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Football Italian Style ! Palermo V Parma
Thursday, 12th Oct 2017 11:30

A lot of us visited the San Siro last season to watch us play Inter Milan, but what is it like in Italy normally, read on for all the details and pictures.


Palermo V Parma in Serie B is not a fixture that jumps off the list when you see it, indeed both teams are in Serie B at the moment so it is not even a top flight fixture, but it is Italian football and a far different experience from English, so being in Sicily last weekend i thought I would go along and take a look.

AC Citti De Palermo play in the Stadio Renza Barbera, a ground that was renovated and used in the 1990 World Cup and holds 36, 349, Palermo play in rather fetching pink shirts so any thoughts i had of buying a replica shirt went right out of the window.

The stadium itself is about 2 miles outside the centre of Palermo and an easy straight walk or by bus.

We opted to walk and strangely we barely saw a Palermo fan till we arrived at the stadium, even the bars and restaurants seemed bereft of them and we were beginning to think that the game had been cancelled.

On arriving about an hour before kick off we found the road leading to the stadium closed to traffic about 1/2 mile from the ground, walking on another 1/4 mile it was then completely blocked off by temporary fencing with security manning the gaps in the fence.

Strangely I was told that the ticket office at the stadium was now closed and that I could only by a ticket at a shop selling tickets for the lottery, the nearest one being about 10 minutes walk away, so back we had to trek.

After a 10 minute queue in the lottery shop, at which i had to present governent issued ID ie Passport of driving licence and was then given a ticket with my name, nationality & ID number printed on it all for the reasonable price of 10 euros I was then back at checkpoint 1 40 minutes after i first arrived and with kick off looming.

Here we had to show our ticket and ID, when the two had been checked to make sure they matched, we were then let through and thouroughly searched.

This over we then walked to the turnstiles, there were small barriers leading to the turnstiles and again we had to show our ticket before being allowed to joing the queue, on arriving at the gate we then had to show ticket and ID again and have it checked before the man on the gate kindly inserted the ticket in the elctronic reader and we were in.

Well not quite there was yet another body search, this one overseen by armed Caribianeri, all looking menacing.

Inside the stadium we were in the Curva Sud and it was a case of go were you liked, this end like the other and one side of the stadium were identical, a two tiered stand, the fourth the main stand was almost identical apart from it was the only one with a roof.

The stand to our right had a big mountain behind it called Mont Pellegrino.

There were no kiosks selling any food or drink on the concourses and although there was a heavy presence of police and stewards inside the ground they were less prominent apart from around the away section.

We opted for the upper tier and found a seat, if you wanted something to eat and drink there were a couple of vendors who wandered around throughout the match selling water, coke, crisps and ice cream, this seemed the only options at last in this section.

To our left was the away section containing around 60 Parma fans, although there was a small row of stewards protecting the fence, no one seemed too bothered about getting near to the fence and throwing abuse.

Palermo's Ultras were directly opposite us in the Curva Nord upper tier and below them was a sinsister looking block of men in black, these people stood up at kick off and gave some primeval chant then did nothing else till the final ten minutes when they suddenly rose as one and had a few chants that didnt sound much like up Palermo !

Below us was a noisy section of Palermo fans who didn't seem to be Ultras just shirt wearing flag waving supporters.

When the game started I estimated there were about 7,000 in the 35k stadium, but the atmosphere was good with the Parma Ultras, all 40 of them in full voice lead by their leaders who perched perilously on the rail at the front, one slip and they would have fallen into the lower tier, no one seemed to be bothered and ask them to stand down, they did have one good rendition of Oh When The Saints, in Italian at a very slow tempo which would have been very impressive if there had been another 900 of them.

The Palermo Ultras up the other end were also belting out their choreographed chants and arm waving to full affect.

The game itself was very entertaining, both sides did not seem to be afraid of running at their opponents and having a shot, we were hoping that our own Pellegrino was sitting on his mountain and taking notes.

Palermo dominated the first half and were deservedly winning 1-0 at the break and Parma ruled the second scoring an equaliser and almost winning it at the end hitting the bar and seeing the ball put in the net from the rebound only to be disallowed.

The football was typically Italian in the fact that there was a lot of rolling about with the slightest touch, but it was quite entertaining, wel at least compared with most of the games i have paid to watch this season.

The atmosphere despite the thousands of empty seats was good, it seemed that the only interest in violence was of the verbal kind and neither set of fans had any inclination to spend the game staring at each other through the segregation fencing.

One funny moment was that in a moment of silence the Parma fans suddenly chanted Palermo ! Palermo ! Vaffanculo !.

