Two years without a live match are a long time. Add to that some personal issues and it seems an eternity has passed. This game Red Star vs Le Mans demonstrates the end of the wait.
It has been two years and two months that the last match report has been published here; a year and a half due to Corona, the other time was beset by personal woes. Things don’t look much better but the worst has been left behind.
As much as football may be tinted sentimentally at times, there will not be any of this here.
Tonight’s game sees in-form Red Star FC hosting Le Mans who of late find things difficult. The hosts have found their form and are gathering momentum, three wins on the trot are witness to that. Finally, their supporters say as the start to the season was ba to say the least: only two wins from the seven matches have left them pinned to the bottom of the table. However, since late September the form has been on an upward trajectory. The same cannot be said about Le Mans. Their record is only one victory from the last five matches suggesting that this tie may already have come to a foregone conclusion: a Red Star win.
For the neutral observer this may be just an ordinary game of two teams sitting in mid-table, yet Red Star need three points to bolster their cushion towards the nether regions of the table; Le Mans will eagerly want to avoid any further loss of form and points.
If only there was a tbc! Paris being Paris with all its inherent problems when it comes to transportation. The result was a 20 minute delay and the gates at the Stade were still not empty! There were hundreds queuing outside and missing the first half. This time was best spent inside the bar opposite the entrance and only making the way once the crowd would have dispersed. Those inside made some remarkable noise while the scoreline went against their team: within 16 minutes Red Star were 2-0 down, though they limited the deficit after 24 minutes, it was not enough. Judging by the noise emanated from the stand close to the street, the second half was a bland affair.
You have read that correctly, I did not bother to go in but instead had a good time to observe the people outside, look around the area and reflect.
One of the first observations was the complete absence of any police. There was not a single copper in sight, not even passing by. This would be unthinkable at PSG where there would be several cordons manned with riot police sealing off the ground from any trouble. Further, the club is embedded in the city of Saint-Ouen. The docks may have been converted into offices and apartments but the Stade Bauer still stands steadfast in the rue du Docteur Bauer. Moreover, it is now clear that the club will remain there as the stand bordering the street is already fenced in and construction is about to begin. Stade Bauer will be renovated and made fit for Ligue 2, something the supporters have been arguing for years with the club and the city. That they have succeeded speaks volumes about the club and its relation with those on the concrete terraces.
Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine (since November 2018 its official name) has been and still is a working class city, yet some of the fans have been recruited from across the boulevard périphérique, i.e. Paris. Of course, there are many hipster fans with e-cigarettes and moustaches yet remain the minority. This is however not a club priding itself to be chic or hip but a bastion of solidarity.
After the final whistle the bars filled up quickly and the match was subject of many a discussion however all in good spirit and with a lot of laughter and banter. It is somewhat difficult to imagine this after a Champions League defeat of PSG: fans discussing the match in a pub with their friends. The difference here feels refreshing even without being inside.Good writing does not come by chance, so consider this: