Like any fan, we are also hostages of institutions such as Gos, the Observatory, prefects, police commissioners and with them of determinations, limitations, closed sectors, prohibited travel. Derbies full of traditions and rivalries which have been handed down for generations and have been lost since the dawn of time, are often emptied of people’s warmth and passion, even if fortunately some pockets of rebellion and resistance still exist.
Having booked well in advance to obviously spend as little as possible on my new trip, less than a week away I was burned by the now classic closure of the sector and by limitations too rigid to be taken into consideration. Obviously I won’t talk to you about the lost derby but only about the alternative chosen so as not to lose the tickets already purchased previously, with the addition of two connections to be taken from Pistoia to Montecatini with a replacement bus Trenitalia and from here to Altopascio again by train. Ups and downs all faced with pleasure because the game is still one of those particular and unprecedented ones, Tau Altopascio-Poggibonsi series D, more precisely from group E. I have never been to the small town in the province of Lucca and it has also been a long time since I saw the Poggibonsi ultras at work, so in addition to the travel adrenaline I also have further motivations to animate me.
Having got off the last train, although the sky is cloudy and leaden, I get lost in the tranquility of these small station buildings typical of the Tuscan province. From Certaldo to Borgo a Buggiano, from Castelnuovo Garfagnana to Ghivizzano, just to name a few seen and experienced. I can’t afford to dwell too much on the intersections and similarities that this railway outpost makes me think of, so I head towards the stadium and the historic center of this municipality of fifteen thousand souls.
Everything is concentrated and close enough which allows me to delve deeper into the visits. Passing the historic center, I turn to find myself right in front of the entrance to the Tuscan plant where the large writing stands out Municipal Sports Field. In front of the entrance there is a small car park around which I see stickers and writings of ultras groups who have passed through here. Without thinking twice I go through the open gate and discover that a youth team match is being played with the stands occupied mostly by relatives of the players, but this doesn’t stop me from tasting the steps of this “temple” in advance and more closely. .
The stadium overall is very simple and only has a covered grandstandHowever, well done. Right at the entrance, a small portion is cut out and used as a guest area and divided from the rest with a stable and solid iron gate. My visit continues in the perimeter area of the facility, where the writing TAU is omnipresent, taking you back to another time and another world of which the football team is in some way testimony: before the year one thousand, the Altopascio hospital created to help pilgrims passing along the important Via Francigena. They were the ones who founded it the Knights of Taua religious and chivalric order that spread from Altopascio to the rest of Europe, whose name is linked to the taumed cross, in the shape of a Tau, the Greek T, which they had imprinted on their long black cloak.
I leave the stadium with the bell tower of the church of San Jacopo, patron saint (and it could not be otherwise) of pilgrims, who stands out not only over it but over the entire Altopascio from its location. The center which once closed its doors to the passage of its citizens, is small but very pleasant and dripping with history. Although time always passes very quickly in certain circumstances, I return to the stadium happy and satisfied with what I have seen, even if inevitably I always remain at surface level compared to the depth of what has passed through certain places.
Unfortunately In Altopascio there is no organized support movementthere are just a couple of hundred spectators watching the match sitting down and apart from a couple of kids with a grenade flag in their hands and a few shouts, in the first half there is little or nothing to report. My attention thus falls towards the host sectorwith the Giallorossi ultras who, after arriving and attaching a couple of “patches” to the fence, positioned themselves behind them and began to warm up their voices already in the pre-match.
Poggibonsi isn’t doing too well in the league, stuck as it is in the lower part of the table, where it is fighting to get out of the play outs as soon as possible. Yet the tradition that its ultras carry on is long-standing and of considerable importance considering the city which has less than thirty thousand inhabitants. Against Tau Altopascio, making its second appearance in a row in Serie D, seems to have started much better: fighting with the top of the class, they currently occupy fourth place in the standings, although just ten days have been played and prudence suggests keeping their feet on the ground.
In the meantime the teams enter the field, and the visiting supporters color the sector by raising a banner and waving several yellow-red flags with the central lion coat of arms in each of them, a choice that gives a nice eye-catcher to those present. In the first half they start off really strong and sing powerful choruses, accompanied by a good number of handclaps punctuated by the beating of the drum. Even though after just sixteen minutes they were already behind, they continued to cheer as if nothing had happened and evidently the team sensed their desire to fight and after just six minutes they equalized with Marcucci who made the sector rejoice.
As the match continued, the Poggibonsi boys did not experience any problems or breaks, on some occasions they raise the banner to the sky and wave a few flags, always supporting the eleven on the pitch. In the second half they always start off with the right attitude, while the choir member on the megaphone is then good at overcoming the foreseeable physiological decline, also resorting to numerous handclaps alternating with some response choirs and other great classics of the Italian ultras repertoire.
Eleven minutes from the end, after the hosts had tried in every way to take the lead, Gucci scores the guest’s lead, a well-deserved reward for the Giallorossi fans in raptures. The whole team goes to celebrate with their ultras but the joy lasts less than a minute because as soon as the ball is put back into play, Tau Altopascio manages to equalize with Andolfi, without the visiting fans becoming upset or frayed, with the incitement for Poggibonsi who continues, supported by some nice slaps and the waving of the numerous flags available.
At the final whistle the players go to greet their fans even though they are bitter about this missed coup, well consoled by the same ones who still cheer them on, finishing the performance in a truly majestic way. The coverage of the sector certainly encouraged their singing performance, but they made a strong impression regardless, especially with the linearity of their support. Of course, with another group of fans acting as a counterbalance it would have been different, perhaps even better or not: the beauty of matches in the stands is precisely this, that you never know how it will end and nothing is ever taken for granted…
I leave the stadium and return to the station again this time in the direction of Lucca and from here, by bus and with fewer vicissitudes and coincidences, home again, but with a wealth of images and sensations in my head from the beautiful day of football, cheering and of everything that revolves around you. Because contrary to what those who usually snub it think, all of this is not just and simply a game.
I like Loading…