RC Lens and LOSC Lille will meet for the 108th time on Sunday in what is Les Douges 70th year anniversary since the merger of SC Fives and Olympique Lillois.
RC Lens were relegated to Ligue 2 in 2011. However, the game will not be played at Lens’ Stade Felix Bollaert and will instead be at the Stade de France in Paris due to their home stadium being renovated.
The Derby du Nord dates back to the 1930s when RC Lens first took on Olympique Lillois – which became an even bigger derby when Lens gained promotion to the first division in 1937.
“With only 40km between the two cities, it is one of the true regional derbies that France can claim to have,” said Lille season-ticket holder, Andrew Gibney.
Like the Derby du Rhône and Le Classique, the two teams have a class divide. Lens is a city known to be more working class whilst Lille, are known as being more “bourgeois.”
There has been no clear dominance from either of the two teams. Lille have won on 40 occasions and Lens 33, whilst both sides have had stretches of not winning in five attempts.
The first meeting of Lens and LOSC was on September 23 1945, the visitors won 3-1. Just two years later, the two teams met in the Coupe de France, Lille winning 3-2 in what would be their third Coupe de France trophy.
The majority of adult male fans support Lens, as 20-years ago, Lille was playing their football in the second division, whilst their rivals, Lens won the title in 1998.
Ahead of the European Championships held in France next year, Lille built the Stade Pierre Mauroy, a 50,186 capacity stadium. Despite being the bigger of the two cities, Lille struggle to fill their stadium, whereas Lens as a town, has a much smaller population, often getting 40,000 plus at the Stade Felix Bollaert.
The main fan group at Lille is the DVE “Douges Virage Est,” who are this season celebrating their 25 years as the clubs main group this season. Made up of young men, they bring banners to every away, whilst sitting in the Tribune Nord during home matches.
RC Lens fans against PSG, 2014 (Video Courtesy of Elitexzone_Fr)
Violence isn’t as such a big issue in France as it has been made out to be in the past.
“They just want to show their colours and represent their city and team,” said Gibney. Also within the fans at Lille, you have much smaller supporter groups, Y’est D’Dins and the Douges D’Honneur, for the mature fans.
Despite both sides struggling for quality at the minute, neutrals can expect blood and thunder on the pitch with plenty of vocal support from the stands, with Lens having the bigger core support.
RC Lens have been struggling off the field of late. Due to not having a stadium as theirs is being renovated for Euro 2016 – the French club have agreed a deal to play 16 ‘home’ games at SC Amiens 12,000 capacity stadium.
With a win this weekend, Lens can move out of the relegation zone and possible above their rivals, depending on other results and goal difference.