Europa League: what remains of the great Stade de Reims?

More than 60 years, almost a life, have passed since the two European Cup finals 1956 (3-4) and 1959 (0-2) against Real Madrid which made the great Stade de Reims (SR). At a time when, humbly, the team of David Guion finds this Thursday evening Servette Geneva in the second preliminary round of the Europa League, 57 years after the last European appearance, what vestiges of great Reims remain?

For the most part, the men are gone. Of the 1956 final, Robert Siatka, 86, is the last survivor. From that of 1959, remain Dominique Colonna, 92, and Just Fontaine, 87.

Passionate since school benches but born just after the great era, Jean-Pierre Caillot, the current president, 59 years old, confesses that his childhood idols were rather Carlos Bianchi and Delio Onnis in the 1970s: “C it was only with the function of president in the 2000s that I really realized that we are not a club like the others. One of my first missions was to organize the 70th anniversary of the club in 2001. In doing so, we contacted our illustrious alumni. I met for the first time Raymond Kopa, Colonna, Fontaine and many of the great actors of the time. From the way people reacted around me, especially the elders, I realized that they were legends. “

“The Friends of before” version Stade de Reims

The leader discovers a bunch of jovial grandpas: “It was a bit like the ‘Friends from before’, Stade de Reims version. With our limited National Club means, we were happy to have organized a nice dinner for them in a Champagne cellar. Colonna and Fontaine were the storytellers and anecdotes. The others were the ideal grandfathers: hypergent and not lesson-givers. Mr. Kopa, whose statue has been erected on the forecourt of the stadium, kept a certain distance. He was obviously not satisfied that the club was at this level and would have almost held us responsible. We got to know each other afterwards. Later, we had the good idea to make him our honorary president and, despite his record, he took great pride in it. When he received the UEFA Prize in 2011, he insisted that it be presented to him at the Auguste-Delaune stadium. “

It would be hazardous to say that the soul of Greater Reims still haunts Delaune. Although traditionally a minute of applause comes in the 31st minute of any match, to celebrate the club’s founding in 1931. “There is nothing in the stadium today (Editor’s note: delivered in 2008) that relates to the old, everything has been rebuilt, says Caillot. The lawn was moved several meters to facilitate the construction of a grandstand. The only common point between the old and the new is the site, in the city center. “

As for the objects testifying to the grandeur of the past, Caillot is working to bring them together, with a view to the creation of a medium-term museum in Delaune. In 1992, shortly after the club’s liquidation, Alain Afflelou, admirer of the greater Reims, acquired at auction the lot of 230 cups from the 1950s and 1960s, 200 embroidered pennants and the entire club archives for 700,000 francs (around 150 000 euros), while committing to return them to the club.

“They are visible in my living room at Auguste-Delaune,” said Caillot. For my part, I amass everything I can: medals, photos, etc. In 1958, a famous biscuit maker from Reims, REM, published cards bearing the images of the players. I was given the collection with some autographed cards. There are gold mines in families. From time to time, we are called to inform us of the death of the grandfather and we are given a donation of what he had related to RS. “

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