Friday, 7 December 2007
Commando Ultrà Curva Sud
Encouraged by Ursus Arctos, I thought I'd post up an expanded version of what I wrote about the Commando Ultrà Curva Sud (the CUCS).
The CUCS were one of the glories of the ultras scene in the period of its greatest influence. From 1977-87 their noisy and colourful support home and away was legendary, and the idea of the Sud as "la curva più bella d'Italia" (the best/most beautiful curva in Italy) dates from that time.
Until 1973 there was no division between Curva Nord and Curva Sud: that is, the idea that the Nord was for Lazio and the Sud for Roma didn't exist. Rather, both sets of fans would be mixed around the stadium. During the derby that year a group of Romanisti decided to expel the Laziali who were in the middle of an area they were claiming as their own territory: the Curva Sud became giallorosso, and the Nord biancoceleste. Like all creation narratives, this may be open to different interpretations, and I'd be interested to know what the Other position is. They probably think a beardy man in the sky created the Nord on the 7th day or something.
Anyway, with a territory now established, ultras groups began to congregate there. The Boys, founded in 1972 in the Curva Nord, moved to the Sud; the Fedayn were also founded that same years (these are the only two groups from that period still extant). Other important groups were the Guerriglieri della Curva Sud, the Fossa dei Lupi, the Pantere; smaller groups operated around and alongside these. As other clubs' ultras - principally those of Torino - became more organised, and more impressive, the giallorosso ultras began to cooperate. On 9 January 1977 the Commando Ultrà Curva Sud was born: as the name suggests, a centralised "command" to unite the various groups under one banner.
This clip shows some scenes of the general madness of the Sud in the heyday of the CUCS. [The song, incidentally, is the source of the phrase "Questo è l'ora di mostra' quanto valemo" which the protesting ultras used at the Circo Massimo last week. The song is "Forza Roma, Forza Lupi" by Roman actor and singer-songwriter Lando Fiorini, written for the second scudetto (82/83).]
Uncovered - the Olimpico wasn't covered until the Italia '90 refurbishment - and heaving, it makes todays' Sud look positively sedate in comparison. Indeed, a mate of mine who has been a regular in the Sud for some 20 years said to me last week: the Sud today is how the Tribuna Tevere used to be - that's the side stand.
The murder of Lazio fan Vincenzo Paparelli at the derby of 28 October 1979 - he was hit in the face by a rocket fired from the Curva Sud - caused problems for the group in terms of police attention, and a degree of internal angst, but they managed to overcome these issues. The kid who had fired the rocket was not part of their group - nor, in fact, did he realise that what he had bought was a naval distress rocket not a normal coloured flare. [Paparelli's death deserves a whole other post to itself, however].
The beginning of the end for the CUCS came with the purchase of Lionello Manfredonia, lifelong Laziale and former Lazio hero. Not only had he been seriously involved in the betting / match-fixing scandal of 1980 which caused the biancocelesti to be relegated to Serie B, but he had publicly and repeatedly criticised Roma fans and the Curva Sud.
The CUCS & all the curva protested against his purchase but then-president Dino Viola ignored them - sample banner - "Viola don't vomit Manfredonia onto us - and bought him anyway. At this point the CUCS split into 2 over a fundamental disagreement on what to do next. The Vecchio CUCS felt that now he was a roma player they should do their best to get on with things, the Gruppo Anti-Manfredonia (CUCS-GAM) maintained their protest.
now THAT is what a flag should look like
From that point onwards other splinter groups began to leave, often for political reasons: the CUCS was historically a left-wing group, and now the Sud was moving to the right, many people no longer felt part of the Commando. Though the two wings reunited "for the good of the team" in 93/94, it was never the same, and the CUCS's influence and importance continued to decline. Simultaneously ever greater restrictions - on ticketing, on pyrotecnics, on transfers - were having a "calming" effect on tifo across Italy.
The Commando finally took down their banner in 1999 and were initially replaced by the AS Roma Ultras who attempted to replicate their unifying mission. But the ASRU though initially successful also struggled to unite the by now very heterogenous curva, and they too broke apart in about 2002, since which time there has been no single over-arching group.
For me, arriving in the Sud from the Premiership, it seems like an amazing cauldron of noise and colour. But for long term fans, it is a sad, pale shadow of its former glories. It's not likely we'll see those days again.