“…and then we all became indissolubly One thing”
Being a coach and a player is no easy job. The emotions you are used to feel as a player are amplified by 10 times. On those occasions when things don’t work, being a coaching player is like being the victim and the wrongdoer, the torturer and the tortured, the loving mother and the rebellious son at the same time. Between last December and February 2014 it certainly felt like it. When there is a problem, you go and talk to the boss, but if you are the boss, then tough luck.
But since our victory against Accidental in February it feels like we have started a new season: not only because of the results, but especially because of the confidence we have gained on the pitch, and the unity we found off the pitch. It never felt so good to be mister and player at the same time. But the truth is, it is the Squadra who made it possible. And last Tuesday’s game is possibly the game which will go down into history as the symbol of this season, because the Squadra made it possible!
But we want to take advantage of this match report to take one step back. As soon as the game on Tuesday was over, our memories ran back to last February when, after an unprecedented number of defeats and, most importantly, hopes running as low as never before, we knew we needed change!
The story goes that change! came 4 days before the game against Accidental of the 11th of February, during the friday training, on a typically cold winter evening. We all gathered around the corner flag in Cerreti and agreed that 3 defeats in a row without scoring was too much: we owed it to ourselves, to previous team-members, to Presi, to the Squadra, and to Seattle: we would win against these [email protected]#$%s!
and indeed we won! And kept on winning, with clean sheets and muddy faces!
More than a simple change of module, it is the sentiment of belonging, of unity – the same feeling you get after a threesome – that created the team spirit that was the essential element for all the victories that followed, including this week’s victory against Arci La Vedetta.
In that very moment around the corner we all became one, actually the One as Coach Karremans knows all too well from his Indian Singing group. The same Coach Karremans remarked after the match on Tuesday, sotto la curva, to Gazza and Pazzo: “to be more precise, we were all indissolubly One thing”. And especially last Tuesday, we became One with both the team-members and the Curva. And this continued after the victory, in the changing room as well: our beloved Linda will never forget it!
But let us take one step back again. So, this is what the Gazzetta dello Sport reported in an article the day after the game (needless to say, written by a supporter):
“We are waiting for the teams to come in the pitch. The atmosphere is electric. There must be 120 ºF at least. Tickets for the game were sold out in minutes. Both Curve are Spettacolo, but IUE Calcio stars protagonisti of the caliber of MR12, D19, Dirigentessa, Lukas Hakelber (known to world hooligans as TECHNO CURVA), CapoUltras Elie Michel who confessed before the match that even if PSG made it to the CL final he would never miss a Squadra game – and many others, too many others to mention.
We hear noise and buzz coming from the changing room. Then, all of a sudden, silence.
But the silence is broken by one man asking a very simple question, three times:
“who are we?” and then we hear IUE Calcio furiously responding, three times, each time louder:
IUE! IUE! IUE!
We wonder how come that whomever asked did not get it the first time.
Cerreti roars as the teams enter the campo.
The Curva sings out in unison the Hymn while the Squadristi posishion themselves, more or less, like this:
LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG Jan Patrick
LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG
LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG
LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG Gazza
LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG
LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG LUDVIG
We often forget the bench. But this time the bench would have proven itself once again crucial for the game. So here is the line-up of the bench:
Metin and Albert are ready to start the game. Metin double-checks that the Turkish jewels are still there (20 seconds of check-up, Treno…)
In the first ten minutes of the game, Arci La Vedetta showed why it is the leader of this league: a very well organized team that pressures high and wilde, circulates the ball fast, accurately and always on-the-ground and is composed of decent and fit players who actually look like proper football players. Perhaps it has to do with their young age and the fact they have not met the Seattle of their lives…yet.
They even slide-tackle, as Albert may remember.
In these first ten minutes their pressure and ball circulation were putting us in deep shit and limiting our field of action to our own half-pitch: we were not able to play the ball as we did in the last few games and they were giving us, the bench and the curva the impression they could create a big a chance at any time.
