When a 6 year-old French Boy met the Red Army, Paris, May 1981

Posted by Ray Davies on November 2, 2004, 03:42:26 PM

When a 6 year-old French Boy met the Red Army Back in Paris, May 1981

by forumite Roger Milla From SoFoot.com

1981. Francois Mitterand had been newly elected as President, and the Left was back  in power after 23 years of conservative rule. “La fête de la musique” (National musical festival for the celebration of summer) was born and would then take place every year from then on. Herbert Léonard, the French Cliff Richard, was singing the cheesiest songs the world had ever heard …

That was a time when football players were really dedicated to their club and only moved when they did not really have the choice, when players’ wives were of no concern, and let’s be honest, the greatest European cup had a fantastic name : the European Champions Cup ! And would you believe it, only champions competed in it?! Nobody could argue that times weren't great back then.

1981 was an outstanding year, because it saw the clash of four mighty teams: the semi finals  saw Liverpool FC led by Dalglish vs Bayern FC led by Rummenigge; and Real Madrid led by Camacho vs. Inter headed by Altobelli. It was also great because the winner was eventually Liverpool after defeating Real Madrid at the “Parc des Princes” in Paris. Only the youngsters of today can’t remember Souness lifting up the “big eared” cup.

Any Kopite will know all of that day anyway, the day that made history for the Reds. But who knows the thrilling story of a young French boy who encountered the Spion Kop, which were crawling all over Paris. That was a  big shock for him and he has never forgotten that day since!

The final was played in Paris where many kopites were hanging around, and this little boy ran into the greatest club in British history through the mightiest way possible: the fans of the Spion Kop. This will remain a very special day for young Roger Milla, who now tells you his story …

***
In France, Wednesday is children’s day, they do not work. As a young French kid in the early 80s, here is my typical Wednesday : football training at 1.30, Lu cookies at 4 and my favourite cartoons at 5. But this day is not usual - by the way, I still don’t have a clue what wonderful yet mysterious power led my dad to take me with him in his car and drive along to the big stores like le Printemps or les galleries Lafayettes.

As soon as we are on the Boulevard Hausmann, I can strongly feel there’s something special happening. Why are there so many people all dressed alike, all in red, and they all seem so happy? They really look like nice people. I don’t know who they are, or where they are going, but I’m totally stunned by the sheer number of them. There are so many. There’s no denying it, it’s love at first sight with the Spion Kop.

A few minutes later, as we drive away, I see many others and I just can’t help showing my excitement to my Dad : “ Dad, there are some more over there”, pointing toward a hundred Reds standing on the steps right in front of the magnificent “Garnier” Opera. They have this banner, with a big strange white bird on an all red flag, suspended over their head.

Now, we are stuck in the traffic jam, and we can’t hear anything but the noise made by the engines. However, I notice that they seem to be singing. How great it is to see this nice red color everywhere. It is clearly used to rally the troops. As my dad starts explaining me about who these people are, what the European Cup is and where Liverpool stands on the map, we arrive at the Trocadero, near the Eiffel tower.

Now, it’s clear to me this is not a communist demonstration, or the annual general meeting of the Federation of Santa Claus. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, but all in one, one Red unified mass.

This is more than I can bear, standing so far away, so I decide to come closer to them, hand in hand with my dad. Then they suddenly come as one, all making the biggest noise I have ever heard in my entire life. Their singing goes way beyond the engines. It’s loud, it sounds like music to my ears, all consuming. It sends shivers down my spine. I will never forget this lad, looking at me, as he notices my happy disbelief, and then winks at me.”

***
I can remember it as if it were yesterday. The old chap was missing one of his front teeth. That night, in front of the TV, I could not take my eyes off the Liverpool fans, all packed in “the Auteuil” terraces. For sure, at that moment, I was one of them.

Later on, Liverpool went through the tragic episodes of Heysel and Hillsborough, a turning point in the history of Liverpool FC and its fans, when it’s all about sorrow, despair, and anger.

Ever since,  I have frequently thought about this fellow with his front teeth missing  .. And I do really hope he’s not walking alone in paradise, but continuing to sing along with the Spion Kop at Anfield./.

Roger Milla

***
Rouge à 6 ans

1981. François Mitterrand abolit la peine de mort, Jack Lang inaugure la fête de la musique et Herbert Léonard chante pour le plaisir ou plutôt pour le sien. A cette époque, les footballeurs ne changent pas de clubs comme de slip mis à part Didier Six, personne n’en a rien à cirer des femmes de joueurs de foot mis à part Jean-François Larios et le trophée à grandes oreilles a encore la classe de s’appeler la coupe d’Europe des clubs champions, avec rien que des champions pour y participer. La belle époque. Cette année-là, excellente cuvée pour C1 millésimée. D’abord parce qu’elle offre un dernier carré de rêve : d’un côté, le Liverpool de Dalglish et de Mc Dermott face au Bayern de Breitner et de Rummenigge, de l’autre, le Real de Santillana et de Camacho opposé à l’Inter d’Altobelli et de Bergomi.

