Benevento are new to Serie A for the first time in 2017. This season is all unchartered ground for the Stregoni. Yet it is also just another step in their fascinating history and development from ancient origins.
Benevento ballet in the forest
Benevento—located in the Campania region of Italy—carries a story unheard of by most soccer fans. Over the years, the city of Benevento has been conquered and inhabited by many different religions and historical groups. The one that seemed to stick around were the Lombards, inhabiting the city for five centuries. The Lombards brought with them their own customs and rituals, one of them being dancing around trees. As a result, the city would go on to be nicknamed ‘the city of witches’ as this act would frighten most Christians.
In my opinion, the most interesting connection that can be made here is to the team’s crest and nickname. At first glance, a woman on a broom stick in between a couple red and yellow stripes might seem odd. But if you dig a bit deeper, the meaning starts to unfold. Benevento Calcio’s nickname, the Stregoni—which translates to ‘witches’, ‘wizards’, or ‘sorcerers’—dates back then to when the Lombards controlled the city.
Sorcerers now, no longer apprentices
With all this magical and mythical history seemingly surrounding the city as a whole, one wonders, why hasn’t any of it transferred onto the field this season?
The beautiful game is 90 minutes long and full of ups and downs for each side. A poor pass could lead to an opposition’s first goal or even an own goal. An off measured shot could result in hitting the crossbar when a goal was necessary. A game that is influenced by the slightest of touches or mistakes.
It is a wonder Benevento even made it out of Serie B at all. The club finished the 2016-17 season in 5th place. They were forced to play, in total, five playoff matches to gain promotion. In terms of this season, however, supporters must already be asking, where are the witches?
Stregoni o fantasmi?
What I mean is, the sorcerers have disappeared as if they were ghosts. Where are the 90th minute goals to tie or take the lead? Will we never again see the outstanding defeats of giants we have come to expect over the years? Where are the overhead volleys from outside the eighteen yard line that seem to float to the top left corner? We as fans, have seen none of it this term. The only piece of magic we’ve seen thus far this season came in the first week off of Ciciretti’s left foot. Where is the unpredictability and craziness we thrive on when watching this ‘underdog’ team?
For Benevento’s sake and its unique history, this is not how they pictured their first Serie A season unfolding. One goal scored and sixteen conceded at the end of September with six games played, leaves the Stregoni at the bottom of the table.
Today (Oct. 1) brought another disheartening home loss, 1-2, to Inter.
To date, this year’s Benevento side looks as if they are astray from their broomsticks and need a potion of some sort to rejuvenate them back to their original selves. In order to survive this season and withstand Milan, Inter, Juventus, Fiorentina, Roma, etc., they must play from within and from their past. In other words, they must feed off of their beginnings and use it as a spark. They must play proudly every week, especially in front of their home fans, and respect the crest and what it stands for.
The Stregoni’s survival in the top flight is at stake.