Rimini is a beach resort on Italy’s Adriatic coast – no ifs no buts. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it is not. The majority of the hotels and the beach are separated from the rest of the town by the railway line, some of whom are within walking distance of the station. The only reason we (the wife and I) ended up in Rimini was because it being a “cheap flight with Ryanair and let’s find out about the place afterwards” type of holiday. Rimini does have an “old town”, some of which is pedestrianised and is worth a couple of hours. One major plus point of Rimini is that it is a good base to explore the surrounding area with an excellent bus (which is cheap by British prices – 70p for a half hour journey) and train network. San Marino is only forty five minutes away by bus and Bologna only ninety minutes by train. Bus tickets generally have to be bought in advance from the ticket office near the railway station or in designated outlets (mostly newsagents or tobacconists) across the city.
Rimini Calcio’s stadium, the Romeo Neri (Black Romeo) has a capacity of under 10,000 and was approximately thirty minutes walk from our hotel. The stadium itself has an athletics track around the pitch, with the main stand being covered in the middle and have two uncovered sections before the curves, one of which held the visiting Mantovan fans, the curves are both uncovered as well as the “distini” stand which is opposite the main stand. Metal fences surround the pitch to stop spectators getting onto the pitch also to stop the rival fans getting to each other, of which we were among those nearest the away fan section. Tickets had to be bought in advance from the stadium at a small ticket office which was not easy to find and for the pleasure (?) of sitting on a uncovered concrete stand in 30 degree heat cost £14 for myself and £9 for the wife. I don’t know whether it is common place in Italian football for women to be charged less at games but it certainly made things a bit cheaper than I was expecting. No programmes were issued at the game but two free A4 sized magazines were available at news stands across the city a couple of days before the game, and one of them certainly had a programme type feel about it with comments from the president, manager etc, team photo in the middle, player profile and league table and results on the back page. No information on the opposition was featured though; even though I can’t read a word of Italian I will class it as a souvenir of the game. I didn’t see a club shop, probably because I wasn’t looking and went straight to the correct part of the ground. I found one shop selling a small selection of Rimini souvenirs about 20 yards from our hotel on the corner of Viale Vespucci and Via Cormons – pennants, flags, pin bages etc. A record shop in a small shopping centre underneath one of the hotels on Viale Vespucci had baseball caps (£10.50), dvd’s, and clothing including replica shirts (£42) for sale.
The game saw Rimini in 5th place playing Mantova (6th) with only goal difference separating them fighting for a play-off place. Rimini started the game quickly and should have scored within a couple of minutes when the visiting keeper saved well from an angled shot. As the half progressed Mantova gradually got into the game without forcing the home keeper to make a serious save. The game had a nil nil feel about it when with a couple of minutes to go to the end of the first half Jeda scored with a header to send the home crowd wild, and the taunting began. Mantova came out of the blocks fighting in the second half and missed a couple of good opportunities. Rimini then took control of the game and were awarded a penalty on 56 minutes. Jeda had his kick saved by the visiting keeper but followed up with the rebound to make it 2-0. Cue more hysteria from the home fans! Rimini then sat on their lead getting deeper and deeper allowing Mantova to come on to them, whom themselves had two penalty claims which were turned away by the referee. With fifteen minutes to play they did when the home defence was caught asleep and Godeas scored with a tap in from a couple of yards to make it 2-1. A nervy final last fifteen minutes ensued with both sides creating half chances but not forcing either keeper to make a save of note. The referee finally blew his whistle some after adding some eight minutes of stoppage time.
An enjoyable experience of my first taste of Italian football, though having the metal barriers around the pitch is something that I found strange at first, the more the game went on the more they went unnoticed and unfortunately I they are probably there for a good reason even though I encountered no or sign of trouble at all.