A collection of paperbacks offers a tour of France of the most popular football clubs in the company of writers committed to the cause of their team. « We will not surrender! » is the latest addition to the collection. Its author, Alexis Weigel, speaks fondly of this workers’ club unlike any other.
The Interceltic Festival of Lorient 2022
This is the story of love at first sight. As often happens in football. A sometimes stormy but always tender idyll between FC Sochaux-Montbéliard and a young boy who became a bookseller but still crazy about football. « We will not surrender! » is a nice little 80-page book that can be devoured in just the time of an extension of the League Cup final and that reminds us of all the reasons that make Sochaux a club dear to the hearts of supporters here and by the way.
The Sochaux supporter is the archetype and the quintessence of this hard-working, courageous and silent France. It is the stooge and the relic of an old world, of an outdated football that we observe with nostalgia and compassion, the head tilted on the shoulder, but which allowed for decades for cities of 25,000 inhabitants, sometimes fewer, to recall their existence on the world map.Alexis Weigel
« We will not surrender! »
« It has no pretensions, this book. It is only one vision of supporting among many others. I do not claim a universal reality of the club supporter. It is mine, only mine. » He answers us from the Mulhouse bookstore where he works. Alexis Weigel is 35 years old. After studying literature and history, he was a teacher for a few years then decided to exclude himself from the field to find the books and find himself in a more personal adventure.
The publisher of this collection of books on the great football clubs told by writers who tell themselves between the lines was looking for a connoisseur of the Yellow and Blue. Alexis Weigel volleyed. Skylight.
A shame, for an Alsatian. « I am not Franc-Comtois. I grew up in Niffer, 25 miles from Mulhouse. But I have Sochaux deep inside me, he explains as if someone is confiding in you. I don’t like football so much anymore, or at least what it has become, than Sochaux. The rest only interests me moderately. »
It shows through the pages. From a first memory of Bonal during a 2-0 defeat against Fulham in Intertoto in 2002 until this promising start to the 2022/2023 season, Alexis Weigel traces almost a century of crampon stories in the country of « Peuge » and personal memories.
« We will not surrender! », it is primarily a cover that sets the tone. With a photo that smells of 80s football. Patrick Revelli, with his yellow and blue jersey and his black mustaches, posed in the cool on the hood of his 604 Peugeot. Crampons in the snow. All of Franche-Comté in one image.
And that’s what transpires from Alexis Weigel’s book. Between personal memories, pages on the feats of arms of the FCSM and reflections on modern football and its excesses, « We will not surrender! » is above all a tribute to working-class football and its supporters. To this small town whose heart rate is modeled on that of Peugeot. And to his football players, whom the bookseller crunches with tenderness, he who will have spent his childhood gleaning autographs along the passageway of the Chabaud training ground.
Sochaux, with its old sheet metal stadium, its athletics track and its tall fir trees circling its scrawny and ragged stands, overlooked by its four floodlight pylons with tired beams of light, had a strangely comforting aspect for the country boy whom I saw. was, a romantic and tinkered bark, without cash, without rhinestones or sequins, the perky impression that Erwan Manac’h, Michaël Isabey, Maxence Flachez or Sébastien Dallet were like neighbors gone to valiantly feel the leather against Marseille stars, the Köpke, Blanc, Makélélé, Dugarry, Ravanelli, or the Parisian glories, Patrice Loko, Marco Simone, Paul Le Guen, Florian Maurice. Isabey, he was the guy you met every day at the supermarket, refueling at the gas station or trimming his hedge perched on his stepladder, the face of the guy, zero charisma, while he was actually one of the greatest goldsmiths in the French championship and returned the double-six to any dribbler in the country. Dugarry was the TV guy, unreachable, an ethereal creature straight out of a distant galaxy, whom millions of kids looked at with stars in their eyes.Alexis Weigel
« We will not surrender! »
This book will not change the course of Alexis Weigel’s life. What would just please the author is that some of the supporters of the FCSM find themselves in this book. They should have no trouble diving into the history of the Cubs, as the words chosen by the bookseller resonate throughout Franc-Comtois.
It was impossible to talk about the book without mentioning the cover and Revelli, yes, but also its title. It appeared as obvious. “I knew I would end this book with the saying “Comtois, surrender! Nay, my faith!” To end on this globalized and soulless football which is always refused on the side of Bonal. To pay tribute to these supporters who did not surrender, when Ledus came to rush the club into the galley. won’t surrender. »
« We will not surrender! », by Alexis Weigel. Mediapop Editions, €9
FC Nantes – FCSM: 1-1 (4 to 5 on the pens). League Cup final, April 2004.
A mediocre match but punctuated by a first trophy for eternity for the FCSM and one of those gestures that contributes to making the history of a club unique (note: he evokes the failed panenka of goalkeeper Landreau during the penalty shootout). It was that evening, for me (but I think for many supporters as well) that Teddy Richert rose to the rank of FCSM legend.
FCSM – Borussia Dortmund: 4-0. Round of 32 UEFA Cup, November 2003.
A masterpiece on the pitch and an emotion shared in extraordinary stands. The feeling that Sochaux was settling down at the big table and that this team could in the future be considered at its fair value, with the recognition of the immense work both around this team built by Jean Fernandez and reinforced by Guy Lacombe , and the training center which largely provided for this group.
FCSM – Marseille: 2-2 (5 to 4 on pens). Final of the Coupe de France, April 2007.
For the incredible double with Gambardella, the success of an entire club, for its training work and for its professional group, and the reward for an attractive team, endowed with beautiful individualities perfectly tuned by Alain Perrin, and which seemed to resurrect after two more difficult years. And then, once again, Teddy Richert who ended up registering as one of the most essential players passed by the club.
FCSM-Evian: 0-3. 38th day of Ligue 1, May 2014.
As a worst memory, almost obvious, difficult to challenge in this category. A match which recalls the highly unpredictable and dramaturgical dimension of football, but also the fragility of clubs like the FCSM which constantly evolve on a tightrope, the consequences of the fall being lasting and dragging on even today, and this without take into account what she revealed behind the scenes.
FCSM-RC Strasbourg: 3-0. 7th day of Ligue 1, September 2003.
From a strictly sporting point of view, certainly the best Sochaux half-time that I have ever seen in terms of play. A perfectly oiled Frau-Santos-Isabey-Oruma recital that I particularly remember, as much as Racing is a singular adversary for me, the Alsatian.
The match he would have liked to attend:
FCSM – Eintracht Frankfurt: 2-0. Round of 16 second leg of the UEFA Cup, December 1980.
I hear so much about him, he seems to be the Sochaux-Dortmund of the generation that precedes me, breathe a good football of which I am nostalgic without even really having known it, that of hair and mustaches, bent shorts, coaches in raincoat, stands open to the four winds, a match which seems to me the mirror of Sochaux’s DNA, the alliance between a territory, values that are now outdated and a requirement in terms of football.