Arrogantwerp (Royal Antwerp FC)

Royal Antwerp were formed as Antwerp Athletic Club in 1880 by English students living in the city. It is generally accepted that the club is the oldest in Belgium so when the Royal Belgian FA introduced its matricule system, the revered inventory of registration and hierarchy, Antwerp were awarded the coveted matricule No.1.

The club has won the Belgian Championship on four occasions but since their last relegation from the top flight in 2004 the club has experienced some particularly lean years. One of the last highlights for the Reds came in 1992/3 when they defeated Glenavon, Admira Wacker, Steaua Bucharest and Spartak Moscow on their way to the European Cup Winners Cup Final. They were defeated 3-1 in the final at Wembley by Parma but had the tournaments top scorer with 7 goals by Belgian International Alex Czerniatynski.

Those somewhat distant glory games were of course played in front of packed houses at the mythical Bosuilstadion, home to the club since 1923. Prior to this the Reds played at another substantial ground called the Stadion Broodstraat which had been opened in 1908 and was used as a primary football venue for the 1920 Summer Olympics held in the city.

The Bosuilstadion has held many famous matches including the 1964 Cup Winners Cup final between Sporting Club Portugal and MTK Budapest as well as numerous international matches for the Belgian national team. Markedly there has been no Belgian internationals played at the venue since 1988. The stadium is something of an oddity, the two ends are relatively modern with one being a glazed VIP stand, opened in 1991, for those with enough money to want to watch live football minus any semblance of the atmosphere. The structure has been branded “the fishbowl” for obvious reasons. The atmosphere at the Bosuilstadion is so legendary that it became widely known as the “Hell of Derne” such was the intimidating environment for visiting teams. At its peak the Bosuil (Dutch for “Tawny Owl”) could accommodate some 60,000 spectators.

The two sides of the stadium have ancient edifices, both in some considerable need of renovation. The poor state of repair meant that the stadium was not considered as a host venue for Euro 2000 although the new stand behind the goal is testament to failed plans for a total renovation in readiness for an application. In more recent years the two ancient stands have deteriorated further, signs have been put up that read “do not jump, danger of collapse”. It took an injury to a supporter in the vintage 1923 main stand to provoke some work to the interior of this old leviathan. This is now the most expensive area of the stadium in which to sit, VIP area excluded. The central seats for this game were €60 while modern plastic seats to either side can be yours for €25 a piece. Had I remained in my allocated seat both goals would have been totally obscured by a rail barrier from the old configuration of the stand. A small and unused terraced paddock area has been created underneath the seating but looks awkward and incongruous with the rest of the stand. Typically the renovations look like they have been done cheaply rather than investing properly for the future. The stand is still hampered by a leaking roof, temporary toilet facilities and a lack of lighting on the way out.

The majority of “the Great Old’s” season ticket holders are housed in the magnificent curved Tribune 2 opposite the main stand, replete with original bench seating. It too is in a pretty poor shape the top right hand corner is fenced off due to safety concerns. The noise from this tribune, however, is immense and a veritable sonic boom erupts when the players enter the field or Antwerp find the net.

They do that only once tonight against plucky visitors from West Flanders, KSV Roeselare. The goal came from the most impressive player on the pitch, the tricky little winger, Stallone Limbombe and it was enough to secure a first win of the new season for The Great Old.

So what to make of the Bosuilstadion? Old school stands, massive floodlights (albeit only 3 of them since one blew down in a storm), and terrific support tick many people’s boxes. However, expensive tickets, quite frankly dangerous infrastructure and a lack of direction of the future of the stadium must be a concern. The previous board of the club seemed content to plod knowing they could rely on the unswerving support of the fans yet offering them little in the way of creature comforts. Maybe it was the old board espousing the long held opinion that Antwerp natives are “superior” and often arrogant in demeanour, several locals at the game wore tee shirts with the phrase “Arrogantwerp” emblazoned on them. Clever use of language but the arrogance and presumptuousness of the old Antwerp board could have resulted in a serious stadium incident. Hopefully the more progressive board now in power will provide the magnificent fans of this club with the kind of future they absolutely deserve.