They actually had a couple, one was a free-kick caused by Pep Karremans who ‘with mestiere’ (great mastery) saw their no. 9 moving the ball quickly past him but Jan fouled him with so much grace that the striker apologised for having hit Karremans.
The referee, who looked like an extra from the latest Episode of Pirates of the Carribeans (below is the poster:) decided to concede the free-kick anyway. We should have taken it as an omen of what was going to come.
Needless to say, Cosimo hypnotized their player who kicked the ball almost as high as the fence (with some relief, it did not go high above it. Yes, we had enough good balls for a whole season, now we are left with one!).
On another occasion their no. 8 advanced and released a nice and powerful shot which went just short of a meter to the right post of our goal.
Pazzo turned to the bench and shouted, “shit”. The bench answered: “to the point”.
It is at this point that our friend the ref ran 50 meters to remind the bench that it is called the bench because it is supposed to sit on the bench and not three meters into the pitch (and 5 meters away from the bench). We apologised numerous times, offered beer and biscuits, shaked hands…
Then he also went to the opponents bench, and reminded them as well. Ah!
Had we played this game before that cold winter evening in February when we gathered around the corner flag, it is likely that we would have begun to slowly fall apart as a team, thus having no chance to even try to play the game, let alone win it.
But on tuesday two crucial things happened: we stayed cool in our heads and we received a great support from the Curva (the less materialist would have said three, but the Holy Spirit, in whatever form he plays, does not make himself visible – even though he always plays with shirt no. 9 on the shoulders…).
Metin sounds the charge!
With these 2 (+1) basic ingredients we started to gain belief in ourselves and finally made our triumphal entrance into the game: our ball circulation improved minute after minute, in defence we were increasingly anticipating the movements of their strikers and dominating them.
Then, though their ball circulation was still better than ours, we started to notice that the chances we were creating were much more dangerous than theirs. Surely somebody (the guy below?) thought of a publishable article on this.
Ciacci behind the bars…what a nice feeling!
On one occasion Metin, who had not moved from the top left corner for the first 20 minutes of the game and had been thinking the whole time about whether Mancini should be fired by Galatasaray despite his rich salary, finally wakes up after their defence brutally tackles him a couple of times, shouts hopelessly “arbitru” 10 times in 3 minutes, takes the ball, shoulders his way through 5 opponents, runs near the corner, does not know what to do because he does not see anyone around him, so goes back to the edge of the box, then dribbles their central defenders and release a rocket which their 2.10 meters keeper saves with the point of his fingers from the top-right corner.
Treno Regionale veloce is also in the game now!
On another occasion our midfielders build up a beautiful coral action: starting from Ludvig to Gabo, then the ball cuts from right to left in quick one-touch passes, then Albert, who in the meantime had the time to adjust his hair, sees Jonas running on the left and magically drops a soft pass into just enough space for a nice accurate cross-kick. The cross flies over the box, and three of the Squadra players are close enough to scoring our first. We are close, damn close!
On another occasion Vincent, who scores goals more often than the Italian government changes, got bored and decided to do something. So, he took the ball and started to dribble their whole team. Just before the edge of the box, their no. 5, who is a tinier but still rather impressive version of our beloved Vasyl, smashed into him full speed and force.
The ref blows the whistle and we are already celebrating the goal which el Eternal will easily score by smashing the ball into the top left corner. The ref also takes out the yellow card from his pocket…too much grace, we think! And then, what?, he books Vincent!
HE DIVED? It’s your say!
The Curva goes crazy.
We respectfully tell the referee that Vincent is not able to offend. He is no saint. He just cannot. But the referee does not change in mind.
Then Pazzo swings his video camera in the air and shouts: “Ref, we have it on tape! MOVIOLA IN CAMPO!”. But he still ignores us. What a fool.
