Opinion: Why bother with Italy when Cromer Veterans are at home

Anthony Pilkington during the pre-season friendly at Aosta. Picture by Stefano Gnech/Focus Images Lt

Anthony Pilkington during the pre-season friendly at Aosta. Picture by Stefano Gnech/Focus Images Ltd. - Credit: Stefano Gnech/Focus Images Ltd

The trouble with Italy is, as the great philosopher Ian Rush once said, it's like a foreign country.

It's a devil of a job to get roast beef with all the trimmings or a pint of John Smith's Smooth.

And it is apparently even harder to get football teams to show up for friendlies - at least in the guise you expect.

However much you wave your arms and speak slowly, they just don't get it in these foreign parts.

Some will laugh at Norwich City after beating a team 13-0, only to find they weren't from the Italian 4th division, they had been dragged out of pubs and offices, challenged to run for a few yards, then handed a kit with a shrug and sent out to face Hoolahan and Co.

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But I merely tut and observe that this is what happens when you fail to holiday at home.

So next year, Norwich, have a pre-season tour of Norfolk.

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After all, everything required for life is within our borders (should be walls).

Italian phrase books probably don't include translations for 'the gaffer gave us some stick' or 'we gave 110 per cent'. And I doubt there is a way of making footballers' past tense work - for example: 'He's passed it to Wayne, who's curled in a cross, and he's got on the end of it. Triffic goal, Alan.'

But us Norfolk folk understand.

There are no air fares required, no problems with the local cuisine, and the fans could follow the tour without having to take any days off work.

It'd also be good PR to put something back locally after taking so much out of fans' pockets for so little return in the last two years.

Plenty of good teams will give you a game, including my lot, Cromer Veterans - complete with 70-year-old left back Urban Gregory.

We'll probably offer a more robust challenge than the hapless chaps from Aosta.

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