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Proximus League – 13/08/2016

Royal Antwerp 1 (Limbombe 59) SV Roeselare 0

Att: 11,118 (at Bosuilstadion)

Admission €25 Programme €2

Gallery

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Antwerp ticket

 

 

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Raising The Standaard (Standaard Wetteren)

Royal Standaard Wetteren were formed in 1948 as Standaard Molenhoek and as an amateur side originally registered with the KBVB (Katholieke Vlaamsch Sportverbond Oost-Vlaanderen) which was at the time a big rival federation to the Royal Belgian Football Association. In 1951 the club changed its name to Standaard Wetteren and joined the URBSFA (l’Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football Association). The newly renamed club were given the matricule number of 5479 and were placed in the third tier provincial league and fair very well during the rest of the decade but without gaining promotion.

In 1963 a local businessman, Marcel De Kerpel, took over the club and made plans for the club to be a regular in the new regionalised third tier rather than be restricted to provincial football. In 1982 the club won the provincial league but were not granted promotion as their Kuipke ground was found to be too small for national standards. De Kerpel vowed to address this immediately and a patch of land was secured at Dasseveld. The president appointed himself chief architect and foreman of the project and in no time at all the club had a smart new home ready for national football. The club finally won the provincial “promotion” league again in 1988/89 and took their place in the third tier, being placed in Group A of the two section Division Three. They remained in the third tier until 2000/01 with their best performance being a fifth place finish in 1997/98. The 1999/2000 season should have been a warning to the club as they just survived relegation in the end of season play-offs but the following season they were not so fortunate finishing rock bottom of the sixteen clubs.

The club rebuilt under a young coach Wim de Corte and in 2002/03 they won the Promotion League and returned to Division 3 Group A. Sadly De Kerpel did not live to see the club’s return to the third tier. The club continue to improve under De Corte and nearly secured promotion in 2005/06 losing a final round game against Racing Waregem. Wetteren persisted and finally achieved promotion to the second tier by winning the championship in 2008/09. De Corte guided the yellow and greens to two mid table finishes before accepting the post of assistant manager at Beerschot. He currently holds a similar post at Pro League Wassland-Beveren.

Under a new coach, Kris Van der Haegen, the club finished bottom of Division Two and were relegated. Worse still befell the club last season when they finished bottom of Division 3 Group A and plummeted back to the fourth tier.

The Marcel De Kerpelstadion, named after their visionary former president, is a fine ground, with a capacity of 6,000 of which 420 people can find a seat. It has ample covered accommodation and it feels like a real privilege to see a game here. Today’s match sees the hosts top of the Promotion League Group A table after seven rounds with visitors, Sporting West Harelbeke, in third place.

The game itself does not live up to its surroundings being a tight contest between two evenly matched sides. The play gets bogged down in midfield and stray passes proliferate. The match looks destined to head to a goalless draw when the hosts piled on the pressure in the closing moments. Finally Harelbeke’s rearguard crumbled and a towering header from substitute Jonas Droessaert stole the victory right at the death.

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Sunday October 12th 2014 – Belgium Promotion League Group A

Standaard Wetteren (0) 1 (Droessaert 90)

Sporting West Harelbeke (0) 0

Attendance: 273 (at the Marcel De Kerpelstadion)

Wetteren:

18. Nathan Baele; 4. Rob Van Der Wilt; 5. Kjeld Fort; 8. Ilias Sbaa; 10. Thibeau De Vos; 12. Stijn Minne (c); 15. Michael Delaruelle; 17. Robbe Van Ruyskesvelde; 20. Kim Van Den Bergh; 23. Kevin Elaut; 77. Zaven Yagan.

Subs: 1. Preben Van Buynder; 9. Jonas Droessaert (for 12, 64 mins); 11. Amrani Nidikumana (for 23, 71 mins); 22. Gillis Pringels (for 10, 76 mins).

Harelbeke:

35. Pieter Merlier; 4. Rob Claeys (c); 6. Jens Noppe; 7. Kerim Vanstechelman; 8. Jenci Dejonghe; 10. Giovanni Delannoy; 15. Johnathan Meerschman; 17. Jeroen Doornaert; 18. Valentin Romont; 20. Niels De Loof; 29. Timothy Van De Wouwer.

Subs: 1. Thierry Coppens; 2. Vinny Mayele Mansengina (for 20, 65 mins); 9. Christophe Pype (for 18, 46 mins); 11. Gianny Vanhaecke (for 7, 83 mins).

Yellow Cards: Delaruelle, Droessaert (Wetteren); Noppe (Harelbeke).

Gallery

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Wett ticket