Wednesday, 21 July 2010

New Boys

Roberto Bugallo has recently celebrated 10 years as President of All Boys. Given the frenzied and unstable nature that surrounds the Argentine domestic game this is no mean feat. Longevity, in isolation is no barometer of success; Bugallo's reign has contributed to a meteoric rise for the club from Floresta in the west of Buenos Aires, culminating in this years's promotion to the Primera division after defeating Rosario Central in a 2 leg play-off.

On taking over from the previous regime in June 2000 All Boys were languishing in the 2nd tier of Argentine football, players and staff had been without pay for 10 months and the threat of bankruptcy surrounded the club. There was to be no quick fix for los albos as they fell into the regionalised 3rd division the Primera B Metropolitana where they remained until 2008. If triumphs on the field were few and far between during this time the fans remained loyal to the regime of passionate fan turned president, Bugallo, who's also forged a close relationship with AFA President Julio Grondona. The club will no doubt have benefited from the cordial relations beween the two. The dilapidated Estadio Islas Malvinas, complete with wooden stands had changed little since it's 1963 inauguration. In 2004 fans raised enough money to build the ground's first concrete stand and with the help of an AFA loan the stadium was completely renovated and re-opened in 2008.

The club was founded in 1913 and chose their Anglicised name for no other reason than it was common practice to do so at the time. Three years earlier and in the same barrio of Floresta Vélez Sarsfield were formed and subsequently relocated to Liniers the barrio with which they are commonly associated. Prior to this year All Boys' only other foray into the top division came in 1972 where they stayed for 8 seasons. Their current coach José Romero was a member of the 1972 side, giving him the unique accolade of gaining two promotions to Primera A.

With the Apertura kick-off fast approaching All Boys debut away at Racing with their first home game being against former neighbours Vélez. Previous financial problems remain a recent memory and the club could be forgiven for cashing in on their Primera status. Their ground has a capacity of 19,000 and by switching home games against Boca or River to Vélez they could accommodate many more away fans, something All Boys refuse to do.

New recruits continue to arrive with the headline grabbing Cristian 'El Ogro' Fabbiani the most notable and highest paid. His level of physical fitness was deemed unacceptable by Mexican side Veracruz, not the first time this has been questioned during his career. The Mexican physios may have called this one correctly as a little over 6 minutes into his debut in a friendly against Tristan Suarez he suffered a thigh strain and is now in doubt for the start of the Apertura. Eight months without a game will have been a major contributing factor. All Boys will be wanting a similar impact to that which occurred initially at River Plate ( and hoping his form will be more consistent over the season. The omens so far do not look good.

'I want to see los albos in the Copa Libertadores' said Bugallo after promotion, if the upward curve continues he could see his dream realised. Following in the footsteps of Banfield, Argentinos and Lanús, less fashionable clubs are demonstrating that there is an alternative to the irresponsible and self-destructive strategies pursued by the Big Five.