It was very kind of Michel di Vacri to organise a trip to the Allianz Riviera stadium to see the key clash between Nice lying sixth and Rennes fourth but only one point spearmint them. The third Champions League place is up for grabs with Olympique Lyon second and Monaco currently third also in the mix. Paris Saint Germain are 28 points clear on top.
Bob Tickler stayed at home for his afternoon nap. There was much joshing as he does the early morning croissant run and seems to have formed an attachment with a buxom hearty woman at the bakery who always includes an extra roll for Robert. Michel explained that Robert is slang for breast or more accurately”tit”.
Jocelyn who gave us lunch in his flat also accompanied us. Like the Amex the Riviera an out of town stadium and therefore the trip involved taking the bus. This proved somewhat arduous and meat for the ongoing debate of attendance v to watching. All the Ligue 1 games are televised and Jocelyn said he used to watch OGM Nice over a steak and frites in a local restaurant. For the last part of the journey we were stuck in traffic and it was unbearably hot not to say stinky in the bus. I honestly thought I might faint but after much shouting of “ouvrez les portes” (open the doors) , the driver did so and we were released.
The ticket was €10 euro right behind the goal. A cheerleader had a loudspeaker and was conducting the singing with the aid of an amplifier. I found this rather tedious and contrived. Also there is no smoking ban. One supporter was puffing on a full cigar whilst another of our group recognised the scent of cannabis resin in the row ahead of us.
Hatem Ben Arfa was by far the best player on the pitch. He has sublime dribbling shills and an accurate shot … as well as being the type of non-team player that Bob was referring to in his castigation if the French. His Newcastle career ended ignominiously. Nice acquired him, could not play him he had already been with two clubs that season. Any doubts that they had brought trouble were dispelled by his 16 goals to date and he added another three yesterday.
The standard was not high. On a pre-season tour of England, Brentford beat Nice 5-2 and I thought Brighton were a better team. On the bus back I chatted to one of our group, a friend of Jocelyn and Arsenal man. He had managed Oddbins in North London but fed up with rain decamped to Nice with his wife for its beauty. With the blue sea one side and splendid modern and baroque architecture the other, and the Promenade des Anglais between the two, I could hardly blame him.