People On The Pitch #9: Pescara vs Salernitana, Serie B, 09/06/1996

Welcome back to another edition of People On The Pitch, the series in which the “People” in question should not technically be on said pitch (as opposed to the players and match officials). As we have seen already, there can be several reasons for this such as spontaneous outbursts of celebration, supporter demolition jobs, and pure drunken mischief. But we have also seen episodes of pure violence and this is once again another one of those times, so send the children to bed right now.

Background:

In Europe, certain fanatical supporter groups such as “Torcida” of Hajduk Split (established in 1950), “Gate 13” of Panathinaikos (1966), and many in England, are often rightly cited as pioneers of the universal fan scene that has evolved to the present day. But surely few would disagree that the location of the true historical crown is Italy – home of the ultras and arguably the most influential of all of nations in the supporter culture world.

While “Torcida” was formed in Split by inspired Yugoslavian sailors who had been on hand to witness the colourful home support of the 1950 Brazilian World Cup (“torcida” being Portuguese for “crowd”), the Italians weren’t far behind as their own domestic breed of group reportedly began to spring up from 1951, with Tornio’s “Fedelissimi Granata” (Faithful Maroons) leading the way. In 1968 came Milan’s “Fossa Die Leoni” (Lions Den), considered to be the first true ultras group.


Demonstatrion of early "ultra action" - pyro comes from the crowd as AC Milan and Ajax Amsteram emerge for the 1969 European Cup final, Santiago Bernabéu Madrid, 28/05/69.

The term “Ultras” itself (from the Latin for “beyond”) was originally used by some groups as a stand alone name. But the phrase was so apt that it soon came to be synonymous with these ultra-passionate tifosi (fans) units as a whole, with an explosion of activity particularly from the 1970s onwards.

Partly inspired by the flourishing English fan scene (much more colourful at the time than it would later be), but very much born of a uniquely a continental zest, most clubs across Italy soon had their own ultras groups; each with their own name (many deriving from a set selection of motifs), stadium sector, group banner, and often a political affiliation. Large flags, immense creative banners, chaotic pyro and tremendous noise were characteristics on the “curva” behind the goal, where the groups were mostly to be found, but an equally important element was that of violence.

With provocative new regiments from rival cities now entering your turf as away fans on a regular basis, it was natural that like minded supporters organised to defend their town, stadium and the club’s “regular” support, as well as to urge on the team during the game. The post-apocalyptic atmosphere was reflected in some regularly incorporated group names that evoked images of New York city street gangs, such as “Commandos“, “Fighters“, “Brigate“, “Militia“, “Vigilantes“, and “Rangers” (as well as the straight up “Hooligans” moniker”).


Scenes from the Italian ultra scene, circa 1980.

As in England, a general sense of meaningless in the post World War 2 decades had left a generation disillusioned with a society that was hollow to them. But the football club and the group was something real and tangible; a social microcosm to be defended with pride and an important local symbol, as well as being a platform to promote the extreme political leanings of many supporter pools.

By the 1990s, club success in Europe and increased domestic footage through lucrative international television deals meant that Italian football and it’s fan scene were exposed to new audiences, many of whom marveled at the amazing atmospheres and tifo displays. Again as in England, big clubs like Juventus, Milan, Inter, and other premier teams of the 90s greedily increased their global fan bases as they began to evolve from football clubs into corporate brands.

But away from the eyes of the world, lower league match-goers continued to support their less glamorous sides with just as much passion as those in Serie A, along with equally passionate clashes against rivals and the police. Thusly, for our featured incident it is to the Serie B of 1996 that we now turn, with a tie between two clubs that have only spent a combined 8 years in the top flight of Italian football at the time of writing: Pescara and Salernitana.

Pescara are a club we have come across before on the site through International Duty #1, with some groups’ banners present for an Italy vs Norway friendly hosted in their Stadio Adriatico in 1988 (a common theme for Italian clubs with the national team’s brilliant rotation of home staiums). While many sides’ fans would generally swing one way or the other with regards politics, Pescara present an interesting (but not unique) example to the contrary using the two groups on show at this match: “Park Kaos” display a Jamaica/Bob Marley flag in the middle of their group banner signifying a left-wing leaning (with Jim Morrison on one version), but this regularly sits happily beside the “Bad Boys”‘ equivalent that featured a US Confederate flag (with overlayed Confederate solider parelling Marley), indicating the opposite alignment.


