The Gentleman Ultra. A peculiar name at first glance but one that makes perfect sense. This site was born from the passion of a public school boy enchanted by Italia 90, Nessun Dorma and Channel 4’s Football Italia. The logical next step after a decade of obsession was seeing it first-hand.
With the rose-tinted glasses firmly attached, one simply expected the obvious. The misty San Siro under lights, afternoons in Firenze’s Boboli gardens before trips to the Artemio Franchi, and glasses of wine in Como followed by a dose of Italy’s lower leagues. But it was so much more than that.
During these trips, the dark underbelly of Italian football also revealed itself: the firework-throwing Bologna Ultras, a dressing room trip with members of Inter’s Curva Nord, a close encounter with the Carabinieri, the match fixing, and a Scudetto celebration barely visible due to the smog of flares and smoke bombs. The tales and the beautiful memories that started this intoxicating love affair had to be told.
As a result, Richard founded The Gentleman Ultra in 2011, inspired by his passion for the Italian game and the country in general. This site embraces the boyhood nostalgia we all felt whilst watching James Richardson sip cappuccinos on a Piazza in Italy, equipped with La Gazzetta dello Sport and a repertoire of witty puns. But we also delve deeper to bring you the more cryptic, sometimes darker facets of Italian football. We document the Ultras behind the choreographies, the stories behind the scandals and the history behind some of Calcio’s most iconic figures, teams and moments.
Luca Hodges-Ramon’s (Managing editor) introduction heralded the start of our series on the Ultras of Italian football, which was soon picked up by the Guardian Sport Network. Our first piece on Atalanta caused quite the stir. In a surreal turn of events, our article was scrutinised by the mayor of Bergamo, defended by Atalanta’s Ultras (we even got a banner), and was considered worthy of Italian national news.
Since then, the site has gone from strength to strength. We have provided a platform for fellow Calcio enthusiasts to tell the stories that matter to them and the TGU team now has the strength in depth to rival any of Italy’s Seven Sisters during their Channel 4 heyday. Blair Newman (editor) has added a tactical string to our bow – after all, a certain Mr. Mourinho once dubbed Serie A “the tactical league” – whilst Neil Morris (sub-editor and commercial development) and Emmet Gates (sub-editor) have become TGU’s latest bandiere. And just as Italian football has (finally) awoken to the reality that modernisation is vital to remaining competitive, we too have continued moving forward, most recently re-launching on a more dynamic, accessible and stylish hosting platform.
However, our philosophy has never changed. We believe in allowing our writers the freedom to be creative, to conduct thorough research, and to produce original and insightful content. Forget news and transfer gossip, we bring nostalgia, history and tales from both within and beyond Calcio’s four-white lines.
This is Italian Football through our eyes. This is The Gentleman Ultra.