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.
Because of the bad luck of the cup final against Zulte Waregem recently, I thought I’d go back and share Oostende’s last real success, their promotion from 4 seasons ago. Looking at the league and how it finished, it looked as if getting out of Belgium’s second tier that season is as tough as the English Championship. To name but a few, there was Oostende themselves, Mouscron, Westerlo, Antwerp, Eupen and St Truiden amongst others!
The team were managed by the young Frederik Vanderbiest who finished his career at Oostende, and who is the current manager of Lierse. He proved that experience meant nothing this season, progressing so well with De Kustboys in the Belgian Second Division.
The league was split into 3rds, with Oostende finishing top in 2 of the set of thirds which helped cement their place at the top. The first set didn’t see them in the top 5, gaining 15 points and losing 3 in the process, but with the next 2 set of matches, they excelled!
Firstly in the second set, they finished top, winning 10 of 12 matches and gaining 31 points. They replicated this in the final third of matches in a league of 18 teams. To not only double your points in the first set of matches, and then show perfect consistency, it didn’t just show great management, but supreme focus by the players, a set of players who showed their quality. Three players finished amongst the top scorers, with Laurent Depoitre finishing on 14 goals, going from strength to strength after this season, Yohan Brouckaert with 11 goals to his name from midfield and Frenchman Baptiste Schmisser pitching in with 9 goals from centre half. With goals coming from all positions, it showed why Oostende were champions and deservedly so.
After their first first promotion in 9 years, Oostende have proven a key outfit in the top flight in Belgium, going from strength to strength again, finishing their first season back in 9th position and top of their Europa League play off group. Due to not having a European football license, they were unfortunately denied any access into European football, unfairly in my opinion. The best finish since returning to the Pro League is 5th in the Championship Play Off, but we’ll see what this season brings?