August 14, 2023

Adventures in Football #89: Stade Emile Mayrisch (CS Fola Esch) 

Adventures in Football #89: Stade Emile Mayrisch (CS Fola Esch) 


August 13, 2023 


CS FOLA ESCH vs. F91 DUDELANGE (Luxembourg National Division) 


In case you missed the FC Arlon write-up, this was a wacky Luxembourg weekender with me and noted French-hater The Big Dohmi, attending several games. We started on Saturday in the wilds of Eastern Belgium in a game where all the children were armed with fireworks, the ref forgot her cards and nine goals went in. We can’t possibly have the same thrilling afternoon in Esch right? Right?  


Fola Esch were founded in 1906 by an English teacher named Jean Roeder (no relation to Glenn). Fola is one of the biggest clubs in the country and, rightfully, refused to merge with Jeunesse Esch when the Luxembourg teams were consolidating in numbers during the 1990s. As recently as 2005 they dropped into the third tier of Luxembourg football but bounced back and won the title three years ago. Fola is recognised by the “Club of Pioneers” as Luxembourg’s oldest living club. They have a crazy history with eight National titles, five of them coming before 1930 and the next three not kicking in until 2012.  


Stade Emile Mayrisch is named after Jacob Emile Mayrisch; an industrialist. He was also president of the Luxembourg Red Cross. Mayrisch died in a car crash on route to Paris in 1928. He was 65.  

We got to the ground hours before kick-off and decided to explore the local area. First a stroll through the nearby park and then up a hill to Escher Deierepark. Which is like a cross between a farm and an animal centre. They have lots of activities for kids and they have groundhogs. I got to see a groundhog. We also saw this terrifying gnome.  

To get an idea of how the game is going to go down, I look at the betting odds. Fola is 6-1, Dudelange strong favourites at 2-7. Dohmi suggests sticking a tenner on Fola.  

I check in on Futbology and seeing that I’ve been to football in nine countries blows my mind. To put this into perspective, I’d not seen a game outside of England until 2021 when I first went to a game in Wales. At the start of 2023 I’d only seen games in England, Scotland and Wales. This year has been a wild ride, which has included trips to Italy, USA, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.  

Everyone in Esch seems to speak French as a first language. Luxembourg is an odd country as it’s made up of bits where they speak different languages, and everyone seems to understand them all. After asking for two tickets (badly, in French), which cost 10 Euros, we head into the ground. The ground has the unfortunate beast of many European grounds, a running track. I understand some grounds need to be available for a multitude of reasons but the more a football ground focuses on football, the better it is at being a football ground.  

On entering the ground we stroll past this little clubhouse. “Buvette” means “snack bar”. It had an inside and a serving hatch. However, it’s not the only bar and there’s another one, with pub beer garden vibes, at the other end of the main stand. You can grab a cold Bofferding while watching the game.  

Fola has a cat! Bromley x Fola = cat fans.  

The track makes us feel very far from the action. If you’re at the end (and no one is) it must feel so far away as to be rendered pointless. We’re heading into the main stand here but there’s also seating on the far side, which is less populated and more exposed to the elements. The ground is surrounded by woods with the exception of the far end, which contains the training pitches.  

This is Fola’s main stand. It’s substantial and would fill up quite a lot by the time the game got underway. It seemed to gain supporters even into the second half. Maybe people were just moving around.  

There are a lot of replica jerseys going around. I spot the occasional one for PSG, Benfica or Inter but bulk are Fola or Dudelange. There is definitely a big fan culture in Luxembourg. As we’re sat in the main stand we’re right under a wall of speakers and while it’s not St Andrews bad, it gives me a bit of a headache. The press guy has a drone, which he flies over the teams as they come out. That’s a pretty cool use of technology. I wonder if the game is on YouTube somewhere from drone cam?  

