I’m 32 and I live in Ravenna (Italy), a town in the north-east of Italy, near enough Bologna, the capital of the region. I’m a Blue because of two key factors.
First factor: I’m a huge fan of English music and, given my age, I’ve grown my musical knowledge via all the great bands coming from north England in the mid-80, particularly The Cult and The Smiths. The lead guitarists of these two bands, Billy Duffy and Johnny Marr are City fanatics!
The Cult are my favourite rock band of all times and from the beginning I was aware of Billy’s fondness for the Citizens. I had a meeting with him in 1991, after a gig in München, when he gave me as a gift his plectrum and on this the initials M.C.F.C. were carved! Three years later I met him in Milan, before another gig, and that time I gave him a MCFC scarf [my personal one!]. From then the Gallaghers have helped to spread the word in the 90’s.
Obviously it was very difficult in mid-80’s for an italian fan to get in touch with Maine Road boys because there was no Internet and it was almost impossible to get a copy of a tabloid or something like that; so the results of the team were not so easy to know and my fandom was more about wearing my jersey than other things!
Second factor: I’ve always loved being “on the other side”. Here in Italy the Rags are more popular than us, often the people calls the Rags as ‘Manchester’ without any other words. It seems to them there’s only one team in the city. Needless to say it is not like that! Supporting City in the way I do is something exotic here in Italy! [“How can you support such a small team when you were able to choose the bigger?” or “You like suffering” were the most popular quotes]. I never cared about that, I’m a proud Blue.
My first real contact was when I went to Arsenal’s Highbury to watch the Blues playing against the Gunners on 20th August 1994 [0-3 for the record as you well know]. Then I began to get in touch with the club sending letters to receive mail order catalogues and so on. When Internet was available the things were much easier but at the same time the team suffered the bitter relegation of 1995-96; during my summer trip in England, on 18th August 1996, I wandered around a closed Maine Road just to smell the atmosphere; unfortunately I couldn’t attend to the home win vs. Ipswich [1-0, Lomas] two days before but at my arrival in Manchester I decided to take a look. That day Lara, once my girlfriend now my wife, was with me and was so patient with my illness!
I don’t have to tell you about the next season, the bitterness of the Stoke day and the painful Second Division season, the jubilant afternoon when I followed the Gillingham game via Internet with another later Blue [my friend Matteo], the joy about the Sir Joe’s Army second spot in 1999-2000, the sadness of the next season! The arrival of KK, once an idol but now he has made too, too many unforgivable mistakes, meant another trip in this roller-coaster called City. In the 2002-2003, me and Matteo went on March 16th to Maine Road to attend the Crystal Palace game [1-0 Horlock] and spent two days in Manchester, a beautiful experience.
And now I can tell you that even if I live so far away, with the satellite TV Sky Sport Italia and Internet, I watch and follow the games quite regularly [this season Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Saints, Chelsea, Rags] and I am still fan of the Blues, one of the most beautiful things that can happen to a man!
In the next seasons I sure will fly again to Manchester because I want to see the COMS hoping to get a ticket for that occasion.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #1070 on