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DOINREPORTER: Operation Velodrome

Hi, I’m Paul. I had the chance to be the reporter for Doinsport at the Orange Vélodrome stadium in Marseille on the last day of Ligue 1 Conforama. And I still have stars in my eyes.

6:00 p.m .: PREPARATIONS BEFORE THE OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE MATCH

A football match is getting ready. A match at the Vélodrome is hard work. This mythical stadium in France has a very special aura. We are still talking about the second stadium in France in terms of capacity (more than 67,000 seats), a highlight of the 1998 World Cup, but especially the place of residence of Olympique de Marseille.

OM jersey on the shoulders, singing accent and a smile on my face, I decided to comply with customs: I attack the pastaga. At this precise moment, I don’t know if the pressure is on, but I’m starting to enter the game. In the bars, it talks about football, it laughs, it relaxes after the mixed season of the club “which makes fada”. Finally, since we do not change a winning team, we attack the pastaga one last time. This time it’s the right one: I can take charge of the arena.

7:00 p.m .: RIGHT TO GOAL IN MARSEILLE

It is still early. We are two hours from the start of the meeting. The excitement is palpable but the excitement doesn’t really kick in until I step into the metro. Inside, we don’t yell: we sing loudly. The undergrounds of Marseilles tremble at the slightest “To arms”. My destination, the terminus of line 2, is approaching and the trains are more and more full. The mood reaches its climax when suddenly there is no more noise. Nothing. The metro goes out into the open and the spectacle is breathtaking: this is our first real encounter with the Orange Vélodrome. The delightful curves of its white roof perfectly match the blue of the sky, as if the club’s colors were even on the climate jersey.

Then we arrive at the terminus and we reach the square. The closer I get to the huge white enclosure, the more I become aware of the details of the building. My steps are less and less rapid, I take advantage. Last glance before entering the stadium, the Good Mother is watching over us. Everything will be fine, that’s for sure now.

8 PM: SING LIKE DEPÉ

It’s the last game of the season and so it’s the last moment to celebrate together and congratulate the hardest supporters. On the program: background music, a series of thanks at the microphone of the North turn, etc. Then all of a sudden, the team composition falls and everyone agrees: “I wouldn’t have done this, I wouldn’t have done that”, “I can’t wait for Rudi Garcia to get out”, etc.

Once the adrenaline dies, I venture into the aisles to enjoy the fervor with the supporters already present. One Friday night after a complicated season, he figured OM weren’t going to fill it up tonight. And yet, nothing marred the passion: 53,788 spectators were present.

As the stadium fills up, the animations get closer. In an immense moment of collective euphoria, the little pieces of paper we were left with for the seats (also called papellitos) fly through the air as the players enter the grass. The songs are repeated everywhere, it’s party time: the match can begin.

9 PM: OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE – MONTPELLIER

This is the start. To discover the report of the meeting, I invite you to watch this video.

It’s half-time with a goalless draw. Time to redo the first period, to moan of course but above all to remember the best moments of the season. In front of me, holding the microphone, a singer from Marseille uses the match as a springboard to start his career.

The atmosphere is excellent despite the disappointing result. But like their home crowd, OM did not give up and our world champion Florian Thauvin came to free the Vélodrome. He came close to a double before the referee signaled it from offside.

The match ended, OM won (1-0) and finished the season in 5th place in Ligue 1 Conforama.

11PM: THE SURPRISE AND THE RETURN

When leaving the stadium, I do not meet supporters but indeed friends (colleagues as said here), all smiling. This end of the season on a good note at least allows Olympic lovers to forget for a moment the failure of the classification. Regrets will come later. Except for me.

This incredible evening immediately saddened me. I was getting ready to leave the Vélodrome for at least the whole summer. So I tried it all out (I mean, I’m DoinReporter anyway, right?) And got off the corner. At the foot of the large gates that separate the spectators from the lawn, I spotted a security guard whom I went to meet. We both spoke and, seeing that the stadium was no longer full, he offered me the opportunity to accept at the legendary Stade Vélodrome lawn.

The return was without a doubt the happiest of my life. In the metro, the happy songs of some alongside the admiring discussions of the kids (“Did you see Thauvin? He did that, that and then he did bam”). Thanks to Doinsport, I was able to make my wildest dream come true, in the craziest city in France. I told you, I have stars in my eyes, in addition to having one on my jersey.

And for that, thank you Doinsport.

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