A week after the poor show offered to Geoffroy-Guichard, following the defeat of AS Saint-Etienne on penalties against AJ Auxerre, synonymous with a descent into Ligue 2, we tend to grind black on the side of the Greens and their supporters.
A feeling perfectly conveyed by an MC Pampille who has the “babaud” in his latest creation put online.
So green people just want to “be happy again.” For this, the first reassuring historical element, Saint-Etienne never remained 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 is good to remember that Ligue 2 has, in the past, reserved some beautiful moments of football and communion between the team and its supporters.
We will of course pass over 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 reception of Châteauroux, legendary matches
Let’s go back to the 2003-2004 vintage during which, after two seasons in the soft underbelly of the L2, the Greens quickly took the lead. A few days before the end, the rise is becoming more and more likely for the players of Frédéric Antonetti.
It was validated on May 7, 2004, on the field of Niort (1-0), thanks to a goal by Frédéric Mendy. The emotion is strong on the ground, where captain Patrice Carteron and his teammates celebrate this climb, but also in the stands generously filled with Saint-Etienne supporters.
After having missed the mark first against Gueugnon (draw at Geoffroy-Guichard) then at Le Havre (1-0 defeat), the Greens only have the last day against Châteauroux to afford the title of champion of France at the expense of Caen, still in ambush. And you have to win.
This last match, which was played in a molten Cauldron, remains one of the most memorable in the history of the Greens. The opener by Patrice Carteron, from the penalty spot half an hour into the game, then the Castelroussine equalizer and finally the deliverance by Damien Bridonneau in the final minutes: it was all about intensity. Starting with the striker gesture from the right side of Saint-Etienne.
After the party at Geoffroy-Guichard, jubilation invades all of Saint-Etienne and thousands of people gather on the Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville where the players come to brandish the champion’s trophy.
Note that this great team, where we find in particular Janot, Sablé, Compan or Hellebuyck, also cleared that season a nice way in the Coupe de la Ligue. Semi-finalists, after eliminating Lille and Nice, among others, the Greens only lost to Geoffroy-Guichard after extra time (3-2) against Sochaux, the future winner.
1998-1999: the title and an incredible match against Red Star at the Stade de France
After having flirted with the descent in National two seasons in a row, Saint-Etienne lives a daydream in this season 1998-1999. As if the effect of the World Cup and the first coronation of the Blues of Zidane had boosted something on the side of a Geoffroy-Guichard stadium completely revamped on the occasion of the World Cup.
From this season during which the Saint-Etienne team, shaped by Robert Nouzaret between young shoots and “old grognards” around captain Ferhaoui, is somewhat slow in validating a climb which was 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 by an impressive invasion of land.
Another game will go down in the annals of this season and in the history of football. It takes place on March 10, 1999 at the Stade de France. The setting, which saw the coronation of Aimé Jacquet’s Blues eight months earlier, is hosting a league match for the first time. The president of Red Star took the initiative to rent the stadium from the world champions to celebrate the Greens on their way to a return to the elite.
The match was played in front of more than 45,000 spectators (which remains the record for a 2nd division match to this day) and the Red Star, more than fair play, gave Saint-Etienne the opportunity to play under its colors. fetishes. The evening is extraordinary in many respects and it is even the singer Renaud, a fan of the Greens, who kicks off.
That evening against Red Star, who are struggling not to go down, Saint-Etienne quickly takes the measure of the event and leads 2-0 at half-time thanks to the surface fox Nestor Subiat then a marvel signed Lucien Mettomo .
Alonzo is injured, replaced by… Revelles
The olas are linked but the second half is a little less idyllic. Firstly because the Red Star reduces the mark, without in the end this being detrimental to the result. But above all because Jérôme Alonzo seriously injured his ankle in an aerial outing.
The Saint-Etienne goalkeeper will not play again until the end of the season, leaving his place to young Jérémie Janot, future emblematic goalkeeper of the Greens.
But on the bench at the Stade de France, there was no substitute goalkeeper and it was striker Patrick Revelles who put on the gloves to heroically save the score.
After this magical evening, Sainté will have to wait fourteen years and the final of the League Cup to once again tread the lawn of Saint-Denis.
While the Greens are crowned French D2 champions despite a sluggish final (3-0 defeats in Amiens and Sedan, draw against Châteauroux), Saint-Etienne celebrates its heroes on May 25 on the Place de l’Hôtel-de -Town. A moment of communion and sharing between a loyal audience and a tightly knit team.
1985-1986: the comeback and record crowds against Le Puy
In the early 1980s, the slush fund affair precipitated ASSE into crisis and then into the 2nd division in May 1984.
Two years later, the club, now managed by André Laurent and trained by Henry Kasperczak, returned to the elite after dominating group A of the French D2 championship. Small hitch however, the Greens are not crowned champions after having lost, in extra time, the final of Division 2 against Racing Paris, already at the origin 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, this 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 2nd division match in the Cauldron.
A record that will never be beaten, except to imagine an improbable expansion of the stadium, because since the works for Euro 2016 the capacity of Geoffroy-Guichard amounts to 41,965 places.
During this match which truly launched its season, AS Saint-Etienne de Castaneda, Milla or Ribar set the record straight and take control of regional supremacy.
1962-1963: express and crushing passage in D2
Engaged for the first time in its history on the European scene (Coupe des Coupes) after its victory in the Coupe de France, it was nevertheless in D2 that ASSE evolved during the 1962-1963 season following a last catastrophic exercise in the elite, ended in relegation.
Paradoxically, it was during this season “in purgatory” that the first lines of a two-decade domination of French football were written. The Greens are in the lead and record only three defeats in 36 days.
The 6-1 conceded to Aix-en-Provence, dead last in the championship, at the end of the season, however, is a bit of a stain. However, Saint-Etienne immediately returned to the top flight, won its first title of French D2 champion and continued the following season with the second title in its history in D1.
At the dawn of (re)discovering Ligue 2, Saint-Etienne can thus at least say that the four previous relegations have led to as many comebacks in a maximum of three seasons with, at the end of the day, three league titles.