I never did get around to finding a bookies to give me odds on a win double: us to stay up and my adopted French team, Lyon Duchere, getting promoted (to the third division). Just as well obviously, but while it's done for us for the followers of Duchere the season won't end on Saturday. No doubt people have been keeping up to date with developments in France's CFA Groupe B, but in a case not there have been twists and turns of late, with the promise of more to come. A few weeks back, with Lyon Duchere having triumphed away at Grenoble, the battle for the one promotion place was well and truly on. The pendulum then swung back to Grenoble as they beat Mulhouse 2-0 at home while Duchere lost 1-2 away at Jura Sud. Duchere then won their game in hand and with eight games left were one point behind Grenoble.
Round 23 (of 30) saw Duchere comfortably beat Saint-Louis Neuweg (3-0) and, with Grenoble held to a 0-0 draw by Auxerre B (this is a league in which the top teams can field their reserves), went top of the league. Then they seemed to get a nosebleed. Duchere unaccountably lost 1-0 away at bottom club Sarre-Union. But for once Lyon's other club, OL (the one that usually makes the Champions League), came to Duchere's assistance, winning in Grenoble. In the next round Duchere's problems continued as they lost 0-1 at home to relegation-threatened Yzeure. But Grenoble were unable to take full advantage, drawing 2-2 away at Drancy. Seems both teams have been feeling the pressure. But now Duchere have pulled away, in round 26 winning 2-0 at home to Montceau-les-Mines (apparently rather luckily with a very late second giving a misleading impression) while Grenoble got turned over again at home, 1-2 by Moulins.
So with four games left to play Duchere are top with 78 points from 26 games (as you get a point for turning up it's really 52 from 26), with Grenoble three behind. Despite both teams' recent failures it remains a two-horse race, with the third and fourth places taken by Auxerre B and Lyon B (and if I understand it correctly the big clubs' B teams cannot be promoted). The next round this weekend will see Duchere travel to take on Villefranche (a town you have to have a soft spot for if you like a glass of red) while Grenoble are away at Sochaux B. After that, in round 28 Duchere will be at home to Mulhouse as Grenoble host Monts d'Or Azergues; in the penultimate round Duchere will be away at Auxerre B and Grenoble at home to Montceau-les-Mines; and if you want a potentially dramatic finale look no further: the final round of games (on 4 June) will see Grenoble play away at Le Puy but Duchere at home to ... Lyon B. Will it prove to be a case of civic solidarity or OL looking to send a message that the city contains only one real football team?
And I can't believe that I booked my next trip to Lyon to begin the weekend after the final game ....