With low expectations under a blazing sun the trip to Luxembourg kicked off. To be honest, I know little about football within the little country, besides the fact that they kept World Champion France at 0-0 in Toulouse last year. A major surprise. But in general on European level, the country and clubs are just statistics. So what to expect from the National Division? Well, it was suprisingly interesting. Derby d’Esch was simply picturesque perfect!
Stade de la Frontière
If you don’t know there is a stadium you will probably drive by without even noticing it. The ground is well hidden between a nice neighbourhood of houses. Only the floodlights can tell there is more than meets the eye.
It is one of the biggest grounds of the country. The stadium can hold 5.400 people according to the numbers. It has the atmosphere of a typical non league ground. Close to the pitch. You can smell the grass, touch the players when throwing in the ball. There are almost no stewards to control the crowd. Just enter buying a simple paper ticket and than its all about one thing: football!
If you look for a derby in Luxembourg, this is the one which will pop up no doubt. Its the one and only derby worth mentioning according to my information. To be honest, half the season you can talk about derby’s, as every club is situated very close to each other. Especially in the Esch region. Derby d’Esch is a rumble between the club with the most supporters (Jeunesse) versus the club with the most money and barely having support (Fola).
Jeunesse is still the most succesful club in history winning 28 Championships. But because of the money Fola has become a serious rival. Despite the fact F91 Dudelange is dominating the league the last couple of years, bot Jeunesse and Fola are playing for top league positions. It’s a friendly rivalry with some humour in it. The fanatics of Jeunesse took a Fola flag and hung it upside down at the derby. Fola supporters (standing between Jeunesse supporters) just stood there without even bothering.
Close to the stadium is a pub called Op der Grenz. Home of the Jeunesse fanatics named Grenz United. They support the club in good and bad times. It’s an interesting place full of pictures and history. Proper place for some beers and pre-match social stuff. My friend and I get a warmly welcome. After a few stories we receive some stickers. For the collection.
They are situated on the old standing section of the stadium. Now mainly a seating area. Still a blazing sun with temperatures going over 35 degrees. But they don’t care. Having a beer, having a blast, having a party. We love their enthousiasm. They are with around 20 people, but go all the way supporting Jeunesse. They gain my respect within seconds.
The first half is not that good. Fola is the better team taking a 1-0 lead. But the home crowd is still positive. No negative reactions whatsoever. The second half is a completely different story. Jeunesse immediately equalizes which gives them the boost they need. Grenz United feels the match turns into their favour and are going the extra mile in their support. Fola is nowhere to be seen anymore.
15 minutes to go, Jeunesse having a 2-1 lead, we decided to join Grenz United. Their enthusiasm catches us. We become part of their passion. With less than 10 minutes to go, Jeunesse scores 3-1. Grenz United go crazy. They are finally derbysieger again. Last victory was in 2012.
The victory was celebrated with supporters as it should be. It was just a great afternoon in Esch. Perfect in simplicity. Experiencing football in a way you won’t see much anymore on a professional level. We thank Grenz United for their hospitality. Good luck this season!