Il Derby Della Mole: Torino and Juventus Share More Than a Rivalry and a City

Anthony LopopoloFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2014

VERONA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 17:  Alessio Cerci of Torino FC is mobbed by team-mates after scoring his team's second goal during the Serie A match between Hellas Verona FC and Torino FC at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on February 17, 2014 in Verona, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
Dino Panato/Getty Images

The president of Juventus was pushed out. A year earlier, Alfredo Dick won the Italian championship with the team that spurned him. So he joined 23 Swiss men, with “bowler hats and a lot of good will,” wrote Marco Cassardo in his book, Belli e Dannati (h/t John Foot).

They met in a beer hall in December 1906, and they were all dissidents from Juventus, and they made Torino F.C. They won their first official match later that month, and then they beat the other team. And again. Revenge came early.

The two clubs shared similar things—shame, success, tragedy, even the same stadium—but those things were used by the fans against each other. Perhaps the only thing that binds them is the Mole Antonelliana, the building that lends its name to the derby.

It now houses the National Museum of Cinema, and it was formerly a synagogue. But the views from the top are panoramic: The clay rooftops, undulating in size, range across the landscape and look picturesque in a city that’s supposed to be industrial.

Juventus boast more than 11 million fans throughout Italy, a majority from the south and Sicily. Torino were built in the image of the laymen, the people who made these buildings, who first laid down the bricks and the rooftops.

"The team of the working class, migrant workers from the provinces or neighbouring countries, the lower middle class and the poor," wrote Mario Soldati in the novel, Le Due Citta (h/t Adam Digby on FourFourTwo.com).

For Juventus, which derives its name from Latin, the ancient language saved now for the privileged and the church, it is "the team of gentlemen, industrial pioneers, Jesuits, conservatives and the wealthy bourgeois," via Digby.

TURIN , ITALY - SEPTEMBER 29:  Danilo D Ambrosio (L) of Torino FC competes with Kwadwo Asamoah of Juventus during the Serie A match between Torino FC and Juventus at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on September 29, 2013, in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Penn
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

They will play again on Sunday, this time at Juventus Stadium, with its modern look and new seats and shopping centre. This is a distant reality from the Stadio Olimpico, a remnant of Benito Mussolini and later, the Winter Games.

It is fitting that Torino stayed there: They themselves are remains of the past, of better times, not always a model for the future like their cousins. (They are currently in seventh, chasing a Europa League spot. Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile, who share more than 61 percent of the goals scored by their club in Serie A, are the brightest of the lot.)

Torino have not beaten Juve since 1995, and they have not scored against the Bianconeri in 12 years, a stretch of nine matches. Some say Fiorentina are the bigger rivals to Juventus.

It wasn't always so—Torino were the first club to win the domestic double in Italy. They won five consecutive titles in the 1940s. A plane carrying the whole team returning from a friendly in Lisbon crashed in the side of Superga, in the hills of Torino, and the great players of that squad, all 31 passengers, died in 1949.

The spirit of the team perished with it. Torino did win the Scudetto once after the tragedy, in 1976, but the curse lingered. They finished second behind Juve the following year, despite losing just once all season. They lost in three consecutive finals of the Coppa Italia in the 1980s. They lost the 1993 UEFA Cup on away goals. And they went bankrupt in the new century.

They could have vanished altogether. But they didn’t. “Turin is too small for two teams,” former Juventus director Luciano Moggi once said, “yet Torino’s history is too powerful and beautiful for the club to disappear.” On more than one occasion, Torino drew more than 50,000 fans in Serie B.

Juventus suffered too. Fans were crushed before the start of the 1985 European Cup final at Heysel Stadium in Brussels. Thirty-nine dead. But the matches between Torino and Juventus were not respectful. For years, in the 1970s on to the 90s, a small legion of Juventini mocked Superga.

TURIN , ITALY - SEPTEMBER 29:  The Torino fans show their support during the Serie A match between Torino FC and Juventus at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on September 29, 2013, in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

“Swaying from side to side, with their hands stretched out,” wrote John Foot in his book, Calcio: A History of Italian Football, “they hummed as if in flight … downwards. Nnneeeeeoouuu.” As the announcer read out the final names of the team, they pretended to be planes. And then: “Boom! Superga!”

Fans of Torino were only armed with ammunition after Heysel. Lost lives made for jokes. They sang a hymn, and in Italian it rhymed: “Thirty-nine under the ground, long live England.” These two clubs understood the impact of tragedy unlike any other in Italy. “The vast majority of the fans of both teams did not indulge in such taunting,” Foot wrote, “but many laughed along.”

Even the friendly games lost all amiability. In 1945, to commemorate the death of a sporting director for Juventus after one of the many bombings in the city, Torino and Juventus played an exhibition game that ended up with fights on the pitch. Live shots were fired.

Mostly, though, they joked. During the 2001-02 season, the Torinese unfurled a banner that poked fun at Juventus at the expense of FIAT, for so long associated with the owners of the team. “You are uglier than a Multipla,” read the banner, referring to the car.

They mocked Antonio Conte, who had went bald, only to turn up with a new head of hair; that the team he captained was fake like the rag on his scalp. And no mercy was spared for striker Aldo Serena, who moved to Juve from Torino in 1985: “Serena, you w---e,” read another of the banners, “you did it for the money.”

If they so desired, they could call each other cheats. And they did. Both teams had titles revoked, one for Torino in 1927 and two for Juventus in the mid-noughties.

TURIN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 27:  Juventus supporters during the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Juventus and FC Copenhagen at Juventus Arena on November 27, 2013 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

To date, the biggest win for Il Toro in the derby came in 1967, the Sunday after another of their stars died. Gigi Meroni was hit by a car, and it was as if the car hit Torino. Twenty-thousand people attended his funeral, just as relatives and fans attended the memorials at Superga. He was showy on the field, and he would lean against the goalpost to do interviews. And he grew out his hair. He gave the club an identity that was missing since the disaster.

He himself had never won against Juventus. His close friend, Nestor Combin, had a fever, but he still played for Torino that weekend in the derby, and he scored a hat-trick. The player wearing Meroni’s No. 7 kicked in the final goal. It was a 4-0 victory, a celebration as much as a tribute, and one of the few times since that Torino had something over Juventus.

Unless otherwise stated, all historical facts based on the findings of John Foot in his book, Calcio: A History of Italian Football.


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