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.
I have been wondering what and who to write about recently. I want to continue with this on my blog because it mainly educates me, knowing who have been the forces in Belgian football history and what Belgian clubs have achieved at home and abroad. And for one brief moment 20 seasons ago (last season) Lierse were the best team in the land!
It has been over 35 years from their last title win, and they weren’t showing signs of winning another, seeing as their highest finish that decade up until the title success was 5th, two seasons in a row prior to the title victory. The thing is, this crop of players seemed to be different. That summer, manager Eric Gerets made some important signings. Signings which didn’t only add quality, but instilled their names within Lierse history beyond this title win. He brought in goalkeeper Stanley Menzo who proved to be an inspired signing from PSV Eindhoven and Eric van Meir, the young defender signed from Charleroi, who would prove to be a magnificent signing. He not only became top scorer, but would stay with the club in some capacity after retirement.
Beyond these 2 new recruits (that I’ve heard of) include Bob Peeters, Carl Hoefkens and Nico van Kerckhoven. All these players played their part in winning the league, especially Peeters and van Kerckhoven who played every match! But the season wasn’t looking too good to begin with. In fact, it was so poor, they only won 2 of their first 9 matches. One of them against Charleroi where they had 3 players sent off! Greets probably was looking at his team hoping to save them from relegation!
But as summer turned to winter, De Pallieters then won 7 of their next 9, losing and drawing one each, going into the second half of the season with something to build from, although I doubt the title was still a thought…? The year 1997 couldn’t have started better though. A tough trip away to face Club Brugge was ahead and Lierse were magnificent. Lierse were 3-0 up before the hour, proving that the winter break was just what they needed. After a mini revival from Blauw-Zwart, Lierse scored another through Zefilho to seal the win!
Lierse eventually lost one game to Sint Truiden, but that was it! Undefeated for the rest of the season, including an unbelievable 5-1 home victory over Anderlecht, with Lierse being 4-0 up at one point! A quite magnificent turnaround, losing 2 matches from the end of September. Lierse proved they were worthy champions in the end after the horrid start. Winning the league over last season’s champions Club Brugge by just two points, Eric Gerets success still remains legend, as we will unfortunately never know when the club will hit these heights again?!? First step will be promotion, then consolidation before maybe, just maybe, this famous club could be amongst the title contenders…?