His passion seems greater than ever. Venant Sochon, 91 years old, is THE historical follower of Tangos. Located about thirty kilometers from Laval, in Saint-Fraimbault-de-Prières, a village of 980 souls, the former dairy manufacturer completes its 35th consecutive year as a subscriber. Even crazier, he hasn’t missed a game at the Stade Francis-Le-Basser since 1987.
But where does this attraction for Orange and Black come from? When he was younger he didn’t “Never fired from a club. My father was a farmer and a farmer’s union, so he didn’t have time for that.” The non-year-old simply fell in love with the team in his region.
He has to live his passion from a distance first, as he works far from Laval. This does not stop him from keeping abreast of the adventures of his favorite club: “I followed the matches on the radio, on TV, I went to see the results in the newspaper. †
At every home game, Venant Sochon goes by car to the Francis-Le-Basser stadium. (Bernard Le Bars/The Team)
Today, despite memory problems, Venant Sochon perfectly remembers Laval’s European epic in 1983, in the UEFA Cup (C3). Fueled by his overflowing passion, he reworked “wonderful achievement” against Dynamo Kiev (0-0, 1-0) or “Completely crazy rematch” against Austria Vienna (3-3; 0-2 first leg), which he watched in a restaurant.
Back in his region of origin, the Mayenne wasted no time. Already in November 1987 he got a subscription card. Since then, the frowning man has been pacing across the stands of Francis-Le-Basser.
This craze initially did not really appeal to his sister, with whom he has been staying since his return from the Ardennes. “But now she is reassured, she says nothing more”, he smiles. The same ritual is triggered at every home meeting. Driving his small Mercedes or, more rarely, his old Peugeot 405 excavated thirty-five years ago, the non-year-old quickly swallows the miles that separate him from the stadium, “thanks to the dual dual carriageway and because I like speed. But I always respect the traffic rules”he hastens to clarify.
“When the announcer calls out the names of the players, I call out too”
Originally installed near the lawn, the Mayennais now occupies seat 245 of the Actual haut odd stand, near the presidential. “When the announcer calls out the names of the players, I call out too. I stand up, I applaud, I raise my arms. And if there is a goal, we turn to each other and congratulate each other. † After the final whistle, the pensioner debriefs the meetings “from a cold beer or glass of wine in a brasserie or at the Socios refreshment bar”.
At these times, he can talk to regular customers, especially his neighbor: “It’s always nice to talk to people who know something about it. † The enthusiast also talks to fans who came especially for the occasion: “There are people from Sarthe, Orne, we talk about the course of the race, it is very instructive. They come from a different department, so we can talk about tourism, the industry they have in their area. †
On match days, Venant dons his orange cap, scarf and one of his three Tango tunics. (Bernard Le Bars/The Team)
The fervor for Stade Lavallois follows Venant Sochon right into his wardrobe. On match days, he dons his orange cap, scarf and one of his three Tango tunics. His collection will grow: “I’m going to buy the new shirt, specially released for 120 years, with a ”President” marked diagonally”, he describes. A birthday that takes place this Saturday. It was impossible for the Mayenne to miss the party.
Venant Sochon was unfortunately unable to participate in the trips this season: “I couldn’t because of the Covid, I didn’t have all my doses” (from vaccine). I preferred to be careful. today is good”, he explains. As a result, the non-year-old took part in the final trip to the National Championship, in Orléans (2-3): “We lost, but we were sure we would be first. It was a pleasure. I hope to do it again next year.”
“As long as I can go to the stadium, I’m not disabled”
With a view to the financial year 2022-2023, where the Tangos will evolve in Ligue 2 for the first time since 2016-2017, Lavallois has already thought about the ideal strategy for the transfer window: “They have an interest in recruiting players, otherwise it will be difficult next year. They go from amateurism to professionalism, we have to strengthen ourselves.”
More motivated than ever, Venant Sochon is waiting for the renewal campaign and has already checked off a few posters, such as the one against Saint-Étienne. Categorically, he’s not going to miss his legendary zeal: “As long as I can go to the stadium, I’m not handicapped, he jokes with a burst of laughter. Even if I suffer from fatigue, I still go…”