At the turn of the century, the Neapolitan port was a big resource, attracting a large number of foreign investment. One of the companies was the well known Cunard Lines, which in 1903 transferred Englishman Mr. William Poths to work at Naples which was also an avid amateur football player. Football in England, having been practiced since the 1840's, had by then captured the hearts of a lot of the population. In Italy however there were only a couple of teams around Torino and Genoa, surely in the south of the peninsula football was unkown.
The Spark of Life
It took some time, however at the end of 1904 Mr. Poths with the help of his Italian friend ing. Emilio Anatra assembled a group of 15 players. They played their first match against a team made up of sailors from the english ship Arabik and surprisingly for everyone wathcing, the neapolitans won the match 3-2. This event built up interest in the new sport and shortly after, a football club was founded in the pizzeria run by Guglielmo Matacena.
The team was named Naples and they played with light and dark blue striped shirts. Mr. Poths called only English sailors for his team, whenever their ships were passing by in the port of Naples. After some time, the Italian part of Naples was getting annoyed with these Englishmen, who in a moment were playing for Naples and in others they were sailing somewhere else. So another team, U.S. Internazionale was born, bringing with it a great rivalry between the two Neapolitan teams. In 1920, purely for economic reasons, the two teams joined together to form Internaples.
Finally, on 23rd August, 1926, the Internaples assembly agreed at the restaurant D' Angelo to change its name to Associazione Calcio Napoli. With Giorgio Ascarelli as president, Napoli took part in their first championship. The outcome was a bit discouraging: a single point in the whole season acquired from a goalless draw against Brescia, 7 goals scored and 61 conceeded. Even with this passive result, the neapolitan crowd had their idol to support in twelve-year old Attila Sallustro. Such was his legend, and the atmosphere that was generated around him, that when Napoli was relegated the federation decided to inrease the number of teams taking part in the league, in effect keeping Napoli in the game. The same decision was also taken the successive year.
In the 1928-29 season, Napoli and Lazio played off for a place in the Serie A. On the 23rd of June 1929 in Milan, Lazio scored the first goal with Spivach. Sallustro and Innocenti turned the score around for Napoli, but in the end Cevenini brought the score level. A replay was fixed, but it seemed fairer to have both teams playing the next year, so the league was finally arranged to eighteen teams.
Their finest moments in these early days were under the English coach Mr. Garbutt, where in two consecutive championships of 1932/33 and 1933/34 Napoli finished third. Only in the season 1965/66 would Napoli finish third for another time.