Thursday, 16 March 2006

Trouble in Rome

I managed to get caught up in the violence in Rome.

Boro fans who’d travelled out a day early had earmarked The Drunken Ship in the Campo de Fiori as a meeting point. I arrived there around 7pm and while a few Boro fans were being a bit boisterous (chanting and dancing in the fountain), the mood was pleasant and fun.

Around 10pm, a gang of AS Roma fans charged into the square. I was inside the bar so didn’t see anything at first, I only became aware of the trouble when a firework that had been thrown into the group Boro fans standing outside went off.

The Roma fans – I’d estimate around 50 – charged at us with chairs, bats, knives and, in one case, an axe. A group of Boro fans charged back and the trouble spilled out of the square as the Carabinieri got involved (largely turning a blind eye to the local Ultras and beating Middlesbrough’s travelling support).

As I was eating breakfast with my friends Steve and Paul the next morning, Channel 4 News and Sky News both interviewed me about the trouble the night before. I told them, and I stand by it, that while the Boro fans were in high-spirits and a bit rowdy, this was an organised assault by disgusting Italian hooligans. The police did far too little to defend the innocent.

After breakfast, Paul took great pride entering the AS Roma Ultra shop and speaking very loudly in his Teesside accent.

The best revenge, though, was delivered by the Boro team. Thanks to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s header, we’re through to the quarter-finals.

How the BBC covered the story

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