The World Cup is here – time for a cultural exchange

The World Cup is very nearly upon us, and if it isn’t one of the great opportunities for cultural exchange then I don’t know what is, so why not learn to coat off the officials, FIFA and above all, other nations with a string of obscenities a Livorno docker would be proud of? As someone who has spent two seasons in the Curva Sud I feel I am qualified to help any of you who end up outside an ice cream van on Wandsworth Common, or God forbid, watching Italy play in an Epsom church hall, dish out a volley of verbal abuse in Roman-style Italian. After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than swearing well in another language, so, like an oily Mediterranean footballer, let’s dive in!

The first thing to remember is, like in any other conservative society freezing in the shadow of Uncle Benny’s Death Star Cult, blasphemy is the most offensive form of swearing, and both big and clever. Therefore, you want to do lots of it, especially if surrounded by southerners, who will be so outraged they might set their donkeys on you. Remember, you’re striking out against an oppressive organisation that has fucked their whole culture up, whether they know it or not, so be sure to remind them that you’re basically trying to save them from their medieval savagery.

So, alongside your classic Italian insults/epithets, like:

  • Stronzo – twat
  • vaffanculo – fuck off, or go fuck yourself
  • vattene – go away, get lost, piss off, fuck off
  • Bastardo – work it out for yourself
  • Buffone – Buffoon
  • Pezzo di merda – Piece of shit

Mortacci tua (Roman only) – a curse on your dead ancestors, basically, but normally used like you would ‘fuck off’, or ‘fuck (or even ‘bollocks to’, for the Brits and Irish)him/her/them/you’

We also have any combination of Dio (God), Madonna (The Virgin Mary) and Gesù (Jesus)with an animal, specifically ‘cane’ (dog) or the pig-based ‘porco’/’maiale’. Like the following:

  • Porco Dio
  • Porca Madonna
  • Dio Cane (very popular in the Veneto, pronounced Dio can’)
  • Gesù maiale
  • Dio merda
  • Mannaggia (damn) a Dio

Bear in mind that ‘maiale’ almost always comes after the religious figure, but don’t be afraid to mix it up; the more outrageous the slur on the Creator’s good name, the better – we don’t want anyone to forget just how much of a cunt he is now, do we? Some of the hits of the last year from me and my aggressively, almost viciously anti-religion friend include:

  • Dio pedofilo
  • Dio caccola (snot)
  • dio emorroide (hemorrhoid)
  • dio diarrea (diarrhea)
  • mannaggia ai sandali di cristo (damn Jesus’ sandals)
  • porco il vaticano
  • mannaggia a tutti i santi del calendario (damn all the saints in the calander)
  • viva il colosseo (in honour of the Romans’ heroic slaying of Christians, of course)
  • Dio pissing
  • Madonna double entry
  • Dio Canio (an anti-God, anti-Lazio double whammy pun right there for you chaps)
  • Gesù scat
  • Dio dildo

Yes, you can mix up Anglo porn words, as they’re very rarely translated; ‘squirting’ becomes ‘lo squiiirrting’, for instance. Now, some basic football terms:

  • Fuorigioco – offside
  • Calcio di punizione – free-kick
  • Rigore – penalty
  • Fallo – foul
  • Fallo di mano – handball
  • Arbitro – referee
  • Pallone – ball
  • Porta – the goal
  • Ocassione – goal scoring chance, which you don’t miss, you eat (mangiare, magnare in Roman)
  • Il Fair Play – fair play, but you’ll only ever hear this on highlights shows from a sniggering, confused TV host; this is Italy, after all

These are the only ones you’ll need, as you’ll spend most of your time appealing for or against various decisions/non decisions, waving your hands around comically. That’s when you’re not disparaging another country’s cuisine, or employing casual racist abuse, in any case.

