Saturday, 8 December 2012
'Maratona and Elsewhere' #1 : The Derby
I couldn't sleep when I eventually got home after the derby. I was disturbed, but I couldn't pinpoint what it was that disturbed me. That was around 1 o'clock on Sunday morning. Nearly a week later, I think I'm beginning to understand.
To live in this city and to wear the colours of Torino is a political statement. It's good-versus-evil. It's the honest-but-difficult way fighting against the dubious (and dubiously-managed and financed) easy option. It's not always left against right (Turin has been called ‘New Stalingrad’: but doesn't explain the election of a left-wing mayor (Fassino, who is, in fact, a Gobbo), but it's always right against wrong. And it's always better to lose than to steal.
But this is not a political blog. So….
Juventus aren't even from this city in the first place (try Venaria), and their original fan base certainly wasn't (try Puglia, Sicilia, Calabria), so the decision to drive to their new (not paid for by the club, on ground leased for 99 years at 58 cents a square metre from the aforementioned Fassino-led city council) stadium in a beaten-up old car and to hide our colours didn't impress me. 'We're from here, and we live here.'
The stadium. From this away fan's - I mean “guests” - perspective, entering it was as I'd imagine prison would be like. Helicopters overhead, lights, cameras, concrete, rusting metal (stadium in its second season). But when you get to the top of the stairs and get a glimpse of the pitch, it does look like a football stadium - good sight lines, fans close to the playing surface. But look again. Monstrous tree-like CCTV structures in every corner of the pitch, vast PA system that appears to amplify the sounds they want you to hear (them), but not the sounds they don't want (you) - as I understand happens at Manchester City.
So pre-match we had some entertaining banter: people on both sides of the Plexiglas showing their bare arses, or filling their empty beer cups with piss and throwing them, etc.The Gobbi unveiled a vile banner mocking the dead of Superga for which their club was fined €10,000 - roughly the value of our 2099 away tickets and beer. So no fine, effectively. But when they tried to unveil a massive flag with the name of their club on it, and somebody underneath grabbed it somewhere between the U and the V and tore a 3 metre wide hole in it, it raised a smile.
As for the game, well... for the first half hour, Toro were the better team, and had Riccardo Meggiorini been a footballer of any quality and taken his one-on-one chance against Buffon, we would have taken the lead. After that, some premonitions came home to roost. I was expecting red cards and penalties anyway, but when I heard that Rocchi (awarded Man City a penalty against Real Madrid recently that wasn't - either Serie A refs are honest but incompetent, or they are dishonest and incompetent) was to be refereeing, I knew it would be so.
And so it was: Glik sent off for a robust but FAIR challenge; a comedy penalty that Pirlo was gentlemanly enough to kick into the Curva Sud. But no more red cards or penalties after we began chanting "PENALTY! PENALTY!" or "RED CARD! RED CARD!" every time we won possession, strangely enough.
And so, with Bianchi and Meggiorini doing nothing, we effectively had a 4-2-2 formation at kick-off. 4-2-1 after the red card. Ventura said before the game that we would approach the fixture with ‘humility’ WHAT THE FUCK? No, you face your sworn enemy with everything EXCEPT humility - the 2099 of us who represented our club from the stands were certainly not humble.
Indeed, when the patronising ‘would our guests please remain in their seats after the game’ bullshit announcement came over the PA, 2099 people reminded the Gobbi that it is they who are the guests in this city, not us. After the game, as per request, we remained in the stadium. Er, no. There were 20 or so riot police with shields and batons PREVENTING us from leaving the stadium for an hour. And, as I have already said, we live here.
The match was secondary to all of this. What really happened was something like a day trip to a prison operated by Disney and McDonalds. But the prisoners seem happy. They wear striped uniforms, and stand up and shout on cue (but otherwise watch the "show" seated). I'm glad our stay was only temporary.
Mark your diary for April 28th for the next exciting instalment.
Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.