abruzzo leagues but there is still only one real club in Castel di Sangro. Forza Cep 1953!!