Support for Roma stretches far and wide, even beyond the boundaries of the historical Roman Empire.
Thanks to the club’s international appeal, Roma boast fans from all parts of the world – including right here in the UK.
Even if those supporters feel distant from the club physically, they can still form their own connections through fan groups, such as AS Roma North UK.
Based in Manchester, the group brings together Roma fans from all parts of the North – giving the club a voice in Britain’s northern counties in addition to the well-established AS Roma Club UK in London.
Speaking to Giallorossi Yorkshire, AS Roma North UK vice-president Josh Casulli gives some insight into how the fan club came about.
“Me and my dad, who’s the president of the club, we’d go to away games in Europe, in the Champions League, Europa League,” he says. “One day we actually met up – we were going to Barcelona-Roma, we got beat 6-1 in that game – and we met some other Roma fans at the airport, and we got talking, saying it was really difficult to get tickets in the Roma end for away games. We were both in the Barcelona end, me and my dad and these other two who then became members as well.
“We did a bit of research and found that if you do the Roma club, you can get tickets through the Roma club. And then from speaking to a few people in Manchester and on Twitter we saw there was a need for a northern Roma club. Because there is the London Roma club, who were great in helping us set it up as well.
“So then it just kind of snowballed from there, and we’ve been to quite a few away matches now. And I think that’s the real drive of having that, away days with other Roma clubs from around the world is really great.”
Membership of AS Roma North UK is currently around 80, making it a smaller group than the London-based fan club, but Casulli explains that their doors are open to all supporters.
“We’re quite spread, we’ve got a few around Manchester, a few up towards Sunderland, Newcastle – even some in Scotland. And then there’s a few others, one in Bristol – it’s not so much North, but we’ve kind of incorporated a few people. My dad’s met a few people, one guy from Norway, he’s wanting to join the club, so we’re inclusive.”
The members of AS Roma North UK come from various backgrounds, with some supporting the team due to Italian heritage – like Casulli himself, who was born in Rome to an English mother and Italian father – and others being born and raised in the UK with a passion for Roma as a first or second team. Josh is proud of the fact that the club has been able to accommodate a space for people to share their passions for the club – recalling one particular example of how they helped a fan from Rome settle in Manchester.
“I remember one day someone messaged me saying, ‘Hi, I’m a Roma fan from Rome and I’ve just moved to Manchester, and I’ve found your club, can I join?’ So that was nice. He has come from Rome and wanted to find Roma fans in Manchester and we were able to provide that.”
Obviously with fans being spread far and wide across the country, not all members turn up at the same time for a game. However, that has not stopped them forging some memorable moments together – with Francesco Totti’s farewell match against Genoa in 2017 and Roma’s miraculous 3-0 win over Barcelona in 2018 just two of their highlights together.
“I think our biggest turnout was maybe 30, for Totti’s last game, 30 people came,” Josh explains. “Usually we’re about 10, but we’ve got space to grow and it’s always a good atmosphere.
“I think the best one was the Roma-Barcelona comeback. That was great, because we were in the pub and it was Liverpool [v Manchester] City at the same time. So all the pub was there for that game, and we had our own little corner of about 10-15 Roma fans cheering on and going crazy.”
With the fan club having existed since 2016, its members have grown closer to one another, thanks to their shared connection. Casulli enthuses about how he has formed friendships that go beyond just following the same team as someone else, as a result of setting up the fan club.
“A club like this can bring people together. I’d say I’ve made a few friends through this club as well, so it’s not just the love of Roma, we’ve made some good friendships as well.”
With several meet-ups, away days and even the formation of an AS Roma North UK five-a-side team, their relationships have been cemented as not just supporters of the same club, but true friends – all bound by a love for Roma.
You can listen to the interview in full below to find out even more about AS Roma North UK.