Away Colours spent some of its Summer visiting the home of AC Ajaccio. Formed in 1910, Athletic Club Ajaccien or ‘ACA’ are one of Corsica’s oldest football clubs, formed 5 years after Northern Corsican mega-rivals and Ligue 1 stalwarts SC Bastia. Separated now by ACA’s recent relegation from the French top flight, these two sides are banned from playing each other on the island due to fan ‘over-exuberance’ and the local police simply having had enough. Click below for a flavour of a typical ACA v SC Bastia match, littered aplenty with flags, missiles, some traditional Corsican polyphonic chanting, a good old-fashioned player punch-up and a man eating a baguette.
ACA or “The Bear’ play their football in the dry heat of the François-Coty stadium, a 12,000 capacity ground with lighthouse style floodlights situated spectacularly in the shadow of Corsica’s Maqui covered mountain landscape and just a short distance from the island’s bustling port capital.
ACA are still recovering – not only from the multi-million pound drop into Ligue 2 – but also from losing ultra-hero Guillermo ‘Memo’ Ochoa to Malaga CF, Mexico’s stunning goalkeeping Number 1, who lit up WC 2014 and who is far too good to warm Malaga’s bench. A man who will never have to buy a drink in the red and white striped areas of Corsica for the rest of his life. Take a look at the video at the end of this piece for some of the reasons as to why.
ACA are certainly finding life in Ligue 2 a challenge. Now bedfellows with old city derby rivals Gazélec Ajaccio (GFCA) or ‘Le Gaz,’ who are riding high, last season it was Zlatan and Co who could be seen strolling the length of Corsica’s sun bleached Agosta Plage outside the island’s swanky Radisson Blu in the hours pre-match. How things have changed.
We watch the fortunes of this small budget club with interest. We like their sun-baked port style stadium. We love their love of Memo. We also like their iconic badge. We await the next ACA v GFCA derby with relish in a city where it is not unusual for Ligue referees to be confined to hotel quarters for their own safety in the hours post-match and to have unscheduled encounters with Renault Clio’s driven at speed.
But in the meantime, take a midday stroll with us around ACA’s stadium and Le Boutique du Club in the red and white striped side of the city. Forza…….!
© Text and Photos by Away Colours Editor September 2014