Posted in Back in Time

The last round

I’m actually gutted how this is it. It has been a long and hard season. It’s been fun. It’s been exciting, jubilant, devastating and unpredictable. A season where Club Brugge are deserved champions. A season where Standard, Gent and Anderlecht turned up fashionably late but kind of too late and where Mechelen had to say goodbye early for all the wrong reasons. There has been sacking, after sacking, after sacking. There has been the rollercoaster of Antwerp, Beveren and STVV going up but booming too early, with Genk coming in with Standard, Zulte Waregem hitting form at the perfect time, and what could be the great story of Lokeren potentially getting Europa League football. We’ve had Mouscron cause the odd upset, and possibly the performance of the season at home against Gent, and Eupen staying up by the skin of their teeth. Charleroi unfortunately flattered to deceive and just to mention them…Oostende. The only team I haven’t mentioned are the darlings of Twitter which are Kortrijk (and again, I’m not an outright fan of them, but a Belgian football fan as a whole) who went from relegation battlers to almost top six!

Have I missed anyone out? I literally just checked and I haven’t. Without putting my neck on the line in these playoffs, I did say Brugge would win the league (shock) and I had Anderlecht as third. Other than that I can only get Genk and Charleroi right, depending on their results. I had Gent second and Standard bottom! What a playoff they’ve had. They have made these playoffs. I should’ve done the predictions for Playoff 2 but I was either lazy, or let’s have it right, nobody cares.

Individuals have lit up the league with Morioka, Govea, Mamadou Kone (in 2018), Cevallos in the playoffs. All great signings, along with Rezaei too. All from around the world and all have done extremely well for their club (or two). There is great talent who will be here to stay for 2018/19, and unfortunately those who won’t be come August. The highlight already is who will be the star for next season? Sometimes I wake up and wonder ‘what will happen to me today?’ Sometimes we have no say on what can happen to us every single day. I know that’s weird but it’s true. Somebody can make or break our day with the smallest or biggest thing. I’ve slightly gone off the rails there, but right now somewhere in the world, somebody will grace the Pro League next season and take it by storm.

Adding to that, who’ll be entering the dugouts next season? A huge merry go round with Vanhaezebrouck, Vanderhaeghe, Maes coming back in with De Boeck, and Clement managing two clubs in his first full season of first team management. We’ve also had an absolutely massive name come in in Makelele. Could this league draw in another huge name and will there be more stability in the dugout? So much to look forward to when this season hasn’t even finished. I’ve kind of gone off on one here because if we think back, clear your mind and actually think about how entertaining this season has been, it has been nothing but enthralling, all the way up to the penultimate match day in the title race.

I’ll finish for now and just take in the last round of matches before we find out the last representative in Europe. I guess that’s the only thing I’ll change. Belgian clubs better in Europe! I’ve ended on a sour note but fuck it. Do what I want. My blog…my blog.

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Posted in Back in Time

Taureau d’Or of the past

This season has seen some very good goal scorers in the JPL. Some expected and some unexpected. Some better than others too where there is a battle at the top of this table which still has some legs. Some players have slowed down and some have just gotten started. Topping the table so far are Isaac Kiese Thelin and Teddy Chevalier. Both fighting to the death with currently 16 goals each, and there’s some daylight between them and the chasing pack. Injury halted Onyekuru. Teodorczyk has only just begun with scoring goals. Rezaei has slowed down with Charleroi…or is it the other way round? And at Club Brugge, the goals tend to be shared around. However, before I start thinking about this season, I’m searching for players from the past…

Looking through time, I saw three players that intrigued me. Players who were pioneers and players who sadly didn’t fulfil their career. And that’s where I begin. Vahram Kevorkian was an Armenian striker who played for Cercle Brugge and Beerschot VAC before the First World War. Of course knowing the actual facts are difficult for somebody with a sketchy background, although that’s no fault of his own. He moved to Brugge in the very early 1900s after studying in America and joined Cercle. After a brief spell there he moved to Beerschot when he was 18 and actually got relegated with them.

Even though he was Armenian, Vahram played one international match in his career…for Belgium. He managed to also score in that match against Sweden in a 2-1 victory. With an outstanding scoring record, it was the 1908/09 season where he scored 30 goals as Beerschot finished fifth. But this is where the sad, unfulfilled part comes in. Vahram Kevorkian played his last ever match, coincidentally, against Cercle Brugge and shortly after he got appendicitis and complications meant he didn’t survive, dying at just 24 years old. A disaster where if he were alive today, with that record, God knows how much he’d fetch as a fee with that talent!

