Hungerford Town FC to play Juventus

Pink Juve Summer Fundraiser Bombshell Exclusive

The football world in Berkshire was rocked to its very foundations this morning with the news that Italian football giants Juventus will be playing a two-legged cup tie against high-flying Hungerford Town FC this summer.

“It all started when I was in on holiday in Turin earlier this year,” Hungerford Head Groundsman Steve Skipworth explained. “We went to Juve’s match against Chievo and, after the game, were invited to the press box. I met Luca Brasi, their Deputy PR Director, and half-jokingly reminded him that Juve’s black and white strip, which they believed was based on Notts County’s, had in fact been modelled on ours. I explained that we were looking for £40,000 to improve our ground and that a testimonial would be most welcome.

“He laughed and we exchanged business cards. At that moment Alessandro del Piero came in and started doing his famous impression of Al Pacino ordering an espresso so no more was said.”

Two weeks later, Steve was astounded to receive an email from Massimo Canfari, Juve’s President. “My joke had been truer than I’d realised,” Steve said. “He told me that their records showed that in 1897, the year Juventus was founded, a friendly match was played in Turin against a team of ‘Hungerford Gentlemen’, with the Gentlemen winning 3-1. At that time Juventus played in all white but were so impressed with the pink shirts and black ties worn by the ‘Gentlemen’ that they adopted that strip for the next seven years, Continual washing made the pink fade until, in 1903, they needed a new kit. Thanks to the intervention of one of their English players, they then adopted the black and white striped shirts as used by Notts County in which they’ve played ever since.”

Due to this connection, Notts County were invited to play Juventus in a friendly match to celebrate the opening of Juventus’ new stadium in 2011 and to raise money for the English club which was then facing a winding-up petition.

In recognition of this newly discovered link, Canfari has agreed that a two-legged tie will be contested with Hungerford Town FC this summer, the aggregate winners receiving the Coppa Pacino Rosa. The first leg will be played at the Corso Gaetano Scirea on Saturday 31 June with the return fixture at Bulpit Lane a week later.

He also confirmed that  the Italian side will for these matches revert to their pink and black strip. “Don’t worry,” he reassured Hungerford officials, “it won’t be that ghastly away kit we use at the moment with the crooked black star – we’ll be in pink shirts with buttons and black silk ties, like proper old school English gentlemen!”

“We’re obviously over the moon,” Hungerford’s Secretary Mike Hall said. “We’re expecting a full house for the return fixture. Our ground development plans are going well but this will be the icing on the cake.”

In a later statement, Juventus – known locally as La Vecchia Signora, or ‘The Old Lady’ – were quick to play down the suggestion that they’d be fielding a weakened team.

“Against Notts County we had a strong side full of internationals and Notts were in the fourth tier in England. We were out-played in the second half and were lucky to get a 1-1 draw. We won’t be making that mistake again. The return fixture will be the week before a pre-season tournament in Manchester so we’ll be picking our strongest side. Gentlemen of Hungerford beware – the pink Old Lady is coming for you!”

Brian Quinn

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