Tuesday Apr 20, 2021  
  05/10/2012: For the Love of my Club, I am a Traitor to my Family
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As I watched the joy glisten from my nonno’s eyes asMarco Sansovini lifted the Serie B BWIN trophy as 100,000 people in and around the Adriatico stadium in Pescara looked on I realized right then and there that I was about to embark on the most turbulent time against my entire immediate family.

You might remember that I am not one to shy away from divulging my personal travails that relate to family and how soccer/football always finds a way to affect it. Think back to my personal struggle versus my significant other when her Sporting was grouped alongside my Lazio only a year ago. Thankfully for me, like Lazio we survived the group stage and managed to split results with the almost perfect Sporting in The Europa League. Like that journey, this one is only beginning and might last longer than 180 minutes. Somewhere in the region of 38 weeks sounds more accurate.

My last name (when pronounced properly): Di Mascio (dee-mash-show) identifies my ancestry to the region of Abruzzo. 131 Kilometres from Rome you will find the towns of Mannopello and Letto-Mannopello (Pescara) in Abruzzo. An area boasting the likes of famous poet Gabriele D’Annuzio, F1 Driver Jarno Trulli, Laziale and Champions Leauge Winning coach Roberto Di Matteo, and the new sensation of Italian Football Marco Verrati. This area is the birthplace of my grandparents i miei nonni. It is the area occupied by my present day cousins and extended family that all cling to the pride and history of Pescara Calcio 1936 and their promotion to Calcio Italiano’s top flight: Serie A. “Siam tornati, Siam tornati, Siam tornati in SERIE AAAAAAA!!!!! “ screams the headlines of my cousins Facebook pages in their Abruzzesse dialetto. “Godo!” rejoices the thousands of fans who march to the streets near the beach with the Palm trees at their feet: Capolista of B and the treat of a return to Serie A.

As I joined up with family and friends this summer in Pescara I realized that love for a club had the potential to make you enemy #1 to some of the people you loved the most. As I attempted to get to the root of the issue between the two clubs I realized the hatred from The Adriatic side of things was much greater than not being in Serie A for the last 20 years. The hatred between Lazio and Pescara which has deep roots, is a hard hatred one. A hatred that perhaps will never end. Born in the early 80's, the story that I’ve gathered from the Pescaresi centers around a Pescara fan on holiday in Rimini who encountered a Lazio fan in a Club. Whether it was a large group on both sides and who said what to who remains to be confirmed precisely. The most important part is the conclusion of that story which remains constant no matter who tells it. The Lazio fan pulls the blade and stabbed to death the Pescara fan and almost 30 years later that bad blood is still felt. My friend Emiliano (a Lazio fan) told me this summer when I enquired into the possibility of travelling with the team to a match in Bergamo: “There are certain places you don’t travel to; Bergamo, Napoli, Livorno, and Pescara!” Could it really be? The beach-town that I’ve spent many a summers in walking on the lungomare to one end of Francavilla or South to Guilianova be so hostile to the team I so dearly love? A Pescara ultra from the foundations of The Pescara Rangers argues that this hatred in fact came by mistake, and therefore the blood continues to spill when these teams encounter each other for nothing.

Since the inception of this casino, with the trail of blood that still continues. The thing that I learned, and that is fucking amazing was that the guy who used the knife was not of Lazio. He did not give a shit about football! Do you realize this? Hatred between us and them is born of a mistake! Think of these crazy Pescara brains that we can have: one of them was made out of one of Rome for things that had nothing to do with the way of football, and now they want to kill all the Romans: men, women, old people and children. Things that started well at the beginning are now left with a rivalry that we did not want to have but always respected and honored. With Lazio we go the extra mile when those fishermen like angry sheep that need shepherds.

Mistake-or-not perhaps not all Lazio fans realize this, but this match is almost as of much importance as say a derby or a classic encounter with the top teams. Maybe the hate isn’t as strong for those of the Curva Nord on the South side of the A24 Autostrade that Mussolini helped build. In Curva Nord Marco “Bubu” Mazza however, this is a wound that is still very fresh.

When you end up with your closest family in the Croce del Sud part of the beach occupied and run by the most Elite and Hardcore of Pescara’s Ultras “The Pescara Rangers” and your cousin turns to you with a look of shock and disbelief as if someone is behind me ready to pull the trigger and says “No please Michael, we are among the Rangers you are mad to carry this Lazio beach towel with you. I won’t allow this on the beach. It is for your safety.” Dismissing his desperate counsel I marched proud with towel in hand through the beach bar ending up in an actual sea of Pescaresi elite. From the photos on the wall with Zeman, Verratti, Immobile, Insigne all household names of a dream team of the year that had passed. To the point of witnessing an actual beach fight between grown men fathers even. Covered in Tattoo’s with the traditional Cherokee warrior tattoo Pescara has adopted among its ultras, these grown men were fighting over an accusation made from one to the other questioning how he had more tickets than him, a father who had been coming to the Adriatico since the 80’s and suffered through the various promotions and demotions of the 90’s only to see this “Part-Time” fan with 5 tickets of his own to the sold out match vs Inter later that day. I knew then that if they were able to cause such a scene for their “own” kind, who knows what the endless possibilities that would have occurred once they witnessed my S.S. Lazio 1900 towel. I am not ashamed to admit that I did wrap my towel up and stow it away for safe keeping for another day on another beach.

So many wounds so many horrible memories from both sides. Just recently ex Laziale Vincenzo D’Amico a regular commentator for RAI International that can be seen here in Canada every Sunday reminisced to another tragic incident, March 23, 1980 to be exact. With the news of Stefano Mauri’s involvement in a betting scandal this summer, an all but too familiar story for D’Amico and Pescara being tied into the mix. "The sense of shame remains in my heart." It's been more than thirty years' from the March 23, 1980, but Vincenzo D 'Amico' s image alsong with Giordano, Capitano Pino Wilson, and Manfredonia, ended up in handcuffs in front of their fans after the game vs Pescara left everyone stunned and in disbelief.

To paraphrase what Paolo Peroso pleaded to both English and Italian listeners in the lead up to this match was that, history will always remain with its wounds, bloodshed, death, and accusations. The game itself should only be about a game, but it is not possible for it to ever again remain just a game. The atmosphere around the stadium in the lead up to the match just won’t let it stay just a game between two teams. Even if people were to accept that the tragic incidents on that day in Rimini were born out of misused facts at this point the hate has gone on for so long that the stubbornness of the Italian culture refuses to relinquish any of the disdain they feel for the other fans and team. I do not hold anything close to the same hate for Pescara as a Laziale as I would for Roma, Livorno, or Napoli for that matter. Obviously my roots could be argued make me biased, however my first hand treatment by the Pescara Rangers and the animosity I am bound to receive from family and relatives should even out the field.

Now, I do not expect my immediate family to excommunicate me come Sunday nor should they. I will reiterate that this is not just any other Serie A match day. The wounds of the past promise to be the powder keg that ignite the clashes between ultras on the streets before and after the match, while I suffer here in Canada, trying to keep the peace.

(Michael Di Mascio)

Author: C
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