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Thread: Inter - Milan - A Derby story

  1. #1
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    Inter - Milan - A Derby story

    Almost exactly 10 years ago, someone posted a fantastic story on Usenet's Back then, I was a relatively new Inter fan, and I had never been to Milan. However, Paul Mettewie's account of a derby he attended in the seventies was a big eye opener for me. I still have fond memories of his story, and it really helped cement my loyalty to Inter back ten years ago. I don't know if any fans on this forum have read the story, so I felt like posting it here. Here's a big thanks to Paul.

    Paul Mettewie's post from October 13, 1997 (Part 1):

    (This story is not intended to be a legally binding
    non-fiction story - especially when it concerns
    the blow-by-blow events of the soccer games
    themselves. Please do not hold me to the exact
    minute and scorer of games held a quarter of
    a century ago! Thanks - Paul)


    Many American teenagers associate November with the
    leaves falling off the trees, with the family getting
    together for Thanksgiving, with going to football games
    wrapped in blankets with mugs of hot cider to keep one

    Not for me. But I didn't miss out on *anything*. Not
    that I don't like leaves changing colors and the
    wonderful Thanksgiving feast and family get-together.

    But I was in Milan, Italy as an American teenager.

    I thought of November as foggy mist around the Duomo,
    as buying a farcito tost in the subway tabaccheria - con
    carciofi (with artichoke) if you please - so you could
    not only enjoy a tasty sandwich, but warm your hands as
    well! November was riding the Metropolitana (simply
    known as the "Metro") to school and to locations around
    the city. It was the sparks shooting off the electric
    tram lines at night, it was the hot chestnut vendors
    in the Piazza Cordusio. There was even an organ grinder
    man with a real monkey -- something I never thought I
    would see in real life! "Novembre" was all this and more

    but most of all, November was soccer.



    And soccer in Milan is a crown jewel of the city. Along
    with the great opera center, La Scala, along with the
    one of the world's fashion centers located on the Via
    Montenapoleone, along with the constant thrumming of
    business deals of the "borsa", the stock exchange. Along
    with the towering presence of the ornate gothic cathedral
    called simply "Il Duomo", the symbol of the city.

    Soccer was part and parcel of Milanese life. It was
    discusses everywhere at anytime by virtually everybody.
    You could hear it being talked about anywhere. But my
    favorite place to open up a copy of the Guerin Sportivo
    or to argue with a friend on the latest Italian National
    team controversy was the Galleria. THE Galleria folks,
    not some fake southern California yuppie spinoff.

    It stands next to the Duomo, a stately elegance of ornate
    glass, tile and lights called the Galleria Vittorio
    Emmanuale, an enclosed promenade that may have been
    the world's first indoor shopping mall, and is certainly
    still it's most wonderful. Nothing beats talking about
    soccer, or art, or politics, or just plain people
    watching in the Galleria.*

    I guess you can tell that I liked Milano -- not pretty like
    a Como or Orvieto or even Roma, It was not glamorous
    unless you are 'fashionable', but definitely a very livable city
    and one that never lacks for goings-on.

    Soccer in November in Milan was me playing the game for
    the American School of Milan. For playing (and sometimes
    even winning) games as a defender and then as a keeper.
    But really November to me was being a fan of Inter-
    nazionale of Milano, the "nerazzurri."

    One of the world's most powerful soccer teams in a city
    where some of the finest soccer the world has ever seen
    has been played. A city with a sharp divide between its
    two teams - Inter and arch-rival AC Milan. The neraz-
    zurri (the black and blue) against their deadly enemies
    -- the rossoneri (the red and black). Rivalry isn't
    enough to describe the gulf between fans of these
    teams! In fact, the word doesn't even come close.

    Inter and Milan shared an almost complete lock on the
    Italian soccer scene with Juventus, the "bianconeri".
    "Juve" as they were often known as, were one of the two
    main teams of Milan's sister industrial city of the
    north, Turin. Together, the triumvirate of Juve, Milan
    and Inter were - and still are - called "i grandi"
    (the great ones).

    No other team, no matter how talented, is given that
    title except for these teams. Along with Juve's arch-
    rival team, Torino, these teams have won 80% of Italy's
    "scudetti" (championships) in the top soccer league in
    Italy, Serie A (A Series, or A League). A virtual hege-
    mony of power was shared amongst these three teams.

    Soccer sports rivalries in Italy aren't like their
    brethren in the States. True, in Chicago you will find
    the odd Cub or Sox fan that almost foams at the mouth
    when talking about the crosstown rival team. But in
    Italy the crosstown rivalries (which are sometimes even
    regional, like Bologna and Firenze) are much, much
    more heated.

    Inter-Milan, Juve-Torino (despite the descent of the
    once-proud "Granata" into the second league in Italy,
    Serie B), and Roma-Lazio were the biggest of these
    crosstown rivalries, or "Derby" as they were called in
    Italy. You can only compare these rivalries to their
    brethren in Europe and South American and also to
    ones growing in Asia and Africa.

    A Derby in Italy (and in most of the rest of Europe as
    well) is not a minor matter. It isn't just fans jeer-
    ing each other for an afternoon, followed by a year of
    benign behavior. Oh no, it is far, far more than that.

    It is engrained in the Italian soccer fan's psyche to
    root for one's team, but it is even more deeply en-
    grained that one must hate the team's arch-rival with
    a passion that is only approached by the passionate
    love that Italians usually reserve just for wine, food,
    music, and the opposite sex (not necessarily in that
    order of course!)

    It isn't just the Yankees against Mets, it isn't just
    Bears against the Packers, it isn't just Ohio State
    against Michigan, this is a bitter and longstanding
    rivalry now 90 years old. The "ultras" (hardcore fans)
    of the the teams are at all times passionate about
    their teams. These clubs of usually quite young men
    have names, usually in English words (probably because
    of again the English tradition of the game and the
    newer, somewhat American influence of being more cool
    or modern because of using an english word) are named
    "Commandos", "Vikings", "Boys", "Fossa dei Leoni"
    (Italian for Lion's Den), "Fossa dei Serpenti"
    (Snake pit) -- and they are NOT for the faint of heart.
    If you sit in or around one of the areas that contain
    these fans expect to stand for most if not all the
    game and expect to listen to a cacophony of singing,
    yelling, horn-playing (sometimes with huge truck horns
    powered by batteries - the infamous 'klaxons' you hear
    at every Derby,)

    da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da
    da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da
    da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da....

    Most of all, expect your vision to be blocked from
    time to time by dozens, hundreds, even thousands of
    flags and banners proclaiming love for one's team or
    hatred for the rival. It is wise indeed to have a
    flag of your own even if you aren't a big fan. Just
    make sure that you are sitting in the right section!
    But more about *that* matter about ultras later on....

    Some ultras are merely very passionate, other bound
    into the criminal. Suffice it to say that an Inter
    fan does not sit in a Milan ultra section, nor does a
    Milan fan do the same in an Inter ultra section. Not
    unless you are insane or a very pretty young female.
    VERY pretty!

