Sedan Ardennes v Avranches, Friday 9th September 2022, 7.30pm

Jen and I had nipped across to Europe for a week as she had to formally re-enter the UK as part of her visa process. We’d taken the Eurostar to Brussels and after a night there headed down to Luxembourg. I’d planned to take in games in both countries but unfortunately all the matches in the early rounds of the Luxembourg Cup that I’d identified got shifted at short notice.

We had nothing planned on the Friday afternoon though and so I drove for an hour into France to Sedan with a plan to take in their third tier Championnat National game against Avranches.

The opposition name seemed familiar and I eventually remembered that I’d been there when hitching round France as a sixteen year old. I’ve no recollection of Avranches but the photographic evidence suggests that we were headed in that direction.

We got to Sedan a couple of hours early so that we could have a wander around Sedan Castle. It was interesting enough, with cannons, some underground rooms and a few of those curly staircases that favour whichever swordfighter has the higher ground.

The best thing about the castle was a working trebuchet. As only Jen and I were nearby at firing time I was allowed to have a go on it. The lady who was dressed up as a monk wouldn’t let me aim it at the buildings opposite which seemed a bit mean, but understandable I suppose as the cannonball was made of plastic rather than iron and there’s always the risk that an angry householder might stick a knife in it.

After we were done with the castle we parked up at Stade Louis Dugauguez and called into a nearby bar for moules frites. My French is rubbish and usually lapses into Spanish half-way through a sentence, but it was sufficient on this occasion to get us fed.

We then wandered around to the ticket office where we bought seats down the side for ten euros a pop. I’m not sure if the ends of the ground were open and the only other option was the stand opposite for twelve euros.

Our timing worked out as well as it could have done as the moment we stepped into the ground, the rain started. It continued heavily until midway through the second half and with some wind in the air we moved higher in the stand to keep dry, settling in the end for back row sets.

The stadium holds around twenty-five thousand in theory, but there were fewer than four thousand braving the conditions for this game. Most were in our stand, with a home singing section in the corner to our left. I didn’t see any away fans.

Sedan, in green and black, were second to bottom of the table with just two draws to show for their efforts to date. By contrast, Avranches, who were in red and white, were second from top. However, it was difficult to tell which was the better team in the first half as neither side created much.

The game opened up in the second half with neither side putting much effort into defending. It boiled over a couple of times and whilst the ref frequently flashed his yellow card, he didn’t ever seem in control.

Despite all the missed chances it looked to be heading for a goalless draw until a converted penalty seven minutes into added time took the points for the visitors.

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