More than three years later, they are down to three. Friday evening, 7:30 p.m., Les Herbiers (N2), finalists of the Coupe de France against PSG in 2018, welcome Bastia (Ligue 2) during the 8th round of the Coupe de France. With in its ranks, only a trio of “survivors” of the unforgettable Vendée pope: Stéphane Masala, the coach, and the two deceased defenders, Kalifa Traorà © and Benjamin Brà © livet. “Over time, we talk about it less”, smiles the last named, who had taken part in the whole course except the final. But still a little bit anyway. “It has become the DNA of the club, we live with it,” said the coach. Impossible for example to miss the XXL poster, crossed out by a large inscription “Les Herbiers terre de gà © ants” with the date of the final of May 8, 2018, affixed on the pediment from the administrative building of the club when you arrive at the Massabielle training center, theater of the first exploits of the Herbretais. TO

“The final will be remembered for a long time, it’s exceptional what happened to us, says Michel Landreau, the president. Everywhere, where we go, we are told ‘Hey, we are going to play the finalist of the Coupe de France! ” A“ label ”, according to Brà © livet, impossible to remove. An indelible prestigious brand. “We will never be a normal club now, continues the ‘survivor’ defender. We are the finalist of the Coupe de France 2018 against PSG.” And that, the world of football is not about to forget. TO

However, today, the daily bread of Les Herbiers, it is the Nationale 2. Far from the spotlight, the stars of PSG, glitter and popular craze. Two days before a meeting that could propel the club towards a new 32nd final of the Coupe de France, in a dry and windy cold, but under a generous sun, Stéphane Masala predicts parades its players in anonymity. This Wednesday morning, not a fan on the horizon. Only a worker working on a construction site next to the training ground is curious for a break. Benjamin Guillou, Stéphane Masala’s assistant, leads the start of the session. The head coach, stoïque, a cap screwed on the head, does not miss a crumb of the investment of his people. “No merguez! Don’t hit the ball like you’re kicking a bundle of I don’t know what! Put on a pancakeâ ?? ¦” The deputy gives voice. A few meters away, Anthony Payet, Dimitri’s brother, relaxes. He heals a small contracture which should deprive him (like the former friend Emmanuel Bourgaud also injured) of the meeting against the Corsicans. TO

For an evening, Les Herbiers will rediscover the atmosphere of great evenings. More than 2,000 spectators are expected. A break of pleasure in a rather difficult season. Eleventh (out of sixteen) of group D of N2, the club sold will have all the sorrows of the world this season to climb in National, objective announced and hoped for. Extracting themselves from the fourth national division, the Herbiers have been trying since 2018. Four days after the lost final, the Rouge et Noir, still euphoric, fell from above in BÃ © ziers. A relegation from N1 to N2. TO

“Unfortunately, we are coming down a little this season, regrets President Landreau today. All the results were unfavorable to us on the last dayâ ?? ¦ “Stéphane Masala has not forgotten:” After this final, there was this fall into hell and this descent into N2. Players, technical staff… Everyone left. ” More than 20 elements leave the Vendée. Michel Landreau: “Logically, the players were solicited by Ligue 2 and foreign clubs and it was normal with the highlighting that there is had had on them. ” Even today, the technician sold in is wondering: “We often ask ourselves a question: what would this team have given in the year? ??? after with these links forged with this course? ” We’ll never know.

With “the tidy sum [between 1 and 1.5 million euros]”, says the president, pocketed with the route in the Coupe de France, the Herbiers could have flamed on the market transfers to get back up immediately. “No, we haven’t had the madness of grandeur”, immediately cuts Michel Landreau. The funds raised were deposited “in a corporation”. “We continued to structure the club well. We are an amateur, we have to keep a cool head. When the lights are there, we are happy, but we must not get drunk. Life goes on.” Very close to regaining the next season (“we miss the rise by two points”, according to Masala), the club sold in then went through the Covid period “more hardly sportingly than economically “. Today, although in N2, Les Herbiers remains the flagship club of the department, and one of the last two survivors in Vendée (with La Roche-sur- Yon, N3) still in the race. “I don’t like to say that we’re a Cup team, but I’ve been president for fourteen years, explains Michel Landreau. We made six round of 32 [six since 1999-2000] and two round of 16 and one final. The goal is to go to the 32nd. We had so much fun in 2018. We want to relive that. “