    So November in Milan for me was walking down the
    hallways of my school with my Inter bookbag, saying
    a hearty 'Forza Inter' to fellow Interisti, and an
    equally hearty 'Milan di Mer..." to the wretched
    Milanisti among the student population. But our
    friendship with chants shared with other Inter fans
    and the rivalry and taunts thrown at the Milan fans
    in the school halls was incredibly muted compared to
    the electric atmosphere of the Stadio San Siro, The
    Saint Cyril Stadium.

    San Siro is not a pretty stadium -- but along with
    Wembley, Maracana, and a few dozen other edifices,
    it is one of the world capitals of soccer. A "must visit"
    for any true (and sufficiently wealthy) fan of the
    game. It looms out of the fog on the southwest side of
    the city. It's grounds break up the montonous rows of
    towering apartment buildings that house some of the
    nearly two million people of the northern Italian
    Industrial city.

    The stadium when I was a boy was slightly different
    looking than it is now -- thanks to "improvements"
    made for the 1990 World Cup in which larger entrance
    ramps and more modern facilities were installed. All
    in all though, the improvements made the rather plain
    colossus of a stadium (almost 80,000 seated in it)
    into a truly ugly behemoth sitting in the "periferia"
    (the periphery, or outer zone) of Milano.

    But you didn't come to San Siro to admire its' archi-
    tecture, you came to admire your favorite team
    destroying the opposition, preferably the team from
    across town. You came to see the likes of Alessandro
    Mazzola (called Sandro, Sandrino or "il baffo" - the
    mustachioed one - by Inter fans.) Mazzola had wondrous
    ball control talent in his slight frame. He hardly
    looked the part of the talented athlete, but he
    remains one of Italy's best soccer players of all

    You came to see the elegant tall figure of Giacinto
    Facchetti striding up from the defense to make
    powerful counterattacks, the rocky face and even more
    rugged game of bulwark defender Tarcisio Burgnich, the
    bowl-like mop atop Roberto Boninsegna
    (Bonin-SEGNA! - a play on words in Italian meaning
    Bonin-SCORES! as "segnare" is Italian to "score" as in
    to score a goal), or the speed of Jair Da Costa, the
    Brasilian winger.

    If you were Milanista, you came to San Siro to see Romeo
    Benetti, the defending midfielder who possessed a cannon-
    like kick, you came to see Albertosi, the graceful goal-
    keeper who was battling with Dino Zoff for a starting
    spot on the national team, or Karl-Heinz Schnellinger,
    the tough German national defender.

    But mostly a Milan fan came to see Gianni Rivera, the
    midfielding wizard or "fantasista" (creative one - a
    term reserved only for the most precious talents of
    soccer) who clashed for years with his Inter rival
    Mazzola and who battled him for a spot as the playmaker
    of the Italian national side.

    Both teams had recently won Italian championships and
    had also had European Cup championships in the prior
    years. Each year their derby matchups and the ones with
    Juventus, almost certainly decided who would win the
    scudetto. Each year, the two derbies and the chance
    meeting in a "friendly" (ha!) or an Italian Cup match was
    the most sought-after ticket in town.

    My first year in Italy I did not have "the fever" bad
    enough nor the connections to go to a derby. But that
    changed in my second year. But I had already been to
    San Siro even as a newly arrived young high school
    freshman to watch an Italian Cup match between Inter
    and Juventus. This served as my "primer" and initiation
    into Italians watching their beloved calcio. And it
    helped make me into a lifelong fan. Coming into this
    game I was looking for something to replace my interest
    in American football; leaving it, I never again ached
    to see a oblong ball be thrown.

    I sat the entire game in a neutral section open to the
    general public. Most of these fans had just bought
    their tickets and a lot of them appeared to either
    be mild Inter fans or those of the visitors.

    Me and my friends Eric and John sat in a largely
    pro-Juve section immediately next to a woman who spent
    the whole game calling Mazzola the most vile of names.
    At first I thought she looked a bit like the actress
    Giulietta Masina that Fellini had used in years not
    too long before this game. But as the game went on and
    her insults to Mazzola unceasingly flowed forth, she
    only looked like Masina after a long steambath and
    too many grappas. Or Anna Magnani after being shot by
    the Germans in "Roma - Citta' Aperta"!

    The game was back and forth for the first hour with
    neither team ever mounting a truly threatening attack,
    Mazzola and Boninsegna being held in check by the Juve
    defense; Bettega, Causio and Capello being controlled
    by Inter. It remember the evening as being unusually
    warm and from our high perches we could see the foot-
    hills of the Alps.

    The game ebbed and flowed while I drank in the atmos-
    phere, the flags and banners, the animated conversations,
    the chants and songs. It began to grow dark. With less
    than thirty minutes left in the game "Il Baffo" Mazzola
    scored on a quick turnaround and flick
    shot after a Facchetti header was not cleared suffici-
    ently far enough from the area by Albertosi. Pandemonium
    erupted as the Inter fans erupted in cheers and massive
    flag-waving. Horns blew, men danced together, fathers
    bounced their children, little old men and ladies jumped
    up and down like Olympic gymnasts. Inter had scored!
    The "beneamata" (well-loved, a term used by Italian fans
    to describe their team) had scored! The players piled up
    on top of one another in a squirming blue and black mass
    on the field.

    da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da
    da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da
    da-da-DA-da da-da-DA-da!

    Some loud booms of big firecrackers could be heard. A
    blue flare was ignited and began to burnt brightly in
    one of the large Ultras section.

    But Ms. Juve was certainly not happy. Not only had her
    team been put behind, it had been bested by the player
    she had been deriding for an hour. She clasped her head
    in her hands and then closed her eyes as if not seeing
    would somehow banish this horrible event from her mind.

    'Po-rrrrrrrrr-ca miseria!" (hard to translate into
    english because it loses its impact, let's just say she
    wasn't happy) she trilled loudly.

    She then raised her balled-up fists to the sky as if in
    supplication to some god or gods, bemoaning her fate.
    Then she was glaring at me as I jumped up and down in
    glee at the masterful score by my hero. My two
    Interista friends and I slapped five and ten (no high
    fives or tens back then, we all slapped low) and began
    the standard "INTER-INTER-INTER-INTER!" chant
    that swelled to a roar as tens of thousands chanted.

    Ms. Juve and the other Juventus fans were trying their
    best at counter chants or sly little insertions between
    the INTER (like "va cacccar'" or "take a dump" between
    the INTER chant so they could make it sound like

    INTER -'va caccar' - INTER -'va caccar' - INTER.....

    Well, I didn't say Oscar Wilde or Ambrose Bierce was
    in the stands, did I? These were largely working-
    class people where I sat (even though I would not
    have been considered one of them, as a student I
    was much like them in that I couldn't afford to sit
    with the rich in their covered, comfortable seatback
    chairs in the lower stands.) So this is what was
    going to pass for wit. Of course, Milan and Inter
    fans did the same to the other teams' chants as
    well as Juve and some of the more hated rivals like
    Lazio, Cagliari, Fiorentina and Roma.

    All seemed well until just a scant few minutes from
    the end of the game, the dark, foreboding visage of
    Juve center-forward Pietro Anastasi appeared alone
    in front of the Inter goalie Bordon. Bordon came
    out desperately and dove at the quick strikers'
    feet...but to no avail. Anastasi whirled around the
    prostrate black-clad form of the keeper and fired
    the ball into the unguarded net as Facchetti vainly
    tried to block the ball.

