In the 2013/14 season, for the first time in 11 years, Serie A will once more be treated to one of its most enthralling and passionate derbies – the Derby della Scala which is contested between Verona sides Hellas and Chievo.
Having won promotion back to the top flight last season, Hellas will now resume rivalries with their heated city rivals who have had the better of life of late.
The sides have often managed to avoid each other with only 10 derbies taking place to date between the clubs with a symmetrical record of fours wins apiece and two draws having been the outcomes so far.
Hellas are notorious for their hardcore right wing fanbase while Chievo do not share these ideals, in fact the only thing that these clubs perhaps have in common in that regard is the Stadio Bentegodi where both play their football.
The name of the derby takes itself from the Scaligeri (or della Scala) family who had a great influence on the city of Verona during their time ruling in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Due to the fact that the Chievo Gialloblu (both sides have this nickname as they wear the same colours) have spent much of their 80-odd years in existence flitting around the lower leagues, the sides did not meet in action until the 90s when, after gaining promotion to the Cadetti under Alberto Malesani, they came up against the Butei.
The date was December 10, 1994, and the Betegodi played host to a fevered atmosphere with both sets of supporters relishing the opportunity to come up against their neighbours.
The Hellas ‘home’ support heavily outnumbered the new boys to the division but both were vociferous and fierce in the backing of their respective sides in a clash which the one-time Scudetto winners were heavy favourites for in front of a total crowd of 30,000 spectators.
However, as so often in their short history in the top flight, Chievo have a reputation for upsetting odds and pulling off one incredible shock after another.
They did so once more on that night giving their small band of loyal supporters one of the greatest moments in their history when, despite Fabrizio Fermanelli earning the honour of being the first man to score in the derby through a penalty kick, Riccardo Gori wrote his way into Venetian folklore too with a terrific header to equalise.
Although Chievo have been the top flight team for the past decade or so, they have not traditionally enjoyed the backing that their fellow stadium inhabitants have.
Hellas supporters, despite having had to endure second tier football for too long, have continued to turn out in great numbers week after week and have had an average attendance of 14,000 which is considerably more than Chievo’s 9,300 and that in spite of the fact that they often welcome some of the biggest clubs in world football to the stadium.
This is mostly due to the fact that Ceo as they are known locally rely on much of their support from the small Chievo district of the city while the Scaligeri generally have more of a following within the wider confines of the city and beyond.
The city of Verona, perhaps famed more for its Romeo and Juliet balcony or historic amphitheatre than its football teams, had to wait until the end of that season before one set of its fans could cheer a derby day win.
That honour fell to the Flying Donkeys support who cheered on their side in a 3-1 home win but after that they found wins in the fixture much harder to come by.
Their rivals embarked on a three-game winning streak in the fixture with two wins in their promotion season of 1995/96 being followed up two seasons later by the biggest win in this contest.
A victory parade hit the streets of Italy’s 12th largest city after Hellas thrashed their rivals 4-0 in a game in which future captain and coach of Chievo Eugenio Corini scored against them.
Two 2-0 wins from Chievo bookended the only goalless draw in this game before November of 2001 saw the historic moment when the fixture was played out for the first time in the top flight.
Chievo had earned the nickname the Flying Donkeys after Hellas fans proclaimed during fixtures in the 90s that “donkeys will fly before you play in Serie A” and lo and behold they went on to prove their rivals wrong.
On that day though, it was the Mastini who emerged victorious as although Corini made history as the first man to score for both sides in the Derby della Scala, Mauro Camoranesi’s winner made now-Hellas boss Malesani’s men the history makers as the winners of the first Serie A derby as Verona joined Milan, Turin, Rome and Genoa as being cities to have hosted a top flight derby.
The losers that day gained revenge later in the season when derby top scorer Federico Cossato cancelled out an early Adrian Mutu goal with a brace that helped his side to so much more than the three points on offer.
Interestingly that day, Cossato played against his brother Michele as siblings lined up against each other in this game for the first time.
There is a twist though as Michele had previously played for Chievo during their days in Serie B and even scored for them in their maiden derby victory.
It can be a small world in this derby sometimes as evidenced but the wider world is set to be reintroduced to it next season and must make sure to tune in as it is a fixture that both on and off the field, never disappoints.