The extended weekend visit saw our first European adventure outside of Holland and Plymouth. The event was superbly organised by Chris Cook, whose mastery of the Italian language impressed us all.
An early morning visit to Graham’s transport café for breakfast – as recommended by Meat – provided a hearty greasy breakfast and was the antithesis of the culinary experiences Rome was to offer us. This meant we eschewed kebabs, pies and beer for salads, pasta and fine wine. The one major vice of the weekend turned out to be ice cream.
Our first night took us from our hotel near the Spanish Steps and led us past several sights of which the most notable was the Pantheon and we started to realise just how many architectural buildings, fountains, piazzas etc. were contained in such a small space in the middle of the city.
The Sunday morning saw us trooping off for a game of 6-a-side amongst ourselves. As usual none of us took it easy and we worked harder than we perhaps should have done! The afternoon saw the majority wander to the Coliseum: an impressive sporting venue for the time and one which most of our tough tackling midfielders would have loved to have graced.
The next day (the day of the big game) saw us get up a little later than originally planned due to late night wine sipping. A team visit (less McMeeking and Dunbar who found a pub to watch Man City v Wigana) was then made to take in St Peter’s Basilica where we went to the Grottoes and viewed the tomb of Pope John Paul II amongst others and also visited the Sistine (not the sixteenth) Chapel. After the game was played we headed off for celebratory drinks and at 4am were lucky enough to find a deserted Trevi fountain to take some pictures. In the centre of this fountain is superimposed a robustly modelled triumphal arch. The centre niche or exedra framing Oceanus has free-standing columns for maximal light-and-shade and in the niches flanking Oceanus, Abundance spills water from her urn and Salubrity holds a cup from which a snake drinks. Above, bas reliefs illustrate the Roman origin of the aqueducts. The tritons and horses provide symmetrical balance, with the maximum contrast in their mood and poses*.
Tuesday morning quickly arrived and most of us felt like we had been through a hard game although the reality was that everybody’s bones and muscles were aching from the multitude of steps that seem to exist throughout Rome. Or aching bones led us to the Cimitero Monumentale dei Padri Cappuccini. This was a slightly macabre place where 4,000 dead monks had their bones preserved and the Order thought it a good idea to use them as art in their crypt. The other useless fact we learned was that this led to the coffee being called Cappuccino as the coffee matched the robes the monks wore. The visit was finished off with a nice meal and some more wine.
The match was scheduled to be played on a huge shale pitch with lights that had seen better days (although the same could also be said for most of the Euro's team). It was also Steve's 400th appearance in the post modern era adding a special note to the start of yet another big European night. The match commenced at a reasonable pace as both teams tried to suss each other out. This was made more difficult by the fact the defenders struggled to see their opposition counterparts in the gloom of the night.
Martin Innalls and pint sized Ross had their work cut out in trying to stop the quick and surging runs of the Austrian left sided midfielder. The first goal arrived by way of a corner, headed powerfully home, by Chris Cook. A traditional English move which showed that the Italians could not handle the bulldog raw power of the tall bald one in full flight.
The second goal came from a well crossed ball by Chris which allowed Lee to toe poke it into the net. Half time, Roma 0 Euro’s 2 Roma hit back shortly after play re-commenced following a very good strike from outside the box which Neil Webb had no chance of saving. This should have led to them being a resurgent force, but the Euro’s still controlled the tempo of the game.
Kev McMeeking, unmarked in the box, hit a shot on the turn which crashed against the stantion and unluckily ricocheted to safety. The third goal, which effectively sealed the win, was a sublime volley from distance by George Willett (that was what the boarding card said anyway!) who capitalised following good work by Lee and Richard smelted it in from 25 yards.
A little bit of national stereotypes then emerged in the play as a succession of good dribbling skills by an Italian midfielder was matched by his cries of foul every time a touch tackling Inglesa midfielder breathed on him. The stereotyping eventually ended when Kev McMeeking decided to emulate the little Italian in order to demonstrate a point, which he did demonstrate at the expense of losing the moral highground!
By this time Lee had been taken off for Steve who slotted in at full back position, allowing Krisztian and Oli to move up to left midfield and striker respectively. The game was becoming more wide open as tired legs started to appear within both teams. Meat made full use of his body weight to repel a striker using a legal shoulder barge. Krisztian also made a timely tackle to prevent a shot being taken but then showed his Hungarian roots by screaming loudly at being kicked. The fourth and final Euro's goal was a solo run from the halfway line by Oli who followed up his own shot to tap it in when it rebounded back from the foot of the post.
A late opposition consolation goal was conceded following a successful penalty appeal, a result of a handball by player-manager Steve Grange after a bout of penalty box pinball. The American Italian female striker stepped up to dispatch it to the right of Neil, a finely taken penalty. Although, to give Neil due praise, he was nearly successful in flinging his body across to save the shot. Unfortunately, the laws of physics still apply in Italy and gravity just pulled the critical mass down to earth before a fuller hand was placed on the shot.
Overall a pleasing performance by the Euro's and we hope to be able to accept the invite to Napoli in September 2010!
Euros Team: Neilo Webbi, Krisztiani Kohari, Martino Innalls, Paolo Webbi, Filippo Smith, Olio Taylor, Ricardo Wilmott, Kevin McMeeking, Rossi Dunbar, Lee Taylor, Christofoso Cooki. Substitue: Steve Grangilini Goal scorers: Lee Taylor, Oli Taylor, Chris Cook & Richard Wilmott.