Amarcord Reggina, that dream called Serie A. What an afternoon in Turin 25 years ago…


By John

The line between the sweetness of amarcord and the temptation to exploit memories to avoid looking at the harshness of the present is always thin. For a Reggina fan, however, June 13th is not a date like the others. It is not even more so if, as in this 2024, it is the twenty-fifth anniversary since the Amaranths landed for the first time in the paradise of Serie A. The victory at the Delle Alpi against Torino (2-1) was decisive. A stadium that perhaps did not enter the hearts of the Granata and Juventus fans, to the point of being demolished less than thirty years after its construction for Italia 90. However, it had time to become the theater of amaranth dreams, considering that just over two months later (29 June 1999) Reggina made their Serie A debut there (1-1 against Juventus).
Five decades have passed since what was absolute happiness for Reggio Calabria. Everyone knows exactly where they were when Tonino Martino scored the goal that brought Reggina to Serie A. They will remember a little less what they felt at the final whistle from the referee Bettin of Padua, intoxicated by one of those joys that the city he thought he might never try. The eighty-five year wait was long, even though the Amaranth people had never lost pride and belonging in the years spent between B and C. Nobody knows how many Reggina fans there were at Delle Alpi that day. There were over 50,000 people present, with the home supporters celebrating the promotion they had already achieved to the top flight. Too difficult to distinguish the amaranth grenade in the stands.
The perception that there could be a lot of people from Reggio came when the Amaranth team took the lead. Cozza (always present in the key moments of the Amaranth story) did not miss from the spot and the roar legitimized the estimates that spoke of fifteen or twenty thousand Reggina fans who had gone to make history on the steps of the Delle Alpi. Many of them had done so, starting from Reggio, many others making little progress from the many areas of the North which over the decades have become fiefdoms of emigrated Reggio. It had to be the perfect day and not even the usual goal from bête noire Marco Ferrante could ruin a party that had been waiting for ten years.
Exactly from the play-off for promotion to Serie A lost on penalties in Pescara against Cremonese, when five hundred Grigiorossi supporters rejoiced in front of the 25,000 amaranths present. In Turin Reggina just had to win. Torino's draw lasted a few minutes. Just enough time for the fear of not making it to make the explosion of joy of the Amaranth people more uncontainable. Over twenty thousand, among those who remained in Reggio on an election day for the European Parliament, chose to watch the match in Piazza del Popolo where in record time a giant screen, enormous for the time, was set up.
It was a celebration for days, the right tribute to the success that the company chaired by Lillo Fotì managed to build. However, it is forbidden to be overwhelmed by nostalgia. Better to think of memories as a stimulus for the future, especially because the maximum was achieved with foresight and planning.