After an hiatus of more than four years, I went back to Stade Bauer to watch Red Star’s match against Dunkirk in the third division of the French football pyramid. There was little to sway me toward the home crowd who as usual were there in big numbers (more than 1000) and who supported their team loyally throughout the ninety minutes plus additional time.
Grip on the Game
The game started with either side holding back for about five minutes before dropping any restraint. It was Dunkirk who found their momentum quicker and more convincing and as a consequence they went ahead after just nine minutes. It was awful defending and way too easy. The Red Star supporters turned up the noise to push their team forward but it was to no avail and it took twenty minutes before they won a free kick on the left side from which Karamoko scored. From open play Red Star were harmless and that is the polite version. Throughout the first half they created one chance, maybe. Instead they were pinned back by Dunkirk who appeared to have a game plan and the players to apply this very plan. That the scores were level at half time was due to Dunkirk’s wastefulness and Red Star’s bluntness. The visitors were simply smarter with the ball, their moves quicker, more purposeful and thus better.
To the credit of the home supporters they never ceased singing despite their team letting them down quite brutally. How Red Star have so far inhabited place two in the table is beyond reason. They were too slow to go forward and too sloppy in defense to come out as winners of this contest.
Dunkirk holds a special place in British mythology as it was the place where the British Army was forced to retreat during the Second World War. Dunkirk showed exactly that spirit tonight: never giving up, always have a spare man to cover a comrade. That Dunkirk spirit carried them to victory and did so without much hassle.
In this form Red Star will struggle to keep their position this high up the table but will have to settle for a place mid-table.
In their last promotion season 2017/18 Red Star had no beer on offer. This has changed thankfully, though bthe waiting time for a pint are far from being ideal; in fact the service is slow and inefficient and that is an understatement. My own experience as a bar tender probably influence my judgement.
Whatever the holds in store, the ground will always keep its attraction. Where else do you see a whole pitch length stand watch getting overgrown with weeds with Sacré Cœur in the background? Whatever, there is still a season to be played and a lot can happen. Though what the home side have shown tonight must be considered an aberration and hopefully they get back on track rather sooner than later.