The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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Pro Vercelli: The Haunting; and,
A Sudden Stroke of Luck

We went to the San Siro with a lot on the line. It was the 1910 Derby, which made it a massive game in itself. With our season collapsing around us, we’d fallen to Genoa, but come from behind to beat Juventus at the Silvio Piola, meaning we still had an outside chance of finishing in seventh and taking the last UEFA Cup spot—but only if we could beat Inter. On the other side, Inter had opened a small lead on A.C. Milan at the top of the table, and beating us would guarantee them the championship. Here’s what happened.

Song clip: We Are Scientists’ cover of “Bang Bang Rock & Roll”

Watch the 1910 Derby, 2017 Edition

We went on to destroy Lecce 3-0 in our last match, but it wasn’t enough to keep us from finishing eleventh. That’s our worst finish in Serie A, and it brings an end to our run of seven consecutive seasons in which we finished higher than the season before. Dark were the locker-clearings as the players made ready for their holidays.

For some reason, the end of the season was delayed this year—the last matches were played on June 3—so this news came almost immediately after our final game against Lecce.

Wait a second…could it be? I hadn’t checked all year (why would I?) but we tended to be the least-penalized team in Serie A…

Yes! And…yes!

It’s a little humilating, getting excited about reaching the Europa League via the Fair Play draw (for the second time, no less) just one season after we finished fourth in Serie A. It’s certainly not what I expected at the start of the year. But it’s something to build on, it may keep some of our restless players happy, and at this point, we’ll take what we can get.

In any case, the crazy luck of having this happen twice (for what it’s worth, I’ve never qualified for Europe this way in any previous FM game, and now I’ve done it twice in three seasons) feels like proof that God is on our side. We deserve some sort of recognition for our soft-tackling ways, right? Though I may get around to turning some of those tackling sliders up next year. We’ve been punched in the stomach this season, and I feel like it’s time to hit back.

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Pro Vercelli: The Haunting; and,
A Sudden Stroke of Luck

by Brian Phillips · May 12, 2009

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