Over the weekend, whilst many of us were still coming down from the high of Thursday night in Turin, a thought struck me.
It occurred to me that many Juventus fans had reached out to us to declare the gratitude for Notts County’s role in their club, and for the events of Thursday – yet what lengths had we gone to to reciprocate?
This was something I felt needed rectifying, so I took the opportunity to reach out to Juve’s Calcio GP newspaper. I wrote this letter for their club, it’s supporters and it’s officials for them to understand just how we felt about being invited to take part in such a showpiece occasion:
(Italian translation available here)
When the Juventus versus Notts County fixture was announced, the Notts supporters as a collective unit were amazed.
We are obviously well aware of the role we played in your club’s history, it’s a fact that we’re very proud of actually. But it never really sank in how much our small club meant to Juventus. Your fans descended on our Facebook page and message boards and spoke of us with incredible affection and sincerity. We never tired of reading your messages, and we began to dream that we could come to Italy and live up to your expectations of us.
Our supporters arrived in Turin throughout the week, before Thursday stories were already coming through of the welcomes you had been giving us. The excitement built right up until Thursday when I arrived myself with a number of friends. We checked into our hotel, and made our way to your stadium as quickly as we possibly could.
When it came into view, it gave us goosebumps – such a magnificent arena for you to play football in. We instantly felt inadequate, not worthy of such an occasion. We made our way to the merchandise stalls outside, and were amazed as we were asked to pose for photographs with many of you.
Here in England, people look down at our club, it’s supporters, and it’s players. We’re just not used to such welcomes! The friendly greetings both outside and inside the stadium are something we’ll never forget!
From our seats in block 231 we watched the opening ceremonies. Our jaws were on the floor literally the entire time! We’ve only ever seen such events from our televisions – seeing one like that was fantastic. The array of club legends paraded was something truly special, it only confirmed our suspicions that we weren’t worthy of such an event.
When the dust settled and we saw our players make their way onto the field we had come to accept the fact that we wouldn’t mind if we lost by four or fives goals. If felt as if you, our hosts were all that mattered to us on this night and we wanted you to enjoy the whole night. You deserved it.
What happened on the field for us was astounding though. We watched a very enjoyable game of football. There are no words for the pride we felt as both sides played their part in an intriguing match. We sang our Wheelbarrow Song and were applauded by those around us. We just weren’t used to this!
We felt great happiness when Luca Toni was the man to score the first goal at your arena, we smiled and shared handshakes with your supporters around us. The moment just felt right.
The final chapter of the game is something we can never be allowed to forget. When Lee Hughes scored in front of your south stand, we were jubilant, this was a surreal moment that we didn’t think we’d get to experience. What happened next was just incredible – as those behind the goal rose to their feet to applaud our team. Moments like this so rarely happen in football – and certainly never for our little team. I stood open-mouthed at the sight. It’s something that in years to come I will share with my children and grand-children.
Upon the final whistle we were congratulated by the Juve fans around us. It felt like we’d been making friends all night but we were happy for this to continue!
I have sent a photo with this letter of Lewis Jackson, the youngest person in our party. He is pictured with a young Juventus fan he met after the final whistle. These are part of the next generation of Notts County and Juventus fans who must never be allowed to forget the truly historic occasion that they were witness to. We feel humbled that you think so much of our club, in the future we will be sure to let our future generations know of that night!
Two clubs, one soul, one unforgettable evening.
We came home with our scarves and flags, and waved them with immense pride today when we won 2-1 against Walsall at our Meadow Lane. The whole Kop Stand (our version of your south stand) sang “It’s Just Like Watching Juve” louder than we ever have before. We can’t make as much noise as your fans do, but we’ll keep trying!
Thank you to the supporters, players and officials of Juventus FC. You took us in like family and gave us the most incredible experience of our lives. We are forever in your debt! You are a fantastic club, and we cannot wait for the day we can share our stadium with you!
The letter was well received, and was printed in Monday, September 12th’s edition of Calcio GP. But the very next day, it was posted on their website and spread like wildfire. Starting with comments being posted on the Notts County Facebook page.
Within a matter of hours the article had picked up over 1,100 Facebook “likes”, and a thread on the Vecchiasignor forum spread to 14 pages of appreciation. Meanwhile on Twitter, I was inundated with messages from Juventus fans from Italy, and as far afield as Japan and Indonesia.
This post is merely my way of saying thank you to all those who read the letter and appreciated the effort that had gone into it! Should our plans to visit Turin again this season come to fruition, i’ll be sure to come and thank you all in person!