With the pre-season Hull City vs Torino FC fixture announced, let’s take a look at the Serie A club. One of the longest standing Italian professional sports clubs with a very glorious history, if less successful in recent decades. The Northwest of Italy, being the first region to heavily industrialise and thus a region that attracted large amounts of migrant workers, is endowed with a variety of strong Football teams.
As the name would suggest, the team is based in Turin, one of the largest industrial cities in Italy and home to the Italian car manufacturer FIAT. But don’t spend too much time talking about FIAT. Torino lives somewhat in the shadow of its neighbour and bitter rival; Juve. Often described as the most successful club in Italy, Juventus is currently and has been for much of its history owned by the dynastic Agnelli family, running and owning FIAT among many other large ventures. One of the wealthiest families in the world has resided over the management and leading of Juventus FC for generations and have inevitably contributed to a huge amount of its success through investment, at the inevitable expense and humiliation of, Torino FC.
Torino FC has also suffered one of the biggest tragedies in Italian Footballing history. The Torino squad of the 40s was one of the strongest the country has ever seen, winning 5 successive Serie A titles between 1943 and 1949 (breaking for the war). Indeed due to their on-pitch excellence, the squad came to be known as Grande Torino. But on the 4th of May 1949, an airline carrying the entire squad and related staff crashed into the Superga Basilica just outside of Turin. 31 victims lost their life in the tragedy, including every single member of the team. As many of Grande Torino were also playing for the Azzurri at the time, it was a shock and a loss to the whole of Italy, and one that still sits in the memory of the club to this day. The Superga Basilica was never restored, in memory of the 31 victims.
Returning to the modern day club, to the neutral in Italy (and possibly further afield), Torino FC tends to be an extremely popular club. They play the position of “old time working-mans’ club that doesn’t do as well as it used to”. Maybe like Villa or someone. The history and prestige make it a fine choice of club to support in the eyes of many fans. They have the success, they have the legitimacy, the have the image. Their former club crest was voted as the finest in Italy, a country whose people understand and obsess about what looks good more than any other. The bold colours of maroon on white, the simplicity, the stark image of the rampant bull (the bull is the symbol of Turin). The one word that comes to mind is masculinity, another hugely important topic to the Italians and to their culture.
Torino FC share a friendship with Fiorentina due to their mutual hatred for Juve. Their ultras were reportedly some of the first in Italy to organise tifos during games, quite a major accolade and one that defines their status as supporters. Unlike other Italian clubs such as Juve, Livorno, Lazio, Hellas Verona and Fiorentina, there is no clear-cut political affiliation with Torino. But that doesn’t make them passive, nor do they shy away from confrontation; Torino fans and ultras are known to be passionate, numerous and extreme. The relationships off pitch between English and Italian Football fans has often been strained, frequently aggressive and occasionally violent, spurred by the Italian side in pursuit of revenge for the victims of the Heysel disaster. This however is led by Juventus fans and ultras, not by Torino, so how Torino fans will react to their clash against Hull City is unsure, as pre-season opponents are never viewed as critical as opponents in European competition.
With regards to the upcoming game between Hull City and Torino FC, thanks to relative geographical closeness and Saturday scheduling, we can expect Torino to bring a big number of fans to the game. Their expectations of us Hull fans is yet unknown, as previously said. Another topic to deal with will be the Austria Salzburg ultras, as the game is due to be played in their stadium. They may wish to impose themselves over the visiting supporters, certainly many locals will come to watch the high quality sport played by the Premier League and Serie A teams. Overall, it should be a good contest, with high quality, a fine location and the promise of a good sized crowd. Let’s see how the teams, players and fans celebrate the occasion.
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