It never rains but it pours

My match report for Roma-Samp on Wednesday night: I got wet. Not through any orgasm inducing football or impromtu piss games, just incessant, pounding rain. The players came out, swam around a bit, then after Juan unsuccessfuly tried to pass the ball five yards only for it to plop to a halt two inches from his boot, went back into the dressing room. We got a full five minutes of watery action, which was enough time for me to hear the ‘oo-oo’ sound again, this time directed at everyone’s favourite Eurotrash brat Antonio Cassano. Maybe I misjudged the outburst against Inter after all.

Anyway, it was wet. Have I told you that yet? It was very, very wet indeed. Take a look for yourself.

The picture doesn’t really do it justice; as we got off the tram and started to walk to the ground, what had been a few specks of rain suddenly turned in a torrential downpour. If God was having a piss like I used to think as a seven year old, he’d had a night on the Tenant’s Super, and we were his roadside hedge. It wasn’t the right night to not have a hood or a brolly, nor was great timing for my brand new suede Gazelles, which considerably slowed my pace getting into the ground (mud on suede is like a total no-no, fellow metrosexuals). Suffice to say I got fucking drenched and spent the rest of my time (not filled up with watching a comedy pre-match F1 display on the swimming/running track and the subsequent short-lived farce of a ‘game’) slopping around in with my jeans rolled up past my ankles so they didn’t ruin my trainers. Yes readers, I am a sad cunt.

Not that in the ground was any better. Thanks to a brilliant piece of design that gave the Olimpico a big gap at the back between the wall and the roof, water came gushing in from the back, while the wind pushed it in our faces, meaning that everyone ended up huddled in the middle of the section. This didn’t help the mood at the Olimpico, which was already not a happy one; when the names of the team were being read out, their were whistles and jeers, with only De Rossi and Totti getting unananimous approval. The anger at the team grew when Samp’s players came out in the pissing rain to clap their 500 or so supporters – garnering a round of applause from the Sud – while Roma’s lot stayed put. Now, I can understand why applauding people that have travelled six hours to go to a game that was called off is more important than doing the same for people who can get a bus home, but politically it was a very bad move. Chants of ‘andate a lavorare’ (‘go to work’) filled poured down from the Sud, and as I trudged out with the rain still tipping down a large group of ultras had gather outside the posh stand where the players were to berate them with the same chant. Meanwhile Spelletti has admitted that the players aren’t listening to him anymore and people are starting to look very unhappy, both in stands and on the pitch.

Still, only Juve and Chelsea coming up, so things should pick up.

Eep.

On the plus side, my trainers escaped unscathed.

You get back from a six hour journey from Genoa…

And you get those two shitty results greeting you when you get back. What a load of cunt.

LIverpool man, fucking Liverpool. They’re fucking crap.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Ceasefire

In a move that is sure to shock the world, me and Spangles are watching the game together with Pizza. I’m not entirely sure this is a good idea.

Roma 0 – 4 Inter

In its roundup of the weekend football The Gazzetta Dello Sport asked it’s readers ‘where is the team that last year duelled with Inter for the Scudetto until the final minutes?’ And while it would be pertinent to point out that Roma lost 4-1 at home to the same team early last season, after last night’s 4-0 walloping it’s pretty clear that they’re not going to challenge for the league again this year. I hate to say it, but they’ve probably missed their chance to do it again for the foreseeable future too. Roma weren’t massively outplayed and the scoreline definitely flattered Inter, but there’s no doubt that they were beaten by a much better team, with far greater resources and a seriously great manager.

For the first time I went to the Olimpico on my own, which proved to be extremely odd; partly because the only reason I have any connection with Roma at all is because of Spangles, and also because for me going to football has always been a very social experience. Part of the fun is having a drink with friends before and after the game, and feeling like your part of a wider community, and the language barrier (my Italian is getting better, but the local dialect is very hard to understand) means I don’t feel like I can start chatting away to random strangers.

