Thursday, 15 May 2008

Hold On ASD, I'm Coming

Now it gets serious. We may have declined the option of promotion this time around, Palace may have fallen by the wayside, but the season isn’t over yet. This isn’t due to the prospect of having to watch the unbearable heaviness of being Jimmy-Floyd on Saturday, or the clash of the bank balances that is Rocky XXX next Wednesday (as the US and Russia do battle by proxy). Rather it is as it goes to the wire for Lyon la Duchere. Glory awaits, lads. Just try not to be too confused by the strange behaviour of the rosbif in the corner. He is only seeking a little reflected glory.

There are two rounds of matches left, this Saturday and next weekend (schedules are not being adjusted for Sky but might be depending on when the crowd can turn up). And its far from a done deal that La Duch will win the title – or indeed secure promotion from CFA 2 Groupe C (to the giddy heights of CFA proper, the regional equivalent of the fourth division). I would have a better idea of the chances if it were possible to work out from the league table how the points system works. I’m sorry to say that repeated efforts, including trying a listed number for the club, have so far failed to produce any definitive information. And for those of you who may think it must be easy to work out, please explain to me how the team currently last in the 16-team division, Jura Dolois, can have played 28, won 4, drawn 5 and lost 19, with a goal difference of -33, and still have secured 45 points? Any advice gratefully received.

(I think I’ve worked it out. Seems the bottom club had 43 points after 26 games and lost the last two, so you must get a point for losing - or at least for turning up. It then seems to work if you get four points for a win and two for a draw.)

Anyway, last weekend Lyon Duchere secured the expected victory at home against said Jura Dolois, winning 4-0 (a much-needed boost to the goals scored column, which still only reads 37 scored in 28 games). However, Marseilles(B) didn’t slip up away at mid-table Corte, securing a 2-1 victory (of course your mind strays to what might have happened if not for the ref awarding a last-minute penalty or some other travesty of justice). The results leave La Duchere top of the table with 80 points but Marseilles’ reserves just one behind on 79. And somehow third-placed Villefranche-sur-Saone have come very much into the reckoning. Two consecutive wins (most recently 2-0 away at fourth-placed Echirolles) and 8 points have moved them up to 77 points in what is now a three-horse race.

On Saturday Lyon la Duchere have an away game – at Villefranche-sur-Saone. This is before the final match at home to Marseilles. Like a true Charlton proxy they are going to have to do it the hard way. Marseilles are at home to Echirolles in their penultimate fixture. No doubt gutted at having blown it against Villefranche and having since been on the sauce they aren’t likely to put up a strong showing. We have to assume a victory for Marseilles, which would take them on to 83 points (if my points calculations are correct). A draw for Lyon Duchere would put them on 82 points and ensure they are champions if they win the showdown on the final day. Of course a victory on Saturday means a draw against Marseilles would be enough, even if Villefranche win their last game (away to fifth-placed Gueugnon, who will want to end the season in style in front of their own supporters).

If Lyon lose to Villefranche both teams, given the strange points system, would be on 81 points. Would then goal difference or goals scored count? This is starting to get silly, I doubt they know themselves. Looking at the league table it would appear that goal difference is the deciding factor. In that case Lyon would remain above Villefranche, who can only take the title if they win their final two games (to go to 85 points), Marseilles do not win on Saturday, and Lyon and Marseilles draw their final game. So for Lyon there would seem to be no practical difference between a draw and a defeat on Saturday – in either event they would be champions with a last-day win.

Again, hold on guys, Ryanair permitting I’m on my way. And as has been pointed out, Lyon Duchere now have their very own Jonnah.

Here’s how it stands now with two games to go. Remember, win=4 points, draw=2 points, loss=1 point; goal difference probably counts over goals scored:

1. Lyon Duchere P28 W15 D7 L6 F37 A20 D+17 80
2. Marseilles(B) P28 W15 D6 L7 F42 A25 D+17 79
3. Villefranche P28 W14 D7 L7 F43 A35 D+8 77

For anyone who doubts the natural association between Charlton and Lyon Duchere just consider the following, taken/paraphrased from an article (in French) sent to me.

“Far from the lights of the OL (Olympique Lyonnais, the champions of France and the city’s other football team), Duchère was abruptly carved in the concrete. It was the collective dream of 5,000 pied-noir (French-Algerians given their marching orders at the end of the war for independence). The blood and gold colours of the shirt reflect the Spanish roots of many of the repatriates. The population (of the area of Lyon) changed thereafter with successive waves of immigration. The club reflected the energy of the district, moving up the football league until in 1992 it stood on the brink of promotion to National (France’s third division). The promotion is then denied the club, on the grounds of ‘economic insufficiencies’. With the chance to turn professional denied them, the club implodes, leading to bankruptcy and liquidation in 1996.

At the same time the Duchère area became in the eyes of the Lyoneses a disadvantaged city, a "cut-gorge", soured by unemployment. The club is reformed and begins the task of rebuilding in the shadow of OL (with OL regarding Lyon Duchere with a mixture of indifference and contempt). There are moments of success, with Eric Abidal moving from La Duchere to greater things, and victories in the French cup.

The objective that ASD (Duchere) has is to reconquer the hearts of its supporters and the people of the district, to set up a club of the supporters. According to the current owner, “more than to structure of the supporteurs, I would like to create footbridges between the club and the young people of the district. To incite them to come to take their licence here, rather than in the neighbouring communes. But also because a football club has a social mission, it makes it possible to constitute a network: there is always somebody in the association which knows an employer, who can indicate a housing… I hope that today, whereas the restoration of the district is finally launched, the image of Duchère will change.”

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