Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard

London

September 2015

Monday, February 6, 2012

Torino (Italy)







Torino FC are a club from the northern city of Turin, who were formed in 1906. The formation of the club was brought about by some former members of Juventus who left the club following plans to move them away from Turin, leading to the intense rivalry continued to this day.



They were originally titled FC Torino and their first home was Velodromo Umberto I in the La Crocetta neighbourhood. In 1926 Torino moved into a new home, Stadio Filadelfia and the following season  'Il Granata' (The Clarets) thought they had won their first Scudetto (league title), but they had it revoked following irregularities in a game against Juventus. They were not to be denied in 1928 and they then went on to win another title in 1943. After a three year gap Il Grande Torino went on to win five consecutive titles as they were considered Italy's greatest ever team. However, tragedy was about to strike.



On Wednesday 4th May 1949 the team were in a plane returning from Lisbon after taking part in a farewell game for Xico Ferreira against Benfica. The plane flew into a thunderstorm as it approached Turin and in poor visability crashed into the Basilica on top of Superga, a large hill on the outskirts of the city. All thirty one people aboard were killed, including eighteen players, many of whom were Italian internationals. The disaster devastated the country. At the time the club had four league games to play, in which they fielded their youth team. As a mark of respect so did their opponents. The Torino youngsters won all the games to lift the Scudetto.


The Superga Memorial


The victims were as follows:

Players

Valerio Bacigalupo
Aldo Ballarin
Dino Ballarin
Émile Bongiorni
Eusebio Castigliano
Rubens Fadini
Guglielmo Gabetto
Roger Grava
Giuseppe Grezar
Ezio Loik
Virgilio Maroso
Danilo Martelli
Valentino Mazzola (captain of Torino and Italy)
Romeo Menti
Piero Operto
Franco Ossola
Mario Rigamonti
Julius Schubert

Club Officials

Arnaldo Agnisetta (manager)
Ippolito Civalleri (manager)
Ernest Erbstein (trainer)
Leslie Lievesley (coach from Staveley, Derbyshire)
Ottavio Corina (masseur)

Journalists

Renato Casalbore (founder of Tuttosport)
Luigi Cavallero (La Stampa)
Renato Tosatti (Gazzetta del Popolo)

Crew

Pierluigi Meroni (captain)
Antonio Pangrazi
Celestino D'Inca
Cesare Biancardi

Others

Andrea Bonaiuti, organiser




Naturally, the club suffered from this great setback. After a decade of mediocrity they were relegated to Serie B in 1959. They returned immediately before leaving their much loved home in 1963 to move in with Juve at Stadio Comunale, as it was known at the time. 1968 they lifted their third Coppa Italia to add to victories in 1936 and 1943. Another cup was won in 1971 before at last Il Toro (The Bull), to give them their another nickname eventually won another league title in 1976. In the 80's and 90's the club spent equal time in the top two divisions. After Italia 90 Torino moved out to Stadio delle Alpi in the Vallette borough of the city.




In 1992 the club reached the final of the UEFA Cup, but lost out on aggregate to Ajax. In 2005 with Torino finding themselves once again in Serie B, they finished in third place and won promotion via the play offs. However, FIGC the governing body of Italian football blocked them owing to financial irregularities. The club was reformed as Torino FC and took up a place once again in Serie B.
Stadio delle Alpi

The following year they returned to the Stadio Comunale, which had been completely refurbished for the Winter Olympics and given the new title of Stadio Olimpico. Juventus moved out in 2011 to go to a new stadium of their own built on the site of the demolished Del Alpi. It was hoped that the Stadio Olimpico could be renamed Stadio Grande Torino.

Promotion was secured back to the top flight following a runners up spot in 2011-12. This was followed by a season of consolidation before Torino came back to form in the 2013-14 campaign as the goals of Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci fired the side to a seventh place finish. This enabled the club to qualify for the Europa League for 2014-15 after sixth placed Parma were denied entry owing to their financial state.

Torino FC will compete in Serie A in the 2014-15 season.


My visits

Wednesday 3rd July 1990

I was at Italia 90 with my brother Nick and a few other great lads we'd befriended. We were staying on a temporary camp site in Turin which was the Stadio Primo Nebiolo in Parco Ruffini and it was the evening before England's World Cup Semi Final against West Germany.

The atmosphere was electric around the place and the police were extremely nervous as they were well aware of possible attacks from locals, particularly Juventus fans who were seeking revenge for their fellow fans in the light of the Heysel Disaster a few years previously. We were wary even going to the local shop, and a night in a bar was definitely not on the radar. There was a real siege mentality amongst us, and many of the lads who'd done the full tournament were extremely resentful of how they'd been treated.