    Suddenly Black and White flags appeared out of
    nowhere, scores of them dancing around in manic glee
    as the Juventus fans celebrated the equalling score.
    Inter fans moaned and buried their head in the
    hands or screamed abuse at the referee who had --
    according to them -- let Anastasi get away with a
    push on Burgnich.

    Ms. Juve was doing a bad twist imitation with her
    husband or boy friend. I was trying not to look
    devastated. She ended her cheers for Juve with
    --surprise!-- more invective directed at Mazzola.

    The game ended as a draw, which suited the Juve
    fans just fine, but left the Inter fans in a funk.
    I picked up my flag (on a hollow plastic pole
    because solid wood ones had long since been
    banned) and me and my friends walked out slowly
    out the ramps to the exits.

    We always took the "metro" to near the stadium
    and walked to and from the games that way. So we
    were on the way to the subway stop when we ran
    into two groups of fans - one juventino and the
    other interista who were yelling at one another
    from across a street. Occasionally a can would be
    launched from one group to another. We were on
    the side of the street with the Inter group. We
    stopped in our tracks.

    "I don't think we should get any closer" said

    "Nah, it's no big deal," said John, a tough
    New Yorker. "We just keep walking. We're on
    the right side of the street anyways."

    "Let's just cool it here for awhile," I suggested
    waiting to see if the groups moved on into the
    subway as we wanted to do.

    Suddenly a huge crash filled the air and everyone
    started running in all directions. A bottle or
    rock had hit a car window and broken it. I saw
    Eric and John turn around and run up the street
    the other way. I wasn't far behind.

    I don't know what happened there because we kept
    going until we saw a trolley line stop that we
    knew went into the center of the city and we got
    on it. It was full of Inter fans and one older
    couple with Juventus colors on. But there was
    no antagonism on the car, only the Inter fans
    arguing amongst themselves over who was to blame
    for the missed opportunity for a win over rival
    Juve. The Juve couple stared straight ahead with
    inscrutable expressions. John stood next to them
    holding onto a strap hanging from the ceiling.
    Me and Eric sat further back in the trolley next
    to two old ladies in black dresses carrying UPIM
    (an Italian department store) bags full of
    loaves of bread.

    "Ha perso l'Inter?" asked one lady, showing a
    mouth missing more than a few teeth. She was
    asking me if Inter had lost. No doubt the sullen
    discussion amongst the bigger group of Inter
    fans had provoked this question.

    "No, signora, l'hanno pareggiato uno a uno,"
    I replied telling her that no, it was a one to
    one tie.

    "Ah, ma quelli di la comportono come e' stato
    una sconfitta," she said laughing and shaking
    her head as she looked at her friend. She was
    amused by how sad the Inter fans looked after
    a tie. Probably a woman of southern Italian
    origin who knew that a tie with Juventus was
    no small accomplishment. But then, to those
    other Inter fans, and to me and my friends
    as well, we thought differently -- this was
    Milano, this was Inter. More was expected.

    END OF PART ONE..............................
    Last edited by F-C; 19 Oct 07 at 12:40.

  2. #2
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    Part 2

    (Part two in a four part essay on the Inter
    Milan derby. Hamid - enjoy the game in
    this story. It will be your only joy this
    season as a poor Milanista!) :-))))

    Indeed, that is the blessing and the curse
    of Italian soccer, more is always expected.

    The anger of fans came to me in a more forceful
    way the next season when we managed tickets to
    the real thing - Inter versus Milan in a game
    that was official for the campionato. Both teams
    were high on the rankings along with Lazio, led
    by Giorgio Chinaglia, and with the aforementioned
    Juve team. The stadium was sold out and we were
    heading to the game in a large group from our
    school, about half of the kids were Milan fans
    and half were Inter fans.

    We took the subway to the last stop, Lotto. We
    then decided to walk to the stadium instead of
    taking the bus. The girls that were with us
    (only three had come - ah, the pain of teen-
    agers!) did not fancy getting on a crowded bus
    with plenty of "roaming hands" threatening
    their bottoms. So we walked -- it was not a
    problem for us anyway -- we were there early
    enough and our young legs thought nothing of
    the walk.

    "Milan is going to win," said Mike to me, his
    Milan cap cockily tilted to one side on his
    head, a red-and-black scarf keeping him warm
    against the cool breeze that was blowing on
    another foggy Milanese Sunday in the fall.

    "Now how can you say that Mike - you know
    nothing about soccer," said Eric, not the
    one from before, but a taller German who
    lived in a marvelous penthouse with a view of
    the Duomo. His friend Enrico, a Brasilian,
    laughed at the suggestion that Milan would
    win. But Mike stuck to his guns.

    "I know enough to know that Milan is playing
    great right now and Inter doesn't have the
    attack to score on Milan," said Mike some-
    what defensively. Mike was a relatively new
    arrival in Italy, but had picked up the lan-
    guage and a love for soccer quickly. He and
    his brother Tex (guess where they were from)
    had fallen in with a group of Milanistas at
    the school - poor devils!

    "Schnellinger is getting old and Albertosi
    is second rate - both Zoff and Bordon are
    better than him," said Eric, looking down
    imperiously at the shorter Mike.

    "Eh, Americani, americani che fate qui?"
    (Hey, Americans! Americans! What are you
    doing here?) a group of surly older (must
    have been all of 20 or 21 while none of us
    was even 17) Milan ultras suddenly appeared
    in front of us. They had guessed from hearing
    our English mixed with Italian that we were
    not Italian and they didn't like the easy
    mixture of blue and red amongst our group.
    They also looked to very likely be commu-
    nists, judging from their student attire,
    so an additional tension was in the air.
    The Vietnam War was in full swing and
    student demonstrations in Italy had been
    heated lately, mixed with labor protests
    and the contest backgroud of strikes.

    "Ma siamo da tutti nazioni," said Eric, a
    longtime resident of Milano who knew the
    rules well. He let the ultras know that we
    were Americans and Italians and Brits and
    French and Brasilians and Germans. The American
    School had kids from 18 different countries
    in it from North and South America as well
    as Europe and the Middle East. At this time
    many rich foreigners sent their kids to our
    school so they could pick up English quickly.

    When the Milan ultras heard Eric was a dual-
    national German-Italian, they asked him if
    he liked Schnellinger. Eric responded enthusi-
    astically that he was while we stifled giggles
    because Eric was dyed-in-the-wool Interista
    with a passionate hatred for Schnellinger,
    considering him a traitor, and worse -- a Milan
    player. Fortunately Eric had no blue or red
    on that day -- he fancied himself a sharp
    dresser and compared to the rest of us who
    were in in the standard student uniform of
    that time -- jeans and drab olive jackets,
    he was.

    Another rossonero ultra came up to me and Mike
    and asked us what we thought of Nixon, then
    President of the United States. I answered that
    I didn't particularly care for him while Mike
    kept quiet, his halting Italian and his
    Republican party tendencies causing him to
    consider silence a wise choice in this situation.

