Clocks (Hamburger SV)

Hamburger Sport-Verein were a 1919 amalgamation of three existing clubs, Sport Club Germania, FC Falke 06 and Hamburger SV von 1888. From here the club took the blue and black colours of their badge from Germania and the Hanseatic red and white representing Hamburg for their kit.

Germania trace their roots back to September 1887 and initially rented a farmer’s field in Wandsbek for their home games. This was vacated in 1892 following the horrific outbreak of cholera in Hamburg which killed 8,000 inhabitants. Germania regrouped using home grounds at Heiligengeistfeld and the Exerzierweide (parade ground) in Altona . Their nomadic existence took them to their first enclosed ground within the Rennbahn Mühlenkamp in 1903. Yet again their stay was short-lived vacating in 1907 when the racecourse was earmarked for expansion. They relocated back to Wandsbek at a ground called Forsthof.

Falke were the most junior of the amalgamating clubs having formed in 1906. Their first ground at Voßberg proved far from suitable and in 1908 they found a pitch in Grindelberg which after having signed a lease, the young squad of players were shocked to be told it did not meet the requirements of North German Football Association (the NFV) and Falke found themselves excluded from matches under the NFV’s auspices. The young players lobbied their parents and relatives for financial backing and soon had a kitty to build a new facility in Stellingen.

Similarly to the other two clubs Hamburger SV 1888 had problems finding a suitable home ground for their matches, it really was a nascent period for football in Germany. Initially HSV played at Moorweide but four years after forming moved to a field in Sternschanze which was also frozen over for use as an ice rink! The pitch was awful and HSV played home games at all sorts of often hastily borrowed pitches including the field at the Wandsbek horse market, a meadow on Sierichstraße, the Borgfelde Eispark, a pasture called Hansaweide as well as the Altona Exerzierweide. In 1897 they found a more regular base at Rothenbaumchaussee but by 1904 they had moved again to a rebuilt velodrome at Helmhuderstraße.

The turning point for football in Hamburg came in 1910 when HSV acquired a bigger piece of land and a year later the new Rothenbaum sports field was opened with a game against Holstein Kiel which drew 1,500 people. Sadly the new ground was severely damaged during World War I and with all clubs struggling for young players, such was the horrific loss of life in the conflict, the sensible option was to merge all three clubs and rebuild the Rothenbaum. By 1922 the stadium had a capacity of 30,000 and was officially re-inaugurated two years later when over 27,000 people watched HSV draw 1-1 with German champions 1.FC Nürnberg. In 1937 two new grandstands were built and the Rothenbaum became the largest club owned ground in Germany. Occasionally though, due to public demand, championship matches would be held at the much larger Altona Volksparkstadion. For example the championship match against Hertha BSC attracted 42,000 to the Volksparkstadion.

The advent of the Bundesliga in 1963 saw the DFB ban HSV from using the Rothenbaum, it still witnessed occasional cup matches, the last being played in 1989. It was demolished amid public outcry in 1994 having never really recovered from losing its’ south stand during a hurricane in 1980.

The old Altona Volksparkstadion was severely damaged during World War II and the city authority vowed to replace it in 1951 and by 1953 the new Volksparkstadion with a huge capacity of 75,000, was opened, having been largely built from rubble from bomb damaged buildings. It became HSV’s home stadium from the advent of the Bundesliga.

Since the merger of 1919 HSV, of course, have enjoyed huge success become a household name all over Europe, not least for the signing of Kevin Keegan in the summer of 1977 and losing to a John Robertson goal in the 1980 European Cup Final against Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest. In the pre Bundesliga days the club won an astonishing 31 regional titles although would only take three overall crowns in the championship play offs. Somewhat surprisingly they have only won three Bundesliga titles including one in 1978-79 when Keegan top scored with 17 league goals for them.

The current Volksparkstadion was built in 1998, well ahead of time for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It is an incredible arena with additional top class training facilities for almost as far as the eye can see. With Hamburger SV having suffered their first ever Bundesliga relegation at the end of the 2017/18 season it’s 1.FC Magdeburg who make their first ever competitive visit to the Volksparkstadion. There are nearly 50,000 people inside for this Monday night, including a hugely impressive 8,000 from Magdeburg. The visiting fans make a hell of racket all night and inspire their team to a shock win with virtually the last kick of the game. It proved to be a fatal blow for second placed HSV, their season promptly fell apart and they even failed to make the promotion play offs.

To the annoyance of many the Volksparkstadion had displayed a clock that stated “In der Bundesliga seit” and counted up every second of their unbroken membership of the top flight, unrivalled even by Bayern Munich. Interestingly since relegation they have changed the clock to count up the seconds since that historic meeting which resulted in the formation of Sport Club Germania.

