After dispatching the reigning champions in our second game of the season, Roma’s next fixture, after the international break, is against slightly more humble opponents – Frosinone. “Who on earth are Frosinone???” you might understandably ask? Well, seeing as though there isn’t much else I feel like writing about this week, I’m going to tell you.
The first thing you need to know is that Frosinone vs Roma is, wait for it… A brand new DERBY!! Are you excited? You should be.
The city of Frosinone is in the Lazio region, only a few kilometres south of where my family hails from. A town in which everyone’s favourite ancient Roman, Cicero, had a villa in the first century BC, Frosinone has been levelled numerous times since then in various conflicts including WWII – when it was bombed by the Allies 56 times. Given the necessary rebuilding associated with that, it’s now a reasonably modern little place by Italian standards, with a population roughly the size of Timaru, nestled in the foothills of the mountain ranges that form the spine of south-central Italy.
Frosinone Calcio are one of this season’s three newcomers to Serie A – in the top flight for the very first time in their history. And with Roma, Lazio and Frosinone all in Serie A this season, I believe this is the first time in a very long time, maybe ever (I can’t be bothered researching it properly), that there have been three Lazio teams in Serie A at once. It’s certainly the first time this has been the case since Roma was formed from a collection of smaller Roman clubs under Mussolini’s direction.
The history of this club dates back to 1912, when it was then formed as ‘Frusinate’. Nicknamed the Canarini (The Canaries), they bounced around the lower echelons of Italian football for 94 years without ever climbing higher than Serie C1. That all changed in 2006 when they went on a dream run, beating out then fallen giants Napoli and, after a 1-0 aggregate playoff victory against Grossetto, they won promotion to Serie B for the very first time.
After five seasons in B they were relegated back to the third tier in 2011, and many thought that this would be the start of the slide back to where they belonged. But instead, they bounced straight back up to Serie B after just one year in the wilderness and the very next season after that, last season, came the unthinkable. They secured a shock second place finish and automatic promotion to the big time!
When I visited Italy in 2007, Frosinone had only recently won their first promotion to Serie B. I asked my cousin, who is a massive Lazio fan, what he thought of them. Aside from being deeply impressed that I had even heard of Frosinone, he simply shrugged and said “they are a big surprise!” Well, they are an even bigger surprise now.
The truth is I don’t know what I think about Frosinone being in Serie A yet. It’s an uncomfortable thing. I want to support a southern Lazio team from a city that is very close (closer than Rome) to my paternal homeland. But my first allegiance in the region, apart from Roma, is to Latina – Frosinone’s most hated local rivals. The derby between Latina and Frosinone has a long and violent history – so much so that last time they were in Serie C together, the authorities thought it best to put the very close neighbours in completely different geographic conferences to stop them from meeting!
What will this new derby between Roma and Frosinone be like? And, for that matter, the derby between Lazio and Frosinone? It will be fascinating to find out if it’s all very fierce or just a minor fraternal tiff. It might catch fire from day one, it might smoulder over a number of seasons, or it might flame out after just the one. It partly depends on just how far and how high the Canarini are fortunate enough to fly in Serie A…
Frosinone v Roma, Stadio Matusa, 4am September 13 (NZT).
Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/