I’ve decided to blog random bits of history, whether it be about the Belgian Pro League, the second tier, European competition or The Belgian Cup (Beker van Belgie). The reason I’ve thought up this segment is not only to educate myself about the past, but to anyone who reads this, if anyone actually does, and to see that Belgian football isn’t about 1 or 2 teams, or the odd great player produced quite regularly actually, and that teams in the past competed and that the impossible is sometimes possible.
Today’s effort from me regards a team from Brussels. No, not that one, a team gone but not forgotten. A team who only had 1 shining season in the top flight winning the Belgian Pro League halfway through the seventies. Racing White Daring Molenbeek. Finishing third the season before, the wheels seemed to be turning going into the 1974/75 season.
Managed by Felix Week, former professional footballer as a goalkeeper, he achieved what wouldn’t be seen as the impossible maybe at the time going by decent league finishes near the top, but now, it will be looked at as an amazing achievement. Winning the league by 9 points and losing just the 2 league matches all season in a twenty team league is impressive. The problem much like last week is that finding the key facts, unless I’m really typing in the wrong information, is so tough to find, especially about Belgium. With 6 foreign players, it goes to show that players playing abroad is nothing new, even if they were only from Denmark and Holland.
What else I noticed in the squad other than nationalities was the fact that 7 players had a link with rivals Anderlecht, whether during their playing career or later as manager, most famous being Jan Boskamp who’d but most well known in England at Stoke City. But the point is that you rarely see teams who go between city rivals that often.
Going back to the league and their points tally and loss record, Molenbeek managed to win 25 fixtures. RWD finished, in order, above Antwerp, Anderlecht and Club Brugge, which again was a massive achievement going by Anderlecht’s and Club Brugge’s European exploits that decade, meaning that they were equally good domestically as well as in Europe. Along with that, the 2 made up the previous Belgian Pro League champions the 3 season’s before.
After this season, Molenbeek flattered to deceive the next season, finishing 3rd again and were knocked out by Croatians Hajduk Split 7-2 on aggregate. In Europe, they performed admirably in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup, losing out in the semi finals on away goals against runners up Athletic Bilbao.
The club unfortunately, like most it seems in Belgium, dissolved in 2002. There are clubs, like Molenbeek and last week with Beerschot where they lose everything they worked so hard for. I really don’t know what I’d do if this happened to my team. To join forces with other supporters who you may have hated. The fact that you have to all!Pat leech off of another club altogether to just stay afloat, or rather, carry on. It is upsetting from the outside Nd surely devistating for those on the inside. A team deemed good enough to beat the likes of the best in Belgium and top the the tree, struck down. We all know this happens and teams can plummet down the pyramid, by to no longer exist is another story.
The spirit of fans can be inspirational and that’s been proven time and time and time again. Maybe one day Molenbeek, through any guise, will rise again, but with football teams you need unbelievable wealth…So it won’t happen soon, but it may not be impossible.