Monday, July 24, 2006
Friday was hot. Thirty-six degrees kind of hot and the only question was not, will there be a storm but when will there be a storm.
Frog called me during the afternoon and asked if I wanted to go to the stade tonight. Father Frog had just got his annual abonnement and the first match of the season was kicking off in a friendly derby against Sedan.
Now, I don't know much about football. Of course, I follow the international matches but that's not the same as following a Ligue. Especially a Ligue 2 team. Stade de Reims was once a mighty side. That was in the days when Father Frog would cycle the 20 kms from the village to the stade to watch the games. Yes, that'll be over 40 years ago. Having gone bankrupt in the early 90's, the red and whites now languish in the lower end of the second division and the times I've seen a match covered on TV, even I can recognise the low, painful standard of football.
But with one free ticket and the cost of an accompanying ticket priced at €5 (yes, five euros) who's going to pass that one up?
It ended up being one of the best evenings out we've had in a while, and certainly one of the cheapest! The new stadium is half built and we had seats right next to the pitch. Reims' opponents are local rivals who were promoted to the First Division last year, so there was some tension at this derby. But imagine everyone's surprise when the new signings showed some real mettle and at one point Reims was leading 2-1!
By the final whistle it was a draw 2-2 and everyone was thrilled with the result. Even me. Yeah, I know, shocking.
We'd sat watching with Father Frog's friend who recounted the glory days of the club and said he felt that there might be a chance again in the future. For my part, I was very happy to sit in an open stadium on a sweltering hot evening but trust me, I won't be out there once the winter begins. That's for the passionés!