Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Match 15 - Catania

“The air filling the baroque styled streets surrounding Catania’s Stadio Angelo Massimino is thick with the fumes of tear gas and smoke. Palermo’s David Di Michele has earned a famous victory in the Derby di Sicilia, much to the chagrin of the Catania Ultras. But while the battle on the field is lost, the war on the streets has just begun. The Catania fans vent their fury at the police. Homemade bombs, flares, firecrackers, pipes, rocks, pieces of sink and even a scooter rain down on the authorities. The cacophony of explosions, helicopters, and yells almost drown out the approaching ambulance sirens. Amidst the maelstrom a policemen lies fatally injured. Allegedly struck by a broken sink and a missile which exploded in his vicinity, he would later die from his injuries in hospital. The officer’s name was Filippo Raciti and the events of February 2nd 2007 remain one of the most ignominious in Il Calcio’s history. Life on the Curve would never be the same again.”

So goes Richard Hall and Luca Hodges-Ramon’s introduction to Catania’s Ultras’ groups on the Gentleman Ultra’s blog. So nothing for me to worry about then. 

Good stuff. 

Danger could theoretically be my middle name, were it not already Thomas (although anything could theoretically be my middle name, if my parents hadn’t played it safe). However, rather than laughing in the face of peril, I wilt faster than a basil leaf in the oven. On the odd occasion I’ve done a ‘Portuguese’ (taking the bus without a ticket), I spent the entire time nervously staring at bus stops for fear an inspector might be lurking, ready to pounce.

So, just in case you haven’t got the idea yet, I’m not all that big on thrills and spills. A few people had told me that those are exactly what I could expect when venturing down to Sicily to watch Catania play, but I was more worried about flying near an active volcano rather than the people I’d find on the ground near it.

That said, I was quite looking forward to this trip, as apart from the tedious travelling, it’d be nice to visit Catania and get a bit of a change of scenery for a few days. Not to mention stuffing my face with cannoli, arancini and granite.

Apart from eating, of course my main goal was to watch Catania and speak to some locals. One notable local, but who’s not got much chat about him, is u Liotru, a statue of an elephant in the centre of town. He (for it is a he - he has stone testicles) is the symbol of the town, which may not be the most obvious animal to associate with Sicily, but there you go. Dwarf elephants were natives during the Paleolithic period, and have even been credited with being the origin of the Cyclops’ myth, due to the large hole in their skulls, which most likely freaked out the early Greek settlers who dug them up.

The football club’s badge is an old-fashioned leather football, a shield and a wee elephant popping out from behind it, which as far as badges go, is pretty cool in my book. And you’re reading my book, so trust me, it’s pretty cool. Unfortunately, by the time May comes round, it looks like Catania will be packing their trunks and saying goodbye to the Serie A circus, as at the time of my visit (and I’m groping desperately for a positive spin, here) the only way was up, bottom of the table as they were.



  1. Ciao Michael :)
    Non riporterai i risultati delle domande fatte ai ns tifosi?
    enzo "papè satàn"

    1. Ciao Enzo! Non ho messo le vostre ampie risposte nel blog perché devo lasciare qualcosa x il libro! Il blog è solo un estratto del capitolo, in cui ho usato le risposte! Sono nel periodo di correzione, ma fra poco sarà pronto! :)

  2. Bene, tienimi aggiornato per favore.
    Magari potresti darci notizie sull'avanzamento del progetto utilizzando il forum che già conosci.
    see you next time, Michael :D

    1. Novità Michael?
      Tienimi informato per favore.