Today it is exactly 20 years since Genoa-Ajax, the first meeting with Genoa. This birthday deserved a victory today, but also a 5-4 defeat against Inter is memorable. The love of Genoa started with the fans and the atmosphere in Luigi Ferraris, which still is the most important aspect in the relationship with Genoa. Below the article I wrote about the remarkable match 20 years ago in the semifinals of the Uefacup in the season 91-92.
The history of Genoa Club Amsterdam starts at thursday 5th March 1992 when I see on Dutch televison the Genoa-fans clapping their hands to welcome the Liverpool-supporters that come out of their coaches. The Dutch commentator tells me that everybody expected a war between the Italian and English fans because of the Heysel-disaster in 1985. Liverpool plays for the first time after Heysel in Italy and whole of Europe waits for a battle between the fans, but everybody was wrong, so totally wrong ..
At friday 20th March 1992 I hear that in the semi-finals of Uefa-cup my favorite team Ajax Amsterdam has to play against Genoa 1893, indeed the team with the fantastic supporters. My wife and I decide immediately to book the trip to Italy. We follwed Ajax for years in Europa and went to many matches outside Holland including the finals in Athens in 1987 (Ajax wins Cupwinners Cup against Lokomotive Leipzig by a goal of Marco van Basten) and Strassbourg in 1988 (Ajax loose the final of Cupwinners Cup against KV Mechelen) but this will be our first match in football-country Italy.
After a long trip by coach with lots of snow in Switzerland we reach Genova around 12 o’clock on Wednesday-morning, 6 hours before the match. The police leads our coach to the special sector for away-supporters and we have to stay around the stadium till the match begins, but we don’t care because the football-atmosphere is perfect. All of the city is coloured by the flags of Genoa (the most) and Sampdoria (less) and the people are, like we expected after seeing the welcome for Liverpool fans, very friendly. Two hours before the match it starts to rain, so we decide to enter the stadium.
After the check by the police the dream begins: a fantastic completely red and blue coloured English-style stadium with a big yellow bird in front of the opposite site of the stadium (now I know it’s the Griffin) and all the people are constantly singing and very enthusiastic. Of course we don’t understand a word of them, but for the first time in my life I agree with changing my scarve with a supporter of the other team. This is real football-fever ….
The match is fantastic and both teams want to attack, something which is surely not common in modern football. Ajax wins in the last minute and steals the victory and we all are waiting for a battle with Genoa-fans after the match because they lost such an important match at home in the last minute. But the battle never starts, people stay friendly and we do not keep an eye on the 50 Sampdoria-fans that are outside our sector to try to thank us for the victory. No thanks !
Two weeks later at the day of the return in Amsterdam, my wife that works in an office in city-centre calls me several times that there are constantly canal-boats with hundreds of enthusiastic singing Genoa-fans on the canal in front of here office. A fantastic view and she feels sorry that she does not have a fotocamera to make some pictures. Later that evening the match ends in 1-1 and Ajax goes to the final against Torino. The Genoa-dream is over, but already at that moment we are sure that we will never forget those crazy enthusiastic red and blue fans.