Through words and imagery, the 46-page publication captures what it means to be an ultra, and why they are so crucial for modern football. It captures the scenes of both supporting sides from outside the stadium, rather than the pitch side.
Divided into two sections, the book briefly informs the reader on the history of 'Ultras' and the connotations, ideologies and influences that affect many ultras groups throughout the globe. However, this issue mainly focuses on the Steel Derby. A fierce rivalry between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday.
The spectacle of a Steel Derby is unquestionably passion-fuelled. A rivalry that dates back through countless decades and runs further than the simple postcode, the balance between the two has never been more contested than we find ourselves today at the early stages of the 2018/19 Championship campaign.
What Are Ultras?
Ultras are now massively part of the game, and we see them all around the world, from the terrifying to the unimaginable, they are the beating heart of most football clubs. However, they are also the source of controversy. So what is an ‘Ultra’ and what do they do?
Originally used to describe a group of supporters in the ‘La Gazzetta Dello Sport’ in the 1960’s, Ultras are one of the most broadly defined subcultures in the world. However, the actual term was only appropriated by a fan group back in 1969 between two Italian clubs Sampdoria’s Tito Cucchiaroni, Fedelissimi and Torino Ultra Grande Torino. Since then, fans have re-appropriated the name, but giving the global reach of the game the term is far from defined. Thus, ultra-groups were established, born to represent the bright, distinctive cultures and traditions in which they are originated from, taking inspiration from the time of city-states, when the autonomous cities will defend their identity and originality from others. Ultras value the defence of their territory, something that is historically recognisable.
These ultras are the most ardent fans who value the importance of representing the 12th man of a team. An ultra is constantly committed to the club attending training sessions and youth games and showing up hours before kick-off on match days for any last-minute preparations. Away games are especially important as they can accommodate the ability to continuously show off one’s own self-commitment. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to boast your pride in another territory. However, the most important rituals are usually reserved to represent legendary players, fans themselves and most importantly derby days and cup games.