brigate rossonere & me

Me, yesterday.
hello mum

It’s a completely meaningless game for Milan, through to the next round of the Champions League by virtue of victory over Ajax two weeks ago, and half the squad has already travelled to Tokyo for the final of the Intercontinental Cup final against Boca Juniors at the weekend. There’s no Maldini, no Nesta, no Rui Costa, no Shevchenko, no Inzaghi. There’s only 36,000 people in a stadium that holds 85,000, yet I’m having the time of my life. While three sides of the San Siro feature large blocks of empty seats, the Brigate Rossonere end of the arena is packed, and it’s rocking. The chanting doesn’t let up in ninety minutes, led by cheerleaders stationed along the front of the tier who encourage the crowd to stay involved. Each of them has a microphone wired up to a primitive PA system, their disembodied, electronic voices booming across the stand like a series of competing Mu?azzen clerics. If you fold your arms for a second you’re singled out for criticism, your loyalty to the Milan cause cast into immediate doubt. To top it all off, there’s an elderly gentleman wandering the seats doing a roaring trade in miniature bottles of Sambuca.

The weirdest thing is that, apart from the moment went Kaka puts Milan ahead, the reaction of the home support seems to have very little to do the action on the pitch. While in the UK the volume and passion levels of the fans are driven largely by events during the game, here the noise remains constant whatever happens. Each Celta Vigo goal is met with something close to indifference, with no interruption to the song or chant in progress. It’s an absolutely bizarre, fantastic experience, and I doubt I’ve ever watched less of a game in my life yet felt so involved. The only slightly threatening moment comes during a visit to the urinals, when I’m studying a piece of graffiti that reads “Basta con la mafia delle giacchette nere sangue violenza Brigate Rossonere.” I don’t speak Italian, but any sentence featuring the words ‘mafia’ and ‘violence’ is worthy of closer inspection. The guy standing next to me offers to translate, and reads the phrase slowly back, gazing at me rather intently as he does so: “Piss. Shit. Beckham. Fuck off.” I decide not to persue the matter further and quickly return to my seat.

Just in front of me, yesterday.
just one cornetto...

The Brigate Rossonere also sing a great version of ‘You’ll never walk Alone,’ where most of the consonants seemed to have been dropped, or at least that’s the way it sounds to my uncultured ears.

War Oh
War Oh
Wi Ho
Ih Your Har
Ah yoo ne’ah war agai
Ah you ne’ah war agai

Someone please buy me a season ticket.


  1. Ha! You continentals won’t like it so much on a cold night at Blackburn.

    Hang on…

  2. oooh it looks a bit dangerous where he’s standing.
    was anyone holding him up?

  3. No, he was supporting himeslf by means of a leg wedged either side of a wire strutt. Extremely precarious, but there’s only been one serious incident this year, when an Inter fan dropped ten metres to the crowd on the tier below and fractured his skull. It’s an occupational hazard for the cheerleaders.

  4. well for those sorts of cheerleaders its a hazard.
    i imagine in the main other more stereotypical cheerleaders suffer from pompom chaffing
    i hear it can come up in a nasty rash..

  5. I swear I’ll sue one of these days.

  6. Next time you come to Italy we’ll take you to a real stadium to see some real supporters. In Turin. And not for Juventus.
    (Oh well, actually I have a subscription for the opposite curve, not for the real one – I’m lazy and I don’t feel like screaming for 90 minutes every other sunday.)
    Uh, and Milan sucks, of course. Be aware that the money you paid for the ticket ends up in Berlusconi’s pockets. This alone is a good reason to pick another team.

  7. Uh, and you possibly already got it, but the translation of

    “Basta con la mafia delle giacchette nere sangue violenza Brigate Rossonere.”

    is something like

    “No more black shirts mafia – blood, violence, Brigate Rossonere”

    which is ridiculous, since Italian referees, for obvious reasons, tend to assign to Milan an amount of fake penalties, inverted fouls and non-existing opponent attacker offsides almost equal to the one they assign to Juventus. When Baresi was still playing, whenever the opponents were attacking the referee would watch him, and if he raised his hands, the referee would stop the play and call an offside against the opponents, independently from whatever was happening on the field.

  8. now ther’s another proof that there’s only one real curva in italy which is that of ac.milan. do you call juventus supporters ultras? if they only sing when they score and when they loose they call everyone mafia even if everybody knows who are the real mafia in italian football.

    Forza Milan. I Campioni dell’Europa Siamo Noi.

  9. siamo noiiiiiiiii siamo noiiiiiii i campioni dell’Italia SIAMO NOI!!!! INTERISTA NON TI INCCAZZARE L’IMPORTANTE è PARTECIPAREEEE!!

  10. hou shemo! stai citta vaufanculo! tu sono solo un figlio di butana! guarda che tu dice!

    B.R.N. per sempre

  11. ?~?????J?b?R?C?C?????B

  12. Forza vecchio cuore rossonero!!!