Pescara group banners at Italy vs Norway, friendly, 19/10/1988.

Of the other Pescara groups, among the most prominent were “Rangers”, “Bronx” and “Cherokee” (with the banner of Vicenza’s “Fabio Group” also often present, due to a strong friendship between fans of the two clubs). While Some members of these groups were no doubt involved in the incidents that were to come on the last day of the 95/96 season (with nothing to play for for solidly mid-table Pescara), it was the promotion pushing visitors from Salerno who would take the main focus.

Salernitana, another maroon/granata wearing team of a mostly right-wing persuasion, were very well represented on the terraces of their 30,000+ capacity home Stadio Arechi. Throughout the years, this included the groups “South Force”, “Ultras Plaitano”, “Salerntiana Bersagliera” (Sharpshooters), “East Side”, “Fighters”, “Dragano Granata”, “Panthers”, “Wild Group”, “Nuova Guardia”, “Nucleo Storico”, “Point Break” “Iron Boys”, “Scon Volts” (sconvolti directly translating to upset, but Italian slang for “Stoners”), and “Ultras Ghetto”.


Salernitana's home curva in all it's glory, circa 1988.

Going into the final series of games in 95/96, the team needed a win away to Pescara in order to be in with a chance of securing the last promotion place of the top four still up for grabs – and in doing so make it to Serie A for the first time since their one and only appearance up to that point back in 47/48. But going up would be still out of their hands, as they had to hope that Perugia didn’t get more than a draw at home to Verona at the same time.

The Match:

Pescara vs Salerntiana, Serie B, Stadio Adriatico, 09/06/1996

With a decent home crowd in the Adriatico for 9th placed Pescara’s low-pressure last game of the season, the away end is definitely packed out with hopeful Salernotanians, many of whom are volatile young men:

Arguably this is Salernitana’s biggest game of all time, as victory on the pitch could potentially deliver huge away trips to Italy’s top clubs the following season for the first time in many of the supporter’s lifetimes. Showing their appreciation for the concept of the club itself rather than the player’s efforts, emotional text banners are displayed roughly translating to “You are our pride” and “There is not a thing as beautiful, as unique, as immense as you are when you want; thank you for existing”:

The sentiment may seem grandiose to those football fans who lazily support bigger clubs on television, which often also brings a tendency to look down on underachieving sides like Salernitana. But the great days and sense of community that the club had given the Salerno tifosi over the years had clearly instilled something in them that will forever be lost to many unknowing bar-stoolers.

The home support display banners of there own, including at least the words “you will be luckier” – presumably as part of a message implying that luck won’t be with their opponents today:

But the dramatic optimism of the traveling contingent seems to pay off, as after only ten minutes striker Giovanni Pisano pounces on a rebound to knock the ball into the goal on front of  the away end. Through the ecstatic scenes that follow on the terraces, we get a look at “Bologna Maroons“, “Iron Boys” and “Nucleo Storico – Ultra Salerno” group banners:

Earlier in the season, Pescara had come to Salerno and won 0-2. But expectations of a reverse result tentatively rise as the ultras’ drums beat:

Things get even better after half an hour when a supporter with a classic 90s mobile phone relays that Verona have scored in Perugia, triggering another heartwarming outpour of emotion among the away fans:

Everything seems to be going to plan for the Granata, until two goals in two minutes for Perugia just before half-time suddenly shifts things around. The second half produces more nervy moments as the home side go close to scoring, giving us a chance to see more of the away support’s array banners:

At least two flags from allied fans seem to be among them. Salernitana are known to have links with Bari, Brescia and Reggina, but here an unknown “OFC” is represented in blue and white on the left:

While on the other side of the goal, a possibly related banner hangs. If you have idea of what team(s) this could be, do get in touch:

80 minutes into the game, news suddenly filters through that Verona have scored again to make it 2-2; as it stands, a relieved Salernitana are going up:

But in a matter of moments, the Salerno May-daydream turns into a daymare, as Federico Giampalo shockingly equalises for Pescara only one minute after the Verona news. This is shortly followed by Marco Negri scoring the goal that will send Perugia up in the other match, making the whole thing academical.

