It was with a heavy and begrudged heart that Fulgencio Capulet and Ted Montague agreed to hold a pre-season friendly at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi. For they were men of business, as much as they were men of rivalry; they agreed that it would be a welcome boost to revenue and that it would help fix up any teething problems with the pitch. For Prince Escales, head of the FIGC, it was an entirely different matter.
In the years preceding this, the Verona derby had become increasingly violent. It was already considered one of the most volatile rivalries in Italy, if not Europe, and now the police of Verona knew they had a long day when the derby rolled up. It was classified as a 4A event; which, short of a group of extremist Muslims gathering in a square, is the type of event that requires the most police representation of all. Not that it stopped the supporters of course.
At the top of the stadium, in the towering Southern Stand, was the 'elite member's section' of the stadium. But the 'elite member's section' had long ago turned into a section for two families and two families only - the Montagues and the Capulets. Whenever Verona or Chievo played, the elite member's section would be easily distinguishable by the red or blue formal wear filling it. And when they both played, then it was even more striking. A wall of red and a wall of blue. A wall of Capulet and a wall of Montague.
And today, the walls were up; no family would ever mix with the other. The ones standing in the middle of the section were the lessers, and the patriachs stood on the far left and right of the section - as far away from eachother as they could. In the middle today were Gregory and Sampson of the Montagues. Let's just say they were a bit agitated in such an environment.
"The quarrel is between our masters
," whispered Gregory.
"And us their men
," agreed Sampson.
They turned to their left; sitting not 2 metres away were their Capulet foes. They avoided eye contact as much as they could, for there had already been 2 brawls in the stadium between members of the family. For the clubs' sake, they could afford no more.
"You looking at me, rat
?" said Abram Capulet. So much for that idea.
The Montague pair turned slowly. Gregory whispered to Sampson once more. "Here comes of the house of Capulet!
"Quarrel, I will back thee!
Sampson's hand moved to the gun on his belt, as did Gregory, as did Abram. Benvolio Montague, usually the mitigator of these buildups, was conveniently taking a toilet break. Things were going to get ugly.
Gregory pondered over what to say for a moment, then whispered to Sampson. "I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.
He bit his thumb at Abram, much the equivalent of flipping the bird, and watched as the 6' 3" monster growled and stood up, as well as his kinsman Balthasar. They ignored the protests of the people behind them.
"Do you bite your thumb, sir?
" said Abram.
"Go forth, I will back thee!
" yelled Sampson, nudging Gregory forward. He turned around nervously, then addressed Abram.
"I do bite my thumb, sir.
Abram kept his polite exterior. "Do you bite your thumb at US!, sir.
"No, sir, I bite my thumb but I do not bite my thumb at you, sir.
Sampson piped up from behind. "Do you quarrel sir!?
" responded Abram.
"But if you do,
" said Gregory, quivering, "know that you serve no better a master than I!
" bellowed Abram.
Sampson saw Benvolio returning from the toilet. He knew the situation was too far gone for even him to quell; he wouldn't, however, let a Capulet think he was anywhere near as good as a Montague.
"Quick, our kinsman is coming, say better,
" he whispered.
"YES SIR BETTER!
" yelled Gregory.
"YOU LIE, DRAW IF YOU BE MEN!