is a football (soccer) club from France.
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Racing Club de Lens (; commonly referred to as RC Lens or simply Lens) is a football in France club based in the northern city of Lens, Pas-de-Calais in the Pas-de-Calais Departments of France. Its nickname, sang et or
, comes from its traditional colours of red and gold. Their primary rivals are their northern neighbors Lille OSC, whom they contest the Derby du Nord.
The birth of a club
1905, Lens, Pas-de-Calais. On the place Verte (the actual place de la République
), students are playing association football. They do not yet know that they are writing the first lines of the history of the Racing Club de Lens. Why this name? Football was invented in England, so it was good to have a club with an Anglo-Saxon name. Moreover, the youth of that time were following the Racing Club de Roubaix and the Racing Club de France.
The first board was formed by the parents of those teenagers under the name of Racing club lensois, before the club would officially be registered under the name Racing Club de Lens in 1906. The club originally played in green, as the club was born on the place Verte, and the black, for the omnipresence of coal mining in the region.
Between 1907 and 1912, the players were forced to change sports grounds a couple of times, before settling at the actual parc des Glissoires
, between Avion and Lens, Pas-de-Calais.
During World War I, the club’s activities were silenced, before restarting in 1919. Lens was then playing in sky blue.
Of blood and gold
It was in 1924 that the red and gold colours appeared. The legend says that Mr Pierre Moglia, president of the club from 1923 to 1930, chose the colours of the Spanish flag after someone from the club remarked that the ruins of the Saint-Léger church they happened to be walking by that night were the last remains of the Spanish occupation in 1648. People also say that the colours come from the coal mines: the red for the blood of the miners and the gold for the coal which was valuable at the time.
It was also in 1924 that the club was authorized to play at the newly built municipal stadium Raoul Briquet (nowadays Léo Lagrange). The first match with the new colours was played for the inauguration of the stadium.
In 1926, the British footballer Kid Fenton was the first star who played for Lens. He stayed there 8 seasons. It was also the year the first supporters group was formed, and – finally – Lens first capture of the Championnat d’Artois.
In 1929, Lens won the North championship and won promotion for the first time to the Division d’Honneur of the Ligue du Nord with the clubs of the Lille OSC, RC Roubaix, Excelsior Athlétic Club de Roubaix and the AC Amiens.
In the Artois League, the club gained renown and in 1932, the club inaugurated the stade Félix Bollaert.
The first victories
In 1937 gains access to the Ligue 1 by finishing first of the Ligue 2 with players such as Stanis and Spechtl. Lens even managed to reach the last 16 of the Coupe de France, but the team is knocked out by the Red Star Saint-Ouen (final score, 3–2).
In 1943, the RC Lens won the first division of the Northern Zone, thanks to Stanis who scored 43 goals in 30 games. A year earlier, in a Coupe de France match he scored 17 goals, which is still today the world record.
After World War II, Lens finished 6th in the 1945/46 season, but they are relegated the following year. In 1948, the club played its first Coupe de France final, which was lost 3–2 against the LOSC.
Then, Lens is promoted to the Ligue 1 and Maryan Wisnieski is recruited (in 1953). But problems with the board made him quit the club to join the UC Sampdoria Genoa without much success.
In 1962, the mines are shut down and the club is at stake as most of the players were miners. Between 1956 and 1968, survival is hard. Nevertheless, in 1964, Lens finished third and the best goal scorer was Ahmed Oudjani with 30 goals. Another famous player joins Lens: Georges Lech. However, Lens is relegated in 1968.
The following year, the mine’s administrators let go of Lens, and it is the end of professional football at the Stade Bollaert. Lens is once again an amateur club, one year after its relegation.
Henry Trannin, the managing director, and Arnold Sowinski stay faithful to the club, waiting for better days…
The good years and the fall
And the better days arrive in 1960: the town council bets on the Racing Club de Lens. Lens’ mayor, André Delelis, wants to see the club continue thrilling the fans. With the future president, Jean Bondoux, the mayor brings together volunteers and subscriptions in order to make the club survive. Moreover the city recovers the stadium from the closing mine industry.
In 1972, Lens reaches the semi-finals of the Coupe de France and the arrival of 2 Polish players helps the club to the 1st division.