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Monday April 8th 2019 – 2.Bundesliga

Hamburger SV 1 (Jatta 31)

1.FC Magdeburg 2 (Bülter 60, Türpitz 90+4)

Att:49,823 (at Volksparkstadion)

Entry €26, free programme

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HSV Ticket

 

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Jette Boys (Royal SCUP Dieleghem Jette)

Sporting Club Union et Progrès (SCUP) Jette were formed in 1922 and were one of a myriad of clubs in the area which included Avenir Jette, La Jettoise, Excelsior Jette, Saint-Anne Jette, Dieleghem Jette, Union and Progrès Jette, and Sporting Club Jettois. None of the clubs had registered with the Belgian FA so SC Jettois and Union et Progrès did this in 1926 and were awarded the matricules of 474 and 493 respectively. Less than a year later these two clubs came together under the Sporting Club matricule.

The newly named SCUP were initially fairly successful rising up out of the provisional leagues in the national leagues (third tier) for the first time in 1931. However, as the Second World War broke out the club had returned to the Brabant league. The post War years saw success return to Jette and following a substantial reorganisation of Belgian football they won promotion from the new Vierde Klasse (fourth tier) to the third in 1954/55. The rest of the century was fairly uneventful for SCUP Jette as they spent the majority of their life in provincial football interspersed with the odd spell in the national leagues.

In 2002 the club merged with old rivals Étoile Dieleghem, and the fused club became Royal SCUP Dieleghem Jette. However, the club slipped down into the second level of the Brabant League in 2008 but eventually got themselves together to win the division, and with it promotion back to Division One, for the 2016/17 campaign.

Today’s game sees them play FC Kosova Scharbeek, a club formed in 1991 and using the excellent Stade Chazal, the former home of the defunct US Albert Schaerbeek. It’s only the second round of league fixtures and Kosova opened their campaign with a 3-0 home defeat to Sporting Bruxelles whilst Jette drew 2-2 at Stockel.

It is something of a surprise then when Kosova stormed into a two goal lead and in all honesty could have had more in the opening period. Jette pulled one back when a Kosova defender unfortunately stood on the ball in his penalty area and toppled over landing on the ball with his hand. Kosova though just didn’t turn up for the second half and Jette ran in three unanswered goals to rise to second in the fledgling league table.

The stadium in the Avenue de l’Exposition was built in 1953 under the auspices of Corneille Slachmuylder, the forward thinking Alderman for Sport in the area. There is a homely clubhouse on the left as you enter the ground and this area also houses the changing rooms. The Basilica of Koekelberg looms over the roof of the clubhouse. To the right begins a vast semi circle of superb terracing with a small stand in the middle which has been renovated to have three rows of modern plastic bucket seats. These days Jette share the main pitch with BX Brussels, the club owned since 2013 by Vincent Kompany.

Behind the main stand is a set of steps leading to the B team ground which has an artificial surface. Amazingly there is also a huge amount of terracing at the far end and this sweeps around down half of one side as well. It really is extraordinary. Initially this ground was used by Royal Avenir FAC de Jette who are the oldest football club in the town. Avenir were formed in April 1921 in the back room of a small printing shop owned by Corneille De Clercq, Jette’s first socialist councillor. Nowadays the second pitch is used by Jette’s multiple youth teams and also for games in the ABSSA, a Brussels amateur league.

Built on a simply audacious scale for the level of football in Jette its size is reflective of the post war boom in attendances at football matches. Sadly nowadays a crowd into three figures is fast becoming a rarity for RSD Jette. The Stade Communal de Jette, however, more than merits a place in pantheon of great Belgian football grounds.

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Sunday September 10th 2017 – Brabant Provincial League Div.1

RSD Jette 4 (Kalulika pen 18, Matos 66,71, Gharbi 81)

Kosova Schaerbeek 2 (Salihu pen 8, Libonge 12)

Att:83 Admission €5, free teamsheet

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Kings Of A Wild Frontier (Royal Excel Mouscron)

The original Royal Excelsior Mouscron were formed in 1922 as Stade Mouscronnais. They adopted their current name in 1964 when Stade merged with rival town team ARA Mouscron. Mouscron is a French speaking city with the border separating it from the French town of Tourcoing. Mouscron (the “s” isn’t actually pronounced) itself was a French town until the 19th century.

The clubs’ greatest achievement was in 1993-94 when the finished as runners up to Sint-Truiden in the Belgian Second Division. The club were also Belgian Cup finalists in 2002 and 2006 losing to Club Brugge and Zulte-Waregem on each occasion. 

In 1990 Excelsior merged with Rapid Club Luingnois. The club qualified for the UEFA Cup on two occassions, the first was in 1997-98. The “Frontaliers” defeated Cypriot side Apollon Limassol before losing 6-1 on aggregate to FC Metz. The second occasion was 2002/03 when Icelandic side Fylkir were beaten before Excel lost heavily again in the next round, this time 7-3 on aggregate to Slavia Prague.

Just a year or so after their European adventures, Excel hit severe financial problems in 2004 and were forced into a fire sale of their best players in order to survive. It should have served as a warning to the club but in 2009, when the side was managed by former national team hero, Enzo Scifo, the club collapsed. Manchester City offered to by the ailing club as a nursery club but the offer fell through and Excel were forced into liquidation.