A big game at the Olimpico can be a hell of an experience though, especially in you’re in the Sud, which was packed out as usual…

And along with both the Curva Nord (that little pocket to the left is Inter’s woeful away support, who were impossible to hear at any point during the game)…

And the Tribuna Tevere (far side) four fifths sold out…

We had ourselves easily the biggest and noisiest crowd of the season so far. As you can see from these pics I’ve moved places again, this time to right at the back of the stand behind the seats where I can stand up, with a good view of what’s going on. Unfortunately I’m also next to some real mouth breathers, who spin around to punch and high kick the metal sheeting at the back of the stand. These looked like the sorts who get really unhinged during games, internalising their passion instead of expressing it through singing and bouncing, so that every utterance is a gut wrenching outpour of bile. It doesn’t help that they were playing rivials whose two key players were both black (Balotelli) and a gypsy (Ibrahimovic) and soon that bile was going to go way overboard into unacceptable territory.

Anyway Inter opened the scoring after four minutes, Ibra breaking the offside trap and cooly lobbing over the advancing Doni, while the crowd baying at the linesman for not putting his flag up for an offside that I couldn’t see. There then followed a few minor decisions that went Inter’s way that brought the the already incredibly hostile crowd up to a vicious boiling point. This coupled with the fact that Roma couldn’t clear the ball and nearly conceded a comical own goal when Juan sliced the ball a pubic hair’s width past the post meant things were getting desperate and ugly in the ground. I felt extremely uncomfortable in a way I wouldn’t at Chelsea, and when Balotelli missed a sitter from no more than eight yards something happened which hasn’t in England for the best part of 20 years. A chorus of boos and monkey noises rolled down from the Sud, and while boos and monkey chants sound very similar (Itlalians go boo-boo-boo, not boooooooo, booing fans), the openess hostility was apparent, as was the guy near me’s frenzied ape impression. Now at Chelsea I would have said something, but among this bile there was no way I was saying thing to anyone. Righteous and anti-racist I may be, but I am neither brave or stupid.

After that Roma got back into the game, and the crowd stayed behind the team, Totti started to have a real influence on things and was linking the play up brilliantly. Encouragingly they were getting in behind Inter as well, but a paralysing inability to shoot at the right time scuppers most of their attacks, and WHY CAN’T SPELLITI START WITH TWO STRIKERS UP FRONT instead of sticking Vucinic on the left when Totti plays?

All through half-time all I could notice was the strange looks I was getting, the exact same looks I would give a complete stranger at the Bridge if they suddenly plonked themselves by me, so I grabbed a beer and drank it without looking at anyone, while thinking positive thoughts. Thoughts that would were smashed by another well-taken Ibra goal two minutes after the re-start, which was then followed only a minute after by Roma missing a ridiculous sitter, the sort where you miss a one-on-one, only for it to ricochet off your face and over the bar. It was at that point everyone knew the game was up, and Inter then decided to score to wonder goals just to rub it in, first Stankovic slapping in a half volley from a cleared corner, and then Obena taking advantage of Roma’s decision not to tackle anyone by dribbling towards the goal and slapping it straight ion the top corner. An hour gone and a horrendous, humiliating caning on live TV was happening.

I remember back in 1997 my uncle Gerry (friend of the family, not a real uncle) said something that will stay with me forever. We were being bitch slapped 3-0 by Arsenal on telly at the Bridge and with about 15 minutes to go he groaned to all of us young ‘uns that wanted to escpae the horror; ‘you’ve gotta just sit back and take it boys, right to the grim end.’ That really stuck with me, and I rarely left a Chelsea match before the final whistle since. Well that same Dunkirk spirit took hold of the Sud, which broke out into defiant singing for 20 minutes, reeling off a few songs and generally putting their Inter counterparts to shame. I recorded a video of it which for some reason I can’t upload, but take it from me that it was very impressive indeed and included a variant on Que Sara Sara, which I rather liked, despite not knowing any of the lyrics. It at least made up in a small way for the nasty shit before, and made sure their team didn’t allow Inter to make it any more humiliating.

I left with ten minutes to go and trudged home, getting sympathetic looks from people on the way, but I didn’t really feel sad. I’m not one of them, not really.

