Pradines SVD’olt

27 Sep

18 September 2011

Coupe de France Round 3

Pradines SVD’olt 0 v Blagnac 1 (att c.150)

Stade Municipal, St Vincent, France

Early indications were that Pradines would be happy with a score draw

Pre-match warm-up. OK, I know I said we’d keep things South London, but in light of my fellow Pigeon Stander’s report from the egg-chasing, I thought I’d once again self-indulgently take a wild and wonderful tour of lower-league football from the continent. This time from our cousins across the Channel. With the FA Cup in full swing back home, I felt it appropriate to attend some cup football of our own so with my mate Barry and our respective WAGs in tow, we took in some 3rd round Coupe de France action in wonderful Lotoise countryside.

Team Talk. Pradines SVD’olt (or Pradines St Vincent Douelle Mercuès d’Olt to give them their full title) play in the 7th step in the French football pyramid in the Midi-Pyrenees Division d’Honneur Régionale. The club was formed 3 years ago with the merger of 3 local sides:  Pradine-Rignac, Club Pradines and St Vincent Rive d’olt Douelle.

Separated by the Malbec vineyards of the Lot Valley, the four towns who form the nucleus of the PSV support are united by football which remains the local and hyper-local sport in this corner of France which is far more renowned for its rugby than its football. It has not always been sugar and spice between the towns. Minor discord broke out in the public meeting of the local municipality (who provide financial support) when the club were incorporated. The Mayor of Mercuès argued that his town should be included in the shortened club name. Luckily incumbent president, Charles Beaufils, stated that the name was chosen as it was “a nod to big football clubs such as PSV Eindhoven” and therefore an ‘M’ would not be acceptable. Hard to argue with that one. Please tweet us if you can name the other “big football clubs” with a PSV acronym that Monsieur Beaufils was referring to but so gracefully failed to mention.

The players coming out. In the case of Number 4, REALLY coming out

PSV’s opponents were Blagnac of the Championnat de France Amateurs 2 (step 5) who play in the Toulouse suburbs around the city’s primary airport. They currently sit 14th out of 16 in their group but, with a clear division between the sides, were heavy favourites.

Park the bus. This game was played at the Stade Municipal in St Vincent, normally home to the PSV reserves and under 17s. It’s located about a 30 minute drive from the county-town of Cahors, which is roughly a 90 minutes train ride from Toulouse or a short 11 hour trip from London.

Home Advantage. As mentioned above, this game was played out in St Vincent as opposed to PSV’s regular home at the Stade Henri Barrau in Pradines because of renovations to the changing rooms at the Henri Barrau. Having looked at a satellite image of the Stade Municipal, I was more than a little concerned/excited that the game would be played in a clearing in the woods.

Restricted view but nicer than the one at Raynes Park

As it happens, I wasn’t that far from the truth. It was a clearing in the woods but was most definitely a formal sporting arena, akin to those of the Scottish Juniors (for more info, visit our friends at No Train to Brechin), whilst also being one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever watched football.

A possible France 2016 venue?

The turnstile took the form of two old boys sitting round a small table on a bridge over a stream (sadly void of water). Having paid my 5 Euros, I entered the theatre of dreams to be greeted by a raised tree-lined verge which made for an excellent natural stand. The other sideline was relatively sparse, featuring a small concessions stand and van-powered amplifier which was used to announce the team line-ups and (presumably) other vital information.

Roll up roll up

A playground was located at the back of one end with additional training pitches behind of the other end. Oddly, the training pitches were fitted with floodlights but the main pitch was not.

Deux bieres, s'il vous plait

Prawn Sandwiches. The small hut on the sidelines was most definitely the primary source of beverages. A limited range of coffee, soft drinks and beer were available. Obviously, we went for beer. Sadly, our Kronenbergs was soured somewhat by the presence of Jamiroquai all over the can. As of right now I’m not squire sure who was sponsoring who.

Virtually Insanity

Il pleut

and the game. The first half saw some cracking performances from both sides, the game was probably of a similar standard to our step 6 and there was negligible difference between the two sides, despite Blagnac’s divisional advantage. The most notable difference was the attire of the coaching staff. PSV’s manager, trying to keep up the nods to big football clubs, was sporting jeans and a stereotypically French turtleneck jumper. On the other end of the spectrum, Blagnac’s head honcho donned a Chas Tenembaum tracksuit. He was all business.

The pitch wasn’t in the best shape so there was a lot of reliance on the high through-balls, something PSV’s keeper seemed pretty uncomfortable with. Once settled, PSV probably looked the more comfortable.

This in no small part was due to some of the most physical play I’ve ever witnessed. I know we were in rugby country but some of the savagery was nothing short of admirable. Key protagonist, was PSV number 5 and inspirational lord of violence, a man known only as ‘Fabien’. This guy was a flat-out mentalist. He was by far and away the biggest guy on the field, a good 6’3, 16 stone of nutter. To start with, there was a vicious stamp in the first 5 minutes, clearly in front of the referee. Having escaped punishment, big Fabien decided to go for an off the ball kick to the shins. Again, this was totally unpunished. They say that if you give a man enough rope, he’ll eventually hang himself. Not old Fabien, he thrives on having lots of rope. After getting involved in almost every decision given against (and sometimes for) PSV, he decided that feet are overrated and decided the best way to get the ball is to decapitate his opponent with a masterful shoulder to the face. The victim was out cold for a good few seconds and even Fabien was down on the ground grabbing is ailing shoulder. Those intrepid sleuths would smartly work out that man holding shoulder + man holding face = guilty man holding shoulder. Nope. Not even a ticking off. Spurned on by this is teammates started to join in with the savagery, luckily for Blagnac, the ref finally got wise to this and started to give out a few yellows.

Bat-shit crazy Fabien

In the end, Blagnac had the last laugh with a goal from a penalty box scramble towards the end of the first half.

The second half was more like a stock standard game of edgy cup football with Blagnac playing a lot of percentage football. Not exactly glamorous stuff, so questions have to be raised as to why Bernie Ecclestonewas on the sidelines taking notes.

Bernie

In the end, Blagnac were just about worthy of their 1-0 win and I was pleased to see big Fabien had mellowed somewhat, having a laugh with some of the PSV faithful and indeed some of his earlier victims, most of who cowered briefly before shaking hands.

Man of the Match.  I think it’s safe to say that the standard of refereeing in the lower leagues of the UK is pretty mince but bless ‘em, most of them just enjoy watching a good game of football. This character was no different, he was so keen to let the play go, that downright assaults were waved on. Commendable for fans of outright violence, Blagnac’s support may see it differently. Nevertheless, take a bow Monsieur Cebrian Jerome.

Post-match rub-down. The fixtures/flight times hadn’t been kind to me and for a long time it looked like I’d be struggling to find any games so I was grateful as always for the opportunity to enjoy some foreign football. PSV seemed like a really decent community sports project and were well supported with a crowd of around 150 watching their side’s cup exit. I doubt you’ll be in the neighbourhood any time soon, but if you are, the Lot Valley’s finest are well worth a punt.

Back to South London football action soon. We promise.

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4 Responses to “Pradines SVD’olt”

  1. michaeljlambert 4 October 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    The turnstile sounds familiar from my experience of Junior grounds too!

  2. Warren Thackwray 25 October 2013 at 1:40 am #

    I am curious to know what’s Pradines translates to in English ? As I am a descendant of Stephan Armand & Thomas Ernest De Pradines who left France before 1793 .. Do you have any contacts in Pradines or PSV area ? Many Thanks Warren

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