The Derby della Scala

The history of derby in Verona between Hellas and Chievo.

Some Hellas Verona players celebrating a win over their rivals, Chievo Verona.

The Derby della Scala (Scala referring to the former leaders of Verona hundreds of years ago) or the Verona Derby, is not what most who follow Calcio would consider a particularly important affair. Unlike other famous derbies, such as the Derby dell’Italia (Juventus vs Inter), Derby della Madonnina (Inter vs Milan) or the Derby della Capitale (Lazio vs Roma), the derby between Chievo Verona and Hellas Verona hardly turns heads around Italy. It is incredibly rare for the derby to decide anything at all, with neither team challenging for any silverware except the Serie B title, and so has little appeal for any neutrals. But the derby does hold importance to the players, the staff and most importantly the fans.

For a long time, it didn’t seem likely that a derby between Hellas & Chievo would be likely in the top flight, with Chievo consistently falling short of reaching the dizzying heights of Serie A. This is incredibly relevant, as Chievo is the little brother team in the city of Verona (owing to the fact that the neighbourhood of Chievo numbers around 4500 residents). With Hellas the quality team in Verona, their fans taunted Chievo and their supporters with a chant that would later come back to haunt them.

“Quando i mussi volara, il Ceo in Serie A”

Hellas Verona Fans.

In case your Italian isn’t up to scratch, that quote roughly translates as “When the donkeys fly, Chievo will be in Serie A”. Well, Chievo certainly cluttered up the airspace in north Italy then, with their first promotion to Serie A in 2001. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

The Early Derbies (1994-1999)

The first meeting, 10th Dec 1994.

The 1994-1995 season gave us the first taste of the Derby della Scala, with a 1-1 draw and a 3-1 victory for Chievo. Despite the result, the Hellas fans weren’t too concerned. They were a club with over 90 years of history, and they had something that Chievo weren’t likely to get any time soon. A scudetto. Yet only a decade later and here they were, facing lowly Chievo in Serie B, a far cry from the peak of Calcio they’d reached 10 years earlier.

Over the next 3 consecutive seasons, the victors in Verona switched back and forth, with no team running away in the head to head (especially compared to the Derby della Mole, the derby between the ever dominant Juventus and the less decorated Torino).

Finally, in the 1998-1999 season, Hellas returned to the top flight, leaving Chievo behind. Perhaps, they thought, for good.

Hello and Goodbye (2001-02)

This picture is definitely not from that season, but despite scouring the web, it appears no-one has taken a photo of either game of that season and shared it.

2000. The millennium. A year etched into the memory of the Chievo fans, for it was their first in Serie A. I Mussi Volanti had finally reached the peak of the Italian football mountain, and for the first time were experiencing top-flight football. With this, a slightly more important set of derbies between Hellas and Chievo, with each team taking a game (3-2 for Hellas, and 2-1 for Chievo). However, the 2-1 victory for Chievo was of little importance, compared to the other major reward they received that season. With Hellas getting relegated, Chievo were, for the first time in their 71 year history, in the league above Hellas. Whilst Chievo carried the city of Verona in Serie A for the next 6 years, Hellas and their fans found it hard to accept that a tiny suburb seemed to be of more relevance than the rest of the city.

The Modern Era (2013-18)

Chievo fan favourite Paloschi celebrating a goal.

And here we are. The recent years. Both teams back in Serie A, enjoying top-flight football (although Hellas won’t be able to join Chievo with a slice of Serie A pie in the 2018/19 season).

The derbies in these years were regularly back and forth, and little ever proved too useful in the grand scheme of things. The only cup derby between the two was in the 17/18 season, which ended 1-1 and Hellas won on penalties (only to lose in the next round to Milan 3-0).

With Chievo surviving the 17/18 season, and Hellas slipping back into the trenches of Serie B, there won’t be another derby for a little while. Whilst this is no great loss to the majority of Calcio fans, the fans in Verona will be waiting with bated breath until the next battle.

The Bigger Picture – A Conclusion.

If this article has taught you anything, its that both these teams are no great giants of the Italian game. 1 scudetto between them (33 years ago at this point), and by having little fans outside of Verona itself, the Derby della Scala holds little importance to the bigger picture of the history of Calcio.

Does it need to? No. Football isn’t always about the victors, the most expensive players and the most supported teams. It’s about the passion, the players, the teams and most importantly the fans. Whilst this isn’t a grand derby with “big” teams, that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. To the city of Verona and the few fans outside it, it matters a lot, and that’s why football is such a beautiful thing.

Nobody wants to be upstaged, and nothing feels worse than being upstaged by your little brother. This is a passion that unites all Hellas players and fans, and with Chievo’s current successes compared the struggles Hellas are currently going through, the passion and anger between the fans are palpable any time the two teams are on the pitch together.

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