A history between Ultras OM & TITO

A history between Ultras OM & TITO

How did this relationship between Ultras come about?

Christine Valette: "On 4 January 1987, the leaders who created the Ultras Marseille were in Genoa to watch Sampdoria vs Roma. Having been to several matches in Italy to to follow the Ultras movement, they wanted to visit this club and their supporters who had quite a good reputation. The ‘Ultras Tito’ were created in 1969 ("Tito" was the nickname of an Argentine player at Sampdoria called Ernesto Cucchiaroni), and was one of the very first supporter groups in Italy. They have basically 20 years more experience than us."
Christophe Bourguignon: "Enzo, the leader of the Ultras Tito, speaks very good French so that helped with the early exchanges."

The start of a great friendship…
C.V: "That was when it all started because Genoa is just 400km from Marseille. We started going more and more often towards the end of the 80s and early 90s. In 1993 we even started organising coach trips. It was then that we took our CU'84 banner into their stand for the first time, when they played AC Milan just a few days after we had beaten Milan in the Champions League final."
What did you learn from those trips?

C.V: "They showed us the ground rules for how to drive a supporters stand, and to have the flags waving for the full 90 minutes. It brings the stadium to life. We also took inspiration from their chants. Every single match is a must win game inside their stand. And when they lose, you know that it will be an evening of mourning for those supporters..."
Your relationship quickly went beyond the confines of the stadium…

C.V: "Just by going so often, the friendship developed. We would go every weekend, we have had season tickets for two years with Sampdoria!"
C.B: "The OM supporters would go to Genoa on holiday, even when there wasn't a game to go and see friends, they would stay with them there."

How did you work it between following Marseille around France and then travelling to Italy?

C.B: "The matches in Italy always used to be Sunday at 15:00. So when we got back to Marseille after, say, a road trip to Metz or Nancy, at 7am, we would just drop our stuff and jump straight in a car for Genoa. We did it hundreds of times!"
Do you have one trip in particular that stands out?

C.B: "We got back from Caen one time and went straight out to see the derby in Genoa. We hadn't told the Tito Ustras that we were coming. We got to Genoa just in time for kick off. When the Ultras heard that we were outside without tickets, about a hundred of them came down and opened the gates for us to let us in… It was incredible."
C.V: "A Sampdoria supporter who comes to Marseille should feel as though he is at home. It means a lot to us. If they don't have tickets to a game, we will give them ours and wait outside. That's how much this friendship means to us now, and we know that this feeling is reciprocated."

And this friendship exists on a sporting level too…

C.V: "We have organised two friendly matches. They invited us at the end of the 1999/2000 season for a match between the two sets of supporters and we invited them for a game at the Stade Delors in February 2001 when OM were playing Auxerre. Then we all ate at the Bar Michelet near the Vélodrome. There were about a hundred of them and a hundred of us."

 How do you keep in contact?

C.V: "It's a bit more difficult to get to Genoa these days on a regular basis because of the kick off times with OM playing on Sundays. We try to get to each anniversary of the supporters groups and vice versa. They came earlier this year for the 20th anniversary of the Champions League win over Milan in Munich, despite the fact that they lost the 1992 final against Barcelona.
The best thing is that this friendship began in 1987, and here we are in 2013 and we still have the feeling that it is as strong as ever. They were always there for us during the hard time, like the Santos affair. They are far away, but there's always a message, a phone call, an email, to let us know they are thinking of us."
The special t-shirt for warm-up is a nice gesture to the bond between the two groups…

C.V: "When we found out it was happening we were so excited. They were delighted in Genoa too. They are preparing a great welcome for us, before, during and after the game, even if we don't know exactly what they have planned. For our part, we have also got a few little surprises. We are so looking forward to a fantastic atmosphere, a moment together and the start of something even stronger between the two groups of supporters."
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