In 1975, Lens reaches once more the final of the Coupe de France against the AS Saint-Étienne. But “les Verts” win the game 2–0, with an anthology goal by Jean-Michel Larqué.
As finalist of the Coupe de France, Lens has the opportunity to participate in its first UEFA Cup Winners' Cup , but the team is knocked out quickly by the Netherlands club ADO Den Haag.Image:Stade Felix-Bollaert.jpg
Lens’ progresses continue and after finishing 2nd in the Ligue 1 behind FC Nantes Atlantique, they qualify themselves to the UEFA Cup. They knock out Malmö FF, and above all, the S.S. Lazio, after an away defeat (2–0), they won 6–0 at the Stade Félix Bollaert after extra-time. Unfortunately, after this rare exploit for a French club, they are eliminated by the East German side 1. FC Magdeburg. Worse, the club goes back to the 2nd division in 1978.
The return among the elite will be in 1979 with Roger Lemerre as head coach. During the 1980s, Gérard Houllier and Joachim Marx will succeed him.
But the club doesn’t have enough means to keep players such as Didier Sénac, Gaëtan Huard or Philippe Vercruysse.
In 1988, a local businessman takes over the club, with the help of Serge Doré. Little by little, the club will transform itself into an enterprise and it will open itself to investors.
During the same year, Arnaud Dos Santos will be named head coach of the club, and it will be promoted back in Ligue 1 in 1991.
In 1993 and 1994, the RC Lens plays in the top of the League and the team qualifies for the UEFA Cup twice in a row. Lens even reaches the semi final of the Coupe de France after knocking out the Paris Saint Germain at the Parc des Princes, but the team fails against Montpellier HSC.
In 1998, “les Sang et Or” will write their best page of their history under Daniel Leclercq (“the Druid”): French Champions, League Cup semi-finalist and finalist of the French Cup against the PSG (2–1 defeat). Like a symbol, it is a player who started his career in Lens, Yohan Lachor, who scored in AJ Auxerre the goal which gave Lens the title, in front of FC Metz.
Still under the "Druid", Lens will win its 2nd major title in 1999 with the French League Cup against FC Metz, with a goal from Daniel Moreira. That year, in the UEFA Champions League, Lens will also become the only club to have beaten Arsenal FC at Wembley Stadium (1923) (1–0, with a goal from Mickaël Debève), but they were knocked out.
The next season, Daniel Leclercq was fired, but Lens will still reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. François Brisson’s men were eliminated by Arsenal FC, but they had before beaten Kaiserslautern (4–1 win in Germany), Atlético Madrid and the Celta Vigo.
For the 2002/2003 season, Joël Muller was named head coach. Lens finished second that season and qualified for its 2nd UEFA Champions League campaign. However, the club finished 8th the next two years.
Muller will be replace during his 4th season by Francis Gillot, who managed to qualify Lens for the Intertoto Cup, which was won, which meant qualification for the UEFA Cup.
During the 2006/2007, the Sang et Or finish the first part of the season 2nd, behind Olympique Lyonnais. But due to chaotic 2nd part, they only finished 5th.
A few days later, Francis Gillot resigned, probably due to the fact that the club didn’t qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
The 5 June 2007, Guy Roux made his come back, which would only last 3 months, as he resigned during the game RC Strasbourg-RC Lens (lost 2–1).
Jean-Pierre Papin took over, but Lens could make up no ground through the season, finishing 18th, 2 points behind Toulouse, and were relegated to Ligue 2 for next season. Lens finished the season with just 40 points, winning only 9 times in 38 matches. Strasbourg and Metz are also relegated.
After a slow start in their only year in the Ligue 2 they manage to finish as leader the first half of the season. Getting 13 out of 15 points in their first five games of the second half, everything looks set for a quick return to the first league. After only taking 5 points of the next six games, the race is open again. They become champions and return to the highest division in 2009.