    "Ma, sai devi ucciderlo!" said the ultra, leaning
    into me and poking his finger in my chest. He was
    telling me I should kill him! I answered that
    that would accomplish nothing, I would only be
    arrested and the same things would go on (the
    Vietnam War, the bombings in Cambodia). I said
    that assasination was not the answer, political
    change was and that I was hoping to vote for a
    Democrat when I was old enough.

    I could see he was winding up for a long speech
    about politics and the evils of the United States
    so I began to back away, apologizing and saying
    that the rest of my group was leaving (which they
    were as the girls started to complain that they
    were getting cold standing around.) He shook his
    head in disgust at my obviously ignorant views
    of the world and fired a parting shot.

    "Inter di merda, Mazzola di merda, Stati Uniti
    di merda," he said as he flipped us the bird.
    (Inter is shite, Mazzola is shite, the United
    States is shite.)

    Mike couldn't take it any longer and returned
    the bird back to him, then turning it sideways
    and yelling in english "And this is for the
    horse you rode in on!" We disappeared around
    the corner and there was the stadium and also,
    even better, a lot of carabinieri (the Italian
    State Police). Some of them had riot gear on
    with shield and helmets and long batons, others
    were adjusting packs which obviously contained
    gas masks. It made you think -- am I going to
    a game, or am I going to a battle?

    A lot of the first and not too little of the
    latter was the answer to that question.

    We walked in through large steel gates and handed
    our tickets to the ticket takers and were then
    eyeballed for weapons by police. Some of the
    more questionable looking (not me I swear! --
    although they carefully checked my flag and the
    pole to see that no weapons were in the pole
    or hidden in the furls of the big black and blue
    banner) were led aside for more thorough
    searches. We passed through after a policeman
    almost broke my plastic flag pole (a not un-
    intentional move I think, either he was Milanista
    or just didn't like the pole even if it was
    legal, being hollow.)

    We began the walk up the ramp to our level on
    high above the field on the same side as the
    teams but towards the corner. Well, we got in!
    Some danger of nosebleed, but at least no one
    could urinate on us (a danger for fans of one
    team seating underneath fans of another - dis-
    gusting but true)

    We sat in a fortunately mixed section that seemed
    not to have too many problems for our group. But
    only thirty meters away a huge Inter ultra
    group sat behind a fenced partition (and this
    was the upper deck). It was an infamous Curva
    group of Ultras. We didn't know much, but we
    knew to steer clear of them, even the Inter
    fans amongst us. They were already chanting in
    unision. First they would chant to the field and
    to the few players or officials on the pitch at
    this time.

    Then they would turn the left and begin to
    yell chants at the one large Milanista group
    in the upper seats. This was an Inter "home"
    game, and the Inter fans held their usual
    season seats with the Milan fans in fewer
    numbers and out of their element slightly.

    Most, if not all the chants yelled at this
    groups involved high praise of Inter, and no
    praise of Milan. A favorite chant was

    "Gianni Rivera - putana rossonera"

    Well I already said it wasn't slick wit in the
    stands. I think most everyone can make out
    the gist of that insult. Milan fans responded
    in kind, one cheer referred to the fact that
    Inter had its origins as an offshoot of Milan
    and was therefore a bastard child. Slightly
    more witty, but you left allegory to Dante
    Aleghieri and home when you came to the game,
    these fans were more interested
    in overlaps and motor midfielders, not
    couplets and the fate of man's soul.

    "Hey, I am going to get something to drink,"
    said Eric. "I got to have something to wash
    down this prosciutto crudo."

    "Hey, I'll trade you my Porchetta Peck
    sandwich," I said to Eric, smacking my lips
    at the idea of some smooth, tangy crudo.
    And the bread that Eric had looked absolutely
    fresh baked. I forgot about the game while
    I considered this treat (some things never

    Eric's mom shopped at the Rosticceria Peck
    downtown. Actually her maid shopped there --
    and he liked to have the salty, spicey
    pork sandwich called the Porchetta. I could
    almost taste the proscuitto melting in my

    "Hey, I got a foccacia from Stella tabacchi,"
    said John, blowing my trade negotiations
    sky high. "I'll trade ya."

  3. #3
    F-C's Avatar
    Join Date
    19 Jul 06
    54 times

    Part 3

    "Bene - e' fatto," said Eric, saying that the deal
    was done, grabbing the bigger Foccacia and
    handing over the object of my culinary desire
    to the interloping John. I could smell the
    fresh bread, the cheese, the proscuitto! Ai!

    "Madonna," I said in disgust, turing around to tell
    John's girlfriend that he was a selfish jerk. She
    smiled at me as if to say "tell me something I
    don't know, Paul."

    I consoled myself with the Porchetta Peck and the
    Gazzosa that Eric brought back (a sweet Seven-Up
    like drink sold in Italy). I also had a some sugar
    cookies so I soon contented myself with talking
    to Mike about how many more Inter flags were waving
    and how much bigger they were than the Milan banners.

    One huge Inter flag was being slowly and majestically
    waved at the front of the top balcony by two fans
    holding the wildly bending pole. The flag was easily
    twenty feet in length and featured a large gold star
    in a field of black and blue and the legend:


    and underneath in smaller letters the legend

    "FEDELISSIMI" (the most faithful ones)

    The two young men struggled with the dual tasks of
    keeping the flag from wrapping itself around them
    or a luckless passerby and the seeming possibility
    not being dragged over the edge of the long drop
    to the grandstand below whenever a gust of wind
    grabbed the huge standard.

    My own flag, not exactly small (it was the largest
    one I could find for sale in the sports shop by
    our family's apartment), could have been layed over
    many times inside this huge banner with space for
    considerable lettering still left over.

    To the right of the giant, a banner was draped over
    the edge of the balcony and ran at least thirty meters.
    On it were a large FORZA INTER! and then the word
    "FOSSA" and then a fold that hid the other words
    and then half-decent depictions of Mazzola, Facchetti
    and Domenghini standing together confidently, arms
    crossed in the age-old traditional soccer picture
    pose. Other banners ran around all the balcony --
    I stopped counting at 25 large ones, and except
    for the corner that the Milan allotment was
    compressed in, were all black and blue. A sturdy
    fence separated the Milan fans on both sides from
    the Inter ones.

    The same kind of fence surrounded the field. Ten feet
    high and topped with spikes, it was meant for some
    serious crowd control. Also for crowd control was
    an entrance to the field that came not from amongst
    the stands, but out of a tunnel leading to a hole
    in the field on top of which was extended a sturdy
    canvas cover to protect the teams from thrown
    objects. Unfortunately, it's presence was often

    Several hundred riot police ringed the field, mingling
    with photographers, ballboys and regular carabinieri
    in their snazzy dark blue uniforms. A small group
    of bersaglieri - the colorful army troops with feathers
    in their caps and a trademark quick-run march - were
    also present.

    "Hey, the Bersaglieri are here," said Mike looking at
    the feathered and peaked caps of the lounging troops.
    "Why do they need them?"

    "Probably the band we'll hear for the presentation."
    said Eric. Normally there were no bands at games,
    but an important Italian politician had recently
    been assassinated by Red Brigade terrorists so the
    band was part of short ceremony to commemorate the
    unfortunate man's passing.

    "Will they run while they play?," asked Mike.

    "Nah, I don't think so -- not for this time
    anyway," said the Italian-American Eric. "Non
    sarrebbe appropriato per una ricordanza. (It
    wouldn't be appropriate for a condolence.)

