The 6th of January, a bank holiday for many across Europe celebrating Epiphany while at the same being a day which evokes a certain poignancy as it marks the official end of the Christmas festivities.
This is just a short and sweet post which first and foremost heralds an end to my own indulgent season and a return to focusing on all the cultural nuances that the world of football brings. Not that we have been deprived of the beautiful game recently. In England we are fortunate to have the munificent gift of double the helping of football during the festive period and I have to agree with Barney Ronay and his message in the following article – Christmas: a time for football, television and arguments about meat, that Christmas without football would be shoddy to say the least.
That said I also wanted to take this opportunity to point you in the direction of the weekly Ultras guide I am currently working on. As you may have noticed over the last few weeks I have started on a quest which will take me from A-Z of Serie A.
However this is not your run of the mill club guide which trawls through the generic team nicknames, coaches, players, and stadium’s. No myself and Richard Hall are embarking on a journey into the cryptic world of Italy’s Ultras with the aim of shedding some light on one of Calcio’s most beguiling and contentious features.
In this country we often associate the word ‘Ultras’ with ‘hooligans’. It is understandable given the history of football related violence in Britain, especially during the ’70’s and ’80’s where the terraces and streets became battlegrounds. Stories like Filippo Raciti’s and the recent escapades of the Ultras from Nocerina produce a gut reaction – ‘mindless football thugs’. Don’t get me wrong this is not without justification and all too often the dark side of the Ultras is exposed for all to see. However to view them as one homogeneous mass of hooligans would be myopic and there in lies one of the reasons behind our desire to partake in this Ultra journey.
You can find your weekly dosage of the Ultras on Richards website – The Gentleman Ultra which has recently earned a deserved spot on the Guardian Sports Network. I have also created a page which you can find at the top of my blog labelled – Guide to the Ultras of Serie A containing the links to the pieces I have completed so far.
My latest article is on the Ultras of Fiorentina, a group who epitomise what I find most fascinating about the powers of football, powers which combine the volatile passion of the sport with various political and historical connotations. Be sure to check it out and I will be back on here soon with a new feature for you all to mull over.