Don't you just love it when your fellow fans make you proud of your team? when you look around the stadium - when you hear them singing - or you read something in the paper - and you think I'm so proud to be part of this club. Whether you're AFC Wimbledon or Chelsea, there are those heart lifting spine tingling moments that remind you why you love it so much. Like the way Roma fans sang and cheered all through the cup final last season, outsinging the entire San Siro, organising the most beautiful coreografia, so that although we got tonked every one of us went home incredibly proud to be romanisti.
So, not at all in any way shape or form like yesterday, then, when (and how I hate to type this) a substantial portion of the Curva Sud booed and whistled during the minute's silence for Filippo Raciti. A number of people in the curva going so far as to pointedly turn their backs on the pitch in rejection of the gesture.
No matter that the rest of the stadium applauded with vigour (that's what you do here in a minute's "silence," don't ask why) more or less drowning it out, nor that some people in the Curva were booing the people who'd turned their backs on the proceedings. As unpleasant gestures go, it's pretty vile and comprehensive, and I'm not going to try to excuse it. And the booing was immediately followed by a chorus of anti-police songs. They're talking about this "Daspo" - essentially a pre-emptive banning order - being applied to those responsible for at least the back-turning. But both lawyers and politicians are already pointing out the problems with that. Not least because being a nasty unempathetic mannerless cunt is still not a crime in this country. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, any other.
So, the match... non-descript and slightly scrappy first half, no Mexes or Chivu so Ferrari who had a pretty decent game was alongside Panucci, who often struggles in the centre. They did... ok, Pizarro and De Rossi making everything work in midfield. Second half suddenly everything clicked, especially Totti, who was at his sparkling best. And he promptly scored, a neat header from a lovely ball in from Pizarro who also had a great game. Which goal was Totti's 139th in Serie A, which makes him the highest scoring player currently active in Serie A (just passing Enrico Chiesa on 138) and also leading scorer this season with 14 serie A goals (of which 3 penalties - he's missed a stonking FIVE penalties this season...) I know sometimes he's a petulant, elbowy, divey idiot.... but he is also above mere criticism. Even the objective critical faculties of your rigorous academic correspondent are suspended when it comes to il Capitano. Sorry. He's ours, we're his, end of story.
Other goals followed from Perrotta, who had an excellent game, and Taddei. When Wilhelmsson came on for the last 15 minutes - on for Mancini, not at his best - he looked fab, massive reception from the crowd as well who have taken him instantly to their hearts. It'll take him a little while to fit in tactically though, I think. The 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 system we play is a bit... particular.
Parma incidentally have been having an awful time. The bottom of the table looks like this:
Reggina 19 [incl. -13 penalty]
And after yesterday's defeat they finally sacked their beleagured manager Pioli and replaced him with Claudio Ranieri, who thus makes a most welcome return to Italian football. Despite his unfortunate episode with Chelsea he's an ex-romanista and remains intrinsically lovable.
Anyway, the match passed off without violent incident, as did all the other serie A games, though a handful of Interisti who'd travelled down to Verona to hang around outside as their team played Chievo, and who were found in possession of smoke bombs - now a criminal offence - were arrested.
And how, you ask, did the security function in this bright new era? the policing, the stewarding, the identity checks, the new sense of order...? er, well, it was basically the same. Bog all police, some 40 or 50 away fans who had struggled down here notwithstanding the diffulties to watch their team roll over with resignation and in complete peaceableness, no identity check (lucky, since I'd forgotten to take my ID with me...), exactly the same degree of security on the gate, of searching etc.
There were some notable differences in the Sud though. Firstly, no smoke bombs, flares, bangers, pyrotechnics of any kind. Whether people had attempted to bring them in unsuccessfully or simply not thought it worth the risk I can't say, I suspect the latter since I've heard nothing in the press about arrests. Secondly, no megaphones and rather disjointed & quiet on the vocal front. Whether this is to do with the new Amato measures or to do with the Sud's own internal problems, to which I've referred previously, I can't say. So a generally restrained afternoon. Some almost English ironic pisstaking in the last 20 minutes of the game, as well as lots of chants against the ref and the allegedly activities of his wife, and against Platini. 'Sospendete la partita' [suspend the game] was the response when the corner flag got broken, a reply to the demands that matches should be suspended in case of, well, more or less anything really.
At half time, every ultras group in the stadium took down their banners, in part as a gesture of solidarity because some striscioni had been confiscated. This same gesture was repeated by other fans, at Sampdoria and Torino for instance, as a protest against the repressive aspects of the new meaures. Not everyone was taking the repression that seriously, mind. A small hand-made banner on display before the game in the Sud read: Voi regole e tornelli, Noi er vino dei castelli. hehe. Notwithstanding everything - and I personally think we shouldn't have evn been playing this weekend, it's too soon - it's nice to be talking about the game again not politics, violence and legal processes.