Rome Derby Ends in Tears

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Lazio 3 v 1 Roma (06.01.2005)

Having been to the Rome derby the season before, we thought we would be able to pick up tickets from touts once again. Continuing our usual trend of getting to the ground 3 hours before kick off to locate tickets (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it) we struggled to locate anyone resembling a tout. We must have walked around the circumference of the Stadio Olimpico three times in search of an Italian looking tout (not sure what one of those looks like!) but thought we’d be experienced enough by now to spot one! We didn’t. There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of money to get to a big game but then not have a ticket to watch it!

We were starting to border on the panicky – but noticed a few people were queueing at some of the tickets sales windows that were still yet to open. To our amazement the ticket windows opened shortly after and we managed to buy 2 tickets at face value for 60 euros a piece. We wouldn’t be sat in the curva – which was probably a good thing from a photography perspective. To be honest my APS 24 exposure camera didnt really cut the mustard anyway!…and we happily took our seats in the main stand. We never thought in a million years that we would be able to pick up tickets on the gate for the rome derby an hour and a half before kick off.

You could really feel an uneasy atmosphere building outside the stadium, which was added to by a heavy riot police presence. A couple of skirmishes broke out between supporters and that was followed up by a couple of baton charges by the riot police which we unfortunately got caught up in. Legging it, we had to jump a ‘waist high’ bush-style fence to get away from baton wielding police and their snarling dogs!

Jeff in Stadio OlimpicoOnce we made it inside the stadium we were sat quite close to the Roma end or curva Sud and noticed that many fans that had tickets for our section were scaling the high perspex fencing to get into the curva. No wonder it looked over full! If you ever watch the derby on TV and wonder why it looks like theres lots of empty seats in the ‘side stands’ you now know why!

Lazio’s pre match tifo involved hundreds of streamers being thrown simultaneously creating a water fall effect – pretty impressive; Roma’s was more a combination of flags, smoke and flares (see pictures below):

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A common feature at Italian derby games is the ‘banger’, basically a small firework that lets off a ridiculously loud BANG! Paolo di Canio came over to take a corner in the 2nd half in front of the Roma fans. As he went to take his run up one of these bangers went off right at his feet. Perfect timing fromt he Roam ultra that threw it – but to Di Canio’s credit he didn’t react or feign injury – just took it in his stride – and delivered a fairly decent set piece given the circumstances!

It was a much more open and attacking game than the derby we had witnessed the season before, a real entertaining encounter. Lazio finished with the bragging rights and won the game 3-1. Di Canio’s 26th minute opener was the goal of the game for me; as a through ball from central midfield came over his right shoulder, he finished with a beautifully taken volley from 20 yards out. Cue wild scenes in the curva nord! Cassano (69’) equalised for Roma midway through the second half, but Cesar 74’ and Rocchi 85’ wrapped up all three points for Lazio.

Click on the you tube link for the goals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VMnzRfB7hA

Lazio’s Curva Nord in full voice before kickoff:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw3LC1xgHzw

As we made our way down and out of the stadium after the game we could see trouble was flaring up outside between the Roma fans and the police. The police decided it was ‘crowd dispersal tactics time’ and out came the tear gas. Unfortunately the tear gas shortly engulfed us as well and we felt the full effects of its capabilities. Tear gas works by irritating the membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs, and causes crying, coughing, difficulty breathing, pain in the eyes and temporary blindness. My own personal experience included a mixture of the first four of these symptoms and was truly horrendous. Your only option is to get away from the area as quick as you can in search of fresh air. At its worst your chest tightens right up and no matter how hard you try you cannot breathe normally due to a choking sensation.

All part of the derby experience I suppose.

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