Right, now you have the epithets, blasphemy and the limited football vocabulary you need. Now for some quick general Italian pointers:

Essere – to be

  • io sono – I am
  • tu sei – you’re
  • lui/lei – he/she is
  • noi siamo – we’re
  • voi siete – you (plural) are
  • loro sono – They’re

Avere – to have

  • io ho – I have
  • tu hai – you have/you’ve/you’ve got
  • lui/lei ha – he/she has
  • noi abbiamo – we have
  • voi avete – you (plural) have
  • loro hanno – they have
  • Un/uno/una – a
  • Il (Er in Roman)/i/lo/gli(je in Roman)/la le – the
  • Ma – but
  • Cazzo – dick, but usually used as we use fuck
  • Che cazzo – What the fuck
  • Dai (daje in Roman) – come on, used exactly as we do in English
  • Ma dai/daje – Come off it

Right, now you have the tools to be as offensive as you like in Italian, so strap on your oversized shades, ripped spangly jeans, tight pink t-shirt and shit gold trainers, and give it some welly! I’ll start you off , but don’t forget to insert as much blasphemy as you possibly can. Best entry gets one of them special under-the-chin gesture that no-one does outside of American mafia films.

(Note for Italian speakers/readers: bonus points for correct usage of Roman style usage of ‘stare’ – che cazzo stai a fa’, etc)

  • Arbitrooo! vaffanculo porco dio, sei un pezzo di merda! MORTACCI TUA! – I respectfully but wholeheartedly disagree with your decisions, referee. God is a cunt, incidentally, and I hope your ancestors rot in hell.
  • Se semo magnati troppi gol, cristo cagnaccio! – We really have missed rather a lot of chances, haven’t we Franco? By the way, I heard that Jesus is a mangy mutt.
  • Mannaggia a Dio, arbitro sei uno stronzo, stai arbitrando solo per loro! Gesù felching – For fuck’s sake, our player has hit the deck like a sack of shit despite not being touched; where’s our free-kick? Jesus must like sucking his own jizz out of Mary Magdeline’s arsehole, after all.

Get to it, people.

Azionariato Popolare AS Roma (Part 3)

OK, so here is another section of quotes that I’ve translated from Walter Campanile’s various interviews, this time from the press conference itself. Again it must be said that if any sense at all is lost from the translation then sorry, but there is no malicious intent in any linguistic fuck ups I make. And in any case, this is mainly for my benefit, so screw you. If you want to get hot off the press Italian news then learn the bloody language yourself. Below is a more up-to-date vision of what they feel the organisation should be about, with the original Italian here, for those of you who wouldn’t mind helping me out a bit. Meanwhile, if you’re at all interested in the structure of the APASR then why not take a look at the informative slides from the conference?

In what concrete way do you want to contribute to the growth of Roma and how does the current owner feel about that?
Mario Sacchi of Envet: The objective of the association is to assist and support the club. It’s evident that we will have to invest in the club, as a minority, obviously.

Is there a representative of the club here? Was one invited? Was the project presented to the club?
(There are a couple of sentences here that I literally cannot make head nor tail of: how depressing – Ed). In Europe we have clubs that were born as sporting clubs in which the member is a ‘socio’ (a member in the true sense of the word – Ed) and they developed on this model. At Hamburg for example, they didn’t need an azionariato, but the association ‘Friends of Hamburg’ nourishes the fan base, helps in the life of the club and of the supporters, and it also brings together thousands of members. Arsenal isn’t in the hands of their fans, but a group has a minority interest that doesn’t change the life of Arsenal, but it gives consent to the participation from and the involvement of those who care about the club. Roma is undoubtedly the object of this project.

Walter Campanile: We invited everyone here today, representatives of Roma and of the institutions. Their non presence doesn’t bother me because as yet we haven’t done anything. I’m sure that the work that we do will eventually be appreciated. Already, with regards to the number of members, we have overtaken Arsenal. This, we still repeat, is only a point of departure. We only want to participate and contribute to the management of the club. To let us help Roma, only that. Like Ranieri’s Roma, we also have to work off the pitch one step at a time. A note to the fans: all fans demand maximum effort from their players, so we mustn’t hold back when there is the opportunity to do something concrete.

