Dave (Wilkie), Baz and Tony met up with Big Al in Rome for the Friday evening fixture at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma secured a comfortable 3-1 win over newly promoted SPAL, from Ferrara, in front of 35,000. Ex Man City striker, Edin Dzeko again amongst the goals. The visitors were a man down after 10 minutes following a VAR stoppage that confirmed the offender was the last man after the referee gave an initial yellow card. Roma missed a hatful of chances to increase their lead after SPAL got their consolation goal from a twice taken penalty awarded after a Terry Hurlock lookalike, Luca Mora, was fouled.
The second game was a Serie B fixture at Frosinone, about 50 miles south-east from Rome. The Canaries had moved into a new stadium this season - the 16,000 capacity Stadio Benito Stirpe, named after the club's owner who had funded the completion of the stadium built in the 1970s. Wilkie Tours had visited the city in 2008 for a game at the old stadium, Stadio Comunale Matusa, a 4-2 victory over Spezia. Another 6-goal thriller ensued in front of 9,600 crowd, with the visitors Cesena reduced to 10 men after an off the ball incident when leading 2-1. Frosinone got back into the lead late in the second half only to concede an equaliser, the second consecutive 3-3 draw having been 3-0 up in the previous game at Empoli! On our return to Frosinone train station we bumped into three ground-hoppers from Farnborough in Hampshire, who were on a whistle stop tour taking in games at Napoli, Frosinone, Benevento & Crotone. They picked a good game at Benevento as the home side secured their first point of the season with a 2-2 draw with Milan, their late equaliser coming from the head of Benevento's keeper!
After a Sunday morning visit to the magnificent 'Baths of Diocletian' in Rome and the extensive antiquity site of Ostia Antico, the harbour city of ancient Rome, is was off to Ostia Mare Lido for the afternoon Serie D fixture against Nourese, from Sardinia. The 2-0 home victory, no sendings-off this time, made it 14 goals from the three games on this trip. We introduced ourselves to two German ground-hoppers from Nuremburg in the bar after the game; they had enjoyed the same three games on our itinerary, what were the chances of that!.
On Monday morning we strolled down part of the ancient 'Appian Way', visited the monument for a WWII atrocity at 'The Mausoleum of the Fosse Ardeatine' then taking in the main tourist sites of Rome before heading back to Blighty.
Wilkie Tours can now look forward to the next trip to northern Portugal in February and, hopefully, the story of our earlier trip to northern Poland, as well as stadia photos from the Wilkie Tours archive, will be published in the excellent 'Football Weekends' magazine.