    The riot police were ready for almost anything, they
    carried nightsticks and had packs with tear gas
    and gas masks. Plastic face shields rode high on their
    heads and heavy jackets with POLIZIA emblazoned on
    them made them bulky with intent. Some German Shepard
    guard dogs paced with their masters. Shields lay
    against the fence in groups.

    A clutch of workers ran out to the center of the field
    carrying some banners and poles. They quickly
    assembled a pyramidal structure that was a four sided
    advertisement at mid-field that read:



    Some commotion occurred on one end of the stands,
    seconds after this commotion an official in Inter
    togs ran out to the advertisement gesturing wildly
    and as suddenly as it had gone up, the ad was
    brought down, right in the middle of some voice-
    over advertisments promoting the furrier that were
    being read by over the public address system.

    At this time a Milanista from our school named Paul
    ran up the aisle laughing and said.

    "The put the ad on backwards on two of the panels,"
    he said giggling. "Inter can't even have the ads
    run right."

    This of course started a mini-squabble amongst our
    factions which ended with John knocking over my
    Gazzosa bottle by accident when Tex pushed him.

    I told John that he might as well be a milanista -
    first he took crudo from me and now he was trying
    to have me die of thirst. He offered to buy a
    replacement but I needed to go to the men's room
    so I excused myself. Thirty minutes before the
    game -- plenty of time.

    I started down the steps and noted that the ad
    for Annabella had gone back up, this time with
    the additional advantage of having all the
    lettering facing the right way. Some sarcastic
    cheers rang out from the stands. The Milan fans
    were singing to Rivera who was warming up with
    a few short sprints. The Inter fans were
    drowning them out with insults of Milan's
    great #10....

    There was no more gazzosa so I had to buy some
    acqua minerale San Pellegrino instead. I ran
    into some Milan fans from the International
    School of Milan soccer team that we regularly
    played against. They were tall skinny Germans
    who were not our best friends, this year they
    were a bit more tame as we had tied them 4-4
    instead of losing as we usually did to them.

    "Hey Americano interista," said the taller one,
    "Schnellinger is going to kick the shite out of
    Mazzola and Boninsegna."

    I asked him with as straight a face as I could
    muster whether Milan would avoid scoring an
    auto-gol (own-goal). A reference to the fact
    that the tall German had had that unfortunate
    event happen to him in that drawn game against
    us. He scowled and muttered something not
    complimentary in German. I smiled and while
    trying to cooly Charles Bronson-like exit out
    of there walked straight into a program seller
    who spilled his souvenirs on the ramp.

    "Eh, che fai!" The old gentleman bent over while
    I tried to ignore the giggles of the two Germans
    as I helped the vendor pick up the fallen
    merchandise. A poliziotto watched me with an
    amused look from his post by the entryway. I
    excused myself and tried to vanish out of there.

    Emerging out onto the balcony it was obvious
    the time to the game was approaching -- the chants
    were picking up and a groups of players from
    both clubs were huddled under the cover of the
    canvas over the exit tunnel talking amongst
    themselves and with some field officials.

    They conversed in a quite friendly manner,
    sharing a moment of camraderie before the battle.
    I thought one of the interista players was Bonimba
    (an affectionate nickname for Roberto Boninsegna,
    the Inter center-forward and Italian national)
    while one of the Milan players was definitely
    Chiarugi, a small winger famous for his speed
    and his theatrical dives after fouls (or non-fouls).
    At least he was famous for that with us interisti!

    If there was one Milan player I disliked above
    all others it was Chiarugi. The Inter fans on
    our soccer team called players who made big
    scenes after fouls a "Chiarugi" -- something
    the Milanisti on the team tried to change to
    a "Mazzola" - without much success or so I thought
    anyway! Mazzola never faked a foul, everyone
    knew that! Everyone except the silly Milanisti!
    Chiarugi was so bad that he had drawn two yellows
    the season before for seemingly endless agonized
    rolls after alledged fouls.

    On one the referee actually stood and waited for
    the Milan player to stop rolling and look up
    tenatively before slowly withdrawing the yellow
    and writing his name down. Rivera, as captain
    tried to placate the official, pointing the
    opponent as a more worthy recipient. Meanwhile
    Chiarugi huddled in a ball while the Milan
    trainer applied the "magic sponge" that
    seemingly cured every malady short of cancer
    with just a few wipes and squeezes.

    A roar interrupted my reverie. The teams!

    Running parallel to each other the two sides
    came out. Shivers ran down my spine as the
    crowd of over 70,000 roared cheers for their
    favorite players and teams. Wave after wave
    of sound cascaded down from the packed stands.
    Two of the world's great soccer teams were
    lining up to do battle.


    The Milan fans waited for whatever breaks
    they could to inject quick Milan chants
    before being drowned out by the responding
    "home" fans. Nevertheless the Milan cheers
    were surprisingly loud and it took the Inter
    group some effort to drown them out.

    At the front of the groups ran Mazzola and
    Rivera side by side, holding small momentos
    for the other teams captain and a presentation
    to be given to a charity that was being

    As long as I live I will not forget the wave-
    like movements of thousands of flags, blue,
    black, red, black, dollops of gold and white
    thrown in here and there (gold was the third
    color of Inter, while the third color of Milan)
    The Klaxons went wild, other deeper horns now
    joined the awesome tide of sound. I looked over
    at one of the girls, Kerry, and she was holding
    her hands over her ears, wincing in pain. Not
    for the faint of heart, nor was it for the
    short! Poor Kerry was having trouble seeing
    anything but Eric the German's back.

    Flags waved wildly, the stands in the balconies
    and behind the goals literally undulating with
    the blue movements of hundred of small, medium
    and large flags and banners. Two smaller
    knots of red moved amongst the sea of black,
    blue and gold, one in the lower corner and
    another in the corner above them. Milanisti
    in an ocean of Inter.

    Klaxons went off wildly, their four note
    squeals going off over and over again. Other
    sirens let out brief songs, the favorite one
    being of all things "La Cucaracha" for some
    reason or other. Probably because only five
    notes were needed for the key refrain. La Scala
    this was not, this was far more serious "art"
    to many Italians - leave the music to Sills
    and Callas. It's derby time!

    Eric and I slapped hands for luck as we
    always did before games and I did the same
    with John -- despite his culinary crimes.
    The Milan fans amongst us tried to look
    calm and cool amongst the thundering of
    the Inter fans. Fat chance! We laughed at
    them and elbowed them if we could. They
    defiantly shove back and yelled Forza Milan!
    as loud as they could. What a moment. The fog
    seemed to lighten a bit and the day grow a
    bit less gray for a few minutes. INTER!

    The players ran out diagonally from the
    field tunnel to the center of the field
    facing their bench and the main grandstand
    where the big shots sat in the plush seatbacks
    that cost $80 or more a game - stratospheric
    for the time. Politicians, Inter and Milan
    management, a smattering of celebrities
    joined the wealthy of Milano and Lombardy
    in those seats -- a bomb thrown here would
    cripple the city, no doubt the mayor and
    most of the leaders of industry were here,
    including the father of current Inter owner

    But enough of the big shots....