But we keep advancing our barycentre, and even more chances are materialising: a beautiful one happens near the end of the first half when Coach Karremans receives the ball from Cosimo, and throws a long and precise pass to Metin who acrobatically skips over the ball and let it roll deep for Gabo who with one of his long and furious runs reaches the ball right in front of their goalkeeper: only a miraculous save by their keeper prevented IUE Calcio from leading 1-0 already after the 1st half.
Things look good. The Curva cheers up. Linda feels overwhelmed with love. We can make it. She can make it alive too.
At half-time Pazzo proves he has studied football tactics for the whole summer. He reminds everyone of his task, suggests that IUE Calcio ought to play higher, that we do not want to defend low, that we should play deeper and use our fast sides. Time is already finished when he just made his introduction.
But the Squadra is just unbeatable. It has too much confidence, too many great players. The Curva ignites their engine like Trombi is ignited by a woman, any woman. Any, really.
IUE Calcio now presses the opponents up, we close them into their half-pitch, we push them back, and back, and back into their hole. They suffocate under the magic spell of the technique and strength of our midfielders and strikers.
Every now and then they pop out in our half as-well. And this guys are really good footballers who can play nice-to-watch football.
Great team-effort here from the opponents.
But defensively, Ludvig is just everywhere. So much that at one point we hear reports that he is actually playing in Barcelona and Manchester as well, all at the same time. Patrick is orderly, precise and effective as never before. Karremans safely issues orders and gives directions.
Ludvig runs 20 meters in 2 seconds.
Our wingers storm their sides, a couple of times each both Gabo and Jonas crush their defensive-sides and cross-in sweet balls. But Metin and Albert are running furiously after their defenders, and all other players really. They hunt them down. And, like them, the whole team is getting tired.
The team is unbeatable, but can it win against the leaders of the league?
It is at this time that the added value of the bench and of the Curva shows itself.
Bomber Martino sub a beautiful and exhausted Albert and position himself high. Metin takes his side, and threaten a guy who happens to be 30 kilos less than the burgers Treno will eat later in the night on his own.
It is doomed to happen. We feel it. But we don’t see it. The ball moves quickly in front of their box, and Vincent, one again too bored not to take the initiative, cuts the defense and lobs the ball behind their keeper. It is goal. it is 1-0!
(the video went lost due to the over-excitement of the bench…)
The Curva sings again. and again. The opponents are traumatised, shocked, mummified.
Tired players come off, and fresh ones who are as good take their place.
The Curva sings their names.
Fede, BORJA, Valero. Luis, Frank.
A great help came from the supporters, and in particular from Dirigentessa, who managed to distract for the last 20 minutes both No. 2 and No. 7 of the opponents team. With one side gone caught by a Stendhal Syndrom for Dirigentessa’s assets, Fede stormed the side up and down, like back in the days. Yes, these days:
trouble finding Borja? look with more attention…
Frank takes his usual position on the right, swings the side and consumes the artificial grass. We need to remind him that he is playing in defence.We are all getting excited.
Perhaps too excited. The referee however remains cool and decides that this (video below!) is not a penalty-kick! (again, you decide)
However, some of us remain cool as well. Luis is serene as usual. One could drop a bomb and nothing much would happen, he would not jump, he would remain peaceful, he would do what he knows best, good quick short passes. Exactly what we need.
The game never comes to an end. We hold our breath in. The ref takes up the whistle, and then he blows. It is finished. What a game. The team runs under the Curva, to salute our 12 men on the pitch.
Karremans walks to Pazzo and Gazza and points out: “we were all indissolubly One thing”. Well said-coach.”
Last Tuesday we gave the ultimate demonstration how much self confidence we have gained and how much strength belief in ourselves can give us.
But the season is not over yet. Maybe it was our victory against Arci la Vedetta which we will remember 1 or 2, or 10 years down the road. Or maybe not! Maybe more victories await for us! Maybe tougher teams, maybe tougher leagues. What matters is that we play like a team, and win like a team!
Who are we?