Before Vahram Kevorkian however there was a Swiss striker called Franz König, who had some similarities with Kevorkian in that he too studied abroad, in England this time, before making his stop in Belgium. Only playing in the capital, König represented Sporting and Racing Club de Bruxelles, being mostly successful with the latter. An extremely talented sportsman, he excelled in all sports he competed in, especially sprinting and middle distance running. But on the football pitch, in a team sport, he was equally triumphant.

At Racing Club de Bruxelles, in his extremely short stint as a footballer, he won two league titles in his four years at the club, and was Taureau d’Or twice, which sort of follows trend to what I found out last year, in that in Belgium the top goal scorer isn’t necessarily a champion that season too, at least in the 21st Century and not just in the 19th Century! His life after football continued into journalism, writing about the game he was so good at.

Lastly, another pioneer. König was part of the ‘founding fathers’ of Belgian football, hence a pioneer/creator status. But this man broke boundaries that some are still fighting to overcome right now. Erwin Kostedde was an American/German striker who had quite the career. Playing for some huge clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin in his homeland, he also played in France with Laval where he finished joint top goal scorer in Ligue 1 AND for the sake of this, he finished top scorer in the 1970/71 Standard Liège title winning season, as he had two spells with Les Rouches seven years apart. Quite the introduction.

He was an integral player in the title winning season, scoring 26 goals in the 30 matches. He performed exceptionally at Standard, surely coming in to replace the outstanding Antal Nagy. But he was great wherever he went, which brings me on to the pioneer part. In a career where he averaged a goal every 162 minutes (if the goals to club ratio is true, and if he completed 90 minutes in every match he played) how can that go unnoticed at international level?

Well…he was black. The first black man to represent Germany. Of course he was playing at a time where Germany had Gerd Muller and were World Champions in 1974, but he was a goal scorer nonetheless. I’m not saying it’s a German thing. That happened all over Europe, including England where skin colour did have a factor on whether you were selected or not. Erwin Kostedde is no doubt a German hero on the pitch and is a hero at a number of clubs, including Kickers Offenbach where a fanzine was named after him which lasted 13 years.

Of course these aren’t all relevant to now, but Belgian football has a rich history spanning over 120 years. Where European players were making their way to the league long before it became a regular occurrence. These three have etched their name into the history of Belgian football, and beyond, and that’ll never change. I wonder who’ll have the sparkling goal scoring season come May out of the two front runners, or somebody coming from nowhere?

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: KRC Genk 1997/98

With this weekend being the Croky Cup final, I thought I’d try my best to have a look at the very first one KRC Genk had under their current guise, which was twenty years ago this year! How quaint that De Smurfen have reached the cup final in their 30th anniversary season, with a manager who was involved in this memorable cup victory as a player. A huge game against Standard Liège this weekend, but there was an even bigger win back in ’98 against the champions of that season.

In fact, that season was actually pretty decent for Genk. Second in the league and were on the up, this cup win was the foundation for the success in the next season as the club were looking to create history beyond their former name. Both Genk and Club Brugge only had home matches leading up to the final, but it was clear who had the tougher run. Club Brugge were showing their superiority scoring 4, 5 and 6 in the lead up to their 3-2 aggregate win in the semi, whereas Genk were steadily progressing, beating Lierse and local rivals Sint-Truiden 3-1 going into the semi finals.

That semi final was a tough one. Tougher than the final. The two legs against Germinal Ekeren couldn’t separate either team as Genk progressed on away goals, getting a 2-2 draw. Ekeren were not only the holders but finished third in the league too, proving how difficult a draw Genk had throughout the run.

Going into the final, Club Brugge had been scintillating. Walking the league winning the title by eighteen points and were hopeful of completing the double. That’s the great thing about football, and especially cup finals. Genk came in, took their chances, and (through research) seemed to dominate. A quick fire brace by Souleymane Oulare before the half hour looked to have settled any nerves. If anything however, the most nervous player looked to be Dany Verlinden, spilling a long range effort for the opener, and not reacting quick enough to the third from Thordur Gudjonsson.

