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.
With this club winning their 34th Belgian Pro League title this season, I thought I’d go all the way back to their very first title win. This issue of Back in Time sort of commemorates the 70th anniversary, and let’s just say, Les Mauves haven’t looked back since. The difference between this season here and this season now is that the league has ended today, but back then the league wasn’t settled til the very last match of the season, which took place in late June!
Yes, late June. Luckily there wasn’t an international tournament that season! The Emile Versé stadium was the destination where Anderlecht became the 4th different team from the capital to win a top flight league title. Did the second world war help? Who knows, well, I’m sure somebody will know, but teams like Union Saint Gilloise and Germinal Beerschot who were prior champions leading up to World War 2 just weren’t the same, whereas Anderlecht dominated Belgian league football for the rest of the forties, the fifties AND the sixties!
Players that season were phenomenal. For example, you wouldn’t mind having this as a classic 5 aside. With Henri ‘Rie’ Meert in goal, winning 8 titles in 18 years at the club, he was consistent for both club and country. Then you had Jean Valet defending who won 5 titles in 15 years. François de Wael and Victor Erroelen in midfield with the exceptional Joseph Mermans up front. If he was around now, with his goalscoring record, he’d be worth a fair bit of money with an unbelievable record for Anderlecht and with his total finishing at 39 goals in 34 matches this title winning season!
There were other superb players around these five, arranged by Frenchman Georges Perino, but the great thing is that through recruitment and tactics, Anderlecht kicked on and this was the imputus. As a fair few of these players were at the club before the second world war, meaning the fruits of their labour were finally awarded, along with their fantastic loyalty to the club.
Going back to the league, Anderlecht finished 2 points above R. Olympic CC in the league with a better win record and a fantastic goal difference. With 112 goals scored by the club, that works out over 3 goals scored per match! And there were plenty of derbies too, with 5 clubs representing Brussels as well this season. The biggest win that season was a 7-0 home win over Sint Niklaassche SK, who were one of five teams who were relegated in this 19 team league, with Club Brugge (R FC Brugeois) finishing bottom of the pile!
With this league title being so vital for the club, and I say vital because in the 70 years in between, Les Mauves have won 34. If my maths is correct, although it isn’t difficult, that’s a squeak under a title every 2 seasons since. To achieve that is an unbelievable achievement. Teams have come and stayed like Club Brugge, but others have come and gone, like Mechelen and Standard Liege who look like they want to continue a challenge at various points, but it’s never sustained, and now you have Gent and Genk in the present day who want to try and create their own dynasty, which will need a hell of a lot of building!