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The meaning of a match: Les Herbiers vs PSG, 08.05.18.

By JAKE SANDY [Onside View]—In a story that sounds like the plot of a Hollywood film, Les Herbiers VF, a French third division team have set-up a Coupe de France final tie against the footballing behemoth that is Paris Saint-Germain

Les Herbiers were founded in 1919 and in the first 79 years of their history they played in a regional league; however, at the start of the 1978-79 season they joined the newly formed 4th division for its inaugural season, marking a new chapter in the club’s history. This success was short-lived as only one season after joining the league they suffered consecutive relegations and would spend the next 30 years languishing in the lower divisions. In more recent years they started to climb their way up the leagues, this culminated in the club’s finest moment when, in 2015, they reached the 3rd division for the first time. This was uncharted territory and was truly a moment to be savoured by fans after the many years spent in the doldrums of the French football pyramid. Before this season, the club’s Coupe de France record was reaching the round of 16 so making it all the way to the final is a truly a remarkable achievement…

A STORY BIGGER THAN JUST FOOTBALL

CN150excerptThe many subplots in this story makes this game feel more important than a regular cup final. The little guy versus the faceless corporation is a regular trope in the media and somehow seems extremely apt for the situation at hand. PSG are widely loathed by French football fans due to their Qatari owners spending exorbitant amounts of money to essentially buy domestic dominance. Their solution to almost all their problems appears to be throwing money at them, this notion of the club was only reinforced when they spent a reported £200 million to lure Neymar to the Parc des Princes to finally achieve their Champions League ambitions. There are few teams in world football that neutral fans would want to see beaten than one that is the epitome of the commercialisation of the modern game.

Les Herbiers have already secured their place in French football history, becoming only the 3rd team from the Championnat National to make it this far in the competition…

[More at Onside View]

By LAWRENCE JOHN DUNN [In the Vendée]—The history of the Vendée Wars was not written by the victors; it was completely written out of French history, and until recently denied by the French government. It is still not part of the school history curriculum, but is well documented. When Solzhenitsyn opened the official Vendée Memorial at Les Lucs-sur-Boulogne in 1993 the event was ignored by central government, as well as by most of the mainstream French media.

The war was the first ‘total war’ in modern history, in which men, women and children were involved. It was also the first modern war in which regular troops were repeatedly beaten by mainly unarmed (no firearms) peasants. It was a savage affair in which each side were guilty of atrocities. The name of the region at that time was Bas-Poitou, and it was a poor rural region. As well as peasants, it was inhabited by impoverished aristocrats, petit bourgeoisies and poor priests; so the social inequalities were less marked here than elsewhere in France.

Continued at In the Vendée

“There is no more Vendée. It died under our sabre along with its women and children. I have just buried it in the swamps and woods of Savenay. I have crushed the children under the hooves of our horses, massacred the women — they, at least, will not give birth to any more brigands. I have not even one prisoner to reproach myself for. I have exterminated everyone. . . . We take no prisoners, for we would have to give them the bread of liberty, and pity is not revolutionary.”

—General Westermann to the Convention, December 1793

Quoted in A French Genocide, by Reynaud Secher.

Also in The Fortnightly: After the Bastille: ‘Vendée, du génocide au mémoricide’.

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