RC Lens

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Lens
RC Lens logo.svg
Full name Racing Club de Lens
Nickname(s) Les Sang et Or
Founded 1906; 108 years ago (1906)
Ground Stade Félix-Bollaert & Stade de la Licorne (temporary)
Ground Capacity 41,229 & 12,097
Owner Hafiz Mammadov
Chairman Gervais Martel
Manager Antoine Kombouare
League Ligue 1
2013–14 2nd, Ligue 2
Website Club home page

Racing Club de Lens (French pronunciation: ​[ʁasiŋ klœb də lɑ̃s]; commonly referred to as RC Lens or simply Lens) is a French football club based in the northern city of Lens in the Pas-de-Calais department. Its nickname, sang et or (blood and gold), comes from its traditional colours of red and gold. Their primary rivals are their northern neighbours Lille OSC, with whom they contest the Derby du Nord.

History[edit]

Origin of the club[edit]

The club's origins date back to 1905 in Lens and lie with students playing football on the place Verte (the current place de la République). The name 'Racing Club de Lens' was a reference to the Racing Club de Roubaix and the Racing Club de France as they were popular at the time.

The first board was formed by the parents of those students under the name of Racing Club Lensois, before the club was officially registered under the name Racing Club de Lens in 1906. The club originally played in green and black to represent the founding location. They wore green to represent the name, "Verte", which means green in French, and black to represent the omnipresence of coal mines.

Between 1907 and 1912, the players were forced to change sports grounds two times, before settling at the actual parc des Glissoires, between Avion and Lens.

During World War I, the club's activities were stopped, before restarting in 1919. Lens was then playing in sky blue.

Of blood and gold[edit]

It was in 1924 that the red and gold colours appeared. The legend says that Mr Moglia, president of the club from 1923 to 1930, chose the colours of the Spanish flag after someone from the club remarked that the ruins of the Saint-Léger church they happened to be walking by that night were the last remains of the Spanish occupation in 1648. People also say that the colours come from the coal mines: the red for the blood of the miners and the gold for the coal which was valuable at the time.

It was also in 1924 that the club was authorised to play at the newly built municipal stadium Raoul Briquet (nowadays Léo Lagrange). The first match with the new colours was played for the inauguration of the stadium.

In 1926, the British footballer Kid Fenton was the first star who played for Lens. He stayed there 8 seasons. It was also the year the first supporters group was formed, and – finally – Lens first capture of the Championnat d'Artois.

In 1929, Lens won the North championship and won promotion for the first time to the Division d'Honneur of the Ligue du Nord with the clubs of the Olympique Lillois, RC Roubaix, Excelsior Athlétic Club de Roubaix and the AC Amiens.

In the Artois League, the club gained renown and in 1932, the club inaugurated the stade Félix Bollaert.

The first victories[edit]

In 1937 gains access to the first division by finishing first of the second with players such as Stanis and Spechtl. Lens even managed to reach the last 16 of the French Cup, but the team is knocked out by the Red Star (final score, 3–2).

In 1943, the RC Lens won the first division of the Northern Zone, thanks to Stanis who scored 43 goals in 30 games. A year earlier, in a French Cup match he scored 17 goals, which is still today the world record.

After World War II, Lens finished 6th in the 1945/46 season, but they are relegated the following year. In 1948, the club played its first French Cup final, which was lost 3–2 against the LOSC. A year later, Lens was promoted to the 1st division and Maryan Wisnieski is recruited (in 1953). But problems with the board made him quit the club to join the UC Sampdoria Genoa without much success.

In 1962, the mines are shut down and the club is at stake as most of the players were miners. Between 1956 and 1968, survival is hard. Nevertheless, in 1964, Lens finished third and the best goal scorer was Ahmed Oudjani with 30 goals. Another famous player joins Lens: Georges Lech. However, Lens is relegated in 1968. The following year, the mine's administrators let go of Lens, and it is the end of professional football at the Stade Bollaert. Lens is once again an amateur club, one year after its relegation.

The good years and the fall[edit]

And the better days arrive in 1960: the town council bets on the Racing Club de Lens. Lens' mayor, André Delelis, wants to see the club continue thrilling the fans. With the future president, Jean Bondoux, the mayor brings together volunteers and subscriptions to make the club survive. Moreover the city recovers the stadium from the closing mine industry.

In 1972, Lens reaches the semi-finals of the French Cup and the arrival of 2 Polish players helps the club to the 1st division. In 1975, Lens reaches once more the final of the French Cup against the AS Saint-Étienne. But "les Verts" win the game 2–0, with an anthology goal by Jean-Michel Larqué.