We have a digital scoreboard and linesman. All the mod cons today. The crowd is split between the two teams so every refereeing decision is met with abuse. You can’t win! I mean, you can if you get decisions correct. The one throw-in going the wrong way earns the lino is boat load of guttural abuse from the one guy. It’s in German. Dohmi tries to translate. “Uh, I’m not sure I can. It’s like a trash bag”. Fola surprise Dudelange by taking the lead. A goalmouth scramble sees two shots blocked but the third is drilled home by Belgian winger Yanis Lahrach. If I was doing scouting, this lad has some talent. He’s 20, cuts in from the right wing on a strong left foot. Eye for goal.  

Lahrach almost doubles his tally with a 30 yard drive. Dudelange have not started the game well and keep giving the ball away in their own defensive third. That tenner on Fola would have been looking good right about now. Disaster for Fola though, their keeper charges out, misses everything, collapses with a fucked up knee and leaves a wide open goal. Dudelange do not capitalise and the striker fires it into the side netting. The keeper is toast though and he comes off. His understudy is nowhere near as assured and confident and some defensive nerves start to creep in for Fola.  

Despite this Fola should lead 2-0 when a far post header goes in but it’s deemed offside. It must have been close. The crowd briefly goes wild until the linesman’s flag is pointed out. 1-0 HT. The second half sees Dudelange wake up and start to play. One of their forwards shoot just wide on 50’ and on 55’ they’re level. A cross deep to the far post finds Sylvio Ouassiero unmarked and he loops a header over the keeper. 1-1. It’s been coming. Ouassiero is an international for Madagascar and he’s been on the books at Auxerre, Standard Liege and was a Fola player last year. He plays his Madagascar football at right back but is on the left wing here.  


The nerves continue for Fola’s second string keeper, although he makes amends for one blunder by saving the resultant chance. Just when it looks inevitable that Dudelange will press on and win the game, they concede a stupid goal. A header from a corner from Lenny Lienafa goes straight to the defender on the post. He opts to LEAVE IT. Presumably thinking the keeper has it covered. You’re literally standing on the goal line. What the actual fuck? 2-1 Fola. Everyone goes nuts. 62 minutes played.  

The refereeing hasn’t improved any and the angry old men are getting angrier, sensing a famous victory. The referee doesn’t endear himself to the staff either and books one of Fola’s team for mouthing off at him.  

77 minutes played and Fola winger Lahrach spots the keeper off his line. He curls an audacious shot into the top hand corner from the wing. It’s sublime. An absolute banger. A delicate shot worthy of being a game winner. 3-1 Fola. It should be over. But, that’s not what this weekend is about. We need drama constantly, apparently. With the clock ticking down Dudelange get one back. 3-2. I didn’t even see who scored. F91 continue to push for a dramatic late equaliser but it doesn’t come and Fola record a tremendous win. I got quite attached to Fola as an underdog story and the tense last few minutes had me worried we’d see a repeat of the wacky late winner in Belgium. Instead Fola hold on.  




Before we head off to the next game, which is happening in thirty minutes time, let’s give a review of the Fola Esch experience shall we?  




There wasn’t much. They started one chant and yelled at the referee a lot. Considering how many people were in the ground, there was a big contrast between this and the atmosphere in our game to follow this one. More on that later. *½  



Ten Euro feels like a reasonable amount to pay to get into this. In English terms it’s about £8.50. Considering the standard of football, this seems like good value. **** 



It was a good game of football that occasionally went off the rails. Both teams had bad phases but overall, it was enjoyable. ***½ 



Esch-sur-Alzette train station is right at the bottom of the hill the ground is on. Which is 15 minute walk. The car park is right outside the ground and only gets full if you leave it super late. The train is free because in Luxembourg you don’t pay for public transport. A situation that sees the roads fairly empty, bar the buses. **** 



The running track bothers me. You can’t see as well as you would if it wasn’t there. I do like that the ground had two bars, one at either end of the grandstand. The viewing experience wasn’t overly hampered by the track and the day, in general, was boosted by the park life nearby. You can turn up early and go for a stroll. *** 



A creditable score for Fola Esch. Unlike FC Arlon, none of this score is banter related. It’s a genuinely nice little ground, surrounded by woods. They have decent facilities, and you get an actual ticket!  

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