Last modified: 2016-11-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: chorale roanne |
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Flag of Roanne 37 - Image by Ivan Sache, 19 February 2016
The municipality of Roanne (35,507 inhabitants in 2013; 1,610 ha) is located 80 km north-west of Lyon and 80 km north of Saint-Étienne. A stronghold of hosiery manufacture and trade, Roanne has been famous since the 1950s for its basketball team, which often challenged teams with a much bigger budget and representing much bigger towns.
The basketball club of Roanne (website) is named for the choir (chorale) established in 1932 by Élie Vieux and other school teachers of the Mulsant borough of the town. There were very few professional choirs at the time, therefore the boy's chorale of Roanne soon get national fame. In 1936, after the boy's voice had changed, the choir was soon disbanded but transformed into a bicycle section. Not popular, the section was succeeded the next year by a basketball club named Groupe Sportif de la Chorale Mulsant. Henri Rhodamel, the club's founder, would chair it for the next 40 years.
The Chorale joined the National Division (First League) in 1953. On 28 February 1959, the club won the final of the French championship, defeating its local rival, ASVEL (Villeurbanne), 67-52. Roanne won a second national title in 2007, defeating Nancy (81-74) in the final played on 2 June, in spite of its modest budget (14th out of 18 clubs).
The emblematic player of the club, and namesake of its arena, is André Vacheresse (1927-2000), player from 1942 to 1962, manager from 1977 to 1978, and coach from 1978 to 1980. Vacheresse played 70 games with the French national team, winning three medals in the European Basketball Championship (1949: silver; 1951 and 1953, bronze).
Alain Gilles (1946-2014; aka Monsieur Basket; obituary, Le Midi Libre, 18 November 2014), also born in Roanne, played for the Chorale from 1962 to 1965. He then moved to ASVEL, where he would play until 1986, winning eight national titles. Gilles played 159 games with the French national team from 1962 to 1977.
Ivan Sache, 19 February 2016