How come there are no representatives from Roma here?
There are some (It’s clear who they are; they didn’t make themselves known at the time – Ed). We  have already opened the channels of dialogue and have invited everyone. I’m available to go anywhere to talk about our project.

Is Angelini one of your members? (Note: you might remember from my first post on this subject that pharmaceutical magnate Francesco  Angelini has been wildly rumoured to be interested in buying the club. This has caused many to think that the APASR was a front for various high-profile people to buy it from the Sensis, of whom more later)
Walter Campanile: No.

Will the money collected from members go to the club’s transfer market budget?
By law the money cannot go in the pockets of our associates. Just to be clear there will be specific body that will decide how the money is spent, and it will be possible to verify that through the balance sheet. If come the second year you become disillusioned you will be able to leave and not have to pay the money again. Transparency is guaranteed.

As we saw in the previous post, the group want to contribute financially to the club, with a minority say in what happens, and with the ain – in the short-term at least – of being little more than a community hub for fans. There appears to be a lot of talk about socios, but the comparison with those clubs is moot, as they are owned by their own communities and critically, they elect the people who run the club. This isn’t to say what happens at these clubs is perfect; Lord knows you only have to put in the occasional cursory glance at Sid Lowe’s Spanish football articles to know that the political machinations at Real Madrid in particular can get pretty ugly, frankly I’d be hoping that whatever does become of this project stays as far away from the ugliness that is Real Madrid as possible.

What happens to any money invested however, is another discussion altogether. Last week Roma’s owner Rosella Sensi had a meeting with Italian bank Unicredit regarding Italpetroli’s €400million plus debt, of which €300million is owed to them. Let’s just say that the meeting didn’t go well. ‘While Roma are flying on the pitch and dreaming of the Scudetto, off it the future of the club remains in doubt’, says Il Tempo (which appears to be a subsidiary of Il Sole 24 Ore, who basically invented the story about APASR that I mentioned above – we’ll skip over that for the time being). Why? well, Unicredit are 49% shareholders in Italpetroli (the company that indirectly controls Roma, remember) and are calling for the cancellation of the debt repayment plan and an  injunction on 13 Sensi assets, for various business-y reasons, including not communicating the company’s net asset value (regarding the 2008 balance sheet) in time. In 2008 the group lost €33million, and if 2009’s losses add up to more than €17million they will have to reduce capital, and as the Sensi’s don’t have any other solutions, Unicredit are adamant that assets must be sold.

The paper finishes: ‘The alternative is a recapitalisation, in which the bank would be ready to participate, but it would probably not gain a majority consensus from the shareholders. When thinking about the sale of assets thoughts shouldn’t go to Rome, the jewel in the group’s crown, made even more appetising in the last few months by on the pitch results that will probably take them into the Champions League next year. If the Sensis do have to give up the club, pharmaceutical magnate Francesco Angelini remains a credible potential buyer, and will be following the story with interest.’

No mention of our boys and girls in the Azionariato Popolare AS Roma yet. Maybe in time.

Azionariato Popolare AS Roma (Part 2)

Ok, so the other day I said that I would be chucking some quotes up here from the press conference and hopefully from a chat with the man himself, Walter Campanile. Well he was in Brussels yesterday chatting with EU big wigs so there was no point trying to get a lengthy discussion going, especially when I’m going to want him to repeat 90% of his answers at least twice. However, I have managed to dig up some quotes of his from back on 24 November last year, when he spoke with a Roma fans site about how the structure of the trust is going to work (NOTE: please bear in mind that any translation may not be 100% accurate, or may lose some of its meaning; contrary to popular belief meaning is not replicated exactly in every language, so just deal with it. The full Italian version is here for those of you who are able to read the language or just fuddy duddy killjoys who want accurate sourcing and that.):

A what point are you in the project?

I’m wary of looking too far ahead. We haven’t yet made Roma fans aware of what the azionariato popolare might be when it comes to pass.

What do you mean?

