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Feb 10 2013

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no escaping… the memory of Thierry Roland

An article in my local newspaper on a recent France-Germany ‘friendly’ soccer match at the Stade de France informed us that the commentary box had been officially baptized with the name Thierry Roland in memory of the legendary French TV soccer commentator. This is what I wrote about him in Chapter 11 ‘A Sporting France’ of my book François Théodore Thistlethwaite’s FRENGLISH THOUGHTS:

 The French require absolute loyalty from their TV sports commentators whose role is to provide constant proof that they fully share the 150% commitment of the average viewer to their sporting favourites. A supreme example of the ideal type of commentator was provided by the late Thierry Roland whose partisan devotion to the French soccer cause not only endeared him to his sporting public but has made of him a legendary figure in the field of soccer commentary.

Just one example of his sectarian allegiance was supplied by an international match I watched on TV some years ago. It is, of course, normal that the elevated position of a TV commentator should sometimes give him a far better vision of the game than its referee who can, in all fairness, on occasions not see everything. At one point in the match (which had a high level of what is commonly termed ‘physical commitment’), a defender from the foreign team committed a disgraceful foul on a French forward, which the referee failed to notice. ‘Foul, monsieur l’arbitre, foul!’ Monsieur Roland howled into his microphone. A few minutes later a French defender was guilty of what could possibly have been an even worse foul on a foreign attacker, which the referee (he must have been English) once again seemed not to notice. ‘Oh, the referee is nearer than me!’ Thierry Roland calmly declared.

On another occasion during a France-Bulgaria soccer match, so great was Thierry Roland’s passionate commitment to the French cause, and so vigorous his hostility to the referee (who had just proved he was doing his best to deny the French a just victory by awarding a penalty to the opposing team), that in a moment of uncontrollable fury he announced to millions of viewers: ‘Monsieur Foot, vous êtes un salaud!’ (Mr Foot, you’re a bastard!). This considerably increased his popularity with the French sporting public: for in view of the hundreds of supportive letters received, the T.V. channel which employed him announced that previously-envisaged sanctions against his strong language would not be taken. And surprisingly, the referee in question was Scottish, not English.

Indeed, a chapter within a chapter could be devoted to the more colourful sporting comments of Thierry Roland, and the following are just three of his more memorable pronouncements:

‘Those two won’t be spending their holidays together!’ ‘The flies have changed donkeys’ (the team that was previously winning is now losing) and, when France won the 2002 World Cup: ‘Now we can all die in peace … but as late as possible!’ Unfortunately, his wish hardly came true as he departed our planet last June at the relatively premature age of 74.

by guest blogger Barry A. Whittingham, the author of ‘François Théodore Thistlethwaite’s FRENGLISH THOUGHTS’. You can follow his blog here: http://www.frenglishthoughts.com

Permanent link to this article: http://www.escapetoparis.com/2013/02/no-escaping-the-memory-of-thierry-roland/

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