So shortly before Christmas one of the more important Roma ultras groups of recent years disbanded: Tradizione Distinzione (I've mentioned this delightful bunch before, I expect you'll remember). Rumours began to circulate online on message boards and on Roma radio stations on 21 December 2006, and not long after came the confirmation: at the game against Cagliari on the 23rd their group banner was not displayed for the first time in 10 years. Instead, a banner read 'Per andare più avanti ancora' or, in order to keep on going forward. The group leaders, who had taken the decision, handed out printed notices to their members briefly explaining their action. Meanwhile a striscione signed by two other groups, both from the lower section of the curva, Brigata De Falchi and Giovinezza was displayed at half-time: "1996-2006 La vostra Mentalità Mai Morirà. Grazie T.D.R."
Officially, the group has announced that it has disbanded due to the consequences of banning orders which had removed key members and made it impossible for the group to carry on. But it also seems certain that internal tensions and disagreements had played a major role in the split – as ever, it would seem, with ultras groups. Reaction was mixed: in the words of one poster on a message-board 'I can't be sorry about anything that means one less swastika or Celtic cross in my Curva.' A number of people have lamented the end of the group, though, not on political grounds but because TDR made an important contribution in starting and sustaining songs; how is their disappearance going to affect the overall quality of the tifo?
More was yet to come. Rumours soon began to abound that not only Tradizione Distinzione but also Curva Sud 1973 had split up. CS1973 have displayed their banner in the central part of the Curva for the last year and half, ever since the demise of the ASRomaUltras group. They have been by no means a true leading group for the disunited curva, but they have run the central megaphones and been the focal point of the lower section of the stand in that period. And in fact, more than just a group, they were a 'project,' with the intention of increasing unity and coordination, and perhaps one day emulating the much-missed and never-replaced CUCS. But like TDR, their banner was not on display on the 23rd December. Was it just an expression of solidarity with their former neighbours, a kind of farewell, as suggested by some?
No, it appears. Curva Sud 1973 have also apparently disbanded. Given the scrapping which I saw down in their area during the Valencia game it's not really too much of a surprise, I guess. But it means there's now a void at the heart of the Curva. None of the big historic groups – Boys, Fedayn, the new but important Ultras Romani – are going to come down off their vetri (the glass barrier they stand on/behind) to occupy this space at the front. So as for what happens next…. I guess we just wait and see. Next home game is the Coppa Italia match v Parma, and cup games are always a bit quiet anyway… hmm.