There are those who believe it to be some kind of subscription scheme, but if it was like this those who live in Saudi Arabia or Argentina would not have any reason to participate. When would they ever see Roma at the Olimpico? Instead, through our project whoever is able to contribute economically will strengthen our club, and from everywhere in the world.

Ok, but in what timescale?

The azionariato popolare doesn’t exist in Italy, in the sense that there is no legislative frame which inspires it. Anyway, in this early phase we have worked to understand if the model used in other countries could be applicable here in Italy.

We imagine so.

Exactly. In fact, that’s what we found and what will be explained later. We also occupied ourselves identify the legal entity that will represent fans based in Rome. (Ed’s note: this bit here is the bit I’m least sure about, linguistically speaking, if anyone wants to offer me a better translation please do.)

Are you not thinking of having a board of trustees (again)?

Of course, but not right away. Our scope to start with will be to get the fans to take an active part in the running of the azionariato, and having a representative in the board will be the next move.

What’s the next stage?

Between December and January we will look to have 80 people from the world of AS Roma involved with us. It will be them, in February, who will form a Constituent Assembly that will busy itself with writing the trust charter, on which the fundamental principles of the azionariato popolare romanista will be written. A month after that, if we are on schedule, we will be able to form the legal structure that will deal with whoever the owner of Roma is.

What characteristics will it have?

It will be democratic, absolutely transparent and not for profit, just as Supporters Direct, the organization that works for Uefa and who assists trusts with the legal support of Cleary Gottlieb, suggested to us.

Then, you said, the rendezvouz with whoever owns the club in March.

We still need to find an interlocutor who will open the door for us.

Even if it’s the Sensis?

The project is independent. It’s not important to us who the owner is.

But if it’s the Sensis you might end up delivering some money in a closed envelope a family who financially are in substantial trouble.

I understand where it might go. Ours isn’t a collective like that of Sistina in the 60s. The management of funds won’t be a fan, not of the presidente of the club.

So you’re saying that it would be fine for you whoever owns the club. Even Angelini?

Absolutely. I repeat: we are happy to support whoever is disposed to help make Roma great again.

This interview (despite being a couple of months out of date) is interesting to me on a philosophical level: to me, surely the point of organising fans together like this is so that you can have a large, potentially majority say in what goes on at the club, rather than sort of hang around and talk to the owner, who will tell you to piss off if they don’t like what you have to say. Obviously benefits regarding unity of the fans, organising social night, tickets for foreign fans and creating an all round community for supporters of the club are all great and I heartily endorse them. Obviously it’s early days yet so what form the relationship with the club takes is still up for grabs, but personally I’d like to see a big enough groundswell of support that would eventually put the ownership and the running of the club into the hands of an elected body.

At the press conference they made plenty of allusions to Barca and the Spanish socio model, but that works on the principle of ownership, of a democracy that has real power, or at least as much real power as those running a football club can ever have (This is Italy mind you, where Rome’s mayor, the fascist Giovanni Alemanno made explicit reference to the authorities not letting Lazio get relegated, so maybe I’m underestimating that a bit.). Without that true stake in the club where is it going, and where does the money go once in the hands of the club?

I’ve got a few things still needing translating, including a video interview of Walter talking to a journo after the press conference and some of the question and answer session that was held after the presentation. We also have the results of the Sensi family’s meeting with Unicredit, which was yesterday, so all in all anyone who might be reading will have a bumper amount of content coming you way over the next week or so. After that? Well, who knows readers, who knows.

There are people who take it for some kind of subscription scheme.

