" LE RED STAR, mémoire d'un club légendaire"
(Extracts, Part One)
JULES RIMET, THE POET
"Jules Rimet, who grew up under the patronage of La Rochefoucauld, was well-placed to understand the role which sport could play.
So how did he get to know Charles de Saint-Cyr, apprentice journalist who eventually would go on several years later to organise the Semaine à Paris ? Curiously enough, it was through poetry.
As a child, Jules Rimet loved to write. When he had enough money to do it, he set up a poetry journal. This was all the rage then. He named it, naïvely enough, la Revue. The young peoples journals were numerous, so they became known as "orphéons" (town bands). They had a short lifespan and never really lasted, but La Revue was an exception to the rule. It didn't fold after the second or third issue. It merged into a journal, much older, Le Sillon, which Marc Saignier had "borrowed" the title for his movement. Rimet was invited to continue his work there.
He published verses, stories and even a Christmas tale. On the credits page, his name was alongside that of Charles de Saint-Cyr. A poet. Moreover, a poet "intenséiste", a school of which he would have been the only scholar. At the end of the last century, "schools" of poetry were just as numerous as the "orphéons".
The two young men chatted. They had similar tastes. They became very friendly. Then Charles revealed a quite astonishing side of his nature. This poet did not frequent, like many of his peers, the cafés of the Latin Quarter to find inspiration in drinking Absinthe. At his age he ran through the tracks of the Bois de Boulogne dressed in running shorts. The town constables watched him, dumbfounded, but didn't stop him. He wore on his back a shirt which vindicated him. He was a "madman", but a "madman" which one didn't carry away - he was a "sportsman" of the Racing Club de France.
Ernest Weber, another colleague hailed from Montmartre. A part of his childhood had been spent in the quarter of the Gros-Caillou where his grandmother lived. He too was destined to be a journalist. He would also have been likely to succeed, as he was a writer for l'Auto. Later he would be the father of Jean Weber, a member of the Comédie-Française, and founder of the famous Bal des Petits Lits Blancs. In 1887, his glory was elsewhere; he was a footballer with the Club Français.
With mentors such as that, Jules Rimet became soon converted. Excpet that he felt more of an organiser than a participant. Instead of running from field to field, or chasing after a football, he used his brain.
In February 1897, Jules Rimet called a meeting with his brother Modeste, his brother-in-law Jean de Pessac, Georges Delavenne, Charles de Saint-Cyr and Ernest Weber in a café. Not difficult to find one in those days - ther ewas virtually one every five metres. The one which he chose was next door to his parents' house. It was the property of one Monsieur Villiermet, on the angle of Rue de Grenelle and the Avenue de La Bourdonnais.
The club, too hard-up to have its own offices, set up its base there. What would be its activities ? In view of the enthusiasm of its founders, no sport would be excluded - athletics, cycling (the club was a neighbour of the Galerie des Machines), wrestling, fencing and football.
It was necessary to name a commitee. Jean de Piessac, civil servant a the War Ministry would be president, Modeste, who wantred to be an actor would be the secretary.
All that was needed was a name. Miss Jenny, the English governess of the Rimet family exclaimed:
- Red Star !
The Red Star Club Français, a happy marriage of British "snobbery" and with a patriotic eye was thus born."
*a political and social movement driven by a Catholic : Marc Saigné.
(to be continued)
LE RED STAR,
mémoire d'un club légendaire
by Guillaume Hanoteau, with Gilles Cutulic
© Robert Laffont - Editions Seghers
Dépôt légal : 1983