What football, you may wonder (if you haven't read the post header) could possibly still be going on as late as 6 June? It's the playoffs, obviously, and to be precise the Serie C2 playoff final, first leg, which offered a chance to enjoy the belated arrival of summer sunshine and catch a last game of the season Or to put it another way, to spend the afternoon surrounded by topless men, some of whom were too drunk to stand. So Cisco - Catanzaro at the Stadio Flaminio, then. Several thousand Catanzaresi had come over 600km to be there, as against less than a thousand home supporters. We were in with the Catanzaro fans - convieniently giallorosso - and if you need to know why, a convenient summary is that Cisco Roma are the MK Dons of Italy and should not, therefore, be promoted.
Unfortunately although the fans had travelled in numbers, and with great enthusiasm, the players appeared not to have. Their energy, ability and tactical awareness were perhaps still in a motorway service station the wrong side of Napoli, since they certainly weren't here in Rome. It took Cisco a whole 17 minutes to score, by which point the Catanzaro keeper had already been forced into a couple of decent saves. After 35' it was 3-0 and on the stroke of half-time the Calabresi managed to get a man sent off for good measure. To add insult to injury they'd missed a penalty when it was still 2-0; if they'd taken it to 2-1 perhaps it could still have been turned around. It was not to be: Cisco had a couple of great players - their right-winger and one of their forwards ran rings round the giallorosso defence - and to describe the game as dismal, dreary and disappointing is frankly an insult to dismal, dreary and disappointing things the world over. Ah well.
In the curva things were a little better, at least before half-time. In the second half, which was very much more of the same, the visiting fans grew understandably disheartened and only the 100-strong ultras group were still singing by the end. On a critical note, they need to work on their lyrics, which were weak and detracted from a nice range of tunes. They also have a truly hilarious (and substantially incomprehensible) dialect, only I'm probably not allowed to laugh at it under Italian football's regulations about 'manifestazioni di discriminazione territoriale'.
I can't imagine that even the most optimistic of Catanzaresi - currently sat in a slow train south, or possibly stuck on the notoriously awful Salerno-Reggio Calabria road, an ongoing national scandal - think that they can possibly win promotion now. The fact they've failed to win promotion in no fewer than 5 playoffs in the period 1996-7 to 2008-9 possibly means that they weren't that optimistic in the first place. In fact lots of them were wearing tshirts saying "I hate playoffs". So it looks like Cisco will be going up into C1 (sorry, the Lega Pro 1 - fucking horrible pointless rebranding exercise that is - everyone still says C1 & C2). And that's that, I imagine, for another season. Next Sunday: the beach.