On what one guesses to be a road, a red and white coach, stationary or almost, contrasts with the rest of the landscape. Around, a crowd which seems to clearly exceed a thousand people. Songs usually heard in the stands (the classics “Who does not jump is not Lille” and “Alleeeez le LOSC” lead) as a soundtrack, and smoke for special effects.
This rare spectacle, the Lille supporters offered it on Sunday May 16, around 7 p.m. Their players arrived on the outskirts of an enclosure as empty as the other Ligue 1 stadiums, but with a much bigger stake: a better result against Saint-Etienne than Paris against Reims (4-0) and they won the title of champion. A scenario that did not come true (0-0) and forces the northern club to win in Angers, Sunday, May 23, to follow his dream.
These unexpected scenes came after others of the same kind a week earlier, in the morning and then the night following the derby against Lens, won 3-0. They confirmed the enthusiasm around the LOSC, defeating the cliché of a club that would be much less supported, or more reserved, than the neighbor Lensois.
For the most part in their twenties, the supporters present at these gatherings grew up with the exploits of Eden Hazard and others. Trained at the club, the Belgian helped Lille win the title of French champion in 2011 after more than fifty years of famine – with a Coupe de France as a bonus. A little over a year later, the club left the Stadium, its drafts and its athletic track for a brand new Pierre-Mauroy (first named Grand Stade Lille Métropole).
Above all, the capacity went from a little over 18,000 to 50,000 places. “The stadium followed a rise in power launched with Vahid Halilhodzic, who brought the club up to D1 [en 2000] and took him to European cups, believes François Stock, president of the Mastiff supporters section of the Net. Then there was the double [en 2011], and the enclosure made it possible to perpetuate the dynamic. The new generation has known only Pierre-Mauroy and almost only successful seasons in sport. “
Umbrella shots between supporters
That of the ascent marked a turning point. The crowd, until then rarely above 10,000 spectators, took off, and the Grimonprez-Jooris stadium then seemed very small. “It was the catalyst for renewal, there was spectacle and results, whereas before you had to love football to come, smiles Jean-Baptiste Allouard, co-author of the book History of the Lens-Lille derbies (The Lights of Lille, 2012). We were poorly installed, there was not a lot of atmosphere or goals. With the student rate, we could even go to matches for 10 francs [1,52 euro]. »
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