A week after the bad show offered to Geoffroy-Guichard, after the defeat of AS Saint-Etienne on penalties against AJ Auxerre, synonymous with a descent into Ligue 2, we tend to blacken the side of the Greens and their supporters.
A feeling perfectly conveyed by an MC Pampille who has put the “babaud” online in his latest creation.
So green people just want to ‘be happy again’. For this, the first reassuring historical element, Saint-Etienne never spent more than three seasons in purgatory before returning to the elite.
So if Rodez, Niort or Pau are less of a dream than Paris, Marseille or Monaco, it’s good to remember that in the past Ligue 2 has reserved some great football moments and community between the team and its supporters.
We, of course, leave behind the difficult period of the mid-90s, when the Forézien club, in full turmoil, came close to relegation to the National for two seasons in a row.
2003-2004: from Niort to the Châteauroux reception, legendary competitions
Let’s go back to the 2003-2004 vintage where, after two seasons in the soft underbelly of the L2, the Greens quickly took the lead. A few days before the end, the rise becomes more and more likely for Frédéric Antonetti’s players.
It was validated on May 7, 2004 on the pitch of Niort (1-0), thanks to a goal by Frédéric Mendy. The emotion is strong on the ground, where captain Patrice Carteron and his team-mates celebrate this climb, but also in the stands generously filled with Saint-Etienne supporters.
After missing out first against Gueugnon (tie at Geoffroy-Guichard) and then against Le Havre (1-0 defeat), the Greens have only the last day against Châteauroux to afford the title of champion of France at the expense of Caen, still ambushed. And you have to win.
This final match, which was played in a molten cauldron, remains one of the most memorable in Greens history. The opener by Patrice Carteron, half an hour into the game from the penalty spot, then the equalizer by Castelroussine and finally the redemption by Damien Bridonneau in the final minutes: it was all about the intensity. Starting with the striker gesture from the right side of Saint-Etienne.
After the party in Geoffroy-Guichard, all of Saint-Etienne cheers and thousands of people gather in the Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville where the players come to wave the championship trophy.
Note that this great team, where we mainly find Janot, Sablé, Compan or Hellebuyck, will also make a nice way in the Coupe de la Ligue that season. Semi-finalists, after eliminating Lille and Nice, among others, the Greens only lost after extra time to Geoffroy-Guichard (3-2) of Sochaux, the future winner.
1998-99: the title and an incredible match against Red Star at the Stade de France
After flirting with the descent in National for two seasons in a row, Saint-Etienne is living a daydream in this 1998-99 season. As if the effect of the World Cup and the first coronation of the Blues of Zidane had intensified slightly on the side of a Geoffroy-Guichard stadium that was completely renovated on the occasion of the World Cup.
From this season when the Saint-Etienne team, formed by Robert Nouzaret between young shoots and “old grognards” around Captain Ferhaoui, is somewhat slow in validating a climb promised to them at the end of winter, we will remember the match where she wins her ticket to the elite. It was May 1, 1999, in a draw (2-2) at Geoffroy-Guichard, against AC Ajaccio. A climb celebrated with an impressive land invasion.
There will be another game in the annals of this season and in the history of football. It will take place on March 10, 1999 at the Stade de France. In the setting, where the coronation of Aimé Jacquet’s Blues took place eight months earlier, a league match will be played for the first time. The Red Star chairman took the initiative to rent the stadium from the world champions to celebrate the Greens on their way back to the elite.
The match was played in front of more than 45,000 spectators (which to this day is the record for a match in the 2nd division) and the Red Star, more than fair play, gave Saint-Etienne the chance to play under its colors . The evening is special in many ways and it is even singer Renaud, a fan of the Greens, who kicks it off.
That evening against Red Star, who struggles not to get caught, Saint-Etienne quickly takes the measure of the event, leading 2-0 at halftime thanks to the surface fox Nestor Subiat and then a miracle signed Lucien Mettomo.
Alonzo is injured, replaced by… Revelles
The olas are linked together, but the second half is a little less idyllic. Firstly, because the Red Star reduces the marking, without ultimately compromising the result. But especially because Jérôme Alonzo was seriously injured in his ankle during an air trip.
The Saint-Etienne goalkeeper will not play again until the end of the season, leaving his place to the young Jérémie Janot, the future emblematic goalkeeper of the Greens.
But on the bench at the Stade de France there was no replacement goalkeeper and it was striker Patrick Revelles who donned the gloves to heroically save the score.
After this magical evening, Sainté will have to wait fourteen years and the League Cup final to once again enter the Saint-Denis lawn.
While the Greens are crowned French D2 champion despite a difficult final (3-0 defeats in Amiens and Sedan, draw against Châteauroux), Saint-Etienne celebrates its heroes on the Place de l’Hôtel-de-Town on May 25 . A moment of community and sharing between a loyal audience and a close-knit team.
1985-1986: the comeback and record masses against Le Puy
In the early 1980s, the ASSE slush fund affair plunged into crisis, then into the 2nd Division in May 1984.
Two years later, the club, now led by André Laurent and trained by Henry Kasperczak, returned to the elite after dominating Group A of the French D2 Championship. Small snag, however, the Greens are not crowned champions after losing the Division 2 final in extra time to Racing Paris, who had been at the root of their relegation two years earlier.
During this second consecutive season in purgatory, we will remember the match of the 7th day, which happens to be a derby against the neighbor, not Lyon but Ponot.
The CO Le Puy also comes to Geoffroy-Guichard, on August 23, 1985, as the leader of this group A. And we can say that the crowd is there. With 42,584 spectators, this ASSE-Le Puy still holds the record for the highest attendance for a competition in the 2nd class in the Ketel.
A record that will never be broken, except to propose an unlikely expansion of the stadium, because since the works for Euro 2016, Geoffroy-Guichard’s capacity is 41,965 seats.
In this match that really kicked off the season, AS Saint-Etienne de Castaneda, Milla or Ribar set the record and took the regional supremacy in their hands.
1962-1963: on purpose and crushing passage in D2
For the first time in its history on the European stage (Coupe des Coupes) after its victory in the Coupe de France, it was nevertheless in D2 that ASSE evolved during the 1962-1963 season after a final catastrophic exercise in the elite, ending in relegation .
Paradoxically, it was during this “in purgatory” season that the first lines of a two-decade-long dominance of French football were written. The Greens are in the lead, posting just three defeats in 36 days.
However, the 6-1 against Aix-en-Provence, dead last in the championship, at the end of the season is a bit of a blemish. However, Saint-Etienne immediately returned to the top flight, winning his first title of French D2 champion and continuing the following season with the second title in its history in D1.
At the start of the (re)discovery of Ligue 2, Saint-Etienne can therefore at least say that the four previous relegations have led to as many comebacks in a maximum of three seasons with three league titles at the end of the day.