Just four months after the disappearance of André de Rocca, another great figure in the sports writing of Provençal and La Provence died yesterday in Marseille. Alain Pécheral, journalist at his side for almost a quarter of a century, evokes here the figure of the one whose pen, brilliant and sharp, has not been forgotten…

Racé… This is the first word that comes to mind when talking about him. Class with a capital K. Beyond an elegant dress which was in a way his brand image(s), Jean-Louis also displayed a lightness of being, not at all unbearable. A kind of refinement of the spirit which was very much due to his humor.

Preferably English humor, sticking perfectly with its apparent detachment. And this although he did not particularly like the culture british, which he considered outrageously invasive vis-à-vis our French language, so precious and so threatened. All those film titles that we don’t even bother to translate anymore, all those advertisements in Franglais gibberish, all those words artificially placed in conversation out of snobbery… That a language is in perpetual evolution, he was the first to affirm the need for it but what is the point of importing terms that are useless…

Why say a plane crashed when it crashed? This fueled his anger, as did the galloping progress of spelling errors on our television screens, in particular in the drop-down banners of the news channels. At the risk of passing for what we were – two old c… – we often talked about it, knowing the lost cause in advance.

A fortiori for “sports” journalists, always considered as almost uneducated hacks…

A real talent for writing

One day, invited to represent the newspaper in a very chic dinner-debate, Jean-Louis had the unpleasant surprise of hearing a sociologist trumpeting that a sports journalist only had three hundred words in his vocabulary… The lady had taken for his rank in the next day’s newspaper, through one of those brilliant and biting papers of which he had the secret… Perhaps even – who knows – she had learned some new terms there? And then, as Courteline wrote, “To pass for an idiot in the eyes of an imbecile is a gourmet’s delight…” Because, clear-sighted and even able to be brittle on occasion, he knew, as in rugby, to put the intruders ten meters away.

Orchidoclasts, go your way! I also remember a colleague, benefiting from a certain notoriety and older than us, who had come to complain about our too frequent laughter in the editorial staff, delivering us in all modesty this final sentence: “Children, you are very nice, but there are people here who write clever papers…” Unanimously and on the spot, the word had entered our pantheon of derision and, the impertinent kids that we still were, would, for years, evoke the expression. His papers, in any case, intelligent or not, often flapped like a flag under the mistral…

The taste of laughter and celebration

Jean-Louis had in him a taste for laughter and celebration, a legacy of his sporting past and his unfailing membership in Smuc where, until recently, athletes were not the last to draw when there was something stupid to do. To do. Beautiful, big, even monumental, everything was good in the student spirit of the time…

Not long ago, before the disease became omnipresent, he continued to maintain the unbreakable bonds of friendship he had established within the Gray and Black club. With a group of kids in their seventies, funny and unconventional, he was even preparing for the club’s centenary for 2023 against a backdrop of parodies, songs and sketches that were not necessarily clear… The fiftieth anniversary, renamed Persépolissonade because the Shah of Iran had celebrated some time before the 2,500 years of the Persian Empire, had not been sad and this new jubilee does not intend to engender melancholy either Jean-Louis had tasted high-level sport, in other times, certainly more human, establishing for example a record of Provence Juniors in the 400 meters which was to remain standing for twenty years. But in fact, he excelled in a myriad of sports, thanks to physical qualities well above average and also through his ability to adapt.

Football, cross-country skiing or windsurfing saw him make astonishing progress in a very short time, according to his passions of the moment. Within the newspaper, however, his favorite disciplines were always athletics and rugby in which he found the true values ​​of capital sport, the one he always tried to defend. It was also an opportunity for him to approach and perfectly imitate Daniel Herrero, the prophet with the blindfold of the Rugby Club of Toulon, in his famous oratorical flights… Without forgetting to recall in passing that the famous Pilou Pilou , battle cry preceding all the meetings in Mayol, was not born on the edge of the Rade but that he had been “imported” to Toulon by Marcel Bodrero, rugby player at Smuc in the 1930s. Jean-Louis was a man of talent(s) who also adored French song, more particularly Brel and Brassens, of which, lately, he had been humming, more than usual, verses evoking this last rendezvous that he saw approaching with a incredible firmness.

“It’s hard to die in the spring, you know, But I want us to laugh, I want us to dance”chanted the Grand Jacques with him, while Tonton Georges, with that black humor which is said to be the politeness of despair, will have brought him back to the end towards the tradition of student farce…

“Goodbye fake shins, cardboard skulls. No more funeral marches to the sound of kazoos. At the grand ball of the Quat’z’arts we will no longer go dancing. The real funerals have just begun”.

The funeral will take place on Tuesday May 17: at 10:30 a.m. for those who want to say a last farewell to him at the Bon Pasteur retirement home, 23 avenue de la colline Saint-Joseph Marseille 9th. Then at 2 p.m. at the Aubagne crematorium.

André Giraud, President of the French Athletics Federation: “It is with great sadness that I learn of the death of Jean-Louis Korb, an excellent sports journalist, passionate about athletics and himself an athlete during the heyday of the SMUC. Jean-Louis covered our Marseille for 20 years -Cassis and he had written the 20th anniversary book. With our entire large athletics family, I join in the pain of his loved ones and send my deepest condolences to his family.”

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