Much-loved French club that dominated their domestic football in the 60's and 70's
and came close to conquering Europe before a massive decline set in during the 1980's.
Both the city and the football team of St Etienne have a bit of a British feel to them, with its location in the heart of a real working-class coal-mining area, and a genuinely passionate, loyal fan base. Their ground is known as "le Chaudron" (meaning 'the Cauldron') and "L'Enfer Vert" (the Green Hell), a reference to the red-hot atmosphere that opposition players and fans alike can expect.
St Etienne's derby with Lyon is the most authentic in France, with an unquestionable dislike between both cities, particularly from St Etienne towards Lyon, perceived (and rightly so in our books) as the rich, upper class city 50km down the road. Lyon may have the cash and the fancy restaurants, but St Etienne have always had the football heritage.
Formed by members of a large grocery chain, the team's famous green shirts and nickname (Les Verts - the Greens) came from the grocery chain's traditional company colour. Those famous green shirts have since become synonymous with the club, in the same way as the stripes of Barcelona, the red of Liverpool, and the, er, yellow of Norwich City. St Etienne won their 1st French championship in 1957, but it was the 60's when they first started to get a real stranglehold. The championship battleground had previously been the territory of Stade de Reims, Nice and Monaco, but when Les Verts won it in 1964 and then 4 years on the bounce between 1967 and 1970, they had well and truly announced their arrival on the championship scene. Robert Herbin took over the managerial reigns in 1972 and presided over another successful period, during which his team's quality came to prominence with a wider audience via the European Cup.
With players such as Larios, the Revelli brothers, ex-Spurs funnyman Jacques Santini and the "Green Angel" Dominique Rocheteau, they came close in 76/77 when they lost to Liverpool in the quarters, closer still in 74/75 when they lost to Bayern in the semis and agonisingly so in 75/76, when they lost the final in Glasgow to a grimly efficient (again) Bayern.
With a taste for success now melting in their French mouths like the finest foie gras, the club tried to make the step up to the European elite by investing in star players like Johnny Rep, Michel Platini and Patrick Battiston. It looked a wise move at first, the club winning their 10th title in 1981. However, a year later financial scandal rocked the club with claims that they had been making illegal payments to help fund player's tax bills. Club president, Roger Rocher, was sent down for it, and whilst the players escaped a few games of 'catch the soap' in the local prison, many of them were soon on their way out of the club.
This signalled the decline of St Etienne, with relegation following and more financial woe. Despite this, the fans stuck with them, and they eventually returned to the top division. However, administration problems surfaced again in 2001 when two of their star foreign players were suspended for using fake passports, and some of the clubs staff were implicated in the scandal and the club docked points.
Ah well, as with all decent cult clubs, life is never dull.
Roll of Honour
|European Cup Runners-up||1||1976|
|Ligue 1 Winners||10||1957, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1981|
|Ligue 1 Runners-up||3||1946, 1971, 1982|
|Ligue 2 Winners||3||1963, 1999, 2004|
|Ligue 2 Runners-up||2||1938, 1986|
|French Cup Winners||6||1962, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1977|
|French Cup Runners-up||3||1960, 1981, 1982|
The Players1970's Bathenay, Dominique Larios, Jean-Francois Revelli, Herve Revelli, Patrick Rocheteau, Dominique Santini, Jacques 1980's Battiston, Patrick Platini, Michel Rep, Johnny 1990's Bell, Joseph-Antoine Coupet, Gregory 2000's Zokora, Didier