Paris St Germain v St Etienne 9th September 2000June 21, 2007 at 5:19 am | Posted in Games In My Travels | Leave a comment
It was a beautiful sunny day in Paris when I made my first of three trips to Parc Des Princes. A French fellow I knew here in Vancouver had his brother buy me a ticket to the match. I met Olivier at a place called “Le Regalia”. We had arranged to meet by telephone which was a real challange because he spoke very little English and I spoke very little French.
Parc Des Princes is an awesome sight: http://www.stadiumguide.com/parcdesprinces.htm; so was the security. I had to go through about 3 different levels of security to get into the ground. In order to get close to the stadium I had to go through a guard of paramilitary types with big guns. Then there is frisking before getting to the turnstiles, as well as a passport check… It was worse than the airport. Paris St Germain has had some terrible problems with hooligans, and not long after I left a fan was killed in a PSG-Marsaille match.
I got into my seat and was sereneded by the recent Madonna release which was booming through the speakers as the players warmed up. I was rather high up and on the 18 yard line. The view was fantastic. I often enjoy seeing a match from up high because you can watch the shape and strategy of the teams as the game is played, which is different from the view on the telly which tends to focus on a smaller area of the field.
St Etienne are one of the most popular teams in France, and in the 70’s they were the darlings of France enjoying a dominance that Lyon enjoys today. They Lost the European cup to Bayern Munich in the final in 1976 0-1. Unfortunately the team had fallen on hard times in 2000, and they are only just today re-establishing themselves in the top flight in France. That year they were relegated, not helped by the fact that they fielded illegal players and were docked points. They were ripe for the slaughter by the starstudded line up of PSG which boasted Anelka, Okocha, and Christian among others.
Anelka was a joy to behold and had awesome pace. He scored PSG’s first goal on a break right through the middle of St Etienne’s defence. In the second half PSG scored 4 goals and St Etienne got one back. Okocha shone in midfield, and later starred at Bolton Wanderers.
Paris SG dominated the match and St Ettienne looked a team destined to be relegated. This was the second match of my trip and already I had seen 11 goals in two lop-sided matches. The atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic with massive banners, constant singing and chanting and with so many goals for PSG, lots of celebration. PSG fans occupied both ends of the stadium, the virage “Supras Auteuil” and the “Boulogne Boys”. Unfortunately the latter have the reputation for being old fashioned racist hooligans and are currently on the outs with the team management.
St Etienne had a large travelling contingent which were penned in and protected by massive nets to stop projectiles coming over. They sang loud and proud as well. I have to say that Paris soccer fans created the best shows and atmosphere I have seen first hand. Now if they could only take care of the hooligan problems…
Outside of the pen green shirts dotted the stands and St Etienne were the romantic favorites of many present. They must be a bit happier now that they are back in the top flight. I now have a soft spot for them and always look for their results.
It is a bit of a scandal that PSG can’t get their act together, and the last few years have been unstable with Canal + pulling the ownership plug. They finished 15th this year! In 2006 they did beat their hated enemies Marseille in the Coupe De France however.
I must say I enjoyed watching French soccer, which does not get the attention of the other leagues because there is less money and less stars. The French Government should really reform soccer to allow it to compete with England ,Germany, Italy, and Spain. French fans are every bit as passionate and there is a history of great French clubs: St Etienne, Stade Reims, and present day Lyon. I hope Lyon gets to win the Champions league. They deserve it after winning the French league 5 or 6 years in a row!