Per la coppa Italiano - the Huish games.
After Les had got the match underway it became quickly obvious to all that Bari were good, actually they were more then good they were brilliant. Playing football that folk from Somerset only would get to watch on the BBC's Sportsnight on European Cup nights. Rapid one touch passing, keeping the ball for lengths of time, and then lightening fast when an opening was observed. It was beautiful to observe.
Yeovil managed to hold out until the 23rd minute when Bari's stocky twenty- six year old forward Marco Biloni scored at the Bruttons end. The goal seemed to satisfy Bari and spur Yeovil. In the the 35th minute in one of their first real attacks the Glovers were awarded a soft penalty after a foul on Harland.
The reaction to the penalty decision turned Bari from skillful brilliant footballers into what can only be described as psychopaths! They vented their anger on Stan Harland and big Stan, knowledgeable enough in these tactics after his Swindon experiences wound up the Bari defender Materazzi until the defender took a swing at Harland. Shapner had little hesitation in showing him the red card.
If the name Materazzi sounds familiar, his son was the recipient of Zinedine Zidane's head in his chest in the 2006 World Cup final. Although having the last laugh by ending up a World Cup winner.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity, Harland took the penalty and equalised at the Queen's Street end. Harrassed all the way back to the halfway line for his trouble!
Half time came and the Bari players continued arguing with anyone they could, Les Shapter like Ron Crabb a few days before against Turris, seeming to be the brunt of the abuse as he headed for his half time tea.
Bari returned after their break it seemed calmer and more focused after Geocomi Losi's team talk . They returned to the gifted technical bunch that had started. It wasn't long before they took the lead in the 47th minute with a well worked goal from Bari's born and bred young striker Giuseppe Rafaele.
All seemed to be going fine and a decent game of football was taking place. The Italians with their skill and pace and the British with their physical strength breaking up their play. That was until the 71st minute when bearded Rod Adams had the audacity to equalise for the Glovers.
The Bari players protested to referee Les that a Bari player had been fouled in the build up, but he was having none of it and awarded the goal!.
Bari continued their mix of skillful brutality though but Yeovil didn't shy away from the battle, giving as good as they got. Fouls piled up as both teams faught for national pride. However Bari took the lead for the third time in the 83rd minute. The ever dangerous Guiseppe Penzo scoring with a first time shot from inside the Queen's Street eighteen yard box that gave Mike Franklin in the Yeovil goal no chance.
With only seven minutes remaining Bari decided that was enough and in typical Italian fashion decided to waste time at any given opportunity. The slightest contact being treated as if a sniper had shot their legs away. The main stand, never shy of letting their feelings known, started to stamp their feet in unison on the wooden floor in annoyance.
Then it happened!
What happened next has gone down in folklore in Glovers fans memories. The version of events vary from person to person.
Time was fast running out and Adams was replaced by big Frank McMahon. Frank was to those that saw him play a no nonsense, hard tackling midfielder who scored many an important goal for the Glovers. He was also Irish, red headed and as the atmosphere was at near boiling point, McMahon plus brutal Italians was just the ideal mix for what was about to entail.
Time was fast running out as Yeovil had a corner under the shadow of the main stand at the Bruttons end. Big Frank took up a position at the near post marked by Ambrosi. The two players were jostling to hold their position as the ball was floated into the back post as it sailed over everyone. Big Frank though who had been on the field for literally seconds had had enough of Ambrosi's attention and it is claimed laid a right hook on him that took the defender clean of his feet! Now, the incident is full of confusion, some Yeovil fans saw it as a stone thrown from the Brutton end and not Frank's fist that struck Ambrosi. The Bari players also believing this. Still to this day, Bari fans label the match.
'II Bari e l'Europa: la Coppa Anglo-Italiana del 1977 e la sassaiola di Yeovil' ( Bari and the 1977 Anglo Italian Cup and the stone of Yeovil'
The incident, no matter how you saw it was the fuse that set of dynamatic scenes of utter bedlam down at the Brutton's End. The now enraged Bari players were surrounding Shapter with one adding credence to the stone theory by holding a small chunk of rock in his hands. All the while Ambrosi lay flat out by the side of the goal, attended by their trainer who was signalling to the bench for a stretcher or a priest whatever could get to Ambrosi first!
After what seemed like an eternity, Ambrosi was stretchered off, given a warm 'farewell' from the old boys and girls in the main stand. The Bari players decided to continue and get their win. There being barely five minutes left to play. Once can be assured if they were losing they would not have continued the match and walked off en-mass. By now, the Glovers fans had taken on the resemblence of a baying mob demanding blood or victory, both if required.
Bari, were now down to nine men, having used their substitute a few minutes earlier in an attempt to waste more time. It was all Yeovil, the Italians encamped in their own penalty box. They had completely gone, their heads and any chance of the earlier fine football.
Again, Yeovil forced a corner in the 88th minute. The crowd screaming encouragement from all areas of the ground. It floated in, an Italian defender made an attempt to clear, his tired legs only sending it to Harland about ten yards out. His right foot connecting with it sweetly sending it through a sea of legs and whizzing past Ferioli in the Bari goal. Bedlam again! This time from the crowd and the Yeovil players in equalising and obtaining a draw against the brutally brilliant Italians.
Bari didn't react, they wanted the match over with and to never return to those pastures again.
The nine men of Bari kicked off to the sirens of a local ambulance pulling up outside Huish. Young Ambrosi being invited to sample the British NHS system at Yeovil hospital.
Bari kicked off again, trying to pass it through the midfield, instantly losing it to local boy Kevin Leigh, who saw a massive gap between the Italian defence and space behind it, he played a perfectly weighted through ball, Doug Hickton was on it in a flash. Ferioli caught in two minds wether to stay or close Hickton down. He chose the later. Hickton was too cute for him, as Ferioli dived at the striker's feet, Hickton chipped it over him into the now empty net. The scenes were indescribable! Hickton ran towards the Brutton's End and was mobbed with joy. Bari players laying all over the field like ants after a good spraying.
Shapter blew the final whistle two minutes later, as Bari, all the soul sucked out of them slowly crawled back down the tunnel. The Yeovil players obtaining back slaps from all quarters by fans who had run onto the hallowed sloping turf.
It had been one of the most remarkable games ever witnessed at Huish in its then fifty-seven year history. A match, as said earlier never to be forgotten by those witnessing it.
Ambrosi, was released a little later with no noticeable injuries and was back with his team mates as they headed to Heathrow for their flight back home.
Bari, gained in strength over the following years. They obviously had a secret admiration for the British players at Yeovil as not many years later a string of English players plied their trade for Bari, Gordon Cowans, Paul Ridout but most famously David Platt who they paid a then club record of £5.5 million for. All playing in Bari's San Nicol stadium purpose built for the Italy 1990 World Cup. The stadium was the venue World Cup third place match between Italy and England, a match Italy won 2-1.
However in more recent years the club went into financial melt down, owing € 40 million Euro. Finally in 2018 the club with new owners disolving the club and renaming them SSC Bari. Finding themselves in Seria D. The Bari fans are still fanatical though once drawing 50,000 to a play off match a few seasons previously.
So, the England matches of the Italian Cup were over. The Glovers ending up top of the English group on goal difference. The Italian leg of the 1977 Anglo Italian Cup were to come a couple of months later! Which will be covered in the next article on Casuals to Petters to Town.