Ivano Bonetti: Scudetto winner and Football League trailblazer

The Gentleman Ultra

On the night of the 20th May 1992, Sampdoria trudged off the hallowed Wembley turf having just lost the European Cup final. They had gone toe-to-toe with Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona, taking them to extra time before being dispatched by an unstoppable Ronald Koeman free kick. The defeat would have hurt; but the likes of Roberto Mancini, Gianluca Vialli and Attilio Lombardo could hold their heads up high. They had conquered Italy and had come within a whisker of being crowned champions of Europe too.

Nearly 200 miles north of Wembley, upon England’s east coast, lies Blundell Park, the ramshackle home of Grimsby Town FC. The weather-beaten stands, all of differing vintage and design, perennially take the force of gales whipping in from the North Sea. It’s full of character, but it’s a pretty inhospitable place. It’s the kind of place that even Stoke wouldn’t fancy on a cold Tuesday…

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