The historic Stade Bauer opened in 1909, becoming home to one of France’s oldest football teams, Red Star Football Club.
Red Star were founded in 1897 but none other than Jules Rimet, a man with one for the most famous names in football after having the original World Cup trophy names after him.
With a capacity of just 10,000, the Stade Bauer has been in desperate need of modernisation for decades after it was initially damaged by a storm in the late 90s. Since then, it’s gone from bad to worst, at one point even failing to meet safety regulations to host Red Star’s games.
In tribute to the stadium and Red Star’s illustrious history, Rennes based photographer Guirec Munier snuck into the the old ground armed with just his iPhone, capturing the Rino Della Negra stand and its rudimentary charm as the changes take shape around it, and spoke to Lower Block about his photography and love of football.
Guirec Munier: I have supported Stade Rennais FC, the club from my hometown, for 32 years and still live in Rennes in Britanny. I never asked myself the question of which club I should support. It seemed obvious to me, and it still is, to support my hometown club. I come from a city and a region where local identity is strong.
Lower Block: Who were your big football idols growing up? Do you remember your first live football match?
GM: It was August 3, 1991 against Olympique de Marseille. I went there with my father. He doesn’t particularly like football but he wanted to please me. He then accompanied me to a few matches in France and abroad.
The first big players I saw all came from my first game. Marseille had just lost a few months earlier in the European Cup final. There was Jean-Pierre Papin, Chris Waddle and Abedi Pelé.
The Stade Rennais FC players who I liked the most during the first seasons were Jocelyn Gourvennec, Sylvain Wiltord, Marco Grassi and Stéphane Guivarc’h. They were above the rest.
LB: What drew you towards football and it’s culture as a fan?
GM: What attracted me to football as a fan was the fervour and adrenaline felt at the stadium. Traveling to support my club and discovering other football clubs and fans reinforced my love for the game and everything that revolves around it.
LB: Tell me a bit about this project, how did it come about?
GM: When the schedule of the Championnat National (the French equivalent of League One) was revealed at the end of July, the objective of visiting the legendary Bauer Stadium before the destruction of the Rino Della Negra stand became concrete and urgent.
For several seasons I absolutely wanted to discover the historic Red Star FC stadium, in the working-class suburbs in the north of Paris. The day before the first match of the season at home against Sochaux, I managed to sneak inside this 114-year-old stadium to immortalise the last breaths of the Rino Della Negra stand and see the evolution of the future stadium.
LB: Do you have a favourite photograph from this series?
GM: Yes, there is one photo that stands out from the others. Taken at the start of the golden hour, this is not a photo of the Rino Della Negra stand but a photo where we can admire Planète Z, an iconic HLM (housing at moderate rent) building with a triangular structure, nicknamed the fourth stand of the Bauer stadium. It will soon be the last vestige of Bauer stadium.
LB: What was it about taking pictures and telling stories through images that interested you? In particular, around football culture?
GM: The unexpected stimulates me. Even if I try to anticipate as best as possible each series of photos by carrying out research on the cities, on the environment of the stadiums and on the types of supporters (without going into a sociological approach), there are always unexpected things which occur.
Football is a living art. And like everything that is alive, football and its microcosm are full of unforeseen events. And I like it. I also like the process of trying to change certain stereotypes about football.
It’s fascinating because it’s in perpetual motion. Football is in a permanent quest for modernity and many fans wish to maintain their identity. This ambivalence creates many abundant currents and photography is there to reflect this.
GM: I’m pretty conservative when it comes to anything to do with football. All my footballing imagination and all my biasis were created in the 90s. I’m not for a status quo because it’s simply not possible and we have to know how to evolve with the times, but certain developments have killed a certain romanticism. The Bosman ruling which has distorted the European championships, the quest for performance, the maximization of profit and the excessive merchandising of football are evils.
A football club is an integral part of a person’s identity. Football brings people together, but it also drives people apart. The feeling of belonging must persist despite these shortcomings. However, and to follow up on the beginning of my answer, I have the feeling that the globalisation of football is gradually eroding these social links.
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