People are Basically the Same

I’ve gone on a bit about how sometimes the cultural and liguistic differences of Rome have me either flummoxed or exasperated or just plain upset. But sometimes you’re reminded of just how similar we all are, deep down. Today was a classic example; I was waiting for the metro up to San Giovanni when I spotted what was ostenisbly some sort of insurance advert. Only I looked a bit closer and saw something glorious:

You just can’t beat a good cartoon cock drawing, can you? Notice how they draw the comedy member just like what we do, with neat lines referring to both the helmet and the eagle eye of this particular cherry leaving you in no doubt about what’s up. And although they do get minus marks for no comedy spurting of spunk, our graffiti-ing heroes garner a good 8/10 for making me laugh very hard in front of a load of bemused commuters. It’s a winner, no?

Bring Me the Head of Chelsea’s Marketing Department

As someone who has a season ticket at Chelsea in his name, I still get the occassional promotional email sent to me from the club. Usually these take the form of ticket promotions, or things happening at the ground (player signing sessions and what have you). Every now and then though, a piece of diamond-encrusted corporate balls will drop into your inbox; is this the most poorly timed message ever?

Now I don’t know about you, but quite apart from the cringe-worthy headline, asking people to go quote hunting for mortgages right now might not be the sort of thing you want attached to ‘your brand’ right now, no? Spangles has just taken a 6% hit on the valuation of her (in the process of being sold) house, and she’s one of the lucky ones, so you’ll forgive me for thinking that far from being a charitable, jolly FIVE GRAND GIVEAWAY, this is in fact Britannia’s way of using a football club to try to increase traffic to their website, snatch a few hapless souls into giving them large sums of money and help oil the grubby wheels of a struggling industry in the process. It’s pretty ugly stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree, and I’m not just talking about the image of Mike Riley showing a red card to a large, overdue utility bill.

‘Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.’ You know what? I think we’re quite aware of that already, thanks very much.

Thank Fuck for That

Somehow, despite quite possibly the most disjointed display I have ever seen in my life, AS Roma have won a game away from home! Incredible. Mind you, they were helped by the world’s worst referee and a ludicrous sending off near the end of the first half, when Bordeux’s Henrique was sent for moving his arms around in the box, interpreted by the officiator as an assualt that wouldn’t look out of place in a post Croydon pub punch-up.

However, late into the second half and with Roma still trailing 1-0 in a game they could ill afford to even draw Spalletti sent on this man and things rapidly took a turn for the better:

'The New Italians'

That’s right, The New Italian and righteous brotherman Stefano Okaka Chuka. Now, the three Roma goals may have come from Vucinic and Julio ‘second touch is a tackle’ Baptiste, but to me and the denizens of the Trastevere pub we watched the match in, it was all down to the young chap (sort of). Though the hammered locals were ironically chanting ‘Okaka’ and humming the A-Team theme tune (in honour of his ridiculous Mr-T style mohican haircut), his introduction did actually make a difference; they suddenly started playing football, kept the ball for longer than three seconds and actually offered a threat to a Bordeux defence that had previously only had to deal with Mirko’s futile toiling after long balls that were at the same time hopeful and hopeless.

The goals were crackers too, especially the third, where a cracking cross-field ball was volleyed back across goal by Taddei straight into the onrushing Beast, who didn’t have to worry about actually controlling the ball, instead letting it bounce off his foot into the net. Great news all round then, apart from the fact we now have a incredibly tight group thanks to Chelsea’s non-performance in Romania (plus comedic injuries – Alex’s buttock problems, anyone?), and the realisation that Cluj are actually a pretty good side indeed.

Next up: the horrible Chelsea-Roma double bill. Will the Liquidator and Spangly Princess be able to not violently assault each other with hatchets, hammers, carving knives and spanners? Will Roma take a tanking at the Bridge that rivals their bumming at the hands of Man United? Will Roma pull their fingers out their arses and make sure they qualify alongside us? There will be all this and more folks. Don’t touch that dial.