Azionariato Popolare AS Roma

*Wipes away cobwebs*

A lot has changed since the last time I bothered to write anything for this godawful repository for my deteriorating brain. I now write every day for a pittance about celebrity crap, music, sport and video games, as well as do a weekly shift translating for La Gazzetta Dello Sport, and various other proofreading jobs. It pays the rent and keeps me in pizzas, so I’m not complaining, but recently the creative urge has been creeping up my spine and tickling the back of my brain, asking me why I know the intimate details of Jordan and Peter Andre’s divorce, and her subsequent marriage to a cross-dressing cage fighter and why I have done precisely nothing with the reams of stuff I have on Lodigiani, the meeting about the Tessera del Tifoso I took eight hours out of a beautiful summer’s day for and Azionariato Popolare AS Roma, which is the first real attempt in Italy for a football club run by the fans, for the fans, and which my own girlfriend is an important part of. Every now and again I get a metaphorical poke with a stick via a blog comment which arrives in my inbox, goading me to do something worthwhile with my time, anything that might give reason to halt the rapid disappearance of justification for the title of journalist with which I deign myself. Well you fucking win, ok?

This is why today I attended the official press conference that Azionariato Popolare AS Roma held to announce its presence to the world (well the Italian press at least), their vision for a brighter day in Italian football. It must also be said that aside from my own thoroughly selfish reasons for being there, I hold the idea and the people behind it in extremely high regard, and if in the long term they manage to organise Roma fans into playing a role in the democratic running of their club it will be one of biggest achivements in the history mankind. I say this as a man who has seen how hard it is for Italians to organise a meeting place and be there on time, so don’t take that lightly.

So a bit of background then. The Sensi family is currently finacially crippling the football club through their siphoning off of club money to service the €300million debt of their Italpetroli, as evidenced by the preposterously large €20million Liverpool paid for the summer transfer of Alberto ‘sicknote’ Aquilani. Usually a football club would be laughing all the way to the bank with that sort of money, but instead the fee magically disappeared into a huge black chasm. Anyone who has read The Beautiful Game? by David Conn will probably already be familiar with the sort of thing I’m talking about. Anyone tomorrow Roma president Rosella Sensi, Italpetroli and bank Unicredit will be meeting to discuss repayments of a debt that is nothing to do with the club. Got that? With this in mind APASR has sprung up, offering a different way of running a club in a country where local magnates ruling private fiefdoms is the common model, pumping in unsustainable millions while hiring and firing managers seemingly on a whim. It’s rallying call is partly for this sort of nonsense to end, but also for more fundamental change. As it says on their website (which has also been translated into English for the benefit of Roma’s worldwide fanbase):

Barcelona’s motto is ‘more than a club’, which helps explain their culture, and in thier own way, greatness. Maybe the moment has arrived to think of constructing our own future together for a Grande Roma, which could be an example in Italy and Europe and that could become, like Barcelona, more than a club.

As much as I am loath to praise Barca for their pompous slogan, their is little doubt that the socio model is the best way for a football club to be run if you’re interested in it being a force for social good.

The idea has certainly gained some traction, if the press conference was anything to go by. In fact not only were various Roma blogs reporting live from the scene, but big national newspapers like Il Messagero and La Repubblica were there (and have already produced stories for their respective online audiences), giving the movement a potentially huge boost. Having met Walter Campanile, the main man behind the scheme, and watched him deal confidently with Italy’s assembled hacks, I have to say he’s a very confident, convincing presence, prodding and cajoling any doubters, laying out the arguments and the structure of everything in detail. If he were less morally upright he’d do a fine job of selling you hooky clothes down the market, or encouraging pensioners to part with their savings because they had the cowboys in their bathroom. Mostly though, you can tell that he and his colleagues know they are right, and that they’re not about to give in to those who say ‘this can’t be done in Italy’.

It was standing room only today, partly due to the radical idea APASR is selling to the public, but also because of a furore kicked up by the press earlier in the month, when respected Naples-based business daily Il Sole 24 Ore claimed that the organisation was a front for a group of Italian celebrities who wanted to take the club from the Sensis without presenting any evidence, a story that was repeated also in La Repubblica. There had also been rumours doing the rounds that they were a front for medicinal drugs magnate Franco Angelini, which while raising the profile of the movement, presented them in an appalling light. Thankfully both of those were quickly swept out of the way.

