Stefano Ferrio was born in 1956 in Vicenza. His journalism is published in Il Gazzettino, l’Unità and Diario, and he teaches the semiotics of cinema at the University of Padova.
The end of the seventies. It all starts with stunning shot on the volley which thuds into the back of the net behind Cafe Fantasia’s goalkeeper. England – a ramshackle bunch of provincial dreamers from the North East, so-called owing to their love of the robust physicality of the English – had just equalised against their arch opposition, a much-hated team of “pretty-boy show-offs, used to winning both on and off the field.” In search of their first victory against these opponents, England then takes the lead, only for one of Cafe Fantasia’s fullbacks to send a wild shot high and wide and out of the ground. Lost ball; the game can’t continue. The sides agree on a draw, unless – Cafe Fantasia suggest – they reunite in thirty years’ time to finish what would soon become known as The Abandoned Match. Same players, same formation. Thirty years is a lifetime. Those boys who used to throw themselves around on gravel pitches without any worry at all, who used to prance around in front of the girls on the sideline after a goal, their lives had gone in quite different directions: some were in politics, one had died from a drug overdose, another was a missionary; there was one who was working as a lawyer for well-heeled clients, another was a doctor, whilst another has got life in prison, sentenced for gun crime and terrorism. They had lived their lives to the full, and were left with scars and dashed hopes, with loved ones and memories of happy days. But now those boys were back on the pitch again, thirty years later, ready to restart The Abandoned Match. Stefano Ferrio’s novel is in three parts: it opens and closes with the matches – epic, entertaining, passionate – and in between we glimpse the chances life deals the various protagonists, whether fortunate or not.