Friday, 28 May 2010

Following FC Lausanne-Sport to the Final - Part II

Back in the away fans’ end, the FC Lausanne-Sport supporters had all been handed blue flags to give some colourful backing to the underdogs. And underdogs they certainly were – FC Basel had been crowned Champions of the Swiss Super League at this point, guaranteeing them a spot in next seasons’ Champions League competition, while FC LS were in 10th place in the league below their opponents. This would be a pretty tough match for the travelling fans.

As the players lined up on the pitch, the announcement of each of their names over the PA system was greeted with loud cheers and flag waving. A sense of hope began to build amongst the FC LS supporters, creating a rising belief that their unfancied team might actually pull off a huge shock and be crowned Swiss Cup Winners for the first time this millennium. With the noise levels reaching a crescendo, the match kicked off and we were underway.

A battling opening period saw FC Basel spurn a couple of chances, with their vociferous fans creating an electric atmosphere as they cheered on their men.

English people...
they're everywhere!
The FC LS supporters, complete with their English contingent whom I spotted with flags draped over the side of the tier above us, did their best to respond and lift their side, chanting, cheering and waving those blue flags.

Every touch of the ball and every forward move into the FC Basel half added to their rising belief that we might be witnessing something special.

After 28 minutes of play, the belief in a FC LS upset took a huge blow, as FC Basel scored. Two minutes later, they added a second, leaving the LS fans shocked and deflated. The rest of the first half was all Basel, with the LS defense doing everything they could to repel the wave after wave of attack. As the half time whistle sounded, there were few LS supporters waving their blue flags.

Despondent, I headed away from the stand to find the toilets, where I faced my own battle against the heaving crowds of men trying to cram into one small toilet block. Eventually, after queuing for 10 minutes, I was able to “go”, and then headed back to join the others.

As I was walking back from the toilets, I heard loud cheering. Apparently, the second half had already kicked off, and the cheering I heard was from the FC Basel fans, as their team had scored a third goal. I joined the others at our seats in the stand, where I noticed the atmosphere was almost flat. The faithful FC Lausanne-Sport fans who had made the long journey to Basel to support their team were watching their faint dreams of cup glory slowly disappear in the face of a heavy defeat.

The scoreline got worse just five minutes later, as FC Basel made it 4-0. With all hope now seemingly lost, the LS fans had already started contemplating the trip home. The singing, chanting and flag-waving had all but ceased in the face of such a disappointing outcome. “Things can only get better”, sang D:REAM back in the 90s. They had obviously never supported FC Lausanne-Sport in a Swiss Cup Final before, as they actually got worse – Basel added goal number five to their tally with 15 minutes left on the clock.

The LS fans finally had something to cheer about five minutes later, as their side actually had a shot at goal – their first of the game. It went hopelessly over the bar, but at least it was a shot. A couple of minutes later, they had another wild effort at goal (this time both high and wide), and the LS fans began to hope for a consolation goal from their team.

The much hoped-for goal did not materialize, however, and just before the end of the match FC Basel scored again to rub further salt into the LS wounds, ending the match as deserving 6-0 winners. It was the biggest Swiss Cup Final victory since the 2003 final, when FC Basel also dished out a 6-0 thumping to Neuchâtel Xamax. The thought that I should have stayed at home in bed returned with a vengeance.

Damp and disappointed, we stayed in our seats to give one final cheer to the FC Lausanne-Sports players, who came over to the away fans section to show their appreciation for the support over the course of their run to the Swiss Cup Final. We clapped and raised our blue flags for the final time as we watched the LS players pick up their Runners Up medals, and then we headed back home.

Despite such a heavy defeat, the clouds did have a silver lining – the winner of the Swiss Cup enters into the second qualifying round for the Europa League, and as FC Basel had already qualified for the Champions League next season that meant that FC Lausanne-Sport would take their place in the draw for the Europa League. Should they make it through their qualifying round, they could end up being drawn against my English team, Liverpool – what a tie that would be.

That would pit my Swiss team against my English team, although I probably wouldn’t feel too guilty about where my true loyalty lies. If FC Basel can beat LS 6-0, I would have high expectations of my beloved Liverpool thrashing LS by at least the same score, if not more. That is, provided FC Lausanne-Sport make it through their first qualifying match, something that I am not sure will happen after watching the capitulation against FC Basel.

So, my first and only taste of Swiss football was somewhat bittersweet – a very disappointing performance that still meant the team I supported qualified for Europe next season. However, I don’t think I will be rushing out to buy a season ticket for FC Lausanne-Sport any time soon.

If they make it to another Swiss Cup Final, or even the Europa League Final, then I might be tempted to give them another chance and turn up to support the lads. Otherwise, I think I will settle for being an armchair fan.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You cynical glory hunter eh :).

I still can't believe it. I've been to Lausanne many times as I have some family there and it doesn't seem geared towards football. What an adventure! I am a huge footie fan and love stories like this in the cup! Apart from when scummy Millwall did it.