About a week ago, M returned from work waving about some tickets, saying he had a surprise for G and I. ‘You English, I know how much you love the football! Now you can see a proper match in Italy!’
I’m not really a sporty person. I really do wish I was and, Lord knows, I’ve tried. Aside from a brief relationship with a boy who worked for a rugby club, which saw me spend many a wet weekend watching hairy men chase a rugby ball, I have very little experience. Blame my father, who hates football and spends a lot of time watching Gok Wan.
So, I was a bit apprehensive about the match and letting on that I didn't really know anything about football. Felt like I was letting down the UK.
The match starts at 6pm but the stadium is a bit of a walk from the city centre. This results in lots of moaning and grizzling from G, who hates walking, and M shouting ‘non rompi me pale!’ (don't break my balls) a lot.
When we get to the gates there is some drama as I’m pulled aside and asked for my ‘documentation’. M and G have gone off and I have no idea what they’re talking about so I empty my bag and pull out all the receipts, train tickets and debit cards and credit cards I have. Apparently they need a passport, which obviously I don't have (who carries their passport with them?!) but some words are exchanged and I’m eventually allowed through, though now feel like they know I’m an imposter.
Even to the untrained eye, the stadium is beautiful and practically built for Instagram. It sits just in front of the mountain and is based on a similar infrastructure to stadiums in the UK, since Genoa is the oldest team in Italy and was the first to import football from England.
One thing do notice about the match is that there is an absence of booze. All my experience of sport has seen people sloshing about pints from the sidelines, and overwhelming aromas of beer and redbull. What there is lots of, however, is smoke. Apparently its fine to smoke in the stadium because, even though the seats are under a cover, its technically outside. I love a cigarette, but there is so much smoke the pitch actually looks wavy.
Once the match starts there’s tons of singing, shouting and many, many arm gestures. People stand up, sit down, smack other people over the back of their heads. No one scores in the first half but in the last ten minutes of the second half the other team score. All becomes very exciting suddenly when Genoa miss two goals and people start to really panic. After 90 minutes, the other team are declared winners and I declare myself a football fan. Am elated and leave stadium bouncing and singing ‘Volare’, even though M looks so distraught I think he might cry.
Apparently it was quite an important match.