A 3-0 halftime lead in the cup final. Unbelievable! The only thing that could make it better is a fourth, which was scored by Jacky Peeters, who had half of Heysel to run into and coolly finish to settle anything there and then. A first cup win for KRC Genk, as the cups won by Waterschei Thor don’t count. For De Smurfen to win this weekend would be massive. A great turnaround in a Jekyll and Hyde season, brought about by Phillipe Clement, he’d love nothing more than to cap off his maiden season as a first team manager with a trophy. With Genk never losing a Beker van België final, it’s a good omen leading up to the game, especially with what happened with the 1999/2000 success over Standard!

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Back in Time: Standard Liège 1953/54

As we edge nearer to this weekend, I thought I’d try my best to look at a previous final from the past. Today, I’m looking at Standard Liège and their first Beker van België victory, all the way back from the 50s! This was the first final in nineteen years after a hiatus, and was also only the sixth victory in the cups long history, even though association football had been in Belgium since the late nineteenth century.

In the league, Standard didn’t have the best of times. Finishing thirteenth, they stayed out of the relegation zone by a single point. In such a tight league however, they were only four points off of Racing Mechelen in sixth, the team Les Rouches would defeat in the cup final. I guess like some seasons, although football was never as popular as it is now back then, you could spin that the players focused more on their cup exploits than in the league, I guess the negative is that the Cup Winners Cup or Fairs Cup weren’t ‘invented’ back then, although the Fairs Cup was created shortly after this cup win.

Looking at the cup run, Liège had a similar run to Mechelen in how their results panned out. Both getting a 5-1 in the first round, and then both winning 2-1 in the quarterfinals. The competition kicked off with a fine victory over R.F.C. Brugeois. As I mentioned, a 5-1 score line, almost the same as this years semi final first leg. The difference however is that unlike Brugge doing well this season, that Brugeois side weren’t in the top flight.

Moving on. A tight 2-1 result against Daring Club de Bruxelles followed. A team who’d go on to narrowly get relegated from the top flight that season. I say narrowly because of course, it was two points for a win back then. In today’s money, they’d have actually finished above Standard by one point! Heading into the semi finals, a derby between Standard Liège and Sêrésien (now Seraing) took place, where a magnificent 5-2 triumph sealed the the club from Sclessin’s first cup final trip to Brussels to face Racing Mechelen.

You’d think with it being a final, it’d be cagey. But like I said, football hasn’t always been like today. A magnificent 3-1 win occurred with all the goals coming in the first half. The deadlock was broken in the very first minute by Sébastien Jacquemyns. Playing in either defence or midfield, he had a brief stint at the club, but a memorable one in his two year stay. Eight minutes later, prolific midfielder Joseph Givard doubled the lead. In his eight years at the club, he managed this cup success, along with a league title four years later. Givard averaged a goal every 3.5 matches.

Jozef Mannaerts halved the deficit, before skipper and one club man Fernand Blaise put the icing on the cake just before half time. Spending his entire career at the club, Blaise only managed this cup win in his thirteen years. Scoring in the final, he has etched himself into Standard history as they went on to bigger and better things.

Winning their first final, Standard Liège have gone on to play in fifteen more finals, winning seven in total. The third most successful club in the cup in Belgium, and second in regards of appearances. They’ll equal Club Brugge’s appearance record this weekend, with the hope of adding another trophy to the cabinet.

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Back in Time: 1940 European Cup???

Because I’m bored, weird, whatever…I decided, armed with a pen, paper, Wikipedia and virtual dice, to do my own ‘Champions League’ with clubs who won their domestic leagues in the 1938/39 season. Some teams technically didn’t win it that season because Russia seemed to be all over the place, and there was a civil war in Spain, so I used the reigning champions from before the war began.

Amongst this there were some big clubs from their respective nations. Glasgow Rangers, AEK Athens, Schalke, Everton and a ‘group of death’ which included Porto, Ajax, Athletic Bilbao and Bologna! Amazing stuff when the draw was made in my lounge in a teacup, pulling out screwed up pieces of paper. The press were just upset knowing two big clubs wouldn’t make it past the group stages, but at least we all know it wasn’t fixed! And representing Belgium. Ahhh Belgium, the land I wanted to do oh so well in this were represented by 1938/39 champions R Beerschot A.C. A team no longer in existence, with their last guise coming as Germinal Beerschot and then Beerschot AC.

I decided to use the Champions League format rather than the classic straight to knockout it used to be. Of course, teams used to be invited in the beginning, instead of being domestic champions. Some of these may never have entered unless it was my way! They were thankful to come along, especially Beerschot, Sète from France (now in a national league), Voronezh from Russia (there is F.C. Fakel Voronezh, but not the same), BSK Beograd (now OFK) and Venus Bucureşti (4th tier now in Romania).

