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Normandy, Soccer and History

I wanted to share this bit of soccer-related U.S. history with Insider loyalists:

I recently received an e-mail from Jan Milders, who lives in the Netherlands and once played for amateur sides in Amsterdam and The Hague. Three years ago, he and his wife bought an old house in Lower Normandy, France, with plans to renovate and eventually move there. Jan, a 45-year-old illustrator, began making routine visits to start the work.

In December 2005, he asked the local amateur club, AS Pointe Cotentin in Saint-Pierre-Eglise, if, when he was in town, he could join the senior training sessions. During one visit, he noticed framed photos from a match played on July 23, 1944, between a local French team and a U.S. military air squadron.

The photos were from a USA war-time publication for the French people, "Voir". He asked the locals about it. "They were very proud of it," Milders said, "but had never thought of celebrating the event."

A few months ago, thanks to the wonders of eBay, he purchased a copy of the newspaper containing the article for just 1.70 euros. Upon reading the story, he learned that the match celebrated the liberation of the town and helped raise cash for refugees from the hard-hit city of Caen. The article mentioned the U.S. team captain, airman Warner Dryfuss. "I felt something had to be done," he said. The club president, Yves Planque, and the other members warmed to the idea of organizing a commemorative event around D-Day (June 6).

please keep reading.....

Through the U.S. Soccer Federation, Milders was put in touch with Philadelphia-based soccer historian Roger Allaway, whose research with historian Colin Jose uncovered this article from the July 25, 1944, issue of "Stars and Stripes":

A French civilian soccer team defeated booters from a Ninth AF Fighter unit, 4-1, here yesterday before a mixed crowd of 1,000 Allied soldiers and civilians. Pfc. Herbert Sorter, of New York, kept the GIs from being blanked when he netted a shot late in the first half. The more experienced Frenchmen scored two goals in the first half and added two more after the intermission. Sorter and Cpl. Kurt Wien of Schenectady, N.Y., formerly played on the Stanford University eleven. American soldiers in the throng contributed 1,643 francs when a collection was taken for refugees in Caen.


The commemorative game has become Milders' passion and he would love to find USA vets that played in or witnessed the event.

"It would be our dream to have a match between one of our French teams and a team from the Air Force, and a small ceremony with some of the vets there," he said.

Milders continues to research the event, hoping to visit the airport where the squadron was based and the local newspaper office. The USSF and U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame are also attempting to provide assistance.

If anyone out there in Insider Nation has any insight into the match, the participants or military contacts who might be able to help, please comment here or reach me directly at goffs@washpost.com

By Steve Goff  |  December 19, 2008; 12:03 PM ET
Categories:  History  
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Comments

"It would be our dream to have a match between one of our French teams and a team from the Air Force, and a small ceremony with some of the vets there," he said.

That would be very nice. Nicer yet is if the two national teams could stage a friendly in Normandy, maybe as a warm up to the Confederations Cup? Is June 6th too close to Confed Cup for a friendly?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 19, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I like I-270's idea. A bit more ambitious, but it will get more attention.

Posted by: fischy | December 19, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Awesome idea!

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | December 19, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I would like to learn more about that game a couple years earlier when a bunch of Allied POWs played the German national team in Colombes Stadium in occupied Paris, with all the Allied POWs escaping at the end of the game.

Oh, wait...

Posted by: Ron16 | December 19, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

This is a technicality, but the Air Force did not exist during WWII. What became the Air Force on Sept. 18, 1947, was the Army Air Corps. It would seem unnecessary to limit participants to just Air Force members, but could include flyers from the Army as well. This would broaden the pool of potential players.

Posted by: lmorin | December 19, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

lol @ Ron16

Victoire!

Posted by: fischy | December 19, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Neat.
Worlds are colliding, somebody tell Ronaldo to lose the kickstand dude:-)
http://esporte.uol.com.br/album/081217ronaldobike_album.jhtm?abrefoto=8

Posted by: DadRyan | December 19, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

That would be very nice. Nicer yet is if the two national teams could stage a friendly in Normandy, maybe as a warm up to the Confederations Cup? Is June 6th too close to Confed Cup for a friendly?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 19, 2008 12:50 PM

June 6th would cause a bigger problem with the World Cup qualify against Honduras at home on June 6.

Posted by: TCompton | December 19, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Right TCompton, that would be a problem. Maybe we can wrap up this CONCACAF thing before June 6th and have the B-squad to play Honduras :-).

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 19, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Great idea, and it'll show the French we still call the Fries and the Toast "French" and have no hard feelings . . . well unless you are a House Republican . . .

I'm certain it wouldn't be hard to rev up the USO and the military to get this going. Positive publicity in France/Europe would be great.

Posted by: delantero | December 19, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I thought we called the fries "papas fritas."

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 19, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

As a retired member of the Air Force and a longtime soccer player, I can tell you that the Air Force has team (I'm talking about the Air Force proper and not about the Air Force Academy which has one too for cadets). A good link is:
http://www.defenselink.mil/armedforcessports/zsoc.html

which also has contact information links.

Posted by: timoteo1 | December 19, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

That's a great story and a great idea. I hope the commemorative event occurs. I would hope that the armed forces should have records and individual that can help in identifying the people.

Posted by: tfoisie | December 19, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Great post!

I traveled through Normandy and Caen this summer. There is an outstanding D-day museum outside of Caen - one of France's flagship museums. My guess is that there is a staff of professionals there that would be quite familiar with how to research local events in that era. Maybe some would even take an interest in the event and potetentially dedicate some space to it. See www.memorial-caen.fr.

Posted by: pirvine0 | December 19, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Great, the dollar was coming back, but now maybe I won't be fixing that quick trip to France in June!

If I were retired Air, Navy or Army, I'd be checking Space A flights to Germany, then train to Normandy this June!

"Make it so." Capt. J-Luc Picard.

Posted by: delantero | December 19, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Great info! Looking forward to more.

BTW while Ronaldo has his mechanic take off that kickstand he should get him to take off the spoke reflectors.

Posted by: Modibo | December 20, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

""Worlds are colliding, somebody tell Ronaldo to lose the kickstand dude:-)""

Lordy, someone tell him to put his front quick release on correctly too . . . and lose the wheel reflectors, the spoke protector . . . a

nd coming from someone who's ridden cobblestones in Belgium . . you gotta put it in the big ring and push the pedals, otherwise your arse bounces all over the place and your chain slaps will eventually pop your chain of the front ring . . .his form is terrible!!

Posted by: delantero | December 20, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

delantero: I thought I might come off as a Bikesnob if I mentioned the pie plate and reflectors, but since you mentioned it I surely agree.
Good for him though. Better than trannies hoes.

Posted by: DadRyan | December 20, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

DadRyan: So leave it to me to be the bikesnob!!

And plus, that front quick release doesn't look tight. I'm looking out for Ronaldo's safety.

Posted by: delantero | December 20, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Bikesnobs this is where I found those pictures of Ronaldo on the Friday Quiz... Please put on your sense of humor before checking out:
http://www.bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/
here's another athlete rocking a bike taken from my old wrench's facebook...
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30022568&id=1495982050

Posted by: DadRyan | December 20, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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