Sunday, 23 December 2007

Roma 2 - 0 Sampdoria; an end to the strike?

Since I didn't get round to writing this earlier, we already know that the hoped for rossonero victory in the Milan derby didn't work out, so we remain 7 points off the top, and Juve just a point behind. Happy Christmas to you too. But that shouldn't take the gloss off a decent performance, a deserved victory, an important game for Totti, and a positive end to what has been an excellent year for Roma.

Totti scored both goals, the first a penalty scored with his trademark cucchiaio, the second an easy tap-in beautifully set up by the consistently impressive Cassetti. Doni was also excellent, and since I've moaned about him plenty in the past it's only right to give him his due - he has been superb in the last 5 or 6 games. Vucinic once again demonstrated that he is not a winger, he never will be, and no matter how willing he is and how hard he tries there is no bloody point playing him on the left, especially when we have Mancini and Giuly who can play there *grinds teeth*

Anyway, on to matters off the field. Last night's was the 7th match so far this season in which under-14s were admitted free with an adult. This is one of the new legal requirements which is apparently going to cure hooliganism. Unfortunately, the authorities may have reckoned with "come so' fatti i ragazzini de' Roma" who are just as capable as their older brothers of kicking off a bit. One kid refused to relinquish the stray ball which had bounced up into the Tribuna Tevere
to the stewards who demanded it; he and his brethen put up a resistance which soon turned physical as adults got involved to protest about the needlessly heavy handed stewarding. Discretion being the better part of valour, the stewards beat a hasty retreat to a resounding chorus from the Sud of "Steward! ma che lavoro fai?". So clearly both the stewarding and the kids-go-free are working well.

the Sud, still on strike, during the "sciarpata" for the pre-match club song

In what I can only think of as better news, the ultras' strike which has been going on since Sandri's death yesterday came to an end, though I can't say whether for it's for good. The first half was the same rather quiet and colourless affair as it has been in the last few weeks, with the lower part of the Curva only half full and none of the groups present. There was some concerted anti-Cassano singing at the start (Cassano chi te s'encula, which translates more or less who the fuck are you/do you think you are, to the tune I beleive is called Guantanamera) but otherwise things were rather moribund.

Then as the second half kicked off the groups who occupied the lower half arrived and took up their places. Coloured smoke flares were set off and it was curiously reminiscent of a church procession, as they made their way steadily down the central aisle singing at the top of their voices with swirls of incense-like smoke around them. The Fedayn came in along with the groups from the lower half, followed a few minutes later by the Ultras Romani and the Ultras Primavalle/ San Lorenzo, and the Lupi over in the Distinti Sud. Finally, quite a bit after the others, the Boys arrived on their "wall". On a less ecclesiastical note, the groups heralded their re-entrance with a small barrage of explosions and flares. The song they sung as they came in (or processed, as I can't help thinking of it), was an old favourite which could have been written for the occasion:

Gli ultras della Roma siamo noi
Quelli che combattono per voi
In un calcio che non ha bandiere
Siamo solo noi vecchie maniere
Non c'è stadio che non ci vedrà
Non c'è gruppo che c'affronterà
Siamo tornati forti più di prima
Sul cuore la lupa capitolina

[We are the Roma ultras
Those who fight on your behalf
Now football no longer has true symbols
We're the last to hold these values.
There's no stadium we won't visit
There's no group we won't stand up to
We're back and stronger than ever
With the Capitoline wolf on our hearts.

ok it's snappier in the original... I may translate but I don't do song lyrics.]

the return of the Fedayn

Not until everyone was joining in and the Curva was totally full again did you really appreciate just how much we've missed the groups in terms of making a decent amount of noise. I have to say, it felt pretty good to be singing properly again. Of course, the return of the groups doesn't mean the end of the protest; there were several chants of "Gabriele uno di noi". But this is not a sentiment shared by everyone. Comments round my way included "col massimo di rispetto, era laziale! eh come uno di noi?" [with all respect, he was a laziale... in what sense was he one of us?]. Gabriele can only be "one of us" for a Roma fans if the speaker identifies first and foremost as an ultra - which many in the Sud do not by any means. But for the most part, they were welcomed back; they hadn't brought all their flags and banners, but the extra colour they did provided was sorely needed. They left again 2 or 3 minutes before the end, and the game finished almost in silence. I don't know if the strike is over or if it was simply a temporary reminder of what we're missing. I can only echo the words of Daniele De Rossi, "Let's hope that in 2008 the Sud is always full."