The only away fan in the stadium
28 October ~ Going to an away game in Italy is no easy matter these days. Travelling supporters are invariably viewed with suspicion and assumed to be potential troublemakers. But it's not just that; the logistics of travelling up and down the country can be pretty off-putting too. In Serie B earlier this month Livorno, on the Tuscan coast, played Reggina, on the tip of Italy's toe, looking out over the Strait of Messina to Sicily. One Livorno fan made the 1,000-kilometre journey: 66-year-old Corrado Nastasio.
"They didn't want me to go in the away supporters' section because there was only me," Nastasio told La Gazzetta dello Sport afterwards. "I have to thank police inspector Di Liberti because they finally let me in." A Livorno native, Nastasio played for his home town for three seasons in the 1960s before moving to Atalanta and then Cagliari, where he made two appearances during the Sardinian club's title-winning season of 1969-70.
A pacy striker and decent crosser of the ball, he won a single cap for the Italy Under-23s in 1969. Nastasio stopped playing in 1977 at the age of 31, when his young son became seriously ill. After working in the Italian lower leagues for a couple of years, he took on a job working in Livorno's docks but never stopped going to watch his local side.
His co-dockworkers set up a supporters' club and named it after him, currently some 200-strong. As befits a true Livornese – the city is a proud stronghold of left-wing politics – Nastasio is critical about the attitude of the country's authorities, and the clubs themselves, towards football fans.
"I could be wrong, but I'm pretty certain I'm the only former Serie A player who goes to every away game. There were only two of us at Crotone [in Puglia, Italy's heel]. For me, a club without away fans doesn't exist. The passion of being a fan is dying, not just at Livorno. This year, we rarely have more than ten supporters travelling away. But then, on the other hand, a fan doesn't count for anything these days with the clubs; the stadiums are a mess and it's like entering a war zone, you hardly ever see any young kids going to games anymore."
Livorno, currently third in the table, lived a little dangerously at times but eventually came away from their trip to Calabria with a 3-1 win. Nastasio watched, all on his own in the middle of Stadio Granillo's away end, with a banner draped over a barrier. The players appreciated it, running over to him at the final whistle. "At the end of the game, the club captain [Andrea] Luci presented me with a shirt and the coach [Davide] Nicola gave me a hug. But now there's only one present I'm asking for from the team: to return to Serie A." Matthew Barker