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Soccer: Roma Therapy

By Micheal Lehane
IT IS the sound of thousands of Roma fans singing in almost perfect harmony which first strikes you when you stand in the Curva Sud in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

The singing is accompanied by an almost religious style of flag-waving, with each piece unfurled with all the decorum usually found down the road in the Vatican.

This evening’s opposition is Serie B team Palermo who have come to the capital for an Italian Cup first-leg game.

Their young supporters swathed in pink and black, spend the day halfheartedly goading Roma fans at the Spanish Steps in the City Centre.

When they eventually get to the ground for the 6pm kick-off, the riot police herd the islanders into the Lazio end of the Stadium. But all those batons, shields and barking Alsatians seem a little gratuitous in this benign atmosphere.

It’s so relaxed that dozens of young lads go close to impaling themselves as they freely jump over glass partitions to get into the Curva to talk to teenage girls.

But those teenage beauties are not the most eye-catching aspects of the night.

Behind them, through a mist of smoke, a dozen tricolours were waving in the left-hand side of the stand.

What’s more extraordinary is that some of the fans seem to be chanting a Wolfe Tones number with Italian accents.

While we all thought Schillaci’s goal had banished Irish soccer from Rome in June 1990, there is a part of Italy’s premier football ground that’s been green for the last five years.

Yes, Fabio Capello’s table-toppers have a band of supporters called the Irish Roma Clan who rally their team with Irish rebel songs and tricolours.

The majority are native Roman men in their mid-20’s and there is also handful of women among them.

The group has a huge banner with green writing on a white background that reads, "Irish Clan". It’s placed down at the front of the Curva for all Roma’s home games.

The clan was founded by Fabian Trani, 27, who came to study as an exchange student at Newman College in Dublin, 10 years ago.

"I went over to learn English and stayed in Dublin for about three months. It was a brilliant experience and I really liked the country," he said.

When he finished school, he returned to Ireland again in the summer of 1998, this time he worked in the Castle Bar in Limerick.

On his return, he decided to combine his passion for AS Roma and Ireland. The result was the "Irish Roma Clan" and soon its numbers swelled as Fabian’s friends joined the unusual supporters’ group.

"The Irish Clan was founded in 1998 by a group of Roma supporters who have unconditional love for the only team which understood them and for the native land of the green orange," Fabian said.

Fabian’s Irish experience was further influenced by a summer in Belfast and Derry.

"We are there every Sunday in the stadium and outside with our banner, our flags and our hymns of freedom."

The hymns, as the clan describe them are essentially rebel songs covering the most recent period of strife in the North.

One entitled "Ireland’s Fight For Freedom" would seem more at home on the terraces of Parkhead than in the Stadio Olimpico.

The lyrics seem unlikely fodder to inspire multi-millionaire players such as Totti, Carew, Dacourt, Emerson, Montella and Cassano.

Nonetheless the clan rattle out with gusto lines like: "In Ireland’s fight for freedom, boys/The North has played her part/ and though her day has yet to come/We never yet must part."

While racism and jingoism are rife in Italy the Irish contribution seems bizarre. However, the clan’s founder believes all Roma supporters dislike the English, unlike their Rome rivals Lazio.

"The other Roma supporters like us because they hate the English. Lazio like the English and they have links with clubs like Chelsea," Fabian said.

The bitterness towards England stems largely from Roma’s 1984 defeat to Liverpool in the European Cup Final at the Olympic Stadium.

It’s ironic that Roma was first coached by Englishman William Garbutt after the club was established in 1927.

Garbutt steered the team to an Italian Cup win, but that’s history. Today the Irish Clan website at www.irishclan.org provides information on everything from the Garvaghy Road, to the IRA to the best Irish bars in Rome.

"The group is also about getting people to enjoy themselves and have a few pints of Guinness after a game. That’s a very important part of what we do," Fabian said.

"We get a lot of Irish tourists coming up to us at games. We have met people from Shamrock Rovers and I’m hoping to go over and see them play in March."

These are good times for Roma and they are currently top of Serie A.

The fans throughout the Curva Sud are hoping the club can win its fourth championship this year.

"We are top at the moment and it looks good. There are going to be some really big games in Rome soon and the clan will do our best to cheer them on."

