Passed from Ligue 1 to National 3 in two years during the last decade, Grenoble Foot 38 is in the race to return to the elite. In the meantime, the Isère club has vegetated in the amateur world, before regaining its rank in Ligue 2 for two years. With a new management team, the GF 38 dreams of finding the elite to complete its Stations of the Cross.
Strolling through the streets of Grenoble is always a spectacle for anyone who grew up far from the mountains. At the end of each street, the perspective leads to a summit, often snowy, inviting elevation. The Grenoble Foot 38 which is on the rise this season at the top of Ligue 2 (fourth after 30 days), would he be inspired by it? Does his inspiration come from Paul Mistral Park, where his neighborhoods are established, and where the Olympic spirit of the 1968 Games still blows?
Anyway, at the time of approaching the end of the season in Ligue 2, the sporting horizon of the GF 38 is like the sky above the city at the beginning of spring: clear and open to the wildest dreams. And it’s not too soon, after years in purgatory.
The tops of the hexagonal round ball, the GF38 has already familiarized them with. We are in 2008, and the Isère club is climbing in Ligue 1 for the third time in its history, after two lightning passages in the 1960s. Never two without three: this passage will also be rapid with two short years of L1. Child of the city and at the time young player of the GF38, Yoric Ravet remembers: “Playing in Ligue 1 at home in front of 20,000 people was a dream for me, it was incredible. When I was little, I never thought I would be able to achieve this with Grenoble “.
In the stands, this short golden period also marked the spirits. “I’m from the 1990 generation, at the beginning we looked elsewhere because football in Grenoble didn’t really exist and then there were those great years, that changed everything “, testifies Francky, 30, member of Ultras Red Kaos. “The stadium was packed, there was a real fervor. Everyone in town wanted to see it”. Alas, the party is short-lived.
After a nightmarish season, the GF38 returned to Ligue 2 in 2010-2011, and tumbled into National in the aftermath. Worse, the club files for bankruptcy and undergoes judicial liquidation, followed by an administrative demotion in National 3. The fall is dizzying: in two years, Grenoble has been demoted by five divisions. “It hurt me a lot “, remembers, marked, Yoric Ravet, at the time sold to bail out the coffers. Caused by financial concerns of the Japanese shareholders at the time, Index, this liquidation will plague the club for a long time.
“The good first season in Ligue 1 was the tree that hid the forest. Behind, there was a real management problem from the start. After the euphoria, we quickly had the other side of the coin on the second season of Ligue 1 “, testifies Francky. At his side, Alexis, 24, who receives in his apartment with a view of the Stade des Alpes, adds: “The management was not very present and did not have the football culture. We suffered the situation, helpless “.
After an immediate rise to National 2, the GF38 stagnated there for four years. “When you got to know Ligue 1, all you wanted was to quickly leave the amateur world to find the professional world, so it was frustrating “, remembers Kevin Roselli, supporter of Grenoble. But in their misfortune, the Isérois at least have the chance to play the climb each season.
“We lived great emotions, there were always people at the stadium, even if it was starting to be frustrating to finish second “, Alexis smiles. On major matches, the crowd can even count in the thousands of spectators at the Stade des Alpes, all grouped together in the same stand. “It was a homecoming between true GF lovers, a great experience”, relativizes Francky. High point of these four years of purgatory: a completely crazy 32nd final won against Olympique de Marseille of Marcelo Bielsa in 2015. “This is the greatest feat of Grenoble football”, even poses Alexis.