Union Sport Tourcoing was formed in May 1898 by the head of the Lycée Gambetta, Albert Fromentin, and Charles Van de Veegaete, an international standard referee who would become Tourcoing’s greatest benefactor. The English professor at the school, Monsieur Beltete advocated the formation of a football team, which came into being in 1902.
Upon the death of Charles Van de Veegaete in 1958 the club elected to change the name of their ground from Stade Albert Fromentin to its current name, the Stade Van de Veegaete. The club have also erected a large bust of their long serving patron at the ground. The club have played at their current ground in Rue de Gand since their early years although the current grandstand is believed to have built in the 1970’s.
The club really hit the ground running and within eight years had won the Championship of France, a tournament run by the Union of French Societies of Athletic Sports. Initially it had been a competition for Parisien clubs but had been extended out to the provinces. Amazingly for a final, they trounced Stade Helvétique de Marseille by seven goals to two, clinching the trophy in fine style at the Parc des Princes. They also reached the semi finals of the competition on three occasions. They also reached the semi-final of the Coupe de France in 1921. Tourcoing vanquished SC Choisy le Roi, Stade Français, AS Française and Racing Union Calais before bowing out to the powerful Olympique Paris 3-2 in extra time at Lille. Tourcoing’s last Coupe de France run of any note came in 1937/38 when they reached the last 32 losing to then Second Division FCO Charleville by a single goal.
Even though Tourcoing remained strictly amateur several of the players were selected for the national team. Eventually the club turned professional in 1933, becoming founder members of Ligue 2. However, their first venture into the paid ranks would last just five years. After World War II the club had a brief alliance with Roubaix, forming CO Roubaix-Tourcoing, before demerging in 1957 to become UST once again. The club spent many seasons in the amateur ranks before merging with a top amateur club AS-Jean Macé Tourcoing in 1990. UST incorporated AS’ yellow colours with their own black and white. Around this time the now named Tourcoing FC became a magnet for youth development and due to some clever mother club stipulations, Tourcoing have financially benefited from transfer fees for their two most famous alumni, Didier Drogba and Yohan Cabaye, who both spent their formative years with Tourcoing. In 2010 the club reverted to the US Tourcoing name and also went back to black and white shirts.
This season has been Tourcoing’s most successful for many years and today’s match is something of a celebration as they have won the top division of the regional Nord Pas de Calais competition with some ease. This allows promotion to the fifth tier CFA2 which, although still amateur, it is a national rather than regional competition. Today is the last game of a highly successful campaign and before the party really gets going the club say a classy farewell to 35 year old centre back Cédric Leman who is named captain for the day. He lasts 40 minutes before he leaves the field to a genuinely respectful ovation. In warm conditions the hosts struggle with the heat and their decision to dye their hair white in celebration of the title win proves foolhardy as the dye ruins their genuinely unusual, and dare I say audaciously designed, pink kit. A goal looks increasingly unlikely with both keepers more than up to the efforts being sent their way in what is a pretty dour encounter. The home side make a change and introduce Adnane Nsangou to the fray. Moments later the lanky striker recently signed from Wasquehal bursts through a labouring Dunkerque defence. He totally miscues his shot which catches the keeper by surprise. Kashala can only parry the mishit shot to his left and Nsangou steers the stray ball into an unguarded net. It’s a sloppy goal that somehow sums up this most typical end of season encounter. The welcoming locals, noisy and enthusiastic throughout, doubtless celebrated their rare success well into the night.
Tourcoing is proudly French and was the scene of an especially fierce battle in 1794 between the French and the defeated British and Austrian troops. Given the town’s proximity to Belgium, which lies less than two miles away, Flemish influence is particularly evident in the bar as all beers available were Belgian.
As for the title of this piece disappointingly Tourcoing is not pronounced Tor-co-ing but in fact it’s Tor-kwang, but given it is so late in the season I am exerting some poetic licence for once.
Sunday June 1st 2014 – Nord Pas de Calais Ligue Division Honneur
US Tourcoing (0) 1 (Nsangou 68)
USL Dunkerque II (0) 0
Attendance: 357 (at Stade Van de Veegaete)
1. Samuel Reschid, 2. Sudney Badohoun, 3. Nicolas Renard, 4. Nadir Touhami, 5. Cédric Leman (c), 6. Oceana Periera, 7. Kevin Alves, 8. Julien Merreillie, 9. Yassine Delbergue, 10. Kevin Gallo, 11. Laurent Petitpierre.
Subs: 12. David Duquesnay (for 5,41 mins), 13. Adnane Nsangou (for 7,66 mins), 14. Serkan Ozsaglam.
1. Tshianke Kashala, 2. Martin Pollet, 3. Gregory Terriere, 4. Hugo Demary, 5. Florian Haelewyck, 6. Sebastien Henaux, 7. Abdelwahab Baalla, 8. Mike Kinsley Guillaume, 9. Joveta Mateus Nhanga, 10. Gabriel Oudjani, 11. Yan Kabon.
Subs: 12. Julien Popieul (for 10,65 mins), 13. Antoine Alvarez (for 7,76 mins), 14. Valentin Venza (for 2,65 mins).