The Giallorossi Yorkshire diary: My story of attending Glasgow City 1-3 Roma Women

On Thursday 18th August, I had the privilege of finally attending my first Roma Women match, heading up to Scotland to see them beat Glasgow City on their Champions League debut.

Having written about the women’s team for the club’s website for the best part of four years, it was about time I made it to a game in person. The draw for Roma’s first ever Women’s Champions League fixture brought them to the British Isles, giving me my best opportunity yet. And we made it happen.

The journey up to Glasgow took longer than expected, lasting five hours. Eventually, we reached the Glasgow City ground, Petershill Park, around an hour before kick-off.

Upon entry into the stadium, it was noticeable that there were a pocketful of Roma fans, some of whom came to give their greetings. I helped a couple of Italians put up banners and flags, while also getting introduced to some supporters from these shores.

Being pitchside, it was fascinating to see the players and staff so close. One woman voluntarily turned to greet us and ask where we had come from, showing an interest. That woman was Betty Bavagnoli – the club’s head coach for their first three seasons and now Head of Women’s Football.

It was testament to her character that she would willingly approach supporters, rather than vice versa, and shows why she has earned her leadership role within the setup.

After a few more introductions – and a barrage of icy rain – the game got underway. I was obviously excited to see the players live, including new arrivals and familiar faces.

Roma started the game stronger and took the lead via Benedetta Glionna, who scored from about as far away from my standing point as it was possible to be – but at least I still saw our historic first Women’s Champions League goal.

After that, Glasgow City began to settle a bit and equalised via a Moeka Minami own goal, just in line from my eyesight. It came after a wicked cross and meant there was further work to do.

In the second half, despite the hosts’ best efforts, Roma were a class above. I was this time in line with Glionna to see her second goal after a perfect assist from substitute Paloma Lazaro, whom I would later get to see score from a similar distance after Glionna’s set-up.

For Roma’s second goal, the celebrations took place very close to our standing spot. The sense of unity was abundant.

After the game, there was a chance to get to meet several of the players. Elena Linari was the first down the tunnel and gladly stopped for an autograph and photo, as did the likes of Giada Greggi, Lucia Di Guglielmo, Moeka Minami, Andressa Alves, Manuela Giugliano (whom I wished a happy birthday, which I’m sure it was!), Annamaria Serturini, Anastasia Ferrara, Stephanie Ohrstrom, Emma Lind, and the two goalscorers – Glionna and Lazaro.

It was a good opportunity for me to practice my Italian, albeit briefly, while I also enjoyed quickly conversing with Lazaro in Spanish. Some of the players, like Andressa, spoke English.

Sadly, I missed out on meeting the captain, Elisa Bartoli, who was understandably busy in conversation with a staff member, while goalkeeper Camelia Ceasar also slipped through the net, so to speak, but to her credit had been signing things for other travelling fans.

Finally, I met the head coach, Alessandro Spugna, and then reunited with Bavagnoli and the two banner-bringing friends I had met earlier. Betty gave us her time for a good conversation and, although I could largely follow along, she kept turning to me to translate in English, keeping me involved. I already admired her greatly as a coach and director, but my estimation of her as a person increased hugely that day.

I hope I will get to cross paths with these people – the fans, staff and players – again in the future.

The next morning, it was time for another five-hour trip home – sadly, I had never realised that Sunday’s game would also be in Glasgow, or else I would have tried to stay, and despite the best efforts of some of those I had met to convince me to come again, it is regrettably not workable – before reflecting on what an occasion it had been.

Roma’s first ever Women’s Champions League match was a big event – deserved after last season’s efforts – and it was an honour to be there. I’m expecting a big challenge against Paris FC on Sunday, but if we can get through that, who knows what will be next. Another UK-based draw, perhaps?

In terms of the Glasgow trip, though, well – my first Roma Women match was definitely worth the wait.

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