The Pescara fans have been generally quiet in this whole affair, but members of their support are the first people on the pitch as the final whistle is blown, clearly taking great joy in the part their side have played in ruining the visitor’s party:

Meanwhile, the understandable devastation of the away fans swiftly evolves into rage among some, who are quick to make their way through the containment fence off screen. Clearly anticipating something like this, a combined riot squad of state police and Carabinieri (we’re guessing) begin to make their way from the running track by the centre of the pitch towards the away end:

They are met with a barrage of projectiles, including smoke:

Seen in the background of the gif above, a small troop (including one in a brown suit and helmet) is already on hand at one section where some ultras have attempted to break through through, plugging the hole:

Never  the less, the coppers are stretched and many fans do make it to the pitch. Hand-to-hand confrontations between the two sets of fanatics occur on the grass, with the ever popular belt a common choice for auxiliary weaponry:

With some police standing around utterly aimlessly, eventually they attempt to break up the main scuffles. But not before one topless Pescara maniac clearly gets the best of a stripy-topped Salernitana supporter (visible in the gif above already on the back foot), who has obviously been caught up in the excitement and is in over his head:

Below we see another popular weapon of choice in this sort of situation, as a long bendy flag pole stick is employed. A devastating graze on the knuckles may have been delivered before the clumsy coppers swarm, with the threat of a whack off the butt of a rifle enough to send the fan back towards the away end:

The security forces later get a grip on things and successfully divide the supporters. In one somewhat farcical scene, an entire army surrounds a woman as she “delivered” to a sinister man in a beige suit:

On a progressive note, her presence proves that the hooligan game is not male exclusive, demonstrating that perhaps the infamously chauvinistic Italian culture could learn some lessons from the tifosi. The camera man still makes sure to get a shot of her legs as she led away, just to make sure we know it’s a female:

Back to the main “front” at the running track and there are still a lot of shady characters lurking around and throwing things, while smoke bombs continue to reign down from those in the stand:

It would be remiss not to highlight that one smoke canister does end up on the playing surface, meaning that this whole episode would have qualified as an entry for Pyro On The Pitch, but it’s a small footnote in the over all story with the match already long over. As this happens, a photo-journalist argues with an officer along side the man in the brown suit and helmet, who has shown his experience by confiscated the corner flag:

One careless supporter gets too close for comfort to the guards, receiving several licks of the baton before fleeing and probably exclaiming the Italian equivalent of “Ow! My back! My comfort!”:

By this stage, the hardcore home support has realised that this is no longer their battle and have retreated to stand on front of their curva, curiously watching the show:

The overall scene now appears to be a warzone, with “Nuovia Guradia”‘s large NG banner hanging defiantly in the middle:

In addition to the smoke from the fans, the police also appear to be firing something into the crowd:

A large majority of the Salerno support take this as their cue to get out and turn to escape through the exit in a potentially dangerous panic/crush situation. Here we see that many others are also wearing the horizontal striped shirt seen on the fan on  the pitch earlier:

But not all are intent on leaving, such as one incensed man who careers back down the steps with a huge flag poll (and no flag to wave with it):

On the track below, the riot squad now zone in on individuals, with the old bill taking their anger out on this unlucky fellow who had been holding a pole earlier as well as seen on the picth:

Clearly identified as a serious threat, he is engulfed by even more police (now including the man in the beige suit – he too has found himself a riot helmet to add to his expensive ensemble) and given a violent thrashing:

Amazingly the beaten man actually walks away from the assault, bruised but free. His jersey appears to be an away shirt using the clubs original colours of sky blue and white vertical stripes:

Some police briefly attempt to infiltrate the away sector itself via an internal stairwell, before furious fans make sure to know they are not  welcome. A helicopter surveys the scontri (clashes) from above, showing the seriousness of the situation in the eyes of the authorities:

As the Iron Boys take down their banner, here we get a view of the action from the perspective of  the home supporters who are left:

Needless to say, they are absolutely loving this:

Finally the last stragglers are literally hunted down in the corners of  the ground:

With all banners now removed from the curva and most fans on their way out, the exhausting situation at last simmers down:

No amount of sticks, smoke or rage were going to change the fact that Salernitana wern’t going up. But for certain individuals, the ritual conflict that transpired may well have been just as exhilarating as watching a group of strangers winning a sports game.