    Mazzola looked like the corner barber and
    Rivera like a young dandy -- neither appeared
    to be the world class midfielder he was.
    Right behing them strode the more imposing
    blocklike figures of Burgnich and Schnellinger,
    no-nonsense men with pillar like legs. The
    almost giraffe-like height of Facchetti towered
    over all but Milan's Albertosi, the Milan
    keeper wore a gray and black keeper kit and
    Bordon, the Inter goalie, wore all black and
    his trademark rakish tilted cap. I considered
    wearing one of these in honor of him during
    my own contests, but my long bushy curls didn't
    "cotton" to this kind of cap, so I settled for
    a headband instead. But at least I always wore
    all-black as the keeper. For back then, almost
    all keepers wore all black.

    At that time there were few teams or countries
    that had the colorful keeper kits that now
    dominate. Most everyone was emulating as
    a tradition the famous all-black kit of the
    immortal Russian keeper Lev Yashin.

    The players lined up with each team on one side
    of the midfield line. The coaches and bench
    players walked or ran to the fiberglass protected
    bench areas. Inter's manager Invernizzi and his
    Milan counterpart Rocco shook hands and talked
    for a few seconds. Undoubtedly words of great
    wisdom were being exchanged but no one would
    hear them over the singing that now came from
    the stands. Invernizzi looked the part of the pained
    orchestra conductor, a wince always playing on
    his face. Rocco looked like his name sounded
    -- tough-as-nails, with a mouth set hard in a
    resolute boxers' visage.

    The players did as players everywhere did while
    the pre-game ceremony was being held. They jumped
    up and down, talked, scratched themselves, joked
    with one another, checked the stands out. Then
    they raised their shoes as the officials walked
    by checking for any illegal studs on their shoes. The
    linesmen then ran out to the goals to check the
    nets at both ends. With shooters like Benetti
    and Boninsegna on the field, it would be best
    to make sure they were securely fastened and
    without holes!

    The players that stood still through a brief
    ceremony as the bersaglieri played a song I
    didn't know (not the Italian national anthem,
    because that was rarely done at Italian sporting
    events of the time). But something stately and
    also mercifully short. Then the exchange of
    tokens and a quick posing for team pictures.

    Then the players burst out to their field
    positions. The roars keyed back up to ear-
    splitting levels. A Baffo! Baffo! Baffo!
    chant started for Mazzola who was easily and
    artfully juggling the ball at the center
    circle while playfully keeping it away from
    Boninsegna. The ball seemed on a string from
    thigh to instep, back to thigh again, then
    to instep, all the while Bonimba laughing as he
    tried to take it away from Sandro. When it looked
    like Sandrino was going to lose the ball he
    hit it just a little bit harder up to his head
    where he balanced it above his heavy eyebrows
    and then dropped it so sweetly, continuing with
    the amazing juggling.

    An artist with the ball -- Georgie Best had his
    great skills, Platini his marvels with the ball, Diego
    Armando Maradona the incredible balance and
    sweet touch, Pele the laser-like eye for the open
    space, but to me, Sandro Mazzola was the master
    of dribbling. He seemed to have a secret agreement
    going with the ball -- 'you don't leave my foot and
    I will see that you are treated well.'

    Mazzola finally surrendered the ball to the referee
    and did quick little gallops, raising his
    thighs so that they almost touched his chest.
    Facchetti kicked some looping shots at Bordon.
    On the Milan side Chiarugi was talking to one
    of the linesman. Should have figured that to
    be happening. Already politicking!!!

    Benetti fired some twenty-five meter rockets at
    Albertosi who fisted all of them (except one
    or two who rippled the net sharply) back in huge
    arcs almost all the way back to Benetti on
    the fly. Rivera was now talking with the referee
    and Boninsegna at the center circle. Mazzola
    came running back up and shook hands with the
    referee and pushed Rivera slightly and in a not
    unfriendly manner. Rivera hopped backwards while
    gesturing in a friendly manner back to his
    nerazzurro rival. Ma che cosa? ('What are you
    doing' you could hear them saying....)

    Hmmmm....joking with the enemy? How could this
    be? Come on Sandro, this is Milan! Our
    enemies! This is The Derby!

    The Milan fans beseeched their hero while Inter
    fans roared their approval for their idols. The
    referee looked at his watch in that age-old
    referee's timekeeping gesture.

    Sandro would have a great game, but as for his
    teammates....well, some things just don't
    happen as you want them to.

    The plane that had been constantly flying over
    the stadium towing first an UPIM banner and then
    a Pelicceria Annabella banner was flying off with
    a little wiggle of its biplane wings as a final
    sign. Hmmm...was a milanista or an interista
    in there? Hopefully not a juventino I thought.

    Now it was business.

    The whistle blew and all fans roared at once.

    Milan started with the ball and Rivera promptly
    launched a long strike to Chiarugi who dribbled
    the ball off his feet prompting long derisive
    cheers. Obviously all Inter fans "liked" him
    about as much as I did!

    Facchetti threw the ball into Bonisegna, who
    had come far back to get a quick early touch
    on the ball. He always seemed to like to do this
    and the Inter faithful roared in support.

    "Bonimba! He will be on his game today!" said
    Eric the German. "Watch him score quick!"

    Inter held sway in the first few noisy minutes,
    the chants never-ending. An Inter banner was
    passed over us, a twenty meter wide star-filled
    flag that had us laughing at the sour expressions
    on our milanista classmates. Mike refused to
    help and had his Milan hat knocked off by the
    flag brushing it off -- we laughed and temporarily
    kept it from him until his brother finally jumped
    and got it back. Milan di mer....

    Milan was absorbing the Inter attacks well, Karl
    Heinz was particularly outstanding, clearing the
    ball from Domenghini's foot as he prepared a shot
    from little over ten meters and then once poking
    the ball away from Mazzola, who went catapulting
    head over heels after the tackle. The crowd howled
    but no sign from the official except a play on.
    Mazzola looked to have been more than just touched
    but the ball had been played first according to the
    referee apparently. Facchetti lobbied for his
    running mate of many years, but of course, to no

    A few minutes later Benetti (or was it another
    midfielder?) lost the ball as an Inter counter-
    attack was led by Domenghini and Facchetti. There
    was a heavy mist around heightened by the flares
    that were intermittently being set off in the
    stands. Milan in the fall -- waves of gray in the

    But nowhere near as bad as the Cagliari game the
    year before when the officials debated whether to
    play the game at all. Heavy fog made viewing the
    contest from beyond the fourth row of the lower
    stands an exercise in psychic powers. And the
    Milanese fog had a taste to it -- sulfur dioxide.
    This "cat's feet" had chemical claws.

    A roar brought me back to reality.........
    Jair had beat two men with a serpentine run down
    the far side and unleashed a perfect cross that
    ended with Facchetti just missing the far post
    with a solidly struck header that had Albertosi


    Sixty thousand throats cried out in agony.

    Eyes were covered as the disbelief at the missing
    of the golden opportunity sunk in. A smoke bomb
    had been thrown on the field after Mazzola had
    gone down, and now was clouding the field in front
    of Albertosi. Mazzola himself kicked it off to the
    side where some Carbinieri poked at with batons
    before covering it with a tarp. The first smoke
    bomb of the game, it would not be the last.

