In Tim Parks’ excellent book A Season With Verona the reader is introduced to a shadowy cabal of highly influential people who secretly control football for the benefit of Juventus, Inter, Vicenza, Chievo, Atalanta, Roma, all clubs from the south…everyone but Hellas Verona. They are known only as the Bastardi.
A last minute winner deprives Verona of the point they seemed destined for? The fault of the Bastardi. Referees favouring Juventus over all other clubs? The Bastardi again. Not being able to play the home leg of your relegation playoff at your home stadium because someone booked a concert there the same night? That’s the Bastardi at their most brazen.
The difference between English football and Italian football is that the the Bastardi really did exist. Uncovered in the summer of 2006 the real life Bastardi took the form of Juventus General Manager Luciano Moggi’s complex system of influence over referees.
In England no such evidence has been uncovered but I’m convinced that there is a branch of the Bastardi working against Lincoln City specifically. How else do you explain how Scunthorpe United, previously our mocked local rivals, have managed to become a steady Championship team? Because they’re a well run club? As if. It’s the Bastardi doing it specifically to annoy us. What the scandalous goal that led to our defeat at Huddersfield in 03/04? The referee was obviously briefed to prevent us getting a point that day, whatever the rules of the game unhelpfully said. Not convinced? Do you think it’s credible that a club could appear in five straight playoffs and lose every time? Me neither. But Lincoln did.
Next time your club loses because of a wrongly awarded penalty, next time your team is winning and the assistant referee signals five minutes of added time, next time you get to Wembley and tickets cost £50 each, don’t blame bad luck, incompetence or greed. Blame the Bastardi.