Ah God it’s late, and in my head this post is already turning into bad facsimile of a Hunter S. Thompson screed, while the text remains resolutely tangent free (up until now at least). How much needs to be said about a press conference when the most important thing about today is an idea, one that needs pressing home and support from the wider fan base? All we’re looking at is a collection of suits and scruffily dressed photgraphers relaying the same quotes, when I’ve got access to better, original material at my fingertips. I’d already know whether we are looking at a new model of ownership or merely a union of fans that have the ear of the owners, loud but mostly powerless? Now that Roma are second in the league and doing well in the Coppa Italia and the Europa League, do the fans care enough to embrace radical change? In essence, is Roma doing well now a bad thing for the club long term?

Tomorrow we (Why I am writing this as though anyone is reading is anyone’s guess) will hopefully have some unique quotes from representives, as well as wonderfully translated stuff from all over the Italian press.

Thank Fuck for That

Last night was a strange experience. As has often been the case this season, a televised (and therefore easy to find on Sopcast) Chelsea match has clashed with a Roma home game. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem; I’d made my choice by coming out here and getting a season ticket, and goddamn it if I wasn’t going to get value for money. However this time I was very concerned about being dump out of the FA Cup by Southend, which would be the biggest cup shock we’ve had inflicted on us since Millwall knocked us out on penalties in 1995, if you discount the League/Fizzy Pop/Worthless Cup. And who doesn’t? The feeling of foreboding was palpable, and when I got a text message from my cousin saying:

‘One nil Southend. Pathetic’

 

 

all interest in the spectacle before me vanished like our ability to defend set pieces.

While the Sud kept up it’s constant flow of songs, urging the team to add to the rather good first half free kick from Julio Baptista, I was constantly checking my phone, trying to picture the scene at Roots Hall, mentally willing my team to score a goal – any goal – through some sort of Jedi mind trick. In truth it helped that Sampdoria had turned up for the game, which had initially been postponed due to a freak downpour back in October, with a similar attitude to the almost entirely absent Rome public. So while a half empty stadium was baiting Cassano and watching The Beast play like some sort of Drogba/Totti hybrid, My brain was throbbing ‘score a fucking goal you rudderless bunch of fucking cunts! This is all about ME and MY feelings of embarrassment!” in the general direction of Essex. Just before the second half started I got another text that simply said:

1-1 ‘Ballack

 

 

‘Thank fuck for that’, I replied, and at that point I zoned out completetly. ‘Oh wait,’ said my eyes. ‘Baptista has scored a wonder goal, dribbling round two players and curling a splendid finish in the far corner, before running to the Sud to take the applause.’

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever,’ my brain replied. ‘I’m busy envisaging a game in another country whose outcome I am attempting to change with the power of aggressive thought-rants.’

All I could think about was my phone. I placed my hand in the pocket where I keep it so I could grab it the instant it vibrated. I tapped it, hoping that somehow that would dislodge messages that read ‘2-1 Lampard’, ‘3-1 Anelka’, ‘4-1, referee handballs it in before wheeling away to celebrate’, I squeezed it like a stress ball and there was a permanent cloud around my vision, like I was watching the game in flashback mode. Roma could have had another three more if they’d tried, but it was as if both teams had given me the green light to forget about them altogether. Samp just gave up, while Roma lazily passed the ball about, half-trying to add to their tally. Meanwhile…..

‘FUCKING VIBRATE YOU BASTARD PHONE!’ Just done’t let us lose on penalties again. PLEEEEEEEAAAAASSEE?

It was at this point that I had a moment of clarity: this is why football clubs have us over a barrell. Despite everything that is wrong with football, everything that is fundamentally wrong with my club – the greed, the ticket prices, the ruthless commercialism, the absolute disdain with which the club holds its supporters, the ruthless expansionism into other territories selling brands like a football club is a can of Coke – here I am, in another country, at another teams stadium, with a season ticket I bought for that team in my pocket, and all I can think about it is the horrible feeling in my gut that ‘we’re going to lose this. I just KNOW it. It’s terrible.

The journey back was the same. I was of no use to anyone, my mind slipping in and out of fantasy land. Then as I plonk my phone down on the table I see it has a message:

4-1 second half class

 

 

Thank fuck for that.

