" LE RED STAR, mémoire d'un club légendaire"
(Extracts, Part Six)
LE STADE DE PARIS
Red Star - Fives Lille 3-2, September 1937, at the Stade de Paris
"In 1920, the Daring of Brussels visited Red Star. Their president accompanied them to Saint-Ouen. Red Star impressed by the quality of their game, but not by the quality of the facilities. This hovel of a stadium, lost in the middle of allotments with its changing rooms without water or electricity. A stadium inappropriate for one of the top teams in France. The visiting president found it hard to hide his dismay.
The Red Star directors were taken aback. As usual, Red Star were badly placed, surrounded by the gardens, having but one third of the available space. The rest was occupied by the allotments, and worse still, as tenants, they could be thrown off from one day to the next.
So, the committee members clubbed to gether and raised 5 000 francs and started legal procedings against the life tenants. Victorious, Red Star emerged from the case with a nine-year lease for the totality of the land. All that was needed now was to start the building works. With loans and generous help, the club first enclosed the ground before attempting to raise the capital necessary of 300 000 francs. Driven by Lucien Gamblin, who at the time was cheif accountant at Trois-Quartiers, a sporting installations company, a new company with capital of three thousand shares of a value of 100 francs, divided between one hundred and eighty three shareholders was born.
They dug a three metres pit around the pitch to protect the players and referees from over-excited spectators, which eventually was replaced by a running track. They also built two stands. Despite all this, several of the allotment holders continued to work their land, protected by post-war laws. It took another year of negociations to find the solution.
The new stadium at Saint-Ouen became known as the Stade de Paris. It could hold 15 to 20 000 spectators.
It was inaugurated on the 22nd October. In the main stand, Henry Paté, high commisionaire of physical education, Jean de Castelanne, municipal councillor of the Ecole Militaire and honorary president of Red Star, and, an emotional Jules Rimet, president of the Fédération Française de Football Association - 53000 members, 2518 associates, twenty regional leagues, and a grant of 831 382 francs - and, since 1919, president of the Fédération internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
On the pitch, eighty young ladies of Fémina Sport, pupils of Irène Popard, carried out graceful dances, appreciated by the public during half-time of a match between Red Star and the Racing Club de France.
The management of the Stade de Paris was given to Pierre Curien. He stayed in this post for over twenty years and carried out his duties with aplomb.
The Stade de Paris of 1922 resembled very little the Stade de Paris of today, as in 1947 the municipality of Saint-Ouen carried out improvement works, building a high grandstand reminiscent of the stadium of Arsenal in the London suburbs."
Stade de Paris with its factories, in the 1930s
(to be continued)
LE RED STAR,
mémoire d'un club légendaire
by Guillaume Hanoteau, with Gilles Cutulic
© Robert Laffont - Editions Seghers
Dépôt légal : 1983