A cracking story emerged out of Ligue 1 at the weekend, which not only underlines the old adage of playing to the final whistle but saw the preening giants of PSG drop two vital league points in the title race ahead of this week’s Champions League clash with Chelsea.
Paris Saint-Germain were hosting struggling northerners Caen on Saturday, and with just two minutes left led 2-0, but the home side had suffered a string of injuries in the game and had used all their substitutes, so were down to nine men.
Some bright spark decided to update the club’s official Twitter site with a jibe towards Jose Mourinho which read, “87′ PSG forced to “Park the Bus” (shout out to Jose Mourinho!) in the final minutes“. Within a minute of that posting Emiliano Sala pulled a goal back before a stoppage time equaliser from Hervé Bazile’s stunning free kick earned Caen a draw and robbed PSG of the two extra points that would have sent them top of the table.
For Bazile, who grew up in Paris, it was the fulfilment of a boyhood dream to play and score at the Parc des Princes and he had his whole family in attendance to witness the realisation of that dream.
Apart from the injury nightmare that was forced on coach Laurent Blanc ahead of the visit of Chelsea, the story of the game had echoes of something similar but more than a century earlier, 127 years before in fact.
It was 1888, England, and involved the mighty Preston North End, some might reflect, the PSG of Victorian football. The team that the following season would become the Invincibles and win the first ‘Double’ of FA Cup, without conceding a goal, and the Football League title, without losing a game. But that was to come.
As Preston and West Bromwich Albion prepared for that 1888 Final, at Kennington Oval, the Lancashire team approached the referee, Major Francis Marindin, and asked if they could have their team photograph taken with the FA Cup because they wanted the event recording for posterity whilst their white shirts were still pristine.
In one of the great football put downs of all time the referee replied with just six words.
“Hadn’t you better win it first?”
West Brom, of course won the cup 2-1. PSG’s approach, and that of the club tweeter, will need amendment, for future reference. Starting with Chelsea.