An Even Longer Day (of Football)

One of the problems of being a football fan is that so much of your heppiness relies on 15 (relatively, even allowing for lower league weirdos xx) handsomely paid men who couldn’t give a flying toss about you or your life deciding whether they can be bothered to do their jobs properly, or whether their boss has any idea how to tell them how to do their jobs, or not getting soundly trounced by a team barely ever in second gear. Especially when you knew that all along that Scolari was a poor choice as manager, and boooooooooooooo it’s all crashing down around our ears.

Anyway, multiplying this feeling by three is a questionable idea, especially when you have days like yesterday: Up at half seven to go on an away trip with Lodigiani to Collona, a little town 45 minutes on the train south from Termini, not far from Ciampino for those of you who have flown into there from the UK, and finishing at half eleven after a rip-roaring Roma-Milan game that also gave me one of the best goals I have ever seen live, courtesy of Brazilian Wonderkid de jour Pato.

The Lodi experience was as ever, amusing and odd, and a bit shambolic. This wasn’t helped by a new and disgusting character who went by the name Borgo. Borgo, for those of you who have seen ID, is a lot like Gumbo, only less simpathetic. He mumbles everything he says, usually spits while doing so, walks in a permanent zig-zag motion while nodding like a smackhead and dresses like he lives in a bin. Which for all I know he does.

Large portions of the whole day were spent shouting at him for:

  • Walking into the path of oncoming cars
  • Falling asleep
  • Spitting on people as he spoke
  • Drinking all the beer
  • Not singing
  • Saying fascisty things
  • Being constantly, incessantly on his fucking phone

He’d make a great sitcom character, only no-one would believe that someone could be so obnoxious, unpleasant and thoroughly useless and still have friends. I assume they keep him around as a sort of group cat, independent enough to buy pizza and drugs and to tell people to fuck off, but not quite well-formed enough a human being to really pay attention to anything anyone says, or care either way. He also stank, and farted like his arse was an exhaust pipe: in short, he was the sort of guy you go out of your way to avoid on away trips, but when there’s seven of you on the train it’s pretty tricky.

Luckily he did his best to avoid doing what he was supposed to be – supporting his team – and slept through most of the game and had his phone glued ot his ear for some reason or another, which seeing as he didn’t say a word to anyone at the other end hard to figure out why. Maybe he was testing to see  if there was enough brain up there to damage with radiation.

For once, the game was actually entertaining too, and although Lodi lost 3-1 and finished the game with nine men, some comical refereeing livening proceedings immeasurably. One of the Lodi guys was sent off for swearing at a player who had just two-footed him from behind, while the assaulter got away with a yellow, Collona had a goal disallowed which looked suspiciously over the line to me and at 3-1 decided that the best punishment for a Lodi player being flattened in the box was an indirect free-kick. On top of this, there was a 20 man brawl which ended in one of our boys being pulled off the pitch by his own keeper in a headlock. Beautiful. There was also a lot of not paying for things, like train travel and match tickets (I can’t believe they charge for this level of football) while waving the Portuguese flag around, and an irate old man who was so incensed at the use of a metal bin as a perch to direct chants from that he tried to kick it out from under him, all of which was pretty funny. And it was a very pretty place as well.

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Not so funny was the fascist guy who turned up on his own with a Palestinian flag (not to express solidarity with the opressed and murdered peoples might I add, but just to show off his fuck-witted anti-semitism), and then sprayed some celtic crosses around the place, doing all of us the world of good. On the train back there was a lot of anger at this, partly because it reflects badly on the group and casts them all as of that political persuasion, which Simone in particular seemed annoyed about, but mostly because they want to keep politics out of the group. Borgo of course thought otherwise, the bell end. 

Simone also told us that he never pays for public transport, taking trains down to Naples and back for a laugh and declaring that ‘Trenitalia is my house’, as well as showing us just how he bunks the metro (the classic move getting of getting in behind someone else who’s put their ticket in – I think it helps he’s almost as a short as the barriers mind you), and then went into one of his classic chats about English football. I zoned out at this point, I was tired and my brain had had enough of trying to decipher the Rome dialect.