- Winners: 1997–98 French Division 1
- Runners-up: 1955–56 French Division 1, 1956–57 French Division 1, 1976–77 French Division 1, 2001–02 French Division 1
- Winners: 1936–37 French Division 2, 1948–49 French Division 2, 1972–73 French Division 2, 2008–09 Ligue 2
Coupe de France
- Runners-up: 1948 Coupe de France Final, 1975 Coupe de France Final, 1998 Coupe de France Final
Coupe de la Ligue
- Winners: List of Coupe de la Ligue winners, 1999 Coupe de la Ligue Final
- Runners-up: 2008 Coupe de la Ligue Final
- Winners: Coupe_Drago Finals, Coupe_Drago Finals, Coupe_Drago Finals
- Runners-up: Coupe_Drago Finals
- Winners: Coupe_Gambardella Previous_winners, Coupe_Gambardella Previous_winners, Coupe_Gambardella Previous_winners
- Runners-up: Coupe_Gambardella Previous_winners, Coupe_Gambardella Previous_winners, Coupe_Gambardella Previous_winners, Coupe_Gambardella Previous_winners
- Semi-finalists: 1999–2000 UEFA Cup
UEFA Intertoto Cup
- Winners: UEFA Intertoto Cup 2005, UEFA Intertoto Cup 2007
- Record league win : 10–2 (v. RC Paris,1963–1964).
- Record European Cup win : 0–7 (v. FC Avenir Beggen, 1995–1996).
- The European exploit : v
. Lazio Roma (6–0 after extra time, 2 November 1977).
- Most goals in a single match : 16, Stefan Dembicki (Stanis), which is a world record, (v. Auby Asturies, Coupe de France, 13 December 1942). Final score: 32–0.
- Most league appearances with Lens : 497, Eric Sikora and 377, Bernard Placzek.
- Most league goals in a season : 30, Ahmed Oudjani (1963–1964) and 20, Roger Boli (1993–1994).
- Top scorers : 93, Maryan Wisnieski and Ahmed Oudjani.
- Highest attendance at a home match : 48 912, (v. Olympique de Marseille, Ligue 1, 15 February 1992) at Stade Félix-Bollaert. Lens won 2–1.
Former coaches include two ex France coaches: Gérard Houllier (1982–85) managed France between July 1992 and November 1993, and Roger Lemerre (second half of the 1996–97 season, then as assistant coach 1997–98), who managed France between July 1998 and July 2002.
- Jack Harris (1934)
- Robert De Veen (1934–36)
- Jack Galbraith (1936–38)
- Raymond François (1938)
- Joszef Eisenhoffer (1938–39)
- Jack Galbraith (1939)
- Richard Buisson (1939–41)
- Georges Beaucourt (1941–42)
- Anton Marek (1942–47)
- Nicolas Hisbst (1948–50)
- Ludvic Dupal (1950–53)
- Anton Marek (1953–56)
- Felix Witowski (1956–58)
- Karel Michlowski (1956–58)
- Jules Bigot (1958–62)
- Élie Fruchart (1962–69)
- Arnold Sowinski (1970–78)
- Roger Lemerre (1978–79)
- Arnold Sowinski (1979–81)
- Jean Serafin (1981–82)
- Gérard Houllier (1982–85)
- Joachim Marx (1985–88)
- Arnold Sowinski (1988)
- Jean Parisseaux (1988–89)
- Philippe Redon (1989)
- Marcel Husson (1989–90)
- Arnaud Dos Santos (1990–92)
- Patrice Bergues (1992–96)
- Slavoljub Muslin (1996–97)
- Roger Lemerre (1997)
- Daniel Leclercq (1997–99)
- François Brisson (1999–00)
- Rolland Courbis (2000–01)
- Georges Tournay (2001)
- Joël Muller (2001–January 2005)
- Francis Gillot (January 2005–07)
- Guy Roux (2007)
- Jean-Pierre Papin (August 2007–08)
- Jean-Guy Wallemme (2008–January 2011)
- László Bölöni (January 2011–June 2011)
- Jean-Louis Garcia (June 2011–present)
As of 31 January 2012
Out on loan
(at Panionios G.S.S. until the end of the 2011–12 Superleague Greece season)
Reserve team of Lens plays in the Championnat de France amateur, Group A.
As of November 2009.
Retired numbers 12
– 12th man (football) 17
– Marc-Vivien Foé
Current Staff (2008–2009)
Three Lens players won the gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games: defender Didier Sénac, as well as strikers François Brisson and Daniel Xuereb who scored a goal apiece in France's triumph over Brazil 2–0 in the final at the Pasadena, California Rose Bowl in front of a 103,000 crowd.
For a complete list of RC Lens players, see :Category:RC Lens players