Wednesday 25 June 2008

Red Star 93; Stade Bauer; St. Ouen; Paris; France

Allez Red Star!

Not just some of the very few words of French I understand, but the name of their website, which has a superb English section. Thanks to a Englishman John, who does those pages, but is long settled in France, can keep in touch from afar with my 'adopted' French side. And it is down to his friendliness that I class myself as a Red Star fan. But before that, I also have a Dulwich Hamlet mate called Roger to thank, for getting me to go there in the first place!

Allow me to explain...

It was January 2005, and I happened to find a copy of the 'Independent on Sunday' on a train. Inside there was an article on the old Paris Olympic venue from the 1924 games, the Stade de Colombes, saying it was under threat of demolition. I'd never been to Paris, but I decided to go over there to visit this historic venue, in case it did disappear. I discovered it was home to Racing Club de Paris, and booked a coach ticket for an overnighter, there and back, & I picked a home match for Racing. But, at short notice, their game was moved from the Sunday of my visit to the day before! Well I'd paid my fare, so was still going to travel. And my pal Roger, who had been over to Paris before, suggested I go to see Red Star, a famous old club, fallen on lean times, who had been forced out of their home, but had now returned. And so it was that I visited this wonderful old stadium for the first time. I visited their club shop, and bought a t-shirt, and scarf, I think. The bloke behind the jump was friendly enough, as friendly as a Frenchman can be without speaking English anyway! ;-)
It was a cracking,old fashioned, very English style ground & Red Star were level six, in the Paris region Division Honneur at the time. At half time the club shop man came up to me & beckoned over the English fan John, and I spent the rest of the match being made welcome by him. I said, half in jest, that if ever they cobbled together a Supporters' Team we'd come over & play them. And the follwing year we forsook the 'delights' of away v. Molesey I think it was, & did exactly that! I've been over at least once a season ever since to see them, and am yet to see them lose!
The photos below don't do the ground justice, as I was a couple of minutes late for the 6.00pm kick off,and had to dash off at the final whistle to get to the Stade de France, for the French League Cup Final. Where I supported PSG, with a very good Belgian PSG friend of mine.

Here is what I wrote on Red Star, briefly, on the Tony Kempster messageboard:

"On Saturday I had two games to go to. The first was my annual trip to Red Star ’93; for their CFA (fourth level) home match at Stade Bauer, versus Metz B. This is a wonderful old stadium, & after my first visit there in 2004 I ‘fell in love’ with the Club! It is an easy ten minute walk from Mairie de Saint-Ouen Metro, in the north of the city. From the road the stand is the one behind the goal, with the Club offices & changing rooms underneath. This is a large covered terraces, over thirty steps steep, with crash barriers. This area is closed, though it looks perfectly safe. As you come in there is a small ticket office block, and you then go through an open gate to enter the ground. Along your left, as you walk in, is the main stand, the only part of the ground that is open. Covered along the whole length, it is 3 euros for the wing areas, & 5 euros for the centre. I paid five, but went in the wings, and stand with the hardcore singing Red Star fans, by the end with the big terrace. They have lots of flags hung up on the now old fashioned to English eyes fences. And I added my Cockney Greens DHFC Red Star banner. I was shocked, & surprised to find one of the regulars has now got himself a Union Jack, with DULWICH HAMLET FC on it! Bloody marvelous! Along the other side was an old stand. Derelict. I’m not sure, but I think it one had seats in it, or at least some of it. A couple of years ago some of the roof came off in a storm, & when the local council tried to repair it they found asbestos, so the whole lot had to be torn down. There are certainly no seats over there now, just a small electronic scoreboard on the back row, and it looks rather sad. Behind the other goal there are no spectator facilities. Just a grass bank. In the olden days this was apparently a large open terrace, but now there is a modern triangular shaped block of flats, a snap of which is included in the Simon Inglis ‘Football Grounds of Europe’ book. Behind the stand where spectators are allowed in there is a small stand selling beer & food on matchdays, and actually set into the stand as you come in, on the right, is a small club office, selling souvenirs. A free 4 page A5 programme was given away on admission, produced by their website which has an excellent English version. I highly recommend a visit there to anyone who is in Paris, and feel free to email the website beforehand. John, who does the English translations, is originally from England, and is more than happy to welcome you. In fact if it wasn’t for him on my first visit I’d probably never have kept on going back! Oh and the game itself was surprisingly good, both sides tried to play some flowing football, though some of the Red Star passing left something to be desired, & we won 1-0 with a peach of a volley towards the end of the first half, which set me up nicely for the ‘big game’ at 9.00pm. I say ‘big’ because Red Star winning was the most important result for me, but I would be cheering for Paris Saint Germain."

Unfortunately both because I was in a rush, and it was getting dark, the photos of this ground are not as good as they should be, and do not do it justice. I will take some more when I return there next season.

Allez Red Star!

The main entrance, from the road. This large terrace is
not actually used on match days, and only the seats down
one side are for spectators.

The way in is to the right of the above photo, & I was clearly
not the only straggler at the ticket booths!
Note the plaque on the concrete wall...

Clearly a club person remembered from the Second World

This is the way into the ground once through
the gate. Note a few people milling to the right.
This is the tea bar & beer stall.

You can sit in the middle of the stand, or congregate at one end.
Which is where the noiser 'Gang Green' brigade go, and
always make me welcome. Note the far side. Forlorn nowadays.
When I first visited this was covered, though closed. It was damaged
in a storm, and found to have asbestos, so had to be ripped
down completely.

Looking into the spectator side. There is nothing behind
the far goal, note the somewhat unusual block of flats
behind it.

This is the closed terrace behind the goal.

And another snap of the open side.

This is the 'posher' bit in the middle, costing a couple of
euros more!

A view from the middle of the stand.

A poor attempt at an 'arty farty' snap!

Some of the flags that drape over the fences....note the
Dulwich Hamlet one!

A bit to dark pic of the home fans...

As the players thank them for their support.

And there's that Dulwich Hamlet flag again.
It's NOT mine, but the chap on the left, who made in tribute
to some of our fans' interest in Red Star!

A few more fans want to get in the picture!
That's me in the bright green Red Star t-shirt.

This is the Metz official coach, parked outside.

Allez Red Star! Au revoir!
See you next season!

Danson (Bexley Borough)

If you were to walk past the Welling United football ground, from the direction of Welling train station, a few hundred yards, you'd see this sign of the local leisure centre. Which was also the name of a former Kent League venue, tucked just behind it.
Sadly I never got round to seeing a game there when it was in use, but I knew the old stand was still there, so climbed through a hole in the fence surrounding the pitch, to take thes snaps at the end of May 2008.

I believe this was the only cover they had, when it was in use.
Not the concrete on the floor, to the right of it.

Still railed off down the side.

And all the way down the far side, but I was too lazy to
walk over and take a photo close up.

And the stand again. Remember that concrete I mentioned?
Clearly a dugout was once there, but only one is still left.