Son of a pitch. New episode. After French Alps, we keep travelling around France to look for the most beautiful football pitches. Not the ones with a perfect grass and clean lines. We like better the ones nobody care about. Forgotten by the fundings. Damaged by the studs. Destroyed by the years. The ones with no nets to stop the ball. We wanted to go to Corsica, a place where football is a religion, to explore stunning landscapes and unique pitches. Between May and September, we planned a few trips in the Balagne area to discover these grounds you can’t find anywhere else. Come for a ride around Corsica.
In Pietralba, the stadium is like a bottle of Pietra, the local beer. You can feel the thistles on your ankles like the beer bubbles on your moustache. No grass on the crater dug in the cliffs, in this village build on the slopes of the mountain. What’s crazy when you think about it, a 11 aside game at Pietralba, would mobilize 5% of the local population. With 467 inhabitants, the village isn’t really big. But the passion for the game is.
Old memories of these tournaments we loved so much on a gravely pitch. A team of youngsters who were defying the odds versus all the lads out there fighting to lift the trophy. You don’t really see proper professional skills, but you see real challenges. Liptonic and Cacolac drinks between the games. Like us, the stadium has changed a lot. Like us, it has progressed in its game. He grew up to become a man. A handsome man. Well established in the middle of the mountains. Standing proud with its brand new 4G pitch. Not a hair higher than the other. As the managers like to say, when you do a bad touch on a pitch like that, you’re just fucking bad. Some people will think Santa Reparata stadium have lost the appeal it had in the past, but you’ve got to learn to live with your time. And keep that emotion in your eyes when you remember the good old days.
Speleoncato’s stadium, it’s like the right hole when you have sex for the first time. You’ve got to find it and i’s not that easy. The mistake is to think that you can find it in the heart of the village, at the top of the mountain. But you actually have to go down the road, and keep your eyes peeled. It’s impossible to see the stadium from the road, you need to look for an old sign that points out a path in the forest. Then you penetrate inside without pushing too hard. And that’s where you will find the forbidden fruit. A hidden gem. The pitch we’ve been dreamed of. Lost among the trees, with rusted goal posts, and wild plants at the surface that reveal a certain standard from the past. That time when Speleoncato had a proper team playing in the local league. Hosting games at home, in the most beautiful stadium of the world.
Nowadays i’s on a quite decent 3G pitch that we play football in Ponte Leccia. Back in the days, the place to be at the village was located along the road that leads to the Monte Cintu. Today, just a few clumps of grass are here to remember you what should be the real surface of a football pitch. But the nature is stronger. And the sun is stronger than the nature in this part of the world. Stronger than the players? Maybe. Not as strong as your imagination though. Standing on the middle of the empty pitch, looking at the goals, you imagine yourself dribbling the defenders and false rebounds, hitting the free-kick and that asshole in the stands, shaking the nets and the terrace. But well, on this pitch there’s nothing of that. Just you. And the sun.
On the heights of Ile Rousse, there is one of the greenest lawns that exists on the Island. It overlooks the bay, and have been hosted a large number of 4th Division games. And there have been quite a few very talented players who have came here, to play the mighty Balagne Football Ile-Rousse. We can remember a game against Olympique de Marseille B Team during the summer of 2003. And during this game, two Olympians players gave a lesson of football to the others. In goals, a minot named Cedric Carasso. Local fans spent the whole first half to insult him, but you know what, he didn’t really give a fuck. Instead, in between making brillant saves, he was turning back to look at them in the eyes and laugh. And on the pitch, a small kid was keeping the ball and organising the game like no else. Skinny, pale, little, but fucking talented. Every single ball was going through him. He was turning the defenders into cones. His technique was clean as fuck. His touch silky as fuck. And this kid had a name. Samir Nasri.
And the old men in the crowed, they realised soon enough that this one had something more than any other players from that age they’ve seen before. “Oh Doumé, tell me, who’s that skinny kid? He’s so talented! Never seen something like that before.”
On the way to the beach of Bodri, located on the territory of Corbara, there sits this strange stadium. Stuck between the campsite the railway and the beach, it has just one goal. A field to practice attack – defence or shooting, but not enough for a proper game. It probably had known better days too, when you could at least play with a ball on it, when there was grass on it, not just weed. Maybe there was a time when nets were stopping the shots on target. You have two options to come take a look at this pitch. Plant your tent at the campsite, and stop on your way to the beach. Or get on the train from Calvi to Ile Rousse, and let your childhood dreams express themselves looking at the landscapes through the window.
Welcome to Calacuccia. The sun shines but no one in sight. Instead of people, it’s a bunch of cows on this picturesque ground. Overlooked by the impressive Monte Cintu, the highest mountain in Corsica, not much is happening on this former international stadium. Only customers of the restaurant nearby who are using the pitch to park their cars. It’s quite sad thinking no one in the village is really interested anymore to come kicking the ball here. It must be said that it does not seem that much effort has been made to maintain the infrastructure in a decent condition. Brambles gain more and more space over the goals, the changing room is locked down, and when it’s not the cows, it’s the wild pigs who are in a 4-4-2 formation.
If we have explored the most of Balagne are, there is still a lot of land we need to cover to find all abandoned pitches of Corsica. Keep riding these long roads, in search of hidden gems, to accomplish one fay the goal of shooting all the grounds in Corsica.