03/25/2012

Lille FC coach beats airport offside trap

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Last Friday night the driver of the coach of Lille Football club performed miracles to turn things around. The team then beat Evian 3-0 in Annecy and are now in third place.

It was late afternoon on Friday 23 March, when I was near the General Aviation centre, on the North (Jura) side of the airport, that I saw this luxurious red coach manoeuvering to get to near where the passengers on the private jets come through the customs and out into the car park. Knowing that region, I realised that he would be in big trouble, since that is a narrow road, at the end of which the area for turning round mostly has parked cars all over it, so I followed him down.

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This coach turned out to be the official coach of Lille Football Club. The driver told me that he was there to meet the Lille FC players and staff, and then take them to Annecy to spend the night before playing Evian TG on the Saturday night. He would then bring them back to the airport, where they would fly back to Lille. I told him he would have two problems: turning his coach around and then queueing to go through the Vernier tunnel and the Bardonnex customs post.

He started an attempt to turn the coach around, with me trying to indicate when he was getting too close to a wall, a building or a car. After 15 minutes he was still trying when, by a great stroke of luck, the owner of the critical parked car arrived and moved it: ouf!

While waiting for the team to arrive, he told me that the opposing team, whose full name is Evian Thonon Gaillard F.C., had been promoted into the top league in France last season, after only one season in the second league. This rapid ascension seems to be in part because of support from the Danone Group. However, even when they were in the second league, their home ground did not meet the required standards, so they had to find a suitable ground to play their "home" matches. There was some talk of them playing in Geneva, but finally they opted to play in Annecy.

Their flight, in a Dornier DO-328 registered as OY-NCO and operated by Sun Air of Scandinavia, landed at 7h35 pm. A quick passage through customs meant that they left at around 8pm, so they would probably have missed the worst of the Friday night jams, got to Annecy and had a good night's sleep. They then beat Evian 3-0, thus keeping their third position in the French league, and returned to Geneva to take a flight on a similar, but different, Sun Air aircraft (OY-NCN): it left at 11pm on the Saturday night.

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Curiously, when I looked up the result on the Swiss teletext on the Sunday morning I saw that the match was goalless at half-time, before finishing as 3-0 to Lille. The first goal for Lille was a penalty transformed by Hazard in the 36th minute! Maybe the person updating the teletext sports pages did not get enough sleep?

The next important encounter in Lille will take place next Wednesday, 28 March, when a team of lawyers of DSK United, renowned for their robust defensive play, will try to neutralise the attack of a team of state prosecutors.

 

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