Introduction – Why Le Havre AC
To be honest, I was scrolling Twitter down when I saw a tweet with the following message: Notable products of Le Havre Academy. And the latter two of that list were Dimitry Payet and Paul Pogba. That gave me a spark.
Until that moment, I was completely undecided about where to go, just waiting for some divine inspiration or a signal from the universe. And there it was. A tweet. Thanks, cosmos.
After that, I went to our dear friend Google to know more about Club, City, League, etc. FM’ers thing, right? Here’s what I came up with:
Le Havre (City)
For those of you that don’t want to read all thing, I’ll leave you with a brief description of the city, written by Unesco:
“The history of the city of Le Havre is remarkable for a series of destructions followed by periods of reconstruction, seen as so many rebirths. In 1517, the progressive silting up of the ports of Harfleur and Honfleur, dating back to the Romans, led to the creation of a new maritime town answering to the territorial, strategic and economic ambitions of French King Francis the First. After World War II, the reconstruction represents a major development: due to its innovative character, the modern city built by Auguste Perret opens out to the world, a symbolic, resolutely modern, urban creation.”
Part I – Times of war
Le Havre is a commune used to war. It all started in 1562 when the reformers took the city, looted churches, and expelled Catholics. The troops of Charles IX, commanded by Anne de Montmorency, attacked Le Havre and the English were finally expelled on 29 July 1563. The fort built by the English was destroyed and the tower of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame was lowered on the orders of the King.
After a prosper period at the beginning of the 19th century, came the First World War. It was heavy for the city: Le Havre suffered about 6,000 dead, mostly soldiers who left to fight. The city was spared massive destruction.
The Interwar period (decades 20 and 30) was marked by the cessation of population growth, social unrest, and economic crisis. At the end of the conflict, inflation ruined many pensioners. The city became largely a worker’s city. Shortages and high prices caused the great strike of 1922 in which a state of emergency was declared.
In the Second World War, German forces occupied Le Havre from the spring of 1940 causing an exodus of its population. For the people of Le Havre, daily life was difficult because of shortages, censorship, bombings, and political anti-Semitism:
Le Havre suffered 132 bombings by the Allies during the war. The Nazis also destroyed the port infrastructure and sank ships before leaving the city. The greatest destruction, however, occurred on 5 and 6 September 1944 when the British Royal Air Force bombed the city center and the port to weaken the occupier under Operation Astonia – often described as the storm of iron and fire.
The results of the bombing campaign were appalling: 5,000 deaths (including 1,770 in 1944, 75,000 to 80,000 injured, 150 hectares of land razed, 12,500 buildings destroyed. The port was also devastated and some 350 wrecks lie at the bottom of the sea. Le Havre was liberated by Allied troops on 12 September 1944.
General Charles de Gaulle visited Le Havre on 7 October 1944 and the city received the Legion of Honour (the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits) on 18 July 1949 for the “heroism with which it has faced its destruction”.
In spring 1945, Raoul Dautry of the Ministry of Reconstruction and Urban Development entrusted the project to rebuild the city of Le Havre to Auguste Perret.
Perret wanted to make a clean sweep of the old structures and apply the theories of structural classicism. The material to be used for the building construction was concrete and the general plan was an orthogonal frame. the reconstruction was completed in the mid-1960s.
UNESCO declared the city center of Le Havre a World Heritage Site on 15 July 2005 honouring the “innovative utilization of concrete’s potential”. The 133-hectare space that represented, according to UNESCO, “an exceptional example of architecture and town planning of the post-war era,” is one of the rare contemporary World Heritage Sites in Europe.
Part II – Modern Le Havre
Changes in the years 1990–2000 were numerous. The right won the municipal elections and committed the city to the path of reconversion, seeking to develop the service sector and new industries (Aeronautics, Wind turbines). The Port 2000 project increased the container capacity to compete with ports of northern Europe, transformed the southern districts of the city, and ocean liners returned. Modern Le Havre remains deeply influenced by its employment and maritime traditions. Its port is the second-largest in France, after that of Marseille, for total traffic, and the largest French container port. The city has been awarded two flowers by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom.
Le Havre (Club)
Le Havre Athletic Club is a French association football club based in Le Havre, Normandy. The club was founded as an athletics and rugby club in 1872, making Le Havre AC the oldest French football club. Le Havre plays in Ligue 2, the second level of French football, and plays its home matches at the Stade Océane.
Le Havre made its football debut in France’s first-ever championship in 1899 and, on its debut, became the first French club outside Paris to win the league. The club won the league the following season in 1900. Le Havre has yet to win the current first division of French football, Ligue 1, but has participated in the league 24 times; its last stint being during the 2008–09 season. The club’s highest honour to date was winning the Coupe de France in 1959.
The main rivalries of Le Havre are the “Derby Normand” with SM Caen and an always heated clash with Lens, located in the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
The club is famous for its notable youth investment program which develops and nurtures young talent with the vision of using them in the first team if they show enough promise. A vast amount of good young talent has gone on to make an impact at the international level including Benjamin Mendy, Ibrahim Ba, Jean-Alain Boumsong, Lassana Diarra, Riyad Mahrez, Steve Mandanda, Vikash Dhorasoo, Paul Pogba, and Dimitri Payet.
Le Havre is known as ‘Les Ciel et marine’ in France, which translates as ‘the sky and navy blues’. These colours were chosen by the club’s English founders as they were those of their alma maters, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge: the anthem of the club is played to the melody of “God Save the Queen” to mark the English origins of the club:
Le Havre’s anthem:
“A jamais le premier
de Tous Les clubs français
Fiers de tes origins
Fils d’Oxford et Cambridge
deux Couleurs font Notre prestige
Ciel et marine!”
“The first ever
of all French clubs
Proud of your roots
Son of Oxford and Cambridge
two colours make our prestige
(the colours of the) sky and the sea!”
- Ligue 2
Winners (5): 1938, 1959, 1985, 1991, 2008
- Coupe de France
Winners (1): 1959
- USFSA Championnat (French League from 1894 to 1919)
Winners (3): 1899, 1900, 1919
- Coupe Nationale (National Cup previous to Coupe de France)
Winners (2): 1918, 1919
- Challenge des Champions (National Super Cup previous to Trophée des Champions)
Winners (1): 1959
That’s where our adventure begins, my friends. The oldest club in France. In a city that was terrorized and totally destroyed just to be beautifully reconstructed from scratch and became a World Heritage Site. One of (if not the) best academy in France and a really modest trophy cabinet.
Just like this, I end this introductory blog post. I hope all of you (hopefully someone will read until here) have liked and if you fell it, leave a comment about if you liked the post, suggestions and criticism are always welcome here.
In the next post, I will introduce you to the manager, his plans and the board plans to him. Maybe a squad evaluation too.
À plus tard,
IMPORTANT: The following posts of this save will be hosted at Strikerless, courtesy of Guido Merry. To get there just click here.