Ensuite parce que Scousers et Madrilènes s’affrontent en finale au Parc des Princes et que Graham Souness finit par soulever la coupe. Mais que vient alors faire le stade de la Porte de St-Cloud dans cette histoire ? Rien. Rien si ce n’est que la finale se déroule à Paris, que Paris est envahie par l’armée rouge et qu’en croisant ses chœurs dans les rues ce 27 mai, je rentre en collision avec le Liverpool Football Club. Alors malgré de sombres évènements comme le décès de Bob Marley, la mort de Georges Brassens ou la naissance de Natacha St-Pier, comment ne pourrais-je garder une émotion toute particulière pour 1981 ?

Mercredi, jour des enfants. Pour le gosse que je suis en ce tout début 80’s, c’est entraînement à 13h30, Prince de LU à 16, Musclor contre Skeletor à 17. Et ce mercredi-là, je ne sais par quel heureux hasard je me retrouve assis dans la voiture de mon père au lieu de manger des gâteaux, le cul posé devant un dessin animé. Toujours est-il que c'est sur le boulevard Haussman que je sens qu'il se passe quelque chose, lorsque je vois défiler tout le long des grands magasins un nombre incroyable de personnes portant tous la même couleur. J’ai une bonne impression quand je regarde ces visages, un sentiment de joie se dégage de tous ces faciès. Je ne sais pas qui ils sont, je ne sais pas où ils vont, mais je suis subjugué devant l’effectif et déjà je les aime.

Puis bis répétita quelques minutes plus tard et je ne peux m'empêcher de gueuler dans l'habitacle un "Papa, encore ! Là !", en lui montrant une centaine d'individus sur les marches de l'opéra. Oiseau blanc sur fond rouge, un grand drapeau est étendu au-dessus de toutes ces têtes. Prisonnier de ce flot de bagnoles, aucun bruit ne parvient de l'extérieur, juste celui des moteurs, mais apparemment, ils chantent tous. Et toujours cette même couleur partout, le rouge, comme un signe de ralliement. Le temps que mon père m’explique la situation, me parle de la coupe d’Europe et me fasse un bref cours de géographie anglaise, nous voilà devant l’esplanade du Trocadéro. Manif communiste ? Rassemblement de Pères Noël ? Non, toujours eux !

Pour le coup, ils sont plusieurs centaines, encore et toujours ces mêmes personnes que le rouge unifie. Je me rapproche de cette foule, la main dans celle de mon père, quand ils se mettent alors à pousser à l’unisson une gueulante comme un seul homme. Et là, plus de bruit de moteur pour couvrir leurs chants. C’est fort, c’est juste, ça monte dans le ciel. Un frisson épidermique me fait dresser les poils. Je me souviendrai longtemps de ce gars qui, chantant face à un gosse ébloui de 6 ans, m’adresse un clin d’œil en croisant mon regard. Je m’en souviens comme ci c’était hier. Il lui manquait une dent sur le devant. Le soir même, devant le poste, je n’avais d’yeux que pour les supporters de Liverpool agglutinés dans la tribune Auteuil. J’étais définitivement des leurs.

Puis plus tard sont arrivés les drames du Heysel et de Hillsborough. Des images horribles, la mort au tournant. Depuis, je repense souvent à mon pote édenté. J’espère qu’il ne marche pas tout seul au paradis et qu’il va toujours au stade…


***
Liverpool FC - Real Madrid : 1-0
27 mai 1981 à Paris (Parc des Princes), 48300 spectateurs
Arbitre (Referee): M. Palotai (Hongrie/Hungary)
But (Goals): Alan Kennedy (82)

Liverpool : Clemence - Neal, Thompson, Alan Hansen, Alan Kennedy - Lee, McDermott, Souness, Raymond Kennedy - Dalgish (Case 87), Johnson. Entr : Paisley

Real Madrid : Agustin - Cortes (Pineda 87), Sabido, Garcia Navajas, Camacho - Angel, Del Bosque, Stielike - Juanito, Santillana, Cunningham. Entr : Boskov

Meilleur buteur de la compétition (top goal scorers in the competition): Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern Munich) et Souness (Liverpool), 6 buts

The Background

This article tells the story of a 6 year-old French Boy who met the Red Army in Paris for the 1981 European Cup Final in Paris. It was posted for the first time on the So Foot website on September 17th 2004 by a forumite Roger Milla.

He posted in an ongoing thread dedicated to Liverpool Football Club ==Ici Anfield== that I created and have tried to run. As far as I know, this is the only place where LFC issues are discussed on a regular basis in French … (this does not include phone calls by Gérard to Bruno, El Hadji, Anthony and so on …)

Though 23 years older (and wiser) now, Red Roger Milla still doesn’t speak English, so I have tried to translate this on his behalf. My only contribution has been to talk him into posting it on RAWK and to translate it. I will make sure that all your comments and message  you may post will be sent to him.

Thanks in advance to take a little time to read this story, that I personally found really funny, exciting and very moving. For those who would like to go to the original article in French (and visit the Ici Anfield thread) please go to :

http://forums.sofoot.com/index.php?showtopic=314&st=250

© Arnaud 2004
aka Ray Davies (RAWK) and StevieG (SoFoot.com)

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