    End of part three.....

  4. #4
    F-C's Avatar
    Join Date
    19 Jul 06
    54 times

    Part 4

    (The last of four installments. I hope you have enjoyed reading this. I appreciate the mail I have gotten from those who have been following the story. I hope others will follow suit with whatever articles suit their own fancies. Ciao Tutti!)

    Prati was beginning to help Rivera at midfield for Milan and they began to gain more and more possession on the ball. A quick one-two between the Milan midfielders broke the Inter lock on the middle of the pitch and let Rivera stroke a long pass to Chiarugi who broke down the wing past a slipping Inter defender. Burgnich broke over to cover the quick little rossonero wing but not before Chiarugi cut a quick head-high cross that whizzed by the Inter libero and past the turning head of Facchetti.

    The cross found a lunging Schnellinger who beat the frozen Bordon to the near post with a header from just eight or nine meters out.

    A stunned silence then a roar of joy from the Milan sections as Karl-Heinz bounded away to the corner in front of the Milan fans. He soon disappeared under a swarm of red and black shirts and white shorts.

    Meanwhile Facchetti and Burgnich were by the lines- man claming that Schnellinger was behind the Inter defense and that the goal should be disallowed. It was just frustration, even from my far, and decidedly Inter-friendly viewpoint, the Milan
    player looked well onsides. The official walke away from the two two desperately appealing Inter players, shaking his head.

    The rest of the first half disappeared in a haze of smoke bombs and scattered whistles towards a sputtering Inter attack. The Inter group of the American school of Milan was quite dejected. Things weren't helped by the constant reminders of our deficit by the Milanistas of ASM.


    The crowd chanted as Mike and Paul the Milanista joined them along with the rest of the knot of Milan followers in our group. The girls even cheered with them, adding insult to injury.

    Eric the German grabbed me and pulled me down a runway crowded with sullen Inter fans smoking the acrid Nazionale Italian national brand of cigarettes. The smoke genuinely stung your eyes. The reek from them made Lucky Strikes and even the powerful French Gauloises pale in comparison.

    "Madonna, we're playing like crap," said Eric looking somewhat more rumpled than his usual dapper self. "We aren't using the flanks and Mazzola is being fouled every time he touches the ball. Boninsegna is coming back nearly to the defense to get the ball and we have no one to launch the counter to."

    "Outside of that, we're allright!" I attempted a feeble joke. All I got from Eric was an even more disgusted look before he spun on his heels to go to the jam-packed loo.

    I shook my head and gazed out at the Milan section where chants of derision were being hurled at the Inter followers. Behind the safety of the sturdy partition of course.

    I walked back to our seats to see Eric the Italian trying to salvage something from the game trying to chat up one of the girls. Hmmmm, Eric had always been rather shy, so I settled back to watch his nascent technique.

    Tex and Mike interrupted my observations as they grabbed my flag, wrapping the Inter banner around the pole and hosting a Milan scarf tied to its top.

    Now that was too much.

    I was quite a bit bigger than the two brothers but two girls were between me and the Milanistas so I couldn't just trample them in my rush to separate the interlopers from my flag (or consciousness). I reached around one of the cringing girls and grabbed Mike by the lapel of his jacket and pulled him and the flag backwards towards me.

    I got the flag back, but at the cost of the pole being cracked and also Tex was angry at me for pushing around his brother. Mike wasn't angry, he was too happy with Milan's lead and the fact that the pole was cracked to mind too much.

    I apologized to Tex but told him to stay away from the flag or risk further wrath. He, of course, started a Milan chant in reply. Me and the Inter contingent seethed. The girls had finished checking to see whether us blundering males had spilled anything on their clothes. Assured that they were still immaculately casual, they went back to talking animatedly.

    "What do you think they're talking about Paul," said Eric the Italian to me. "I bet it's not about soccer."

    "Why don't you ask them?" I responded my mind more on my grumbling stomach than on either the girls or whatever subject they may have been considering.

    "Hey Kerry, what are you guys talking about," said Eric to the nearest one.

    Three quickly turned faces stopped their conversation, only to explode into giggles and then they returned to the talk, this time in whispers.

    "They're either talking about us or which of the guys around us is cute," I said craning my neck to see if Eric the German was returning with the food.

    "You think Kerry likes me?" said Eric the Italian. "I think she's cute."

    "Eric, you know what I just said?" I said as I rolled my eyes. "Why don't you ask them? Girls actually answer when you talk to them."

    I was starting to feel something that didn't involve teenage flirting or even food (general surprise there.) Things were tense with Inter trailing in the game and I felt as if some of that tension was directed at us.

    The Milan chant had the effect that other fans in the section, Inter of course, had begun to notice us. It was not a pleasant recognition on their part.

    Another green-jacketed, blue-jeaned Inter fan walked over to our section and told me I should have punched the Milanista for taking the flag. I tried to play him off a bit, saying that Mike was a little crazy and not to mind him.

    Just then Eric the German appeared with some pannini and one of those gaucho leather squeeze sacks full of apple cider to save the day. He pushed past the curious outsider and we were soon all munching and ignoring the angry interista, the curious Inter fan snorted and walked away, glancing over his shoulder. Whew.

    Both Erics and I told Paul, Tex and Mike to cool it. It was bad enough that they were wearing Milan colors at an Inter home game, but to screw around with an Inter flag in full view of everyone (not to mention the fact that it was my flag.)

    "Ah, Inter fans are all talk," said Paul the Milanista, all 5-4 of him. "We got nothing to worry about."

    Yeah, right. He wouldn't be saying the same thing in a hour or so. I would be wishing then that *he* was right.

    The second half of the game was more of the same from Milan and more of the same from Inter. Substitutions were made on both sides, but the play remained largely at the midfield with Rivera and Prati dancing away from their markers, retaining possession of the ball for maddening stretches of time.

    Invernizzi began to push up Facchetti more and more seeking the tying goal. Burgnich was left to man mark the tall legend's man in lieu of his usual duties as libero. Ultimately this only led to a second Milan goal. It was just not the nerazzurri's day.

    It happened just 10 minutes from the final whistle. Chiarugi broke free again down the sidelines and passed into the box to a stunningly wide-open Rivera who curled a lazy shot into the far "seven" of the goal, leaving Bordon flat-footed and disconsolate.

    Milan 2, Inter 0. Oh, the pain!

    Now the Milan area was openly abusing a whistling Inter crowd. The Inter fans did not respond heartily at first, pre- ferring instead to whistle and catcall at Invernizzi, who had never enjoyed the status of his famous predecessor, Helenio Herrera, the Uruguayan manager who had brought 3 scudetti, 2 Champion's Cups, and 2 Intercontinental Cups to Inter.

    The day grew cooler and the fog settled heavily in the waning moments of the game. Eric the German wanted to leave early, disgusted. The rest of us, of course the Milanisti, wanted to stay to the end.

    We should have listened to him.

    Several flares and one or two smoke bombs were thrown onto the pitch, some yellow rain-suited Inter employees ran out to kick them off the pitch.

    The natives were indeed restless. Any decision, favorable or not, was derided by the fans, howling and whistling and throwing objects. The police and soldiers moved into position around the edges of the field, their shields now protecting their bodies in fronts. Their plastic face shields lowered over their eyes.

