By Walter Broeckx
When looking up on the internet we decided to go first to Lille and then to Lens as Lens looked a city with not much to offer. A nice friendly little town but with no real history apart from having a football stadium that can hold more people than they have habitants at Lens.
In Lille we parked on one of the big boulevard that you enter when you come from the Autoroute. A local Lillois told us where to go and so we entered the heart of the city passing the Porte de Paris. An impressive building in the middle of a big roundabout. Next to the Porte de Paris was the town hall and the belfry. One if not the highest Belfry in Flanders (both French and Flemish). You can enter it but when we stood there it was their lunch break so we just went further.
After walking in some shopping streets we felt it was time to eat a bit. When we found the Place du Général de Gaulle we knew we were right in the heart of the city. We found a little restaurant with the name La Place. Right on the corner with the Place Rihour with a nice and inviting sunny terrace.
Immediately the friendly staff made room for Carine and the wheelchair and we had a look at the menu. I took the “pain César” with chicken, mustard, olive oil, some vegetables. A real tasty and big sandwich that was more than enough to appease my appetite.
Carine took the vegetarian called Pain Leopold. Salad, tomatoes, mushrooms, olive oil, balsamic vinegar,…. I also had a quick taste as it was too much for Carine to eat on her own. Very tasteful. They also had salads in a bowl and they portions were really big.
The price setting was rather simple, each pain costing 7 euros. We paid 2 euro for a coffee and that is rather cheap. A coca cola zero costing 3.5 euro for a big bottle. That is rather expensive but business as usual in France. Tip: order a large coffee if you want to drink enough. The price is the same but it is less strong. And as I said the price is very acceptable.
The only downside for us in particular is that the toilet is on the first floor. But one of the members of the staff insisted on helping Carine up and down the stairs. It earned them a nice tip of course.
Very friendly staff dressed in a 1930 style in an historic old building. We surely didn’t regret our choice. After that we went to Lens to meet up with the rest of the Arsenal Belgium members.
Lens is a typical small French town with apart from a shopping street not much to see. No real old buildings as much of the town was in the fire line in the war of 1914-1918. I think they also shot down the signs that should indicate where the visitors entrance is…
After having had a tongue in cheek report about our travels I just want to thank the strongly built head steward that opened doors for us (literally and figurative speaking). He was the most friendly of the Ch’tis as the people are called over there by the rest of France. For those who speak French it is because they speak it with a typical accent that has lots of “chthis” sounds in it. Even for me as a person who knows French I must admit that when they speak at full speed it was sometimes difficult to understand.
Arsenal also played a match and this is what I recall from the match in general.
Early chance for Akpom but low shot straight at the keeper.Lens at the other end but the shot went over after having dribbled inside. Another shot but easy save for Martinez. Then a Lens player clearly in offside when the ball is headed forward is allowed to go further but his shot went wide.
Then some moments with nothing to report till Adelaide with an attempt to curl it in the far corner but it went wide. When Chambers on the stretch misdirected a header in the feet of a Lens player his initial shot was pushed a bit out by Martinez but it fell in the feet of another Lens player who only had to push it in the empty net. 1-0 for Lens
Theo at the other end but his shot went off the target. Arsenal went in 1-0 behind at half time.
Campbell then flagged back by the assistant who missed the Lens offside in the first half. Chambers with a low cross but neither Theo or Gnabry could get on the end. Macey with an excellent save after a volley from outside the penalty area.
Theo called back again for offside when he clearly wasn’t and he put the ball over the line but the assistant again didn’t like to see Arsenal players in promising positions. Campbell with a good shot but good save also from the keeper.
Arsenal winning the ball back in midfield. Gnabry with a pass to Oxlade-Chamberlain who scored with a beautiful chip over the keeper to score the equaliser. A fair result.
My man/men of the match were Per and Coquelin. Coquelin sure did put in some good tackles and showed all what is good about him. Per the calmness in person and the man on the rescue when it mattered.
From the youngsters I think Bielik did excellently defensively but at the start clearly was nervous and gave away some simple balls. But he grew in the match.
All in all a rather nice day out in a warm North of France in the region Nord, Pas de Calais or in Frans Vlaanderen as we call it in Flanders. If only they would think of putting up some signs towards the visitors end….
- The ten Arsenal transfer deals that you will be told are DONE this coming week
- Lens – Arsenal, The most strange away end in the whole football world (or the search of the Holy Grail)
- Ivan Gazidis’ 10 point analysis of football was far more interesting than the criticism it generated
24 July 1910: Woolwich Arsenal FC formally taken over by Henry Norris and William Hall. They promised to use their money to keep Arsenal in Plumstead for one year, but eventually paid for the club to stay at the Manor Ground for three seasons.
The Arsenal History Society has dedicated much time and effort to unravelling the truth about Sir Henry, and we have even offered to give £100 to charity if anyone can give any evidence to support the wild notion that the 1919 election to the first division was somehow “fixed”. That prize has never been claimed.