So, a brief bit about Chelsea then. I’ve managed to watch a decent amount of our stuff through various channels and I think I have a vague idea of what we’re about, and it’s not looking good. It not  just that United turned us over good and proper without playing all that great, that can happen at Old Trafford, it’s more that we seem to be spluttering and hacking in every position, and that I can’t help but see cracks forming that may never be repaired. Now having known Ray Wilkins when I was a kid, I know that he is in fact a smashing guy, but I’m not convinced he’s a good enough coach, nor do I think that Scolari’s other coaches know how to keep a team fit over the course of a long season. We looked shot to bits after an hour of Sunday’s game and we are still conceding stupid goals from set-pieces, something we hardly ever did under you-know-who. Even worse is that we can’t blame injuries for that; we had Terry and Carvalho in the middle of the back four, and Cole and Boswinga on either side. Add Mikel in front and Cech behind and we should be pretty much inpenetrable, but we’re not, with individual errors and poor organisation making previously frightening defenders look like Gareth Hall. The most damning statistic is that we’ve only won seven out of our last 18 games, which form that won’t win us any trophies, and while that doesn’t bother me a huge amount – a healthy, stable club in the long-term is far more important to me – it’s a shame to see such a talented and commited group of players underperforming so badly. I just hope those who repeatedly slagged off Avram Grant while we took the title race to the last day of the season and the final of the Champions League are happy with what our new media-friendly,  exspansive style is bringing us.

Anyway, after saying pretty much the same thing to my newly-arrived in Rome mate who’d come round to watch the match, we set of for the Olimpico batting a poor zero for two, as I believe the yanks say. You haven’t been following football if you didn’t know that David Beckham was making his debut for Milan on Sunday evening, an event so momentus even the Guardian decided to do a (rubbish) match report with barely a word said about the giallorossi. So here goes nothing. Totti was out, so they decided to not persue with the three-man triangle up front, and instead reverted back to the five man midfield that caused them so many problems at the start of the season, with Vucinic up front on his own, and Baptista providing support of sorts from an attacking midfield position. Presumbaly this was to keep the pressure up on an ancient Milan midfield, but instead it kept their even older back four relatively free of trouble, and consequently the pinged back and forth between the sides, although Milan looked marginally more dangerous. Pato in particular looks like a real player, and in the second half he proved it by scoring two goals, the second of which was just insanely good and sent their huge travelling support absolutely mental (highlights below – just before the minute mark).

That put them 2-1 up within the space of 15 minutes in the second half after going in at the break behind to a Vucinic goal, and after that it looked like they might run away with it, Pato and Kaka were causing all sorts of problems down the left, and Roma were struggling to keep hold of the ball. Then Vucinic scored, completely out of the blue, and for the last 20 minutes it was pretty much all Roma; Mirko himself could have had a hat-trick if a flashed cross hadn’t hit his heel while he wasn’t looking. All in all it was a damn exciting game of football, and perked me up no end. It was also good to see a big crowd at the Olimpico; when it gets going it’s a pretty special place.

So, three games, two losses (both spankings) and one draw. As Scolari always says in his press conferences; this is football.

Away Day (Yes I’m aware it’s been a while)

So, I have (possibly stupidly) agreed to do a little away day excursion with Lodigiani this Sunday. Turns out they want me to go with them as I bring good luck. Which seeing as I’ve only seen them win once is a bit of a stupid thing to say, but there you go.

So the schedule is this: meet at Termini for 8am. Eight fucking a fucking m. Still, they seem excited about it as it’s their first proper away trip on the trains since they came back into existence, and our man Simone seems, after a chat on messenger, to actually think I’m all right. Which is nice.

Can’t say I’m looking forward to the six hours spent struggling to understand a word they say mind you. Into the deep end I go…

Oh, and happy new year to those of you who are still bothering to read, I will try to keep updating this more regularly from now on.