    What surprised me was the numbers and the armour of police and soldiers behind a stout ten-foot steel spiked fence. There seemed to be at least a couple of hundred troops and police, all ready for action. No one was taking any chances with a pitch invasion.

    The bersaglieri disappeared down the ground tunnel -- they were hardly dressed for crowd control and they had their instruments to boot. You could see a few of them ducking objects from the stands. Things were definitely turning ugly.

    An Inter shot by Bonimba that hit the post a few seconds before the final whistle seemed to only serve to heighten the frustration of the Inter fans as the final whistle blew amidst jeering of Inter fans and cheering from the Milan side.

    Paul, Tex and Mike were jumping up and down, taking particular care to include the girls in the celebration. Double punishment!

    Only the Milan fans seemed to be sway- ing, their rossonero banners and signs waving gayly amidst a sea of limp nerazzurro flags and banners. It was defin- itely not my dream of a derby ending.

    We argued briefly with our Milanista schoolmates about staying or leaving, an argument won by us when we said we were leaving whether they came or not. The girls, looking at our Inter colors and much larger size, decided to go with us. That ended the argument as Mike, Tex, and Paul the Milanista will- ingly followed the fair ones onto the exit ramps.

    The crowds were not sullenly quiet as they winded down the ramp. They were sullen and noisy. Every minute or so a firecracker would explode deafeningly in the enclosed concrete ramp, a ringing noise that had us all covering our ears in pain.

    A klaxon sounded from a group of insane Milanistas, shouting and some pushing ensued between that group and the surr- ounding Inter fans. I looked over at Mike and saw that he did not seem to care, that no concern seemingly crossed his face about the incident.

    We filed out of the stadium and noted that the small army of troops and police that had been there at the start of the game had seemingly vanished. There wasn't a shield with "Polizia" on it anywhere to be seen!

    We walked off in the direction of the metro stop at Lotto. I wanted to stop at a Tabacchi (a Coffee/Cigarette bar) to buy some gettone (tokens used to make calls instead of coins) but the Tabacchi was packed full with fans commiserating over a "caffe' forte" an cup of powerful espresso with a dash of grappa in it. Arguments roiled back and forth between the crowd of Inter fans. No gettone today from this place, unless you wanted to spend 15 minutes wading through the crowd to get to the bar.

    There went the chance of getting anybody's parents to drive out and pick us up!

    We turned away and continued to walk to the metro. The cowd was rapidly thinning out as the ones who had driven were already either in the main parking lot of San Siro or were fanning out to the side streets near the stadium where they had parked. Many of them would find par- king tickets when they got to their cars, the police had not been without some forces outside the stadium too!

    We bought a bag of hot chestnuts from a vendor to help ward off the cold as much to stay our hunger. Kerry clutched at one in her mittened hands, cradling it like a Faberge' egg and smelling its delicious aroma and revelling in its warmth. I, on the other hand, ate mine as soon as it seemed cool enough, burning my tongue slightly in my greedy disregard for safety. The chestnut vendor asked the score and when informed that Milan had won, just shook his head and lamented that business would be poor today. Losing fans didn't buy as much as winners did.

    Here was one man removed from the maelstrom of emotions, instead concerned with the day to day practicalities of life. We asked him who he supported. He smiled and said that he was from a small village near Catanzaro and still supported his home town team although they were mired well back in the Italian divisions.

    We bought another bag of chestnuts from him because he looked like he needed the business and he thanked us, wishing us luck. He also admitted with a cackle that he was a little bit of a Juventus fan too. Ay, ay, ay....

    We continued our walk to the Metro and now the crowds had definitely thinned out. We were in several small groups, I was walking alone with Mike talking about the game. We were arguing over who was better, Mazzola or Rivera, when some shouts broke our concentration. I looked around expecting to see Eric or Paul or some of the girls, but it wasn't them. No, it wasn't them at all...

    A group of Inter ultras were closing on me and Mike quickly, yelling insults at Mike. They seemed to have appeared from nowhere, stepping out from amidst the curtains of fog.

    The whole incident happened so fast, my first reaction was to try to bar them from getting at Mike with the flag pole. That was no great help.

    The plastic flag pole snapped easily as four or five Inter ultras surged into Mike, grabbing at him. I was pushed off to the side by some others. Mike's Milan cap and scarf were torn off him, he only saved his small Milan banner.

    It was over as fast as it happened, the ultras running away as the rest of our group ran up, Eric the German and John leading them.

    Mike had not been hurt much, a scratch under one eye from someone grabbing at the cap probably. I was unhurt but ab- solutely furious and shaking with fury.

    My Inter flag lay draped on the ground with Mike picking it up and handing it to me. He shook his head as he looked at the shattered pole.

    "Better your flag pole broken than his jaw," said John, casting a streetwise eye around for any further trouble. "Didn't you see them coming," he asked me and Mike. "We thought you did and then we yelled but it was too late."

    "No we didn't we were talking," said Mike, whose jaw was trembling -- it had been a shock to see and feel so many people rushing at you, hate in their eyes. "My cap is gone, my scarf!"

    "They took off down to the subway," said Eric the Italian who had just come running up. He panted out "I saw a policeman and told him about what happened and I think he saw it, but he just waved me on. He didn't give a bloody damn."

    "Nah, don't even think about it," said Eric the German. "They don't want to hear about crap like this. Unless some- one got knifed they aren't going to get involved."

    Not heeding this last thought and whether it might still apply to us, we all wanted to get Mike's stuff back. We decided to put the girls in a taxi with Mike the Milanista and we ran down to the metro to see if we could catch up to the ultras.

    We ran down into the Lotto metro sta- tion, expecting to find the ultras long gone. We instead found a train sitting at this end-of-the-line station waiting for enough passengers before it set off.

    The ultras were on the next to last car, yelling at us, waving Mike's cap out the window like a trophy.

    "Milanista di merda, venite qua!"said one hooligan, taunting Mike to get back the scarf he held teasingly. He then began to try to tear up the scarf, without much success.

    "Come on out here and show us how tough you are now!" said John to the ultras.

    They taunted us to come in, we taunted them to come out. Strangely, I never remember a policeman in the station, an almost regular sight at any time, if only to be there to have a coffee or two in the station bar.

    The train doors eventually closed with the ultras going off with Mike's hat and scarf. The booty of war...

    We caught the next train and joined the rest of the group at the Galleria for some panini, granitas and fru- latti. We didn't normally splurge like this but we had some extra lire and
    some of us thought we could impress the girls with our money and suave manners amongst the crowds of the Duomo. We soon were laughing and having a good time looking out at the forest of neon signs opposite the Duomo cathedral.

    A strange but somehow fascinating combination. A stately and ornate six hundred year old cathedral and the glaring modern boisterousness of the neon signs.

    With night coming on and some coffee to warm you and belly full of good food, it all didn't seem so bad.

    With a girl leaning on your shoulder and a eyeful of history on one hand and on the other, a look at the future, the game's result seemed withstandable.

    Until next Sunday, when the madness would start all over again!


    - Paul Mettewie
    Last edited by Handoyo; 19 Oct 07 at 05:22.

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