En Avant de Guingamp

Old boy Drogba a role model for club going forward

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

En Avant de Guingamp are a modern-day footballing phenomenon. Representing a community of barely 8,000 souls, EAG twice won the French Cup in five years, and spent nearly ten seasons in the top flight after their first promotion in 1995. 2014-15 saw their third European campaign.

To win the cup in 2014, En Avant again overcame regional rivals Rennes, as they did in 2009. In 115 years of Breton football, dominated by Rennes, EAG have only been top regional club in two seasons. They weren’t even professional until 1984.

Stade du Roudourou/Jean-Christophe Hémez

Everything changed with the arrival of young club president Noël Le Graët in 1972. In the 60 years up until then, Guingamp had been a modest amateur side, notching up the occasional feisty cup run.

Hiring 22-year-old player-coach Sylvestre Salvi, EAG caught the imagination of all France with the cup run of 1972-73, beating regional rivals such as Brest and Lorient. The core of this same young team then achieved promotion to Division 2 in 1977.

Once up, much-travelled Breton Raymond Keruzoré was another young player-coach hired by the ever ambitious Le Graët to keep EAG in contention. Foreign stars such as Poland World Cup star Andrzej Szarmach and fellow striker Luizinho saw packed houses at the cramped Stade Yves-Jaguin.

Stade du Roudourou/Jean-Christophe Hémez

Le Graët planned for a new, municipal stadium, twice the capacity, the Stade du Roudourou. It opened in 1990, just as a new crop of Breton youngsters – midfielders Stéphane Carnot and Christophe Le Roux, striker Stéphane Guivarc’h – were coming through the ranks.

Defensive midfielder Claude Michel was another, later to run out in the red and black of En Avant for 12 years. It was Michel’s solitary goal in 1995 that sealed a win over Toulouse – and promotion to the top flight.

Two years later it was loyal Michel’s penalty miss that saw the French Cup go to Nice in the final shoot-out in Paris, the last to be played at the Parc des Princes.

Stade du Roudourou/Jean-Christophe Hémez

In between, EAG had made a debut appearance in Europe, an Inter-Toto win allowing for the visit of later finalists Internazionale in the UEFA Cup.

The return of Le Graët, after a decade at the head of the French League, coincided with the blossoming of a strike partnership between later Chelsea teammates Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda. Their departure in 2003 meant relegation.

Constant struggles to regain the top flight were tempered by another appearance in the French Cup Final, against local rivals Rennes, in 2009. A brace from Swiss-Brazilian Eduardo Ribeiro gave En Avant their first silverware and a passage to Europe – but the season ended with relegation to the third flight.

Stade du Roudourou/Jean-Christophe Hémez

With Le Graët leaving to become head of the French FA, Guingamp persevered with Breton coach Jocelyn Gourvennec, and his young side. Exceptional midfield performances from naturalised French prospect Giannelli Imbula and goals from Mustapha Yatabaré regain top-flight status in 2013.

Yatabaré was again the hero in 2014, scoring vital goals in the cup semi-final against Monaco, then the cup final clincher at the Stade de France – again, against Rennes.

In 2014-15, En Avant improved on their poor European record, two goals from top scorer Claudio Beauvue beating PAOK at the cauldron of the Toumba Stadium and pushing the Bretons into the knock-out rounds. Beating Dynamo Kyiv 2-1 at the Roudourou, En Avant fell 3-1 in a freezing Kiev. In the league, Beauvue’s goals kept Guingamp mid-table but his subsequent sale to Lyon boded ill for 2015-16.

Stadium Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

Opened in 1990 and renovated in 1995 and 2007, Stade du Roudourou is only the second stadium in Guingamp’s history.

The first, the Stade Yves-Jaguin, was originally named Montbareil when it opened in 1921. Still used for reserve and youth fixtures, it stands in the district of Pabu, on the town’s northern outskirts.

It was here that En Avant began their fairy-story journey from lower-league amateurs to French Cup winners. Capacity remained at the same level as Guingamp’s population, around 7,000, all of whom seemed to squeeze into the Yves-Jaguin when the club was playing regular Ligue 2 football in the 1980s.

EAG president Noël Le Graët soon realised that if his club were to develop, they would need a modern ground: the Stade du Roudourou. Built from 1989, opened with a curtain-raiser against Paris Saint-Germain in January 1990, this 12,000-capacity stadium was expanded to a mainly seated 18,000 after top-flight promotion in 1995.

Further improvements in 2007 included expanding the away stand and adding extra roofing and better floodlights. France even played a full international here, against the Faroe Islands, in 2009.

A record crowd of 18,208 was registered for the vital fixture with Dijon in 2013, the promotion celebrations welcoming En Avant back to Ligue 1.

Home fans, the Kop Rouge, occupy the Latérale Ouest (aka Patrick) Stand behind the west goal – Latérale Est (aka Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne) is opposite. Tribunes Super U and Présidentielle line the sidelines. Visiting supporters are allocated an area between the Super U and the Latérale Est.

getting there

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

The stadium is by the Manoir stop on infrequent bus line 3, four from Guingamp station 12mins away. Only three buses run on Saturdays, none on Sundays. Line 2 from the station to Saint-Sauveur just over the river is similarly infrequent.

The walk from town would take about 15-20mins, a taxi about €10-€15. From the station, head up boulevard Clemenceau, at the end veering left onto rue St-Nicholas that becomes rue Notre-Dame. At the river, turn right from avenue John Fitzgerald Kennedy onto rue Paul Serusier. This becomes rue du Manoir – the stadium is over the first roundabout.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Tickets are distributed at the stadium on match days – the main office being the guichet Armor – and otherwise at the Boutique En Avant de Guingamp (Mon-Sat 10am-noon, 2pm-7pm) at 1 rue Saint-Nicholas, by rue Marcel-Paul and place du Verdun.

Online sales are available at the club websiteFrance Billet and Ticket Net.

Prices are set at €25-€30 for the best seats in the Présidentielle, €20-€28 in the Super U and €11-€16 sitting behind the goals in the Patrick or Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne, where standing places in the Pelouse or Populaire are only €5. Availability, though, is limited. There are modest discounts for under-14s.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

The club shop is the Boutique En Avant de Guingamp (Mon-Sat 10am-noon, 2pm-7pm) at 1 rue Saint-Nicholas, near place du Verdun. Products include T-shirts celebrating the 2014 cup win, small frilly pennants and branded babygros.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

The only bar in the vicinity of the stadium is the Lapin Rouge (52 rue du Maréchal Foch), signified by a large mural of a football-playing rabbit. Inside, EAG scarves and banners backdrop a busy bar where focus falls on TV match action.