In order to preserve professional football in Mouscron and at the Stade du Canonnier, home to Excel since 1930, talks were entered into with nearby club RRC Péruwelz, who themselves had been formed in 1921. Talks were successful and Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz were formed taking the the latter’s matricule of 216. In the time honoured tradition the failing club had their matricule, in Mouscron’s case 224, removed by the Belgian FA.

Some supporters of RRC Péruwelz were unhappy at leaving their own Stade de la Verte Chasse, and formed their own amateur club Péruwelz FC. 

2012 was a great year for the new club, they became champions of the third division and also won the historic Trophée Jules Pappaert. The following season the club were promoted to the too flight having finished as runners-up to KV Oostende. 

In something of a surprise move this season the club has reverted back to the name Royal Excel Mouscron and have dropped the Péruwelz reference despite retaining Péruwelz’s matricule.

Mouscron’s traditional home, the Stade du Canonnier, was most recently renovated in 1999 when a new main stand was opened. The club also own a huge training complex called Futurosport which covers 23 hectares and itself has a show pitch with a seated stand for 1,000 people. Due to its hemmed in location amongst residential streets the Canonnier will never be able to be expanded much beyond its current 11,000 capacity and the clubs’ owners have earmarked the potential development of a new stadium at the Futurosport site in the not to distant future.

This evening’s visitors are mighty Club Brugge sitting on top of the Jupiler Pro League with maximum points from the opening five rounds of games. However, Excel have also made a useful start to the campaign but its Club that attack from the offset of this match. Somewhat against the run of play the hosts were awarded a penalty which pacy frontman Jonathan Bolingi gratefully converted. The lead lasted barely eight minutes when a sweeping Brugge move saw Stefano Denswil drill home an equaliser. However, the 14 time Belgian champions were stung again just before half time when Excel scored again with a towering header from Bolingi. The visitors dominated the second half but could not find a way through a well drilled Mouscron defence. The hosts survived five minutes of stoppage time to record a famous victory.

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Sunday September 9th 2017 – Jupiler Pro League 

Royal Excel Mouscron 2 (Bolingi pen 18,40)

Club Brugge KV 1 (Denswil 26)

Att:9,579 

Admission €12, free teamsheet given away in supporters bar.

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Underneath the Linden Trees (RRC Boitsfort)

The simply magnificent Stade des Trois Tilleuls is the largest club stadium in all of Belgium with a capacity of 40,000 yet currently plays host to modest sixth tier club Royal Racing Club Boitsfort of Division 2A of the Brabant Provincial League. Only the King Baudouin Stadium currently exceeds the capacity of the Trois Tilleuls although in its heyday the capacity was often put at an amazing 70,000!. The Three Limes Stadium (Drie Lindens in Flemish) was originally built in 1948 and lies in the Avenue des Nymphes in the quiet Brussels suburb of Watermael-Boitsfort.

The original occupants of the stadium were Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles who had just vacated their original home at the Stade du Vivier d’Oie, which still exists today as a hockey ground and was the venue for Belgium’s first international match against France in 1907.

Trois Tilleuls was built on an audacious and frankly preposterous scale with hopes at the time of being a regular host of international football. The stadium has a massive main stand and a huge sweeping terrace that wraps itself impressively around the rest of the site. The stadium was inaugurated in suitably laudable style with a match with the legendary “Il Grande” Torino side just months before the fateful Superga air crash that decimated the Italian giants.

RRC Bruxelles had only been at Trois Tilleuls for six years when they fell into dispute with the stadium’s owners and decamped to the Heysel Stadium. There they played in front of dire crowds and would subsequently merge with White Star Athletic Club in 1963 and ten years later with Daring Club de Bruxelles to form Racing White Daring of Molenbeek. Sadly the old RWDM club folded in 2002, although happily have reformed this season playing at the Edmond Machtens Stadium in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean. In 2010 Trois Tilleuls was listed as a building of national arcitectural importance which should dispell any doubts about its future.

In 1985 a new Racing Club Bruxelles was formed but subsequently merged with SK Watermael and later still with Boitsfort forming the club that presently plays at Trois Tilleuls. Today the stadium is in reasonable condition although graffiti proliferates and the terracing has been shorn of all its crush barriers. The main stand has eye catching metal guard rails although these have been blighted somewhat by the addition of orange plastic mesh to prevent anyone falling from what his quite some height.

Today’s game has a low key feel to it, a very modest crowd gathers in this vast ampitheatre basked in glorious autumnal sun. The hosts are always on top despite having their early penalty wiped out by a cracking header from the visiting captain. Machelen missed a penalty themselves before losing their discipline completely with numerous bookings and conceding a second penalty in injury time which gave the hosts a comfortable win.

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Sunday September 27th 2015 – Brabant Provincial League Division 2A

RRC Boitsfort (1) 3 (Groyne pen 4, O’Brien 49, Vandenplas pen 90)

KCS Machelen (1) 1 (Madawa 22)

Attendance: 67 (at Stade des Trois Tilleuls) Entry:  €5

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Boitsfort ticket