Within a couple of years, the long wait to get back to the big time would in fact end as promotion was achieved at the end of 97/98 (going straight back down the following season, never to be seen in Serie A again).

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Heroic Hang Jobs (Gallery) #5

In this gallery series we look at a classic selection of flag and banner collectives at both international and club level in the 80s and 90s, united through being made correctly and hung the way banners were supposed to be hung (that is usually chaotically). All entries can be found here.

Sligo Rovers vs Derry City, FAI Cup final 1994:

Japan vs Brazil, Olympic Games – Atlanta 96, 21/07/1996:

Luxembourg vs Greece, World Cup 94 qualifier, 12/10/1993:

SK Rapid Wien vs Sporting CP, Cup Winners Cup 95/96 2nd round-2nd leg, 02/11/1995:

SK Rapid Wien vs Sporting CP, Cup Winners Cup 95/96 2nd round-2nd leg, 02/11/1995:

Royal Antwerp FC vs Dundee United, UEFA Cup 2nd round-1st leg, 18/10/1989:

Bayer Leverkusen vs PSV Eindhoven, UEFA Cup 94/95 1st round-1st leg, 13/09/1994:

Ajax Amsterdam vs Feyenoord Rotterdam, Eredivisie 85/86, 06/10/1985:

Ajax Amsterdam vs ADO Den Haag, Eredivisie 82/83, 21/03/1983:

Germany vs CIS, (featuring Finland, and Yugoslavia; suspended from UEFA and exiled from the tournament two weeks earlier), European Championships 1992, 12/06/1992:

FC Karl Marx Stadt vs Berliner FC Dynamo, DDR-Oberliga 88/89, 07/05/1989:

Netherlands vs England, World Cup 94 qualifier, 13/10/1993:

Switzerland vs England, friendly, 28/05/1988:

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Heroic Hang Jobs (Gallery) #3

We now take another enjoyable look at a selection of classic flag and banner hanging efforts from days gone by, highlighting both clubs and countries with arrays big and small, but always heroic.

FC Carl Zeiss Jena vs Sparta Rotterdam, UEFA Cup 83/84, 02/11/1983:




FC Carl Zeiss Jena vs Sparta Rotterdam, UEFA Cup 83/84, 02/11/1983:

Belgium vs Netherlands, World Cup ’86 qualifier, 16/10/1985:

Shamrock Rovers vs Dundalk FC, FAI Cup Final 1987, 26/04/1987:

Spain vs Greece, friendly, 24/09/1986:

Kispest Honvéd vs Nîmes Olympique, Cup Winners Cup 96/97, 26/09/1996:

Kispest Honvéd vs Nîmes Olympique, Cup Winners Cup 96/97, 26/09/1996:

Finland vs England, World Cup ’86 qualifier, 22/05/1985:

Slovenia vs Italy, Euro ’96 qualifier,  07/09/1994:

Universitatea Craiova vs Dacia Unirea Brăila, Romanian Cup Final 1993, 26/06/1993:

 

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Retro Shirt Reviews #5

 

This time on Retro Shirt Reviews we have a sort of a “youth special”, with what is also the first fully identifiable club featured so far in the series, as well as TWO bonus shirts in International Selection at the end. Click here for all entries.

  • Club: Lørenskog IF (Norway)
  • Year: Circa 2001
  • Make: Umbro
  • Sponsor: COOP/Comet Sport
  • Number: 7
  • Similarly Worn By: n/a

Today’s shirt is the first long sleeve to feature in Retro Shirt Reviews and originally caught our eye last year due to the blue/red/white colourway, which we are a major fan of on kits. As with all in our collection, the shirts are purchased with the intention of being worn, but when this jersey arrived at POTP offices we discovered that it was in fact a youth team shirt which had not been evident online. It is quite a large youth shirt though and nearly did in fact fit, but not quite. Never the less we held on to it, since it is quite an interesting top and well worth discussing.