What that shows is that football does have a rich history all over the world, where it is cyclical. There’s heritage and at some point, random clubs dominated their domestic leagues. It is amazing, like Venus Bucureşti and Sète, where the former won five titles in the 30s, and the latter were the first French team to win the double!

But going into this prestigious, made up European Competition. Well, not made up. I mean the competition exists but back then, and the fact I…never mind. Two teams dominated the group stages in Beograd and Voronezh both gaining 14 points! The group of death with Porto, Ajax, Bilbao and Bologna was reasonably tight, with the Spaniards and Italians coming good. Incredible! In Group C, Everton finished third, above Bucureşti, but below Admira Wien and Danish minnows B 93!

Now. Group A. The group that peaked my interest included Beerschot amongst Beograd, who we already know had progressed, with Glasgow Rangers in there and IF Elfsborg of Sweden. After two draws against Elfsborg and Rangers, things took a wrong turn with three defeats on the bounce, before a final draw against Rangers saw them eliminated. A minus five goal difference with three points. Sounds almost too realistic if you look at Anderlecht in this season’s competition. Only Sète had a worse time of it, with one point and a negative nine goal difference.

Of course I played out the rest of the tournament because this would’ve been pointless otherwise. As I’m a Belgian football blogger, what would anybody gain from finding out that the winner wasn’t from Belgium? It’d mean nothing at all. Of course I know the winner, just wonder how many of you are interested?

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Back in Time: Jean-Marie Pfaff 

Lastly in my trio of goalkeepers this week is probably, if not definitely the best of the bunch. All 3 goalkeepers had something in common. They all only conceded 24 goals in the seventies, but this one went on to achieve massive success. 

Jean-Marie Pfaff started off his career at KSK Beveren where he would spend 10 years at the club. Ten years where he would achieve massive success close towards the end of the decade. Before his title winning season, the first ever in KSK Beveren’s existence, he would help the team to the Belgian Cup, as well as picking up the Golden Shoe too in 1978. 

In his title winning season, he most definitely aided in the clubs success by helping out defensively. It was so impressive that he would become the national goalkeeper for Euro 1980. Along with that, and moving ahead, he would remain the Belgian number one at 4 successive tournaments, including two world cups! 

Once the World Cup in Spain 82 was over, he would make a major move abroad to Germany, joining Bavarian giants Bayern Munich. Whilst in Germany he would once again earn major successes individually and within the team. Winning 3 Bundesliga titles and 2 German cups in his 6 years with Bayern, he would also win the inaugural World’s Best Goalkeeper award in 1987. 

After that spell he moved back to Belgium with Lierse for one season, before ending his career in Turkey with Trabzonspor. A glittering career where he was consistently one of the best goalkeepers in the world for around a decade. After football he went on to manage Oostende in 1998/99 and looking back he has had quite an eclectic life.

In 1982, he nearly drowned at the World Cup after a journalist pushed the Belgian into a swimming pool, not knowing he couldn’t actually swim. He also had his own reality show involving his family for 10 years this millennium. But the world class keeper will never be forgotten for how good he was. So good, Pele voted him amongst the Top 125 Living Footballers, and with that honour, it all began in small humble surroundings in Beveren.
All pictures courtesy of Getty Images

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Back in Time: Nico de Bree

After yesterday’s helping with me talking about former Standard Liege goalkeeper Christian Piot, I go to another goalkeeper who also only conceded 24 goals in a season in the Belgian top flight. The difference between the 2 is that in that season, he didn’t pick up a winners medal for his troubles.

Another thing the pair didn’t have in common, is not just nationality, but Nico de Bree played for 7 clubs in his career with many ups and downs! Starting off at Elinkwijk (then merging with 2 other clubs to create what we call Utrecht) he then moved to NEC Nijmegen, where he helped the club to promotion to the Eredivisie! With that he then spent a decade south of Holland, moving to Belgium where he had a mixed time with success and failure.

