BLOG: Gille musketeers are in townArticle
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ehfTV commentator Tom Ó Brannagáin blogs the Match of the Week in Round 4 Chambéry vs. Kielce

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BLOG: Gille musketeers are in town

Chambéry is a delightful place nestled among some of the top ski resorts of France and it is our destination for this week’s MOTW. I enjoy the trip there whether I land in Lyon, a city I love, or whether I land in Geneva. The trip to Chambéry, time wise, is the same and I love the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Chambéry is also the best box seat for this commentator of all the matches and failing eyesight aside it is in this arena that I have the best view of any match at any time on my travels.

The arena is named Le Phare, the lighthouse, and the spotlight will certainly be on Chambéry this season. The coach of many years, Philippe Gardent, is gone along with one of the best young talents of French handball, Barachet, who has left to play with another Talant at Atlético Madrid.
The tag of perennial Bridesmaids in the French league may also be going, as Paris Handball flex their financial muscle, the annual journey to the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase may be difficult in the coming years for Chambéry. This of course all depends on events at Montpellier.

Yet there is something about this club that draws me to it. A bit like Ademar León in Spain or Pick Szeged in Hungary, they fight the odds each year to continue at a very high level. As an Irishman, I am always drawn to the underdogs in whatever sport and I like the atmosphere around this club.

Even the fan club, Les Fondus (the melted ones, I presume) pokes fun at themselves, but these guys who grew up in the shadows of the mountains are not afraid of mountains and they will face some heavy hitters in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Karel Nocar, the Czech stalwart is a great character. He is as mad as a bag of cats to chat with (in a good way) he is a warm and lovable bloke who wears his jersey with pride. A notable left wing he played right back last year when Barachet was injured. Now that’s a guy you want on your team.  I really look forward to meeting him on my visits to Chambéry. Dumoulin, or the windmill, as I call him, is aptly named as his arms and legs are long enough to cover every cm of the goal and he is also someone I like to meet.

This year, there will be three brothers playing in the team. The Gille musketeers are in town wearing 9, 10 and 11. Coincidentally enough I also played with two of my brothers on my club team in Ireland and we also wore the same numbers. I wore 9, but with my long hair, at the time I looked more like Bertrand, although I played centre. It’s a well known fact that Bertrand and Guillaume like to room together on trips so I hope Benjamin won’t feel too left out.

Chambéry has not had a good start to this campaign of the  VELUX EHF Champions League, with three defeats, yet all of them have been narrow and key injuries have not helped. Kielce on the other hand are looking very strong indeed with three victories and, due to their signings at the start of the season, they looked very balanced and are one of my tips for the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

Curse of the commentator aside, Kielce may just win this one, but Chambéry has beaten them here before, by the slimmest of margins and I would not discount them making the knock-out stages. They just missed out last year with four wins, but made it the previous season, again with four wins. The key question is; when will they get their first win. This one is a must win and a must see.

Watch the Match of the Week on ehfTV powered by live on Sunday 19:00 hrs local time

TEXT: Tom Ó Brannagáin, ehfTV commentator