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One Livorno fan's lonely journey across Italy

The only away fan in the stadium

icon sadfan28 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

On the subject...

Comment on 28-10-2012 09:50:36 by drew_whitworth #725417
I remember a game at Brighton in the 1980s where Doncaster Rovers, bottom of what was still division 3 at the time, on a freezing Wednesday night in November, seemed to have brought 2 fans. The whole ground (and there weren't all that many of us there either, to tell the truth) gave a rousing cheer when they both launched into a cry of 'Yorkshire... Yorkshire...' about halfway through the second half.
Comment on 28-10-2012 10:05:09 by ingoldale #725419
Totally different circumstances but I remember watching Grimsby play Wimbledon at Blundell Park immediately after the infasmous move to Milton Keynes had been made. The Dons brought 8 fans. The funniest thing was, none of them sat together!
Comment on 28-10-2012 10:16:20 by geobra #725421
In a way a heartwarming story, but also a very sad one. Yet another testimony to the way in which Italian football is slowly sleepwalking its way towards oblivion.

Stories of the way fans are treated are now an everyday occurrence, but absolutely nothing is being done. Only 37000 saw the Italy v Denmark game in Milan, and some of them didn't get in till half time. Can anybody imagine that happening in a cinema or a theatre?

Most grounds have quite a large section reserved for away fans. Here in Bergamo a space that could hold 2000 fans is often occupied by about 10, except when the big clubs come visiting.

You begin to wonder whether those who run the game actually care that it is now being played in stadia with swathes of empty seats even at the highest level.

25 years ago tickets were scarce because stadia were full. Now they remain unsold because even those who prefer the real thing to TV are not willing to enter the bureaucratic maze that might, eventually, lead to them getting one.

Before I read this story, I though that AlbinoLeffe had the record for the fewest away fans - they usually take about 5. Their motto is 'better a few than none'.
Comment on 28-10-2012 10:55:11 by geobra #725428
You could also contrast this story with the 160 Napoli fans who travelled thousands of kilometres to Dnipro in the Ukraine. They saw a virtual reserve side lose 3-1 in the Europa League, and they must have known what coach Walter Mazzarri was likely to do. Mad, if you ask me. Perhaps clubs should warn fans in advance of such farces that they travel 'at their own risk'.
Comment on 28-10-2012 12:13:45 by ingoldale #725454
To be fair, France don't get high away attendances either. I'm going to Sochaux on Tuesday in the league cup and the supporters group (1 of 2) I'm a member and season ticket holder with are only taking one coach and it was not full as of the home game on Friday night. OK, the trek is a long for a Tuesday night and it is in the very unpopular French League Cup but Saint-Etienne are one of the best supported teams in France.
Comment on 28-10-2012 12:41:10 by geobra #725467
And how difficult is it to get a ticket for such a game in France? Nothing like as difficult as in Italy, I'd guess.
Comment on 28-10-2012 16:54:49 by heedmaster #725555
At the Kidderminster v Gateshead match two years ago, the Aggborough announcer, to ironic cheers from the home faithful, said it was great to see the "dozen Gateshead fans who had made the long journey from the North East". Wrong on two counts - we numbered 14 and several of us had travelled from various parts of the West Midlands (where we are, of course, engaged in missionary work!!).
Comment on 28-10-2012 19:15:13 by Bizarre Löw Triangle #725601
Now-defunct Leigh RMI managed to take a single fan to Dagenham several years ago.

Taking one fan seems much more impressive than taking none, but no Histon supporter could be arsed to go to the match at the Racecourse the season before last. The players all ran out and went to applaud the travelling support, only to realise that there was none.
Comment on 28-10-2012 19:23:53 by ingoldale #725606
geobra wrote:
And how difficult is it to get a ticket for such a game in France? Nothing like as difficult as in Italy, I'd guess.

To be fair it is much more difficult than in the UK. You can't just turn up on the day and buy a ticket. You have to be in one of the supporters groups or be very well in with someone who is. All tickets and travel are pre-arranged and that is the only way of attending it appears. Also, when you arrive at the game, you can't walk around town etc you are escorted directly to the ground and have to spend an age there before kick off.
Comment on 28-10-2012 21:02:44 by geobra #725651
All this makes the experience I had in Greece in September 2010 seem even more surprising. I turned up at the Olympic Stadium in Athens about an hour before kick off to see AEK v Asteras Tripolis. I joined a short queue, handed over 20 euros without having to show any form of identity, took a short walk to the entrance, and I was in. They even let me take a plastic bottle with the top still on. And yet Greek football is tarnished by violence every bit as much as 'Il Calcio' and much more, I'm sure, than 'Le Foot'.
Comment on 29-10-2012 11:35:34 by eighteen85 #725790
My favourite tale of low attendance:

"Tokyngton Manor F.C. are a football club based in Tokyngton in the London Borough of Brent, Middlesex, United Kingdom. The name was changed to Tokyngton on moving from Ruislip Manor's Grosvenor Vale ground in 2008 even though the club's temporary new ground is in Greenford. They are currently members of the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division One for the 2008-09 season. During a game where Tokyngton hosted Buckingham Athletic, attendance was one."
Comment on 29-10-2012 12:53:14 by robccfc #725807
I watch the Belgium national team home and away and was one of 6 in Kazakhstan, 8 in Tallinn, and 2 in Greece earlier this year! And yes I did know him. Meanwhile, when we played Austria there were 4000 and against England at Wembley there were 10,000. The range is farcical.
Comment on 29-10-2012 13:01:30 by GerryForrest #725811
Great article - that's all I have to say.
Comment on 30-10-2012 21:01:29 by Magik #726525
robccfc - do you know Steph from Molenbeek?
Comment on 31-10-2012 17:12:33 by robccfc #726874
Yes, of course ;)
Comment on 02-11-2012 12:57:14 by RobM #727653
As has already been said, great article.
Comment on 02-11-2012 20:28:21 by Boris Carpark #727914
Clermont had 2 in the away end at Lens on monday. The Ligue 1 & 2 stats list away attendances, they are often miniscule & sometimes zero but then you consider the distances & expenses involved you can only admire those that do.
Carpark 2 was scornful until I explained Clermont was about 400 miles away.
More praise too for a great article.

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