Even now, the memory still hurts. We were winning 6-0 and it did not matter a jot. Results elsewhere were sending us to Serie B and there was nothing we could do. Radios around the Stadio Artemio Franchi confirmed the dreadful news.
The first cut was definitely the deepest. I have seen Fiorentina relegated twice but that demotion in 1993 was certainly the more painful experience. We had been in second place at Christmas with a side which included the likes of Brian Laudrup, Stefan Effenberg and Gabriel Batistuta. It made no difference to our final fate.
Things had started excitingly under Gigi Radice with a 7-1 win over Ancona and a 7-3 home hammering by Milan in the opening weeks of the campaign. He masterminded a triumph over Juventus in December but it was not enough to keep him in a job for long. A home reverse at the hands of Atalanta in January had volatile film-producer president Vittorio Cecchi Gori sending him packing. And then our world caved in.
The opinionated TV pundit Aldo Agroppi was brought in and produced a series of results which should serve as a warning to so-called experts everywhere. His first game was a 4-0 defeat by Udinese. It would be more than two months before the boys in purple would record a win. By that point, panic had set in.
Agroppi was shown the door too, with a last-gasp effort to avoid the drop coming from Luciano Chiarugi. It failed to provide sufficient points and when Foggia came to Florence on the final day of the season the writing was on the wall. We needed other sides to do us a favour and, in Italy, that just does not happen.
And yet, for a while, we had hope. Four goals up by half-time, our relegation rivals Brescia were only managing a draw with Sampdoria. And things got better early in the second period when news filtered through that Roma had taken the lead against Udinese - the other side involved in the three-way fight to avoid the last two relegation spots.
The Curva Fiesole crackled with the sound of match updates coming from around the country. Every cry of “Attenzione! Attenzione!” by the Tutto Il Calcio commentators brought a frisson of fear. The match being played out on the pitch seemed like a sideshow.
Fiorentina went 6-0 up but the news from elsewhere took a turn for the worse. Brescia pulled 2-1 ahead and then, with 10 minutes remaining, came the double hammer-blow. The Bresciani put their result beyond doubt with another goal while Udinese grabbed an equaliser. The sombre silence of the Franchi left no room for dubiety, we were going down.
Everybody sleepwalked through those closing moments. Foggia waltzed around zombie-like defenders to make the score 6-2. It was a resounding victory which nobody celebrated.
The jokes at the Viola’s expense were not long in coming. Some suggested that their new sponsors should be toothbrush makers Oral B (it translates as “Now in B” in Italian). It would certainly be a while before Fiorentina fans could smile again.
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