October 12, 2021
Early season form, Dante, the goodies...
Deprived of their passion for a year and a half due to the global health pandemic, then forced to cheer in front of their televisions against Bordeaux (4-0) and the derby against Monaco (2-2)*, Le Gym’s unconditional fans returned to Allianz Riviera for the deserved 2-1 victory over Brest. To celebrate, OGCNICE.com contacted four season ticket holders during the international break to talk about three subjects with these most loyal supporters: the great start by Galtier's men, the return to the fore of the CommanDante, and the innovative new program set up by the club to make getting to the stadium easier.
THE START OF THE SEASON
"Wow, isn't it great?" A supporter since the age of 5, Hugues Barnoin is now 66. And he's delighted: "We've got our hopes up, haven’t we? Maybe it's too much, but if you add up everything that's happened since the start of the season, Marseille, the missed opportunities against Lorient and Monaco, we could almost be level with the Parisians."
Hugues with his daughter Julie are season ticket holders in G2
"What they produce on the field makes people want to come and cheer them on," agrees Magali Jolibois, a season ticket holder in the South stand. "I've learned to be cautious", warned Denis Dauthier, who has his card in Ray, before adding: "The recruitment is top, the coach too. What I like is that those who come into the game are always ready, like Thuram or Boudaoui. And I really like little Melvin Bard. You can feel that the kid is getting better and better."
"When we watch the game, we enjoy it, it’s exciting, and we honestly could have scored six against Brest!" beamed Sebastien Soppelsa, season ticket holder in Garibaldi with his son.
Invited to rate the players, the four members struggle to pick out just one player. "The last time, we were wondering who to vote for, for the Aiglon of the Match, and we couldn’t choose," says Denis. "It's really a team," explained Hugues. A team masterfully led by Christophe Galtier, "who, in addition to the game, has brought this fighting spirit that fits so well with our values in Nice," according to Denis. "He comes from the south, you can tell. Well, he's from Marseille, but that's not his fault (laughs)." "It's a great team, with the best French coach, promising players and coaching staff who help them develop," declares Sebastien, supporter & twitterer under the pseudo @Sebasnissa1978 (pictured left). "Dante, Lemina, Rosario, Delort, it's a strong squad. And we also have a quality bench."
THE EVERGREEN DANTE
Sidelined in November 2020 with a knee reconstruction, the Nice captain Dante returned to his rightful place on the pitch this summer after months of hard work. A permanent fixture in the starting XI, he is one of the architects of the excellent start to the season (best defense in Ligue 1 with 4 goals conceded). "Inevitably, at his age, I had doubts after his injury," admits Hugues. But they quickly evaporated. "He's back to his best, he's a monster," says the man who had a soft spot for Katalinski in his youth - "he was a warrior, like Dante." "It's incredible," Denis marvels.
Denis and his son Quentin, Le Gym in their blood!
"Did you see the quality of his performances after that injury, at his age? I think he's even better than before." An opinion shared by Sébastien: "I've never seen him so strong, so sharp. He was already very good, but I have the impression that he can do another 2-3 years at a very high level. It shows that he's a great professional, working hard every day. Sometimes, when you get a knee reconstruction, you start well and then you have a dip, so we shouldn't get carried away. But I'm not worried about him, he's a real pro, he knows his body perfectly."
"We need guys like that to continue with our DNA, carry our identity," explains Hugues, who sometimes runs into him in a town in the west of the Alpes-Maritimes region: "He's a really nice young man. Well, youngish (laughs)." "We’re not close to seeing the last of him," says Sébastien. "He's an example for everyone, he's been here for so long that you'd almost forget his record. He is a real lover of the game and you can feel that he likes it here. He has found the climate, the Brazilian atmosphere, I hope he will stay at the club until the end of his career."
LE GYM TO SUPPORT PURCHASING POWER
It's not only during the famous 90 minutes that Nice fans keep smiling. Launched last summer, the purchasing power program allows Gym fans to take advantage of discounts on many everyday purchases. "We went to Disneyland for three days and saved €60 a day," says Magali, mother of two little boys. "I saw that there were lots of discounts in the stores, I haven't taken advantage of all of them yet, but I will. In any case, we should advertise it more because it's really great. I've talked about it in my circle and I've converted the whole family," smiles this season ticket holder. "At the time, the Mèfi Club for kids didn’t exist. It's great what the club does for its supporters, young and old. We are proud to see OGC Nice develop like this."
Magali and her family at the stadium and at Disneyland!
At 66 years old, Hugues found the system "very easy to use". "I went to Disney, I bought a Wonderbox, and every time I go to the cinema, I pay €7.50 instead of €15 or €16!" "I've been a season ticket holder for years, so that's not what convinces me to keep coming back, of course. But it's still a big help."
Season ticket holders in Ray and Garibaldi, respectively, Denis and Sébastien echo the sentiment: "It's my wife who uses it." And the whole family benefits from it. While the former takes the hands on approach: "We took tickets for concerts at reduced rates", the second admits "I don’t have the patience, but I trust my wife, I know that she loves it". Less interested in the practical side of things, Sébastien is no less enthusiastic: "A lot of work has been done for the fans. I've been going to the stadium since I was 6 years old, I knew the old Stade du Ray, where the seats were even more expensive in a completely different setting. When it rained, we came home soaked! In some clubs, when a big investor arrives, the price of the tickets goes up. Fortunately, this is not the case with INEOS. The club has kept its prices very attractive and, on top of that, it even offers to reimburse you, while still investing in the team. It's smart, a bit like the Mèfi Club. I want to say, ‘well played’, and ‘thank you!’"