The only business open to customers on Viale Augusto on a Sunday afternoon is the local betting shop where the football-crazy gambling-mad punters scour form books as they attempt to strike lucky. When Napoli play at home, the main drag heading towards the San Paolo spills over with pedestrians, cars and scooters careening their way to the stadium.
Fans stop by for a quick bet on the weekend’s fixtures and also a flutter on the lottery. This is when La Smorfia comes into its own. The ancient rite of interpreting dreams has adapted with the ages, held sway in popular culture, embedded itself in everyday life. The purpose of La Smorfia is to yield meaning from the odd array of characters who populate nightly visions, the figures strange and familiar who also creep into woken existence.
Serie A Round 33, Il’Anne ‘e Cristo, the age of Christ, already a good omen if ever there was one. 20 wins from 32 matches for Napoli before heading into the meeting with Udinese. 20, ‘a Festa, the party, another positive portent.
The Azzurri were enjoying their best spell of form of the season, four straight wins – the last, away to Bologna, witnessed an influx of 15 thousand supporters to the Dall’Ara to deck Bologna’s stadium in sky blue. Four, ‘o Puorco, you lucky pig!
Five matches unbeaten, the longest unbeaten run. Five, ‘a Mano, the hand pointing to glory.
As much as Napoli were on the up, Udinese on the other hand, were on the down. Two and two, 22, o’ Pazzo, the mad man was laughing at Udinese’s misfortune. The signs were evident: The unpronounceable dream could/would/must continue through to Easter weekend, when hope springs eternal.
Yet, the dream ended on Sunday, 17th April. The number six ruled.
In Round 33, the sixth from last match of the 2010/11 Serie A season, six minutes separated Gokhan Inler’s non-celebration after scoring the opener from German Denis’s goal, non-celebrated by apologising to the stunned onlookers.
Napoli lost at home to Udinese to slip six points behind leaders AC Milan. Six games were left, six minutes between the two non-celebrations, six points behind the Rossoneri: 6, which La Smorfia explains is chella ca guarda ‘nterra. And that which looks upon the ground did not look favourably on Napoli.
The feeling of contented disappointment was displayed by the entire support at the final whistle. The players were treated to a dignified ovation as the cold wind painted a painful grimace on the Neapolitan faithful.
Fitting when you consider the general meaning of smorfia? Grimace.




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