The list of Belgian football grounds that fall in the “must do” category is truly lengthy, probably more so per club than any other country in Europe. The Stade du Buraufosse on the outskirts of Liège is most definitely one entry on that list. At the entry gate, a banner of a comely sorceress greets the visitor with the message of “Welcome to the Sorcerer’s Cauldron, here you enter into the legend of the Buraufosse”.
As with many Belgian clubs Tilleur have a somewhat convoluted history but were orginally formed in 1899 by a group of five students from St. Servatius College. Their relative age saw them assigned matricule number 21 when the Belgian FA ranked clubs in order of formation. The club won the Second Division in 1924/25, promotion being nicely timed to coincide with their royal recognition for 25 years of existence and permission to call themselves Royal Tilleur FC.
Their first spell in the top division only lasted one season and was a precursor to a lengthy period of hopping between the two divisions. Their best season came in 1964/65 when they finished fourth in the top division.
In the late 1980’s financial uncertainty surrounded the club and in 1989 the decision was taken to merge with Royal St Nicolas de Liège and become Royal Tilleur St Nicolas. Just seven years later the club merged again this time with RFC Liège as Royal Tilleur FC Liègois. RFC Liège’s matricule was number 4 meaning Tilleur’s inferior 21 went into abeyance.
The name Tilleur was dropped in 2000 and in 2002 some old Tilleur re-registered the name under a new matricule number 9045. After just one season the new club merged with St-Gilles and took their matricule number 2878 to form the present club Royal Tilleur St-Gilles. The story doesn’t end there, two seasons ago Tilleur were about to drop into the sixth level when they merged with Cité Sport Grâce-Hollogne, a modest team from Liège who had risen to the fourth tier. Tilleur won promotion at the end of last season and have regained a place back in the top division of the Liège Provincial league, which sits at the fifth tier of Belgian football.
The club initially played at a modest field called Bois D’Avroy before moving to a pitch next to the ground of Standard Liège in 1917. Nine years later Tilleur were on the move again this time to a new ground called Pont d’Ougrée, the land for which had been donated to the club by the steelworks company SA des Aciéries d’Angleu. The club had settled in well to their new home and enjoyed a sustained period of success however in 1959 the adjacent Cockerill steel mill and factory obtained the land for their expansion plans and Tilleur had to find another new home. The club purchased land in nearby St Nicolas and began leveling what was a very hilly location. The new ground was ready for use in 1960 and soon became immensely popular, it was not uncommon for Standard fans to run out of the Sclessin after an afternoon fixture up the road to an early evening match at the Buraufosse.
Despite an 11,000 capacity the Buraufosse was considered unsuitable for Second Division football when the club merged with Liège. The newly merged club played at the Stade du Pairay in Seraing. The Buraufosse was abandoned for a while before being used by some local amateur teams. Eventually some substantial renovation took place when the Tilleur club was reborn.
The result of today’s match is somewhat immaterial, as both clubs are still in pre-season and this is a “match amical”. Tilleur and their third tier visitors, Sprimont-Comblain Sport, exchange early goals in what is a reasonably entertaining encounter. A modest crowd, even with free entry, gathers at this wonderful and historic venue.
Friendly – 05/08/2015
RFC Tilleur 1 (Di Gregorio 7)
Sprimont Comblain Sport 1 (Damblon 10)
Att: 158 (at Stade du Buraufosse)