As finalist of the French Cup, Lens had the opportunity to participate in its first UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, but the team was knocked out quickly by the Dutch club ADO Den Haag.

Lens' progress continued and after finishing 2nd in the League behind Nantes, they managed to qualify to the UEFA Cup. They knocked out Malmö FF, and above all, the Lazio Roma, after an away defeat (2–0), they won 6–0 at the Stade Félix Bollaert after extra-time. Unfortunately, after this rare exploit for a French club, they were eliminated by the East German side Magdeburg. Worse, the club went back to the 2nd division in 1978.

The return among the elite was in 1979 with Roger Lemerre as head coach. During the 1980s, Gérard Houllier and Joachim Marx succeeded him. Even though, the club lost players such as Didier Sénac, Gaëtan Huard and Philippe Vercruysse.

Martel's takeover[edit]

In 1988, a local businessman took over the club, with the help of Serge Doré. During the same year, Arnaud Dos Santos was named head coach of the club, and he led the club back to 1st division in 1991.

In 1993 and 1994, the RC Lens played in the top of the League and the team qualified for the UEFA Cup twice in a row. Lens even reached the semi final of the French Cup after knocking out the Paris Saint Germain at the Parc des Princes, but the team lost against Montpellier.

In 1998, "les Sang et Or" wrote their best page of their history under Daniel Leclercq ("the Druid"): French Champions, League Cup semi-finalist and finalist of the French Cup against the PSG (2–1 defeat). Like a symbol, it is a player who started his career in Lens, Yohan Lachor, who scored in Auxerre the goal which gave Lens the title, in front of Metz. Under the "Druid", Lens won its 2nd major title in 1999 with the League Cup against Metz, with a goal from Daniel Moreira. That year, in the UEFA Champions League, Lens also became the only club to have beaten Arsenal at Wembley (1–0, with a goal from Mickaël Debève), but they were knocked out.

During the next season Daniel Leclercq was fired, but Lens still reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. François Brisson's men were eliminated by Arsenal, but they had beaten Kaiserslautern (4–1 win in Germany), Atlético Madrid and the Celta Vigo.

In 2002/2003 season, Joël Muller was named head coach. Lens finished second that season and qualified for its 2nd UEFA Champions League campaign. However, the club finished 8th the next two years. Muller was replaced during his 4th season by Francis Gillot, who managed to qualify Lens for the Intertoto Cup, which was won, which meant qualification for the UEFA Cup.

During the 2006/2007, the Sang et Or finish the first part of the season 2nd, behind Lyon. But due to chaotic 2nd part, they only finished 5th. A few days later, Francis Gillot resigned, probably due to the fact that the club didn't qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

5 June 2007, Guy Roux made his come back, which only lasted 3 months, as he resigned after a 2-1 defeat at RC Strasbourg.

Jean-Pierre Papin took over, but Lens could make up no ground through the season, finishing 18th, 2 points behind Toulouse, and were relegated to Ligue 2 for next season. Lens finished the season with just 40 points, winning only 9 times in 38 matches. Strasbourg and Metz are also relegated.

After a slow start in their only year in the Ligue 2 they managed to finish as leader of the first half of the season. Getting 13 out of 15 points in their first five games of the second half, everything looked set for a quick return to the first league. After only taking 5 points of the next six games, the race was open again. Lens became the champions and returned to the highest division in 2009. In 2011 they dropped to Ligue 2 again.

On 16th May 2014, Lens sealed promotion back to Ligue 1 on the final day of the season following a 2-0 win at CA Bastia. On 27th June, the League's National Directorate of Management Control (DNCG) blocked Lens’ promotion to the top flight due to irregularities in the club’s proposed budget for next season. The issue was a €10million payment due from major shareholder Hafiz Mammadov that was missing from the accounts. Lens president Gervais Martel claimed a public holiday in Mammadov’s native Azerbaijan had resulted in the delay and said the club would appeal. However, on 15th July, their promotion was in jeopardy after an appeal commission upheld their appeal with the missing funds still having not arrived in the clubs accounts. Lens immediately declared their intention to appeal to the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) who have the power to overrule the DNCG. On 25th July, the CNSOF recommended Lens should be allowed to play in Ligue 1. Though an official decision by the CNSOF has yet to be announced, it is understood they were satisfied about Mammadov’s commitment to the club. The ultimate decision regarding their promotion will be made by the French Football Federation. Lens kick off the 2014/15 Ligue 1 season with an away trip to Nantes. The Stade Félix-Bollaert is being renovated for the 2016 European Championships so Lens currently don't have a stadium to play their home games for the upcoming season.