It is hard to make out the crest in the above picture due to the nature of dark red over blue and how the crest was printed on, but it is indeed that of Norway’s Lørenskog Idrettsforening. At the time of writing, Lørenskog are a member of the Norwegian “2. divisjon”, which of course like in many countries is in fact the 3rd tier.

On closer inspection of the crest below, an “LIF” is visible inside an odd curvy shape within a circle, strangely along with the date 19/11/1933; strange because the club was founded on April 17th, 1929, through the merger of Lørenskogkameratene and Solheim IF. The delightful word “FOTBALL” sits underneath (we are also big fans of very similar translations of the word “football” in non-English languages).

The mysteriously mismatched dates theme continues with the fact that the year “1924” is also patterned into the fabric – visible above to the bottom left and right of the crest – along with a 3D “UMBRO” motif – also visible above beneath the crest. 1924 is of course the year that Umbro were founded, at least explaining this one.

But as for 1933, could this have been when the team were first entered into the Norwegian league, or when the crest itself was designed? We don’t know, but as always please get in touch if you do and we will fill in the explanation here.

The modern iteration of the crest, incidentally, also contains white and blue making it far more legible, and some versions do actually include the 1929 date:

Going back to the shirt itself, and through a post on OldFootballShirts.com we can see that the senior team used the same template and that the shirt is apparently from the 2001 season, so that is what we are going with for the year of shirt.

Our original guess had been circa 1998, as this was when Umbro were reintroducing the double diamond logo to their shirts, albiet more usually in miniature beside the wordmark. The diamond taping, originally seen in the ’70s, had also made a return, also seen on the likes of the Manchester United jersey. But unlike United, here we have the addition of dual diagonal bars – in our eyes a welcome interruption to the taping, limiting it to the shoulders rather than full sleeve.

The red collar and cuffs with white trim are a sheer delight, and the collar itself employs a smart one button system to fasten (from the below shot we can also see that there is no label on the shirt). This use of white, as well as on the shoulders, gives the jersey some much needed “pop”.

It is unfortunate that a similar thought process regarding the white trim hadn’t go into the crest, although it was most likely far cheaper to have it printed on monochromatically. The rich red of the Umbro logo – felt, of course, rather than the printed crest and sponsor of choice which came later- displays a similar issue as it is not wholly legible to the untrained eye from a distance. It’s chunky, furry goodness, however, is extremely satisfying.

Adding more white, though, is the main sponsor: COOP, presumably as in “Cooperative”, which appears to be a supermarket chain. The fact that it is kind of reminiscent of a “CCCP” across the shirt gives it extra point from us.

While COOP was replaced on senior team shirts with another sponsor, the secondary sponsor did appear on both: Comet Sport. Comet are a Norwegian sportswear chain, as their athletic stick figures represent, one of which seems to be diving desperately for a dramatic table tennis shot.

The placement of this logo centrally in the chest, above the other sponsor, is a bit jarring and out of place in our opinion, and would have been better left free for potential cup final details, which admittedly would have been extremely optimistic and a huge loss of revenue.

Finally we come to the back of the shirt and Comet make another appearance here, inside the number, which for the second time in this series is a “boxed” 7. With the white again balancing out the red stripes, it is a nice size and not much else needs to be said. Nice.

Overall, the shirt has a lot of taking points and some nice features. As mentioned earlier, blue/red/white will always be a POTP favourite, and the cuffs, collar, felt Umbro, long sleeves, and number on the back are all major pluses. The main drawbacks are of course the fact that the shirt is too small to wear (at least for this writer), meaning it is merely a “collectable”, along with the slightly illegible crest and irksome second sponsor. As always, these are not major critiques, and like all shirts in football it is what it is, you can’t change it, and it is a part of history.

