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 Tragic Years (11)

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Curva Maestrelli
Curva Maestrelli

Number of posts : 149
Age : 40
Country and city : MALTA
Laziale since : 1986
Registration date : 2008-08-12

PostSubject: Tragic Years (11)   Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:08 pm

::Tragic Years:: source - www.lazioclubmalta.com

The winning of a league title in the mid-seventies did not provide the economic benefits of nowadays. Sponsors and merchandising were very limited, while TV rights were inexistent. Lazio was not a rich club and although being the reigning champion could not afford to reinforce the squad, since it could not even benefit from funds attributed by Uefa as it was disqualified from European competitions for the season 1974/75 as a consequence of the incidents which occurred on and off the pitch during the previous season Uefa Cup tie against Ipswich in Rome.

The club's president Lenzini opted to rely on the same squad that had done so well in the previous two seasons.The only new signing was Badiani from Sampdoria who however didn't integrate in the group and his involvement disrupted the team's consolidated scheme of play. On the other hand, Lazio sold Inselvini and Facco who were regular reserves in the squad

Lazio started the season on a bad note, being eliminated from the Coppa Italia by city -rivals A.S.Roma. Therefore without the cups Lazio could only concentrate on the domestic league. Lazio had a good start, winning the opening three matches thus going on top. However it soon lost pace following defeats against Inter and once again Roma. However, the club's severe blow that shocked everyone was the news of Maestrelli's illness. This literally influenced all the squad. Maestrelli couldn't even guide the team on Sundays and Lovati replaced him on the bench. The team was disoriented. It lost the third derby of the season and in the home match against Torino it succumbed 5-1. Two weeks later all title hopes vanished following the 4-0 defeat in Turin against Juventus who sailed towards the league title. Lazio ended the campaign in fourth place, two points behind Roma who thus regained supremacy in the city.

The prospects for the season 1975-76 did not appear rosier. Maestrelli was still fighting his illness, and so Corsini was nominated as new coach. The team that had won the title was being dismantled progressively. Infact, Nanni Oddi and Frustalupi were sold, while Chinaglia, following differences with the new coach, was tempted with the idea to emigrate definitely in the US. The squad was in turbulence. The only positive note was the introduction of two promising youths, Lionello Manfredonia and Bruno Giordano, the latter scoring the winning goal on his debut in the first match of the league against Sampdoria. A serious of negative results brought Lazio in relegation zone. Corsini was eventually sacked and Maestrelli, still suffering, retook his natural place on the bench. This brought a bit of enthusiasm in the clan, but results still lacked and relegation was nearing. Even in the Uefa cup, Lazio disappointed and was eliminated by Barcelona. To add insult to injury, Chinaglia reached an agreement with Cosmos and left Lazio in April. It was the apex of the crisis, however, vivaciously Lazio managed to avoid relegation only on goal difference, thanks to the goals of Giordano, who in that season also won the Youngster's League title with the Lazio Primavera. A new star was born that was soon to replace Chinaglia in the hearts of the fans.

Many had thought that avoided the relegation the troubles were over, however the worst still had to come. Since Maestrelli did not recover from his illness, the Brazilian coach Luis Vincio took charge of the squad for the season 1976-77. Lazio lost the opening match in Rome against Juventus but managed a series of good results until losing the derby. The following Sunday whilst drawing in Milan against Inter, the sad news of the death of Maestrelli saddened the club. The death of the beloved coach left everyone in tears. Thousands of fans flocked to his funeral. However, the dark period was not yet over. Just 43 days after Maestrelli's death, another tragedy shocked Lazio. The league winner Luciano Re Cecconi, was shot to death in a jewellery shop in Rome. Re Cecconi, who was accompanied by teammate Ghedin, feigned a hold up in the jewellery shop of his friend, who did not recognize him. The latter shot him in self-defence and instantly killed the blond midfielder. The show had to go on, and in a way or another the squad played a good season placing itself in fifth place with three points above Roma. At least Lazio regained supremacy over the cousins. Manfredonia and Giordano continued to impress, with the latter scoring 10 goals.

The coach Vincio was confirmed for the following season 1977-78. The team was prematurely eliminated from the Coppa Italia, while the league results were mediocre. Lazio was even humiliated in the Uefa Cup losing 6-0 (after extra time) against Lens in the second round after it had won the first leg 2-0 in Rome. Vincio was sacked on the 24th day of the season. Lovati took over and managed to avoid relegation by one point. Giordano scoring 12 goals, and Manfredonia, who had earned a place in the national team, were once again the only positive notes of the campaign.

Lovati was confirmed as coach for the season 1978-79 in which a new youngster called Tassotti made his debut in the first team. Giordano continued to impress becoming the top scorer of the season with 19 goals. However his goals were not enough for the club to win a place in the European cups as it placed eighth. In the Coppa Italia, Lazio was eliminated on penalties by Palermo in the quarterfinals.

The seventies, which had brought joy and sadness to Lazio, were coming to an end. However, the sad chapter was not yet over. The season 79-80 had kicked off well with Giordano being the usual prolific striker. However, another tragedy hit the club. On the 28th October 1979, Vincenzo Paparelli, a 33-year-old tranquil Lazio fan, was killed during pre-derby clashes on the stadium terraces. In fact, after a serious of incidents caused by hardcore Lazio and Roma fans, flares were shot by Roma fans towards the "Curva Nord" sector, occupied by the Lazio followers. Unfortunately, one of these flares hit the innocent Paparelli who died some minutes later while being taken to hospital. In order to avoid the escalation of incidents both in and out of the stadium, the match, although in a tense atmosphere, was regularly played and ended in a 1-1 draw.

In the first months of the new decade, another severe blow hit the club. The clandestine bets scandal was revealed. Four Lazio players namely Wilson, Giordano, Manfredonia and Cacciatori were involved. The results of two Lazio matches, those against Milan and Avellino, had been prefixed. The players involved in the scandal were sentenced to jail while the Italian Federation relegated Lazio and Milan on table. The agony for the fans did not seem to have an end. Meanwhile, Umberto Lenzini passed the club's presidency over to his brother Aldo.

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