We were going stir crazy and decided that we had to get out for a while. We agreed that the time to do it was while Italy were playing in their semi final against Argentina as the streets would be deserted. 


Stadio Comunale at the time of my visit
We were proved right and found ourselves outside Stadio Communale within around thirty minutes. The main gates were open but the old caretaker came out to see what we wanted. We made signals that we just wamted to take some photos and have a look. The kind man let us enter and watched from the entrance.

The stadium was showing signs of its age, but it had a real gladitorial feel about it. I knew lads who went there ten years previously with England in the European Championships and they said it was as rough as any experience they'd had at a game. The Comunale had three layers around the running track. The lowest was a very small paddock. This is where my pals had been squashed with the nice locals throwing missiles from the tiers above. Both sides had seated areas, with only one with a roof over the top seats.

We could only imagine what it must have been like there at a big match with the hostilaty of the locals and the flares being thrown onto the track. Bloody frightening was the general concensus! Anyway, we had our own welfare to protect, so we left the stadium with a "grazie" to the caretaker as we weaved our way back to the camp site.

On the edge of the park we heard noises in English coming out of the bicycle rental shop. It was packed with members of 'Bobby's Army' who were watching the Italy game on a black and white TV. The custodians of the hire shop were fine with us, as they turned out to be Torino fans. Well that, and the fact that they were probably petrified! They had nothing to worry about. Our supporters at the tournament were superb on the whole. They wanted to mix and be friendly with our hosts, but the Caribinieri and local authorities had painted a picture of marauding hooligans. The work of Mrs Thatcher and her little puppet Colin Moynihan hardly helped matters.

The match went to extra time and then penalties. Argentina played with more freedom and the hero of Napoli, Diego Maradona had scored their equaliser. It was now down to who could hold their nerve. The Argies did, while the Italians crumbled. We were jubilant and someone suggested we all went out riding the small kids bikes ringing the bells. Instead we headed back the hundred or so metres to the camp. I never thought I'd hear it if I wasn't there, but the chant was Argentina Argentina, such was the delight of seeing our hosts fail in the event they felt they were destined to win.


The inevitable happened an hour later. The locals came looking to invade our site and take revenge. The police were out in force and held them back as some on our camp gathered arms and went to the perimeter in case of confrontation. The kind Caribinieri decided the best way to calm us down was to tear gas us. It was pretty terrifying stuff. It also hurt our eyes and throats.

When the excellent film One Night in Turin was released, it was revealed that there were more Italians arrested that evening in the city than English throughout the whole tournament. What a shame our authorities back home failed to recognise that fact!

Having said all of that, I would love to return to see both Turin clubs in action, as long as it isn't against English opposition.

 Torino 5 Sampdoria 1 (Sunday 1st February 2015) Serie A (Att: 14,401)



The previous day had been spent at Hull for the City home game against Newcastle United in remembrance of our much missed mate Nick Groombridge. It had been a good day in tremendous company. Many laughed at my plans for the following day but in a nice way while questioning my sanity. My response was we needed to remember why we were all gathered and that we have to grab each and every opportunity while we could.



Although both Dave Cammish and I were comatose most of the ride back I got just a few hours in bed before the 2.30am alarm call to make my way to Victoria by night bus and taxi. I caught the 4am train to Gatwick in readiness for the 6.15 flight to Turin.

The plane was full of the Rugby Special meets Ski Sunday gang on the Thomas Cook Holidays flight. Any hope that I had of any proper shut eye were annulled by the tightness of the seats and the two lads determined to start their adventure early. Good for them, but I could have screamed at the time!



The easy to find bus transfer took around fifty minutes down to Porta Nuova station for the price of €6.50. I got a fleeting glimpse of the reconstructed Juventus Stadium in the distance along the route.

Once I’d deposited my bag I set out on a lovely walk down via Roma before finding the bus tour terminus at Piazza Castello. The nearby Torino club shot was closed, which was a bit of a blow as I wanted to buy my match ticket and then have a relaxing pre match beer or two in the city centre.



The circular city tour for €16 took me to several familiar places thanks to The Italian Job movie. Sadly there were no shows from Michael Caine, Fred Emney, Benny Hill and Camp Freddie. Turin really was a stunning city. My previous visit had been restricted to the camp site and a return tram ride, apart from a quick walk to the old Stadio Comunale as was. I’d seen nothing of the staggering architecture on offer or the hills over the other side of the Po.

