We’re all feeling gloomy about yesterday’s result(s) almost certainly finishing off our play-off and promotion chances, resigning ourselves to another season in the third flight. We will never be comfortable in this division. But I do think we are, perhaps understandably, losing sight of the bigger picture. This has, after all, been our best season since 2012/13. Duchatelet still owns The Valley, so isn’t completely out of the picture, but if it had been a choice between promotion and Duchatelet still owning us and what we’ve ended up with – a decent owner we can all get behind, getting out from under the nightmare of ESI, and not going out of business – I know which one I’d have gone for (and of course I wanted promotion too).
Today Man Utd v Liverpool was postponed because of fans’ protests. It wasn’t that long ago I was among those throwing pink pigs onto the pitch. Those days we hope are behind us as a fan base and if we’re moaning today about the deficiencies of the squad (and as others have pointed out we should at least acknowledge that in just about every game the players have given their all, no lack of effort and determination), what we’d like to see change on the pitch, perhaps we ought to be taking a minute or two to count our blessings.
If we’re on the subject of teams having a tough season, it wasn’t that long ago I considered myself an adopted supporter of Lyon Duchere. I watched them get promoted twice, from the French regional equivalent of the conference to a regional fourth division, then remarkably to National, the French third division. And they stayed up, punching well above their weight, with an attendance that would normally be around a few hundred. They had a longstanding coach who had overseen the rise.
Things changed before the end of last season as absurdly what was an open stand (the only covered stand at the Stade de Balmont) suddenly had stewards restricting access to a roped off VIP section. Then the news broke that the team from an unfashionable district of Lyon would be rebranded and moved to the other side of the city, with the president of the club outlining his plans to ditch the Duchere element of the club and get it into the French top flight within a few years. The coach left and a new team was bought for this season. If you google Lyon Duchere now you get Sporting Club Lyon and the lie that the club “took its current name in June 2020 in a rebranding exercise voted for by the fans”. The fans did not vote for the rebranding exercise, they were presented with a few options, variations on a theme, with none of them mentioning Duchere.
How did it go? On Friday evening what was Lyon Duchere went down 1-3 at Le Mans to confirm their relegation. They sit bottom of the league with 28 points from 32 games and with just two games left they cannot now get out of the bottom four and avoid the drop. So it will be back to the regional fourth division for Sporting Club Lyon. Whether or not the president will, like Duchatelet, tell himself he’s now too busy to bother and walk away remains to be seen. But the next time our name is erroneously brought up as the example of fans wanting to take the ‘next step’ and getting their comeuppance, cite Lyon Duchere instead.