As I said here I missed the last match of Le Racing Club de Strasbourg’s season on Friday. They won 2-0 and stay in third place in the National. As has been the case for the previous three seasons their future waits upon the last day of the season. Contrary to the wishes of the President of the Club, and representative of the London-based owner of it, the doors were open and fans present. There were quite amazing scenes at the end of the last match with the players joining the Ultra Boys in their ‘tribune’ in the stands. See the video here.
When I moved to Strasbourg in 2007 they had just been promoted back to the First Division. It was great watching the best teams in France for 5 Euros. Lyon, Girondins de Bordeaux, l’Olympic de Marseille, Paris St Germain etc. I didn’t know at the time but the manager who had taken them back into the top flight, Jean-Pierre Papin, was replaced by Jean-Marc Furlan and the season started well with le Racing in the top half of the table. A poor second half of the season and they were left needing a win in their last match to stay up. They lost.
The following season, despite the departure of many of the players, they started the season well and led the division at the winter pause. A less than good second half of the season left the team requiring a win on the last day of the season and another team to not win for the boys of Jean-Marc Furlan to return to the top flight. It didn’t happen. Jean-Marc Furlan was sacked and in the following season there were five different owners in six months. Fewer but a number of different managers, and the team required a win on the last day of the season to stay in the Second Division. It didn’t happen and they were relegated to the National a semi-pro league. Le Racing were allowed to stay professional for their first season and, with the departure of all bar one of the previous first team, started the season very badly and were in the relegation positions in the first month of the season and spent the first half of the season in the bottom half of the table. A strong improvement in the second half of the season, despite a ham-fisted attempt to replace the manager, after it had become clear there was a chance they could make the promotion places after all, left the team requiring a win to be promoted. They won. Le Racing also need Guingamp to lose their match next week to keep hold of the third place.
I can’t let the events of the past week go without saying how thrilled I was for Manchester City to win their first trophy since 1976 and the win the FA Cup for the first time since 1969. Like I had for every game I had my 1969 replica shirt on for the match and watched the second half of the match in the Dubliners in Strasbourg. I am now looking forward to the match this afternoon and the chance of finishing third and qualifying automatically for the Champions League. I am wearing my replica third shird and I hope it brings as much luck today as the replica of the ’69 Cup Final winning shirt did for the cup run. Whilst talking about football I will just say how pleased I was about the victory on Tuesday night for my former home-town team Reading, earning them a match at Wembley in the play-offs for the Premier League. I will be cheering them on against Swansea later this month.
I don’t like cricket..
I love it. Especially after yesterday when Lancashire beat Yorkshire in the Roses match. I was following the game via the BBC and was afraid the match was going the same way as the Sussex match earlier in the season, when the game was drawn because we couldn’t get the last two batsmen out. This time we did get them out but had 15 overs to score 121, which we did with four balls to spare.
Lancashire are now leading the County Championship despite having played a game less than their closest teams. I wonder, will this be the year Lancashire win the County Championship for the first time since 1934? It would be ironic that the season when we are away from our Manchester headquarters, at Old Trafford, and playing in Liverpool would turn out to be our most successful in the County Championship. It would help confirm my view that we can not win the County Championship playing in Manchester because of the rain. I know from living in Liverpool that the clouds pass over there before heading inland to dump the rain on Manchester, before going over the Pennines. I’m sure there is a study to be done about the failure of fantastic Lancashire teams, like those of the 50’s, 70’s and 80’s to win a County Championship whilst winning nearly everything else going, and the number of matches drawn because of the weather.