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’s introduction to the site 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 and writers to tell the stories that matter to them. The recent addition of Blair has also added a tactical string to our bow – after all, a certain Mr. Mourinho once dubbed Serie A “the tactical league”.
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, histories and tales both within and beyond Calcio's four-white lines.
This is Italian Football through our eyes. This is the Gentleman Ultra.
Paul Campbell (The Guardian):
“Richard knows Italian football and fan culture as well as anyone and writes fascinating insider guides to Serie A clubs. When Calcio ruled the world, the Gentleman Ultra was watching”
In Bed With Maradona:
"Not your normal Calcio blog, The Gentleman Ultra struts, preens and then throws a flare in your face….highly recommended"
John Foot (Author of, ‘Calcio: A History of Italian Football’):
"Interesting site/guide to Italian football plus analysis"
Dylan Fahy (Italian football writer for The Independent, Sky Sport Italia, Scottish Television and Football Italia):
”The Gentleman Ultra blog combines an excellent mix of classic imagery and in-depth profiles with stories of journeys around the peninsula and current news. Highly recommend it for any fan of Calcio or even Italian culture in general.”
Matt Baker (Freelance journalist writing about Italian football living in Florence):
"A blog that brings a fresh slant on all things calcio, with some excellent images to match."
Left Wing Soccer's Top 100 blogs to follow in 2015:
"Richard is part of a generation of young men raised by James Richardson outside sunny Italian cafe’s. Whilst nostalgic about the glorious 90′s, he is also realistic regarding the current issues plaguing the Italian game. The site plays host to some incredible writing so be sure to have a look."
Must read: arrivederci Siena, ciao Siena (click here to read).