Lens' world class academy has gained prominence through the success of its graduates. Most notable of which is Raphaël Varane, who has cemented his place in the back line of Real Madrid and the French national team. Fellow Lens academy graduates include AS Monaco's midfield enforcer Geoffrey Kondogbia, Tottenham left back Benoît Assou-Ekotto, maverick trequartista Adel Taarabt, promising Ivorian full back Serge Aurier, Hull City's Mohamed Diamé and Crystal Palace's Jimmy Kébé. An exciting future lies in wait for the likes of Alexandre Coeff, Thorgan Hazard, Timothée Kolodziejczak, Gaël Kakuta, Mehdi Abeid and Ange-Freddy Plumain.

Honours[edit]

Ligue 1

Ligue 2

Coupe de France

Coupe de la Ligue

Coupe Drago

Coupe Gambardella

UEFA Cup

  • Semi-finalists: 2000

UEFA Intertoto Cup

Records[edit]

Presidents[edit]

Managers[edit]

Former coaches include two ex France coaches: Gérard Houllier (1982–85) managed France between July 1992 and November 1993, and Roger Lemerre (second half of the 1996–97 season, then as assistant coach 1997–98), who managed France between July 1998 and July 2002.

Current squad[edit]

As of 11 July, 2014. Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 France GK Rudy Riou
3 France DF Dimitri Cavaré
4 Morocco DF Ahmed Kantari
6 France MF Jérôme Lemoigne (Captain)
7 France FW Yoann Touzghar
9 France FW Adamo Coulibaly
11 Argentina FW Pablo Chavarria
13 France DF Alassane Touré
14 Senegal FW Deme N'Diaye
15 France DF Patrick Fradj
18 France MF Pierrick Valdivia
19 Belgium FW Baptiste Guillaume
No. Position Player
20 Madagascar MF Lalaina Nomenjanahary
21 Morocco MF Alharbi El Jadeyaoui
22 France DF Loick Landre
23 France MF Wylan Cyprien
24 France DF Ludovic Baal
25 Ivory Coast DF Jean-Philippe Gbamin
27 France DF Benjamin Boulenger
29 France MF Benjamin Bourigeaud
33 Mauritania DF Abdoul Ba
35 France DF Quentin Lecoeuche
40 France GK Valentin Belon

Retired numbers[edit]

12France Club Supporters (the 12th Man)
17Cameroon Marc-Vivien Foé, Midfielder (1994–99) - posthumous honour.

Notable players[edit]

Head Coach (2008–2009)[edit]

Former players[edit]

Three Lens players won the gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games: defender Didier Sénac, as well as strikers François Brisson and Daniel Xuereb who scored a goal apiece in France's triumph over Brazil 2–0 in the final at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in front of a 103,000 crowd.

For a complete list of RC Lens players, see Category:RC Lens players

French Internationals[edit]

Rank Name Position Caps with Lens Total Caps
1 Maryan Wisnieski Forward 33 33
2 Georges Lech Forward 16 35
3 Xercès Louis Midfielder 12 12
4 Didier Six Forward 11 52
5 Alou Diarra * Midfielder 11 12
6 Guillaume Bieganski Defender 5 9
7 Philippe Vercruysse Midfielder 4 12
8 Ladislas Siklo Midfielder 4 4
9 Tony Vairelles * Forward 3 8
10 Daniel Xuereb Forward 3 8
11 Pierre Laigle Midfielder 2 8
12 Daniel Moreira Forward 2 3
13 Didier Sénac Defender 2 3
14 François Brisson Forward 2 2
15 Edmond Novicki Forward 2 2
16 Michel Stievenard 2 2
17 Frédéric Déhu Defender 1 5
18 Farès Bousdira Midfielder 1 1
19 Paul Courtin Forward 1 1
20 Jean Desgranges 1 1
21 Raymond François Midfielder 1 1
22 Richard Krawczyk Midfielder 1 1
23 Marcel Ourdouillié Midfielder 1 1
24 Éric Carrière Midfielder 0 11
25 Raphaël Varane * Defender 0 2

* Still playing.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The UEFA Intertoto Cup: Past Winners. Listed are all 11 teams that won the Intertoto Cup, qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

External links[edit]