Dr James Richardson Spensley (17 May 1867 – 10 November 1915) was an English doctor, footballer, manager, scout leader and medic from Stoke Newington, London. He is considered to be one of the "Fathers of Italian football" due to his association with Genoa CFC (Cricket and Football Club) and his contribution to the modern day version of the game in Italy.
Richardson Spensley arrived in Genoa in 1896, initially for the purpose of attending to English sailors on the coal ships. He joined Genoa Cricket and Athletics Club; a cricket and athletics club formed by British expatriates. He opened the footballing section for the club on 10 April 1897 and was installed as its first ever manager. This was innovative at the time as the modern day footballing scene in Italy was in its fledgling stages: if not for Edoardo Bosio founding clubs further north in Turin (4), there would have been no football at all in Italy at the time of Richardson Spensley's arrival. Spensley organised the first ever football match between Genoa and F.B.C. Torinese (a club that is now extinct ).
Richardson Spensley participated as a player-manager for Genoa in the inaugral Italian Football Championship (which he initiated) during 1898 which his club won. The following season he switched position from defender to goalkeeper, playing on until 1906.
Including the first title, Genoa won the Italian league six times while Richardson Spensley was at the club. After retiring from playing when he was almost 40 years old, he stayed on in the management role for one more year, before returning to England.
While living in England he had known Robert Baden-Powell who founded the Scout Movement, from whom he had received an autographed copy of Scouting for Boys. Along with a Genovese man named Mario Mazza, they founded the first Italian scouting movement called Federazione Italiana dello Scautismo in 1910.
During WWI, he worked in the medical field putting his scouting abilities to use as a Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was injured on the battle field while tending to the wounds of an enemy combatant in an act of selfless compassion. He died at Mainz, Germany in hospital not long afterwards. His grave was discovered at Niederzwehren Cemetery in Kassel by two Genoese students in 1990.
Bicu Birra e Cucina
Magazzini del Cotone - Modulo #4
Tel: +39 010 2534051