August 29th is a good day. It’s the birthday of John Locke, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ingrid Bergman, Charlie Parker, Richard Attenborough, and Michael Jackson. It’s the anniversary of Michael Faraday discovering electromagnetic induction and of Gottlieb Daimler patenting the first internal combustion motorcycle and the Beatles playing their last concert before paying fans. But more importantly, it’s the 91st anniversary of the founding of Fiorentina.
Yes, friends. On 29 August 1926, Tuscan nobleman and Fascist party member Luigi Ridolfi oversaw the merger of CS Firenze (founded in 1870 as an athletics club) and PG Libertas in an effort to create a football club that could compete with the traditional powers in Turin and Genoa. The half-white, half-red shirt was adopted then, either as a tribute to the colors on the Florentine badge or as a mixture of the shirts of the clubs which had formed the new entity. The purple jerseys didn’t appear for another two years; legend has it that, after washing the red and white unis in the Arno, the colors ran into each other and the team ended up with the violet kits we know and love.
In the 91 years since its foundation, Fiorentina has reached some heights and plumbed some depths. Scudetti in 1956 and 1959 are certainly high points. Coppa Italia triumphs in 1940, 1961, 1966, 1975, 1996, and 2001 are pretty swell too. A (very probably crooked) loss to Real Madrid in the 1957 Champions Cup is another mark of honor, and the 1961 Cup Winners’ Cup makes the Viola one of very few Italian sides to win a continental double. On the other hand, relegation in 1932 and 1993, bankruptcy and disbandment in 2002, defeats to Juventus in Serie A (1982) and in the UEFA Cup (1990), and the sale of club legends like Roberto Baggio, Gabriel Batistuta, and Rui Costa to direct rivals.
This isn’t the time to dwell on past failures. This is a time to celebrate triumphs, both the ones behind and the ones ahead (which we assume are forthcoming any year now). This is a time to revel in the glory of all things purple. This is a time to remember why we love this beautiful, hopeless, perfect, flawed, and singular club. So raise a small glass of wine or grappa or whatever you’ve got, and let’s all take a swig and sing a song of joy and wonder and let the hairs on our forearms stand up.
Happy birthday, Fiorentina. It’s been a pretty good 91 years. Thank you.