Moving to the capital, Nico signed for Racing White Daring, until they also merged to create RWD Molenbeek where his name will live on forever. The big Dutchman helped in the clubs major historical triumph as they won the league for the first and only time in their history! A huge achievement and one where it didn’t go unnoticed. With that success, Anderlecht, RWDM’s neighbours poached him to replace compatriot Jan Ruiter. However, he could never replicate that league triumph with Les Mauves, but on a personal note, he did do well goalkeeping wise and defensively as Anderlecht finished second twice in succession, and once whilst keeping 16 clean sheets (to my knowledge) and winning the Cup Winners Cup too, the whole point of this brief acknowledgment of how difficult a goalkeepers life can be.

As the seventies became the eighties, his 8 year stint in the capital came to an end with uneventful spells at Winterslag and then Beerschot, with Winterslag being the most successful reaching the UEFA Cup. The rollercoaster ended with a move back to Holland with DS’79 (now better known as Dordrecht) where he won the league in his first season, moving the club back into the Eredivisie, much like what he did with NEC. But a bitter end as the goalkeeper saw relegation in his final season as a professional footballer.

Never gaining a cap for his country, at one point you could possibly class him as the best goalkeeper in Belgium, winning a title, winning continental honours, joining potentially the biggest club at the time and conceding the fewest goals in a league campaign in 7 years. Not too shabby really with his final season being the only real sour note.

As I have stated, will never be forgotten by RWDM fans and will be considered a legend in that part of Belgium before moving to Anderlecht. He sadly past away in Vienna last year, leaving his legacy in the Belgian top flight through the seventies when Belgian clubs could compete on a European stage.

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Back in Time: Christian Piot 

My back in times usually talk about a triumphant title win or spirited European campaign. But one of my previous BIT’s was about Francis Severyns and I thought why not celebrate an individual? The same individuals that made these clubs successful whether temporarily or over a longer scale.

This week I thought I’d talk about goalkeepers. I went back to the 1970s and looked to see which clubs conceded the least along this decade and 3 clubs conceded the same amount of goals, with one goalkeeper doing it twice right at the start in title winning seasons! 

Christian Piot was a young goalkeeper at lowly FC Ougrée in Belgium, when he was spotted by René Hauss for Standard Liege in 1969. The problem at the time is that Piot had a slight dilemma. Unlike now where when you’re a footballer, that’s it! But money was around then and the young goalkeeper used his hands to save shots rather than cut meat…as a butcher.

And what a great choice he made, winning 3 consecutive league titles with Les Rouches and conceding just 24 goals in 1969/70 and 1970/71! Replacing Jean Nicolay, many had their doubts about the youngster, but he rapidly progressed and was called up to the national side for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. He was called up in place of another Jean, this time Jean Trappeniers. 

With a marvellous start to his career he won 3 titles, called up to a world cup, win the Belgian Golden Shoe in 1972, where he also represented his country in the European Championships, helping the Red Devils to a 3rd place finish too. Thereafter he helped Standard to cup finals, but that was mainly it. Competing in 305 matches for his one and only club, along with 40 matches for his country he also managed 9 goals for Standard (all penalties I think). 

When you think about, his career was a rollercoaster, but mainly of good times. Winning caps, titles and records as well as personal accolades, bagging goals and all in a career where….he could’ve been behind a counter serving meat (not that’s there’s definitely nothing wrong with that). Spending his career in Liege, he went on to coach and manage at Standard and RFC Liege. Recently turning 70 he will live on as a fine goalkeeper!

Posted in Back in Time, Manager Profile

Back in Time: Bill Gormlie

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.

After this week in the Belgian top flight, I thought I’d look at the longest serving manager in Anderlecht history. I’m guessing his the longest serving as he has managed the most amount of matches, along with the fact he has won the most league titles for the club. Bill Gormlie was a remarkable coach in that he did what most Englishmen won’t do. He went abroad!

Born in 1911 in Liverpool, he went on to play as a goalkeeper for Blackburn Rovers and Northampton Town. But he really excelled as a manager. He originally became manager of the Belgian National team in 1947 around the age of 37 which would never happen now if you think of it. His first match was a derby against the Dutch. The problem at the time is the Belgian FA didn’t want to participate in the 1950 World Cup, so no qualifiers were played.

Because of that, maybe that was the reason he split his role with the national side, as he took charge of Anderlecht in 1950! He quit the role of Belgium manager in 1953, leaving them in a good position at the time as they’d defeated Finland and Sweden, helping them towards the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. But as I were saying, he took charge of Anderlecht until 1959.

