Thursday, 23 January 2014

Match 7: Roma

I had expected the town to be mobbed as the game fell on the 8th December, which is quite a big deal for Catholics, being as it was the date of the Immaculate Conception. With a celebration for the conception of a child seventeen days before his birth, it seemed quite apt that I was off to see la maggica. In the end, Rome seemed to be as busy as it normally would be, which is nice as I’m really not a fan of massed throngs milling around. At least in a football stadium the accumulated hordes have a purpose and a sense of direction, even if this is often more figurative than literal.

When I arrived at the shop, I asked for a ticket for the Distinti Sud, as I’d been recommended to try for there due to its proximity to the Curva Sud (the main home-fan stand, which I hadn’t been able to get a ticket for). Much to my chagrin, there were no tickets left, leaving me with a split-second decision: would I not bother with the match, or would I spend €75 for the Tribuna Tevere? I’d come that far by then, both literally and figuratively (see the personal development crowed about two paragraphs ago), but €75? Really?

In the end, I made the only decision I could, and just bought the stupid bloody thing. Still though, it was getting ridiculous: spending €75 on a ticket to watch a team that isn’t even mine, even if it was for what would hopefully end up being a worthy cause, was galling. While I was handing over the money I got the sweats as I often do when spending money spuriously, and felt like they were pulling my pants down, I truly did. I think it would have been the least they could have done, to be fair. So, feeling robbed, I headed off for the stadium hoping for a happy ending to the whole affair.

To get to the Stadio Olimpico from the centre of Rome, however, is not all that quick or easy. My best friend, Google Maps, suggested that I take a bus, and ever happy to act on its advice, I dutifully waited for one. I’d looked around for a kiosk that’d sell bus tickets, but alas there were none open, so figured that seeing as I’d been buying bus tickets in Genoa for years, this once ‘being Portuguese’ wouldn’t hurt. Just call me Miguel. Despite having lived here for a good few years, the fundamental difference between right (following rules) and wrong (not doing so) is in my DNA, and no amount of gesticulating wildly while speaking to friends on the phone will entirely dilute it. Knowing that what I was doing was against the rules made me a bit nervous, so I kept my eyes peeled for inspectors lurking in bus stops. My unease was well-founded, as nary three stops after I’d got on, I had to very quickly get off when inspectors boarded. Damn those crafty buggers doing their job, and on a Sunday to boot! Is nothing sacred anymore?!

When I checked the map again, it rather disappointingly told me that I was about five kilometres from the stadium. We didn’t speak for some time after that, but thankfully once again I only had to go along very long straight roads until I saw some likely-looking sorts and follow them as slavishly as Berlusconi does to his own self-interest.

Given the distance, the fact that I was fairly marching, and my unnecessarily thick woollen  jumper, by the time I got to the stadium I was puggled. With three minutes to get to my seat before kick off, I hoisted myself up the steps as quickly as possible, and arrived just in time to blow a fug of smoke into a child’s face as the ref tooted his whistle. As they say, ‘when in Rome…’.


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