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Blog: A Memorable Weekend In Italy

16 May 2013

Notts supporter Andy Black and his wife Lisa visited Juventus to see them lift the Seria A trophy, meet the Italian Magpies and enjoy some fantastic hospitality in Turin.

Here is their story from a memorable weekend, written by Andy…

On the last weekend of Notts County’s season, like most supporters, Lisa and I were discussing how we would spend our weekends; already football withdrawal symptoms were kicking in.  On a whim we looked at the fixtures of the only other team we would want to watch, Juventus.

We decided that we must have one more black and white fix in the season. At the same time, we got to meet our friends the Italian Magpies once more.

Flights were booked and Facebook conversations with Giorgio Zunino, founder of the Italian Magpies ensued. The Italian Magpies pulled out all the stops with the plans for the weekend and to try to get us tickets for the final match of the season, Juventus v Cagliari - a game that would see Juventus lift the Italian Champions trophy for the 31st time.

So on 11 May 2013 at 2am in the morning we set off to Stansted airport, where we met our friend Max Giara, who as an Italian Magpie had recently visited Notts County FC to see the Colchester game, and who we now travelled with.

As usual our reception when we arrived was wonderful. Giorgio met us at the airport and drove us to his hometown, as we were to stay with his family for the first night of our stay.  

The hospitality of our ever growing family of friends was second to none.  After a fantastic home made Italian lunch, thanks to Silvana Zunino, Giorgio’s mum, who even set the table in black and white and wore a Notts County shirt for us, we drove to the Juventus stadium.  

Seeing the supporters club coaches from all over Italy and beyond, the merchandise stalls and those impressive Juventus arcs built our anticipation and excitement for meeting our friends and entering the stadium.  

We followed what is now a tradition and headed to the Juventus store and Juventus museum, now a regular meeting place for Italian Magpies.  One by one our friends who have visited Nottingham arrived, and this time they came with family - we met fathers, brothers, sisters and children of Italian Magpies, a truly family experience.  

What was really great was that despite this being an important match for Juventus and for Juventus fans, we were surrounded by black and white stripes, and guess what they were Notts County FC football shirts,  our friends were wearing our colours!

As usual we had new Juventus fans coming to shake hands and ask for photographs.  Notts County’s name heard from passing Juve fans, photographs taken and the handing out of Notts badges, post cards and gifts shared until it was time to enter the stadium.  

Thanks to the efforts of Roberto Columbo we were able to purchase two tickets and we found ourselves in sector 216, seated with another Italian Magpie, Daniele Valvassura, almost on the halfway line. It was a fantastic view, surrounded by incredibly passionate supporters.  

As ever the stadium rocked to the voices of 40,000 Juventus supporters singing the Juve anthem.  Black and white flags filled the ground and in Curva Sud, the rather large equivalent of our Kop, a massive 31 in the Italian flag colours was enthusiastically and proudly waved. 

At half time, Juve were 1-0 down and we were worried that we had 'jinxed' the scoreline and a supporter from Rome joked that it was down to us. Despite the scoreline the noise and support for the club never waned, not once.  

During half time we handed more Notts County badges and small  gifts out to surrounding fans, all of whom were delighted to see us and thanked us for going to share the clubs special day. 

 Following half time, Juventus number 12, Giovinco (a player a little like Alan Judge for work rate) was substituted for Vucinic.  The team performance lifted and the sub equalised for Juventus, the roof went off!  The noise of the fans was so loud you could feel it resonating through the concrete of the stadium as “Fino alla Fine, Forza Juventus” rang through out.  The final result 1-1.

After 90 minutes the stage was set for the giving of the trophy, which was escorted into the stadium by two Italian beauties.  Each player,  one by one was announced to the crowd and each and every one of them received a loud and rapturous welcome. 

The last player to be announced was the Juventus goalkeeper and captain, Buffon, and amid fireworks and black and white ticker tape, he lifted the trophy. It was a delight to see the team and their families celebrate and watching the children of the players shooting at goal and sharing the moment, joyous.

We left the stadium and met again our friends, to go for, yes you guessed it, a pizza.  We eventually got to bed at 2.30am and despite being awake for over 24 hours, we wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

On the Sunday we had a very special day, we met Roberto Columbo, Tommasso Ambrosia and his brother Franceso, Stefano Panzeri and his wife and delightful children.  They had all driven from just outside Milan to share the day with us and do some sight seeing.  

We went to the Egyptian museum (the largest display of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo), we took the glass lift to the top of Mole Antonelliana, which gave us a fantastic view of Turin and finally, our friends drove us to the Basilica di Superga, a church built in the 17th century that sits on the top of a huge hill providing stunning views of Turin and the Alps.

After an emotional farewell to our friends and their families, Lisa and I headed off to meet a group of Juventus fans from Malta, who also share an interest in Notts.  We talked enthusiastically about our football teams, more Notts gifts shared and conversations of past players, of course Daniel Bogdanovic, featured in our conversations and we hope to see a Maltese Magpies branch pop up very soon, a commitment given by Jean Borg and Jordy Cachia who run the Maltese Juventus club.

Well the weekend was exhausting, but it was fantastic, to see the football and to share the joy and our friendship and black and white history is something I am passionate about.  Our Italian Magpie friends, I can assure you are passionate about our club, and saying goodbye when we meet gets ever harder.  

We spent a great weekend wondering and hoping that one day we will have the opportunity to share another black and white weekend together – Notts County v Juventus at Meadow Lane – now that would be something!

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