Wednesday, August 18, 2010

SR Colmar – US Orléans 45 (07-08-2010)

When I originally planned my double trip of SV 1916 Sandhausen and SR Colmar, the latter was scheduled for 20.00. Just a couple of days before the game, I found out that kick-off was 18.00, which meant I had to leave the first game a bit earlier and make sure to make the best of the parts of the Autobahn that were without maximum speed. In the end, I arrived just on time for kick-off at the Colmar Stadium.

I bought a ticket for the one seated and covered stand for 10 Euro and took my place. It was the first game of the 2010-2011 season of the Championnat National, the French Third Division, and the main stand was well filled. I guestimate that some 4.500 people turned up, no one had made the 575 km from Orléans.

Sport Réunis de Colmar, or Les Verts (The Greens), were founded in 1920 and played one season in the French First Division, in 1948-1949. The past decades they have been playing at the amateur level. They regained professional status only this season, after providing also an absolute shocker in the French Cup, defeating First Division powerhouse Lille OSC after penalties. The return to professionalism probably explains the high attendance for this historic first home game.

After a minute of silence, which was instead celebrated by a minute of applause, for a local football hero, the game started relatively slow. Orléans had the first two chances, in the 5th and 6th minute, but shot wide. In the 10th minute Colmar had a good half-volley from 20 meters that went just over the goal.

After that, the game quickly deteriorated and virtually all of the slow play was between the two boxes. I was mainly fascinated by the guy next to me, who was blind, and mainly reacted to the cheers and shouts of the people around us, then asking his friend what had happened. Overall though, the audience was as tame as the game; SR Colmar didn’t even have a small section of ultras. Half time score: 0-0.

The second half started a bit better: in the 49th minute Colmar got a soft penalty, which they converted: 1-0. After that, it quickly dropped to the level of the first half, so I directed my attention to the surroundings. I noticed that while roughly 50% of the players was non-white, the audience was roughly 90% white. One of the few non-whites was a Chinese girl next to me, who was on the phone the whole second half (with the same person). It would take until the last ten minutes of the game before some real chances occurred again.

Probably the best chance of the game was in the 90th minute, when an Orléans striker got alone at the goalie and shot him in the face. After several minutes of treatment, we played one more minute, but then it was over.

SR Colmar had gotten its first professional victory in decades. It wasn’t pretty, but the home fans didn’t care. They celebrated the victory as if they had won the championship. I don’t know how long they will stay up though…

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