After grabbing some food following a further walk I caught the metro to Carducci. I always liked a go on the tube in different cities to compare with London’s system. The Turin Metro had been built for the city’s hosting of the Winter Olympics of 2006. It was unmanned but efficient. It was then a twenty minute walk over the railway to via Filadelfia which ran behind the Stadio Olimpico down to the junction with via Giordano Bruno where Torino’s home stadium until the early 1960’s stood.



The old home of Il Grande Torino was heavily fenced, but someone was smiling down on me as an open backed pick up truck had been parked outside near on the half way line. I clambered on board, nervously looking around and trying not to fall and have an embarrassing accident.

I could see right in and take pictures. There were still goals on the tardy looking pitch with oddments of the old stands in place on the far side. I was so glad that I made the effort. Torino were looking to build a smaller stadium on the site for their under age sides so that it would come back to life. The plans were posted by the old main gates.



As I walked up via Filadelfia, several likely looking lads were heading up the other side of the road and gathering at a cafe on the corner. I considered going in and maybe striking up a conversation until realising that it was the nearest establishment to the away fans corner. The Caribinieri over the road in their armoured trucks were taking a keen interest.

Instead I carried on to the far end to buy my match ticket from the friendly girl behind the counter on production of my passport. All tickets must have the name of the passport or ID card holder on it to gain entry in an attempt to curtail crowd trouble. My ticket for the far end Curva Primavera cost me €15. The near home Curva Maratona was sold out.



There were lots of snack bars and souvenir stalls at the rear of the Maratona with the superb art deco tower looking over the scene. Bottles of Becks in plastic glasses were €2.50. Fans mingled on the piazza and in the adjoining park. It was definitely easier as a home fan in Turin than on my last visit for the World Cup semi-final at Del Alpi.

I ventured round the stadium to my entrance after what I thought would be a last beer for a couple of hours. However, beer was surprisingly available inside. There was no pressure to stick to seat numbers so I went up on the second level. The stewarding was extremely passive. The visiting fans from Genoa were just along from us with plenty of locals alongside offering a 'warm welcome'.



Stadio Olimpico was the same shape and structure as when it was Stadio Comunale, only tidied up with new fences and seating. The bottom well which must have offered horrible views had gone and a roof had been added all the way around.

I'd sneaked inside in 1990 with my brother and friends while the Italy v Argentina semi-final was going on as it was the only safe time to venture the streets. Fortunately this time I would not be tear gassed at full time while trying to take in the riot going on nearby as it was twenty five years previously.



It turned out that I’d caught ‘I Granata’ on a really good day. They were excellent from minute one, with popular Polish skipper Kamil Glik leading by example. Emiliano Moretti crossed for Fabio Quagliarella to smash home at the back post on sixteen minutes. He made it two on the half hour from the penalty spot despite the best efforts of Emiliano Viviano in the Samp net.

At half time I went out the back to take in the warm sun and sit while reading the Sunday paper I'd taken with me. Some of the Torino female fans were a most delightful distraction.



Quagliarella completed a fine hat trick with a quality shot across Viviano on sixty five minutes before departing ten minutes later. The home fans were in decent voice and I was also really enjoying the entertainment. The Brazilian/Italian substitute Amauri finished off a fine move to make it 4-0 with fifteen minutes left on the clock before Sampdoria collected a consolation shortly after through a smart Pedro Obiang flicked finish.

Samuel Eto'o had come on for his Sampdoria debut. Maybe he was having second thoughts and should have remained at Goodison Park?

I was going to leave when the fourth official put up his board, but I hung on, and I was glad that I did as in the third minute of stoppage time Bruno Peres made it 5-1.



I headed off, hearing the cheers at full time as I walked past the heavily fortified away section towards the tram stop. I was slightly naughty. I couldn't see anywhere to buy a €1.50 ticket so I got on without one. The no.4 service dropped me right by the station by 5.15.

After collecting my bag at left luggage I still had time for a large glass of beer in The Huntsman pub nearby and to collect some take away food for my train ride. I was in amongst a seemingly middle class group of elder Italians who didn’t seem impressed with my presence. Not that I remembered to much of the ride as I nodded off.

My advanced ticket on a highly comfortable service to Milan cost just €15 for the hour journey to my evening match.


Turin had been brilliant. I could not fault it in any way. It definitely needed another visit. I would definitely be looking for my next chance.


The image of Superga, has been taken from the internet.







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