in Bordeaux, between indifference and disappointment, the Girondins are no longer successful

Nineteenth in Ligue 1, with only one victory in their last eleven games, the Girondins de Bordeaux are sinking towards Ligue 2, when it’s time to go to Nantes, Sunday April 24, on behalf of the 34th day of championship. In the city of Bordeaux, dejection and resignation mix in the face of the disintegration of one of the big names in French football.

“Ah, the Girondins are playing tonight?”, wonders a waitress in a downtown bar. The establishment near rue Sainte-Catherine, not stingy with sports broadcasts, indicates on its front, with colored chalk, the broadcast of two Ligue 1 matches, Wednesday, April 20. But not that of the Girondins, yet of capital importance for the survival of the club in the elite, against Saint-Étienne (2-2). The anecdote makes you smile, but it says a lot about the indifference aroused by the six-time French champion within its own walls, even if there were 38,000 in the stadium for this match.

A stroll in the pedestrian arteries of the Aquitaine capital later, the observation is striking. In the city, the Girondins are almost absent. As if the slogan “All United”, displayed especially in the trams before the game against the Greens, was just wishful thinking. You really had to have a good eye to discern the few diehards sporting navy and white jerseys.

In the defense of Girondin supporters, the programming of the match, a Wednesday at 7 p.m., was not ideal. Above all, the club has been playing since 2015 at the Matmut Atlantique, a new but off-center enclosure. “The Chaban-Delmas stadium (ex-Parc Lescure) was very popular with Bordeaux residents and easily accessiblepoints out Nicolas Hourcade, a sociologist specializing in supporters and a native of the region. Around the new stadium, it’s a bit of a no man’s land.”

The surroundings of the Matmut Atlantique, located in the marshy area of ​​Bordeaux-Lac, 8 kilometers from the city center.  (ELIO BONO / franceinfo: sport)

To get there from the city center, arm yourself with patience. Count a good half an hour, in a line C of the tram “crowded stuffed!”, as we can hear from the mouths of supporters as high as three canelés. The automobile alternative is not really better, on a constantly saturated Rocade. “The change of stadium was the beginning of the end for me”, admits Jérémy Berrié. This 31-year-old supporter, based in Limoges, did not hesitate, in the good old days, to travel 500 kilometers round trip. “I go back a few times, but with so much less enthusiasm and balm in my heart”he sighs, describing himself as “resigned”.

This fatalism characterizes many followers. “People keep talking about the Girondins. But now it’s for complainingsays Nicolas Hourcade. They are desperate, disappointed, tired…” Since the 2009 title, Bordeaux has won only one Coupe de France, in 2013. Worse, the Girondins have been absent from the European scene for four years. This season, the club has the worst defense in Europe (79 goals conceded) and has won only 5 of its 33 games.

Faced with this slump, some diehards are about to drop the case. “I was patient, but against Lyon I cut after the fourth goal”, laments Joris. The exasperation is strong, especially as the 25-year-old man admits in a touching testimony: “Support the club [l]helped to [s]put it back on the right track” after being bullied at school. “It hurt me even more to see him in this position”sighs the member of the “Marines et Blancs Île de France”, who came from the Paris region to encourage its players against Saint-Étienne.

Since 2018, the Girondins have changed shareholders three times. The penultimate, the American investment fund King Street (2019-2021), changed the logo to include the name “Bordeaux Girondins”. “It was the apotheosis”quips Christophe, 46, subscriber and whose grandmother “worked for Giresse”. ”We wanted to believe it so much, but they put us all to sleep”, he laments. Even former club players, like Lillian Laslandes, who scored 77 goals in this jersey, see the horizon becoming blocked: “People go to the stadium hoping not to go down, but you have to think about Ligue 2.

“We lost an identity, that’s the word family. These values ​​had never changed, from Giresse to Gourcuff. Today, the basics are no longer there. The Americans wanted to change everything, but in Bordeaux, this not possible !”

Lilian Laslandes, former Girondins striker

at franceinfo: sport

Bordeaux has rarely lived up to its nickname of “Sleeping Beauty” so well. Apart from twenty thousand people mobilized against winds and tides, the Girondins are no longer successful. “I take a lot of teasing. People often ask me: ‘but don’t you have anything else to do but put up with them?'”saddens Jules, a 19-year-old supporter.

“For the youngest, supporting the Girondins in the agglomeration is no longer obvious, as it was in the 80s and 90s”, points out Nicolas Hourcade. Another generation, but the same bitterness for Christophe: “In companies, we are an attraction. We pass for clowns.”

Jules, a 19-year-old supporter, displays the colors of the Girondins in the city.  (ELIO BONO)

Seated in a brasserie in the La Bastide district, Jules posted on Twitter a letter addressed to the workforce after the rout in Lyon (6-1). “I try to convince my friends, but it doesn’t work”squeaks the young man who has never known the glory days of the club.

On the other side of the Garonne, at the Espace Foot shop in Cours d’Alsace-et-Lorraine, the Scapular tunic is camouflaged among those of the greatest European stables. “Of course, we sold more shirts when the results were better”admits Catherine Laurent, store manager. “Besides, we don’t necessarily know the playerssmiled his employee. There is always a moment of hesitation when we are asked for them. We don’t have that with PSG or Real!” And for good reason: eight of the eleven holders against Saint-Étienne were not in Bordeaux last year.

At the Espace Foot store in the city center, the Girondins jersey blends in with others.  (ELIO BONO / franceinfo: sport)

“A lot of people know the Girondins, but not many people go to the stadiumcontinues the student Jules. I understand them: if I wasn’t passionate, I would have given up a long time ago.”

Many are already turning away from the Girondins. “Today, people go to see rugby, because there is more atmosphere and the family spirit has remained the same. Football has taken a back seat in Bordeaux”saddens Lilian Laslandes, champion of France in 1999 with the club. “Overall, I am struck by the number of people who go less to the Girondins and more to the UBB”abounds the sociologist Nicolas Hourcade.

Union Bordeaux-Bègles, comfortably installed in the first places of the Top 14, prides itself on having the “best audience in Europe” with more than 25,000 spectators on average. The historic Parc Lescure, renamed Chaban-Delmas stadium, used by footballers from 1938 to 2015, is now a delight for rugby players. The UBB plays on the Gironde fiber and regularly relocates training to the four corners of the department.

The historic Parc Lescure, classified as a historic monument, is now used by the rugby players of Bordeaux-Bègles.  (ELIO BONO)

Quite the opposite of Girondins. The new president Gérard Lopez is trying to play the local card, by making free buses available to supporters on match days. It is also planned that a tramway train of the metropolis displays the colors of the club. But on the other hand, his club “rarely opens training to the public”Pointe Laslandes.

“We lost the identity of the Girondins with the changes of shareholderslaments Elie Baup, coach of the Girondins from 1997 to 2003. We see fewer young people emerge, we lose this desire to defend the jersey.” Originally from the Médoc, Lilian Laslandes does not say the opposite: “It’s not done like before, when we recruited young people in Aquitaine.” There are five games left for the Girondins to put the club back in the spotlight, and avoid a first sporting relegation since 1960.

Leave a Comment