In those years he won 5 titles, winning one in his first season, following on the good work of Irishman Ernest Churchill Smith. In that first season however, Les Mauves won the league on goal difference and only winning 13 matches out of 30! Remarkable. It then took 3 seasons til his next title, but after the 1953/54 season, Anderlecht were ruthless. 

In that season, they scraped the league by a single point, but then the next, not only did they win the league by 3 points, they also managed qualification for the European Cup. They repeated the feat the next season before he won his last league title in his last season as manager in 1958/59. Five league titles in 9 full seasons is fantastic. 

Unfortunately for Gormlie, he couldn’t take his league form into Europe. Okay we know Real Madrid ran Europe then…much like they do now. Anyway, the inaugural European Cup saw Anderlecht lose 10-4 to Vörös Kobogó (I know) and were out immediately. The next season was no better after the Belgians were, frankly, demolished by Manchester United 12-0 on aggregate, the second leg being 10-0! The season after Bill Gormlie was let go, Anderlecht still disappointed on the European stage as the went out to Glasgow Rangers in the first stage again.

Bill Gormlie laid the foundations, and carried on good work from those before him too to be fair, for Anderlecht’s domination to this day. He helped in their history to shape the club in some way. He did do ground-breaking stuff, such as beating Arsenal in 1954 at Highbury, the first foreign side to achieve this. He was credited in finding Paul Van Himst, one of Belgian football’s greatest players. To only manage in Europe and succeed doesn’t happen often, especially for Englishmen, so this is one story which many won’t know, and maybe should know. 

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Back in Time: Cercle Brugge 1929/30

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.

After the weekend Cercle had, I didn’t know whether this would cheer them up as they were champions of Belgium, and they have been three times, or it’ll upset them knowing there was once better times in an era the majority of fans never existed in. A time where, in 3 calender years, Cercle Brugge were the best in Belgium twice.

To actually dig out information on this team was difficult. There are of course sites where facts are, or what I’ve decided as facts, but it was actually typing in the correct words on any search engine to find this information. Not just simply ‘Cercle Brugge 1929/30’. But once I found out, other than the basic search which isn’t difficult to find, Cercle’s last ever season as champions was a tight one, winning the league by one point from Antwerp! And the league, in the surface, looks weird compared to nowadays. Not just because there were just 14 teams, but a points tally of 37 points from 26 games never looks impressive. Obviously I know back then it was just 2 points for a win.

What could make this win better is the turn of form from the 20s to the 30s, picking up around 50% more points in the run in, and what was most vital was the away win against Antwerp four matchdays from the end. If that were to even be a draw, the Great Old would’ve won the league on goal difference! What may also cheer up Cercle fans, is that they took 3 out of 4 points off of rivals Club Brugge, where Blauw-Zwart finished 6th back then, 10 points off of Cercle!

But what I do love about these posts, when I look back then, is loyalty to the clubs they played for. Finding information on players is never easy, especially from nearly 100 years ago, but out of the players I have found, they either just played for Cercle, played over ten years (or 20 years for a couple of them) or represented the club in other ways too. Looking down my list, it’s hard to say who is the bigger ‘legend’ but starting with Louis Baes. The defender spent 15 years at Cercle as a player and was twice coach too. Florimand Vanhalme also coached the club twice, as well as played 320 matches and scoring 33 goals in a 20 year span.

You also have Robert Braet who was a goalkeeper who started at 18 in the first team, played 20 years too at the club, is 6th in the all time list of appearances AND became chairman between 1967-1970. He also was the best in the country as he represented Belgium at the 1938 World Cup. Then you have four strikers, although Roger Proot had a lot in common with Braet, in that he doubled up as a goalkeeper. Proot spent 13 years at the club, winning 2 leagues and a cup as well as top scorer in 1931 and 1933. Alphonse Decorte also shared the top scorer at the club in 33, as well as winning the accolade in 1932, spending the entirety of his career at Cercle Brugge too.

Lastly, you have a couple of strikers who left their mark on Cercle Brugge. Firstly, Michel Vanderbauwhede, who spent 12 years at the club,also winning 2 leagues and a cup. He is fourth on the all time goalscorers list. And finally, Arthur Ruysschaert spent 18 years at Cercle and is the only player to be in the top 10 Cercle players regarding goals and appearances! He later became a youth coach and interim coach.

This club will live forever at the club as possibly the last to ever win the league for the club. Football is ciclical and maybe one day, Cercle will come!e again, but until then, the 7-1 at the weekend will need to be revenged this coming weekend as the club strive to get back to the top flight!