Rome if you want to


Day two of the Calcio Italia adventure, and after the two games yesterday we headed south on the ultra-swish new high-speed train line through Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio. A previous seven hour train journey up and over the Apennines, running down the spine of Italy now cuts through the hills and has reduced the travel time from Bologna to Rome to just over 2 hours. We hardly had time to make full use of the free wi-fi, champagne and salty snacks (peanuts) before we were easing into Roma Termini.

11075317203_89770600d0_bInitially our plan had been to enjoy a leisurely long lunch in Travestere, a few drinks and perhaps even a bit of sight-seeing. But then Adam got a call. Or should I say, the call. He’d struck up a relationship a few games ago in the Stadio Olimpico with a chap running up and down the front of the Tribuna Tevere waving a huge flag, professing the support of the Marcello Passerini from the AS Roma United Kingdom group. Marcello, a Joe Pesci lookalike, had manage to arrange some live airtime with Sky Italia as part of their build up to the game versus Cagliari, and Adam, with his fine eye for a picture, was part of their plans for global Roma domination – well at least in Social Media circles in the UK.

So our new plan was to meet Marcello outside the ground at 4pm…..that would be nearly FIVE hours before kick off. I’d never been at a ground that early – well apart from once in Bilbao when I turned up 24 hours early. So our relaxing lunch turned into a quick snack at a stand-up trattatoria before we jumped in a taxi for the stadium. It appeared that the tram drivers also fancied a night watching the game on TV so they had gone on strike meaning that even at 4pm, traffic around the stadium was building up. Continue reading

Livin’ la Vida Loca


On the TBIR private jet on the way over to Rome,  Danny and I tried to draw up the best derbies in Europe. Between us we have covered quite a few. The Copenhagen derby (three times at both venues), the Stockholm derby, the Spakenburg derby in Holland and even the El Grande Island Classico (Canvey Island v Concord Rangers), but outside of Istanbul, is the Rome derby the most “atmospheric”? We said “yes” because otherwise we were heading off to the Stadio Olimpico for no real reason.

In the past the game has had drama, controversy, clowns and championships. It was first contested back in 1929 and since then AS Roma have led the way with 63 wins to Lazio’s 46. In 1979 a Lazio fan was killed by a flare fired from the Roma section at the far end of the stadium and in 2004 the game had to be abandoned after the leaders of the Roma Ultras groups walked unopposed onto the pitch and approached Francesco Totti to tell him to walk off after a rumour spread that the riot police had killed a fan. Violence then escalated onto the streets outside the stadium.

Few players make the move across the city which them either being a blue or a claret. The rivalry comes from the moral right to be the one true team to represent the city, as well as how the clubs were originally formed. To us mere English fans Roma means Top Totti, Cafu, Gabriel Batistuta and Christian Panucci. Lazio is Pepe Signori, Ravanelli, Alessandro Nesta, Gazza and Paolo Di Canio.

Both teams have been through the mill in terms of off the field antics. Back in 1980 SS Lazio were relegated, along with AC Milan after being implicated in a betting scandal. Match-fixing also cost the club dear in 2006 when they were implicated in the Calciopoli scandal that saw Juventus relegated and Lazio excluded from European competition. Long time club owner Sergio Cragnotti arrived at the club in 1992 and initially funded some massive transfers (£18m for Veron, £19 for Vieri & £35m for Crespo). But when his Cirio food empire collapsed, so did the club’s fortune. Continue reading