Roughly translated to Palermo Palermo F*ck Off ! this seemd to rile up the entire ground who shouted plenty of Sicilian insults back with appropriate hand gestures and chanted back their own version.

We left at the final whistle, walked up the road and by the time we had passed the initial road closure there was barely a fan in sight, perhaps they were waiting for the Parma fans, but after that we only saw the odd Palermo fan pass us on his scooter.

All in all an enjoyable afternoon and at only 10 euros an affordable one as well, I would say that if prices were this low in England it would encourage people to go, but this wasnt the case here, so perhaps that theory is wrong.

A totally different experience from English football in that there seemed to be no drinking culture before the game, I didnt see one bar packed with Palermo fans, I'm sure there are one or two, but they are not the norm and for most fans it seemed like it was all about the 90 minutes itself not the hours before and after it.


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Chesham_Saint added 11:57 - Oct 12
An interesting read Nick, thanks. I wonder what the 2nd tier is like in the other leading football nations - Spain and Germany (I don't count France as, despite their international success, I'm not sure they really have the same passion as we do)?

I'm sure I read somewhere once that the English Championship was the 4th or 5th best supported league in the World and judging by your Palermo experience I think I can see why that might be..
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Mushty added 13:18 - Oct 12
Yeah, an interesting read, "60 away fans" sounds like the skates away at Wigan in the PL, although Parma fans may have more of an excuse venturing into the home of the mafia!

A stadium only a fifth full but probably still a better atmosphere than most English grounds, having said that the acoustics are usually better when it's near empty.

Not picking holes, but, if you're the one holding the camera, it looks like the away fans were on your...cough...right.
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ItchenNorth added 13:52 - Oct 12
At least foot like this has soul. Okay, you'd want another 10,000 in the ground by the sounds of it but that's European football outside of their top leagues. Its not an issue in England; historically we've always had bigger support than other countries right down the footballing pyramid. But give me this type of football over the Prem League gloss and its millions any day of the week.
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Blue added 14:12 - Oct 12
I concur about the atmosphere at an Italian Serie B game, I went to watch Hellas Verona a couple of times last season, I saw a 2-2 draw and a come-from-behind 3-2 Hellas win in their grudge derby game against Vicenza, the atmosphere at both were superb.

You could get a beer in the concourse from a mobile cart at any time, and take it on the terrace with you too.

There are bars right outside Hellas's ground, and they are usually packed with fans, but not to the same degree they seem to be over here.

I enjoyed reading that, thanks.
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WanderingSaint added 20:52 - Oct 12
@Chesham

There is an excellent book which goes through the derbies and such all around the world, although mainly Europe called Football Against The Enemy by Simon Kuiper. I think you can download a free pdf version. Well worth a read.
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steadyeddie added 22:18 - Oct 12
I went to watch the Seville v Malaga Game a fortnight ago, and was surprised by how good the atmosphere was. A baking hot day with temperatures in the mid to high 80's meant that there was a drinks break half way through each half. The game itself was OK, Jesus Navas was flagged offside at least half a dozen times for Seville.
I sat with the Home fans next to the Malaga Ultras, separated by Plate Glass and a combination of Riot Police and Home Stewards. The Police had all the Riot gear on, and goodness knows how they coped with heat! Seville won 2-0, with 2 goals within 3 minutes mid way through the second half.
I would like to go and a see a Seville Derby between Betis and Seville - maybe next year.
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steadyeddie added 22:18 - Oct 12
I went to watch the Seville v Malaga Game a fortnight ago, and was surprised by how good the atmosphere was. A baking hot day with temperatures in the mid to high 80's meant that there was a drinks break half way through each half. The game itself was OK, Jesus Navas was flagged offside at least half a dozen times for Seville.
I sat with the Home fans next to the Malaga Ultras, separated by Plate Glass and a combination of Riot Police and Home Stewards. The Police had all the Riot gear on, and goodness knows how they coped with heat! Seville won 2-0, with 2 goals within 3 minutes mid way through the second half.
I would like to go and a see a Seville Derby between Betis and Seville - maybe next year.
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SanMarco added 23:20 - Oct 12
Interesting article - to be fair to the Parma 60 that is a fair old journey - well over 800 miles by road/train + a ferry journey, not far short of the Southampton-Milan distance and Soton-Inverness is only 580 without the ferry. It makes the Toon's journey on Sunday look like a short stroll - I expect there will be more than 60 of them though...
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SaintBrock added 16:10 - Oct 13
Nick, I'm going to fess up! Told them you were coming and on MI5's 10 most wanted list. I also sold them a job lot of wire fencing and concrete blocks!
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SaintBrock added 16:12 - Oct 13
How long mushty before you start calling the "Skates" a Mickey Mouse club?
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