It was not to be. No double promotion celebration, but for Lyon Duchere, my adopted French team, it was a season of good progress, another stage in their inexorable rise, just as for our good selves. Progress in many areas is very difficult to define, but in football it’s pretty clear: if you end the season in a materially better position that than you ended the previous one that’s progress.
Having managed to secure a 1-1 draw away (well, across town) to Olympique Lyonnais B, Duchere went into the final round of games in third place, one point below promotion rivals Bourg-Peronnas (with OL B topping the group but precluded from going up) and with an inferior goal difference. La Duche did all they could, trouncing Nancy away 5-1. But Bourg-Peronnas saw off Moulins comfortably enough, 3-0 at home, to secure their elevation to National, the French third division.
I can have no bad feelings towards Bourg-Peronnas; good luck to them. They are after all supported by Alain, one of my partner Suzanne’s nephews. That said, it’s hard to find a French team that isn’t supported by one of her relatives. She has four sisters and a brother, all with various offsprings dotted around the country. It’s a bit like trying to find a Championship team that doesn’t have one or two who turned out for us during the misery years. Family gatherings usually begin with a couple of hours of kissing (in a cordial fashion) all and sundry to say hello and are finished off in a similar fashion as goodbyes are said. In between there’s usually enough time for me to pour sufficient pastis down my throat to encourage sufficient basic French to make myself understood (in my world at least). The scriptwriters of ‘Allo ‘Allo had it easy, they only had to tell it as it is. ‘You remember Monique, she was at ze wedding of my third sister’s second son and is ze couzin of my first sister’s daughter’. ‘Oui, bien sure, ca va? Et une autre pastis si tu plait’.
This was after all only Duchere’s second season in this league (if memory serves), after their promotion from CFA2. Last campaign saw them hold down a mid-table spot and after this season’s efforts everything is set up nicely for them to have a real run at promotion next season. The area continues to be redeveloped (I’m informed a hotel is on the way) and interest in the team is building, along with sponsorship. I’ve got a trip set for later this month, all of which would be very nice if it wasn’t for the need to come up with a birthday present for Suzanne to take with me (or find there).
Before then, there’s the small matter of suspending the entente cordial for an evening as England take on France. I’ll actually be in Amsterdam for work when the game takes place, so it will be a case of plonking myself down in a suitable bar with a bottle of red to prepare for the exchange of insults by text. Come to think of it, I even have to take a bottle of English wine with me to Amsterdam, having backed Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in a bet with a Chelsea-supporting work colleague. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.