Not long ago someone asked whether Lyon la Duchere was aware that it had acquired its very own Jonah in the form of my good self. I don’t think it was the vicar who sometimes comments on these pages; if it was there’s something spooky going on. I’m sorry Lyon, it seems that I am indeed that Jonah.
The previous post was about the CFA 2 Groupe C title going to the wire. With two games to go Lyon la Duchere, my adopted French team, topped the division by one point but with Marseille’s reserves just one behind – ahead of their last-day clash – and with Villefranche-sur-Saone having come from nowhere to be just three points back from La Duch – with these two to play each other last weekend. And with four points for a win (two for a draw, one for a defeat – but seemingly also the possibility of forfeiting points for disciplinary reasons) it was still anyone’s title to win.
It seems my lot had something of an off day. Villefranche 4 Lyon la Duchere 0. Meanwhile Marseille (B) rather surprisingly could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to fourth-placed Echirolles. The result is all three clubs tied on 81 points and with identical records (except for goal difference) with one game to go. However, for some reason unknown to me the league table as published on the web by France Football shows Marseille now topping the table followed by Villefranche, even though Duchere have a better goal difference than Villefranche at least. Maybe the placings are decided on results between the two clubs.
1. Marseilles(B) P29 W15 D7 L7 F43 A26 D+17 Pts 81
2. Villefranche P29 W15 D7 L7 F47 A35 D+12 Pts 81
3. Lyon Duchere P29 W15 D7 L7 F37 A24 D+13 Pts 81
This means of course that Lyon la Duchere need to beat Marseilles in their final game of the season if they are to take the title. It must be a little unsettling for them to know that I will indeed be there to witness the season’s denouement. The problem now is that even victory may not be enough – if Villefranche win their last game, away to the reserves of Gueugnon (who moved up to fourth over the weekend). Worse still, on Saturday night when the final whistle blows we might not know whether La Duch have indeed emerged triumphant. I don’t know what the jungle telegraph is like at this level. Hopefully someone in the crowd will have a relative or friend at the Gueugnon-Villefranche game and can let us know.
So it seems we are relying on a favour from Gueugnon. To the best of my knowledge I’ve never been there. Apparently it is a small town in the Saone-et-Loire department with a population of around 8,000, twinned with Otterberg in Germany(??), and famous for its steelworks. The club’s nickname is ‘forgerons’, which rather unimaginatively means blacksmiths. I know we need their help, but this all sounds rather like the glaziers from some armpit part of London.
I have been to Villefranche-sur-Saone (not to be confused with Villefranche-sur-Mer, which is on the Rivierra). Last Easter we decided my knowledge of the region needed to be improved with a round trip from Lyon up through the Beaujolais region to the Bourgogne and back. Very cultural it was too. My partner Suzanne enjoys driving, which is just as well as having passed my test some 20 years ago I haven’t been behind the wheel since (and have never owned a car). The navigational skills required for the trip were not that demanding, so I had to while away my time by sampling the local produce, which is red and comes in a bottle. Villefranche is a delightful town regarded as the economic centre of the Beaujolais. Personally I prefer the darker hues of the Bourgogne, but if your only acquaintance with the former is the nouveaux (which remarkably for the French was a marketing masterpiece) you are missing out. Chenas, Brouilly, Fleurie, Morgon etc all offer subtle delights.
Consequently I find it hard to think ill of Villefranche, even if they steal the title (and possibly promotion) from La Duch. This is as it should be. A noble contest between two champions of the area which both offer delights to the visitor. May the best team win – if it’s Villefranche it’ll be a Beaujolais to offer up our congratulations; if it’s La Duchere then a very good bottle of St Joseph just might see the light of day.