Bonus: International Selection

For this episode’s International Selection, it just seemed right to pair these two shirts together due to colour, style, year and country. They seemed especially appropriate to include with the above youth jersey, as both shirts are child sizes from the ’90s and were recently rediscovered in the POTP attic.

1st Half:

  • Country: Republic of Ireland
  • H/A: Away
  • Year: 1994
  • Make: Adidas

Here we have the marvelous Irish away shirt used at World Cup ’94 (admittedly not so marvelous to some prudish purists, but we’re the bold and brave type of purists), featuring three giant bars “disintegrating” down the shirt and a nice mix of white, green and orange – easily the most usage of orange on an Ireland shirt, home or away, until this point. The crest is probably the 2nd best Irish crest of all time, behind the one which preceded it at Euro ’88 and World Cup ’90 (for more info on said crest’s even longer history, click here), although purists would again probably argue that the original shield and shamrocks Irish badge tops both.

This is also of course a replica version, hence the inclusion of the OPEL sponsor. From a purely aesthetical point of view, and just accepting it for it is, this adds to the shirt in our opinion (we like to imagine it as a hypothetical club jersey) and while the orange employed does clash slightly with the orange outlines of the large vertical stripes, there wasn’t really any other option given the nature of the design.

A diagonal shadow stripe goes runs across the shirt, along with a faint but complex FAI pattern which can just about be seen (if not “made out”) in the image below. The Irish flag adorning the sleeve is a fun addition. Why not?

Somewhat strangely, due to circumstance, the shirt was debuted and used in three consecutive games during the 1994 World Cup (a loss to Mexcio, a draw with Norway and a loss to Netherlands), before never being seen again. It was the only one of it’s kind for this template at the tournament, although a similar design was also later used by the likes of Turkey, Stockport County, and Karlsruhe SC, all in 1996.

2nd Half:

  • Country: Republic of Ireland (away)
  • H/W: Away
  • Year: 94/95-95/96
  • Make: Umbro

Of course the reason that the above shirt was never to be seen again for Ireland was because after the World Cup the team’s kit deal switched to Umbro, meaning that it had been destined only to be worn at the World Cup. Ireland used their new Umbro home kits for the next two games, Euro qualifiers against Latvia and Lichtenstein. But an away tie to Northern Ireland in the next game presented the first need for the new away kit, with the shirt featuring strange, navy-trimmed orange and green bars emanating for the collar and widening as they go down, filling out the sides of the shirt.

Orange was clearly employed even more liberally that on the predecessor, comprising nearly a third of the shirt, and this trend would continue as the next Ireland away shirt would in fact be orange, and much maligned. As for this one, the positioning of the orange on the left is also quite strange as the bottom half of the shirt hence makes out the flag of the Ivory Coast. The out of place orange section in the middle of the green bar was apparently included so that the OPEL, now in green, would not clash where the L partially covered it.

On the back of course, the “flag” is reversed giving us an actual Irish tri-colour. The orange section on the green bar remains for continuity with the front.

On the backs of the actual player’s shirts, green numbers were used which fit nicely in the white middle, but the inevitable clash of the naturally wider double digits was remedied with a white border on the numbers.

There was little need for the shirt after this, although it did make a reappearance against Bolivia in the 1996 US Cup. Although slightly ludicrous, we loved it at that time of childish, blissful ignorance, and so it takes it’s place here in the hallowed halls of Retro Shirt Reviews.

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International Duty – Club Banners At National Team Games #4 (Gallery)

It’s time for another edition of the series where we look back to an era when supporters were often more likely to represent their local side when the national team was in town than the national team itself.

Italy vs Belgium, friendly, 1996
Vecchia Guardia” and other groups of U.S. Cremonese:

Germany vs Ireland, friendly, 1994
Bad Bramstedt” (region) of HSV Hamburg:

Brazil vs Japan, Olympic Games 1996
Santos FC and Cruzeiro:

Argentina vs Uruguay, World Cup 1986
La Plata FC and Boca Juniors:

Luxembourg vs Greece, World Cup Qualifier, 1993
Allez-Diddeleng“, F91 Diddeleng (aka F91 Dudelange)

***For all installments of “International Duty”, click here***