Ã¢ÂÂPassion in the StandsÃ¢ÂÂ not for the faint hearted
Ã¢ÂÂThereÃ¢ÂÂs an exhibition of football photos on in town, shall we go on Sunday?Ã¢ÂÂ
I thought my girlfriend was blagging. She might be Brazilian and claims to be an Internacionale fan, but the closest sheÃ¢ÂÂs been to seeing her team was watching Lenny Kravitz perform at their stadium in Porto Alegre.
Or going up to a tourist wearing an Internacionale scarf outside Big Ben and talking about how good Pato was. Internacional, as she frequently reminds, were world champions when we met - after they beat Barcelona in Tokyo.
Still, sheÃ¢ÂÂs been to a few matches with me. At Barca, where she likes Ronaldinho because heÃ¢ÂÂs from her hometown. I hope itÃ¢ÂÂs that rather than her fancying him. She came to Old Trafford and kept shouting what my brother taught her. Which was Ã¢ÂÂfuck off Everton.Ã¢ÂÂ That wasnÃ¢ÂÂt ideal as we were sat by the 3,000 Evertonians. And she came to Rome, unaware that she was my decoy so I could infiltrate the Roma Ultras.
The exhibition, in the Caja Madrid building on the main Plaza Catalunya, was shocking. I half expected familiar arty photos of Cruyff in brilliant oranje, or Maradona beating the entire Belgium team. Of Giggs evading a tackle from Jason McAteer and Phil Babb in an image so improbable it looks Photoshopped.
Instead, we were greeted by two by four metre image of a Scouser being chased by four pole wielding Italians at Heysel. Some of the images were well known, the white horse at Wembley in 1923, Scotland fans hanging off the Wembley crossbar and the four-year-old Feyenoord fan sat on his dadÃ¢ÂÂs shoulder giving the finger.
There are several photos of Arsenal and Galatasaray fans clashing in Copenhagen, when they seemed to throw bicycles and wicker chairs no further than their own Reebok Classics.
Others are less familiar, like the Leeds fan dead or dying on a hospital stretcher in Istanbul. Spanish media coverage of death differs from Britain, with photos of dead bodies of car crash victims printed in newspapers.
There are not just wall mounted images, but seized coshes, sprays, bats, homemade catapults and a Berretta pistol. ThereÃ¢ÂÂs the battered mo-ped with the Bergamo number plate which pushed from the second tier of San Siro by InternazionaleÃ¢ÂÂs Ultras during a game with Atalanta in 2004.
The pigÃ¢ÂÂs head thrown at former idol Luis Figo when he returned to Barcelona with Real Madrid. The CCTV images of the Ajax and Feyenoord fans re-enacting a scene from Braveheart as they clashed on the field by a motorway intersection at Beverwijk in 1997 is in all its haunting, grainy detail. The dark object lay prostrate in the mud is dead Ajax fan Carlos Picornie.
There are more positive impressions, like a packed Monumental, the home of River Plate in Buenos Aires, with thousands of Boca fans raising their arms under a beautiful sky coloured like ArgentinaÃ¢ÂÂs flag. But not many and itÃ¢ÂÂs not for the faint hearted. Perhaps that why we didnÃ¢ÂÂt see one other visitor at the exhibition.
Ã¢ÂÂPassion in the StandsÃ¢ÂÂ is at the Espai Cultural Caja Madrid, Plaza de Catalunya, 9, Barcelona until 20th April. Admission is free.