 

Soccer: Roma Therapy

By Micheal Lehane
IT IS the sound of thousands of Roma fans singing in almost perfect harmony which first strikes you when you stand in the Curva Sud in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

The singing is accompanied by an almost religious style of flag-waving, with each piece unfurled with all the decorum usually found down the road in the Vatican.

This evening’s opposition is Serie B team Palermo who have come to the capital for an Italian Cup first-leg game.

Their young supporters swathed in pink and black, spend the day halfheartedly goading Roma fans at the Spanish Steps in the City Centre.

When they eventually get to the ground for the 6pm kick-off, the riot police herd the islanders into the Lazio end of the Stadium. But all those batons, shields and barking Alsatians seem a little gratuitous in this benign atmosphere.

It’s so relaxed that dozens of young lads go close to impaling themselves as they freely jump over glass partitions to get into the Curva to talk to teenage girls.

But those teenage beauties are not the most eye-catching aspects of the night.

Behind them, through a mist of smoke, a dozen tricolours were waving in the left-hand side of the stand.

What’s more extraordinary is that some of the fans seem to be chanting a Wolfe Tones number with Italian accents.

While we all thought Schillaci’s goal had banished Irish soccer from Rome in June 1990, there is a part of Italy’s premier football ground that’s been green for the last five years.

Yes, Fabio Capello’s table-toppers have a band of supporters called the Irish Roma Clan who rally their team with Irish rebel songs and tricolours.

The majority are native Roman men in their mid-20’s and there is also handful of women among them.

The group has a huge banner with green writing on a white background that reads, "Irish Clan". It’s placed down at the front of the Curva for all Roma’s home games.

The clan was founded by Fabian Trani, 27, who came to study as an exchange student at Newman College in Dublin, 10 years ago.

"I went over to learn English and stayed in Dublin for about three months. It was a brilliant experience and I really liked the country," he said.

When he finished school, he returned to Ireland again in the summer of 1998, this time he worked in the Castle Bar in Limerick.

On his return, he decided to combine his passion for AS Roma and Ireland. The result was the "Irish Roma Clan" and soon its numbers swelled as Fabian’s friends joined the unusual supporters’ group.

"The Irish Clan was founded in 1998 by a group of Roma supporters who have unconditional love for the only team which understood them and for the native land of the green orange," Fabian said.

Fabian’s Irish experience was further influenced by a summer in Belfast and Derry.

"We are there every Sunday in the stadium and outside with our banner, our flags and our hymns of freedom."

The hymns, as the clan describe them are essentially rebel songs covering the most recent period of strife in the North.

One entitled "Ireland’s Fight For Freedom" would seem more at home on the terraces of Parkhead than in the Stadio Olimpico.

The lyrics seem unlikely fodder to inspire multi-millionaire players such as Totti, Carew, Dacourt, Emerson, Montella and Cassano.

Nonetheless the clan rattle out with gusto lines like: "In Ireland’s fight for freedom, boys/The North has played her part/ and though her day has yet to come/We never yet must part."

While racism and jingoism are rife in Italy the Irish contribution seems bizarre. However, the clan’s founder believes all Roma supporters dislike the English, unlike their Rome rivals Lazio.

"The other Roma supporters like us because they hate the English. Lazio like the English and they have links with clubs like Chelsea," Fabian said.

The bitterness towards England stems largely from Roma’s 1984 defeat to Liverpool in the European Cup Final at the Olympic Stadium.

It’s ironic that Roma was first coached by Englishman William Garbutt after the club was established in 1927.

Garbutt steered the team to an Italian Cup win, but that’s history. Today the Irish Clan website at www.irishclan.org provides information on everything from the Garvaghy Road, to the IRA to the best Irish bars in Rome.

"The group is also about getting people to enjoy themselves and have a few pints of Guinness after a game. That’s a very important part of what we do," Fabian said.

"We get a lot of Irish tourists coming up to us at games. We have met people from Shamrock Rovers and I’m hoping to go over and see them play in March."

These are good times for Roma and they are currently top of Serie A.

The fans throughout the Curva Sud are hoping the club can win its fourth championship this year.

"We are top at the moment and it looks good. There are going to be some really big games in Rome soon and the clan will do our best to cheer them on."