Posted in Back in Time

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. 

Posted in Back in Time

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!

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: Francis Severeyns

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 should really put this down as a club thing. Clubs who have done extremely well in the past whether it be in the cup, or Europe, or league. But…this time, I have decided to pick a player. I came across a player who most clubs in the Pro League will know as well European clubs and lower league clubs. Francis Severeyns!

To continually write about Club Brugge and Anderlecht is, no offence, dull. It’s full to whoever may read my blog on a regular basis (if anyone does) and it’s dull for me. It’s the equivalent of constantly writing about Liverpool and Manchester United. But I digress. Francis Severeyns, also known as Cisse, came through the ranks at Royal Antwerp in 1984, signed originally from Westmalle as a youngster. Primarily, I’ve written about Cisse because I thought I’d kick of my Back in Time with a 7/8 finish in the year, but stumbled across a goalscorer, who, was always the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Courtesy of Getty Images

In a generation full of top Belgian strikers, Francis Severeyns managed to play for the Red Devils 7 times and managed to bag a goal in the process. Taking that into the clubs he played for, he did have a decent goalscoring record. In his first spell at Antwerp, his best personal performance was a goal haul of 24 goals when the Great Old finished 3rd in the 1987/88 season, striking up a good partnership Marc Van Den Linden. That season helped the club qualify for the UEFA Cup.

With his impress start to his career, his major disappointment followed where Serie A came calling. Possibly the league to join in the 80s and 90s which is a huge compliment. Unfortunately, the Italian Job ended horrendously, with Pisa finishing second bottom, and, going by my research, no goals were scored by Severeyns. Where does he go from there? Well, he was a lucky boy, to an extent, when Mechelen signed him! Yes! The Belgian Champions sent him a huge lifeline.

After that, De Kakkers did well, finishing 3rd, 2nd and 4th in Severeyns three seasons, trying to build a relationship with John Bosman. Those finishes meant the Cisse always had European football. After his mini spell there, which was reasonably good at a club level, scoring nearly a goal every 3 matches, he rejoined Antwerp. In some ways, coming home.

Again, this is where the bridesmaid comment comes in, as they’d won the Beker van Belgie the year before he joined. Meaning clubs had success the year before he joined! But that first season the club reached the Cup Winners Cup final, losing out to an impressive Parma team. Francis Severeyns even managed a goal in that final before the Italians won 3-1! Domestically, Severeyns managed 19 goals (joint 5th) and sparked up a good relationship with Alexandre Czerniatynski (I quadruple checked that). The club began a descend down the table, actually finishing just outside the relegation places in the 1994/95 season, until picking themselves up the season he left, finishing 6th, ensuring an Intertoto Cup place.

But the now experienced Belgian moved to Austria with Tirol Innsbruck. An average season all in all where the club finished 6th, which is mid table in the Austrian Bundesliga, and the club also went out of Europe early to Celtic. This was to be his final stint abroad as he returned to Belgium in the form of Germinal Beerschot. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

Three seasons with the historic club were followed by his last season in top flight at Westerlo in 2001/02. Thereafter, he played football for the love of football, playing in the Belgian lower leagues, before return to his home club KV Westmalle, where he is now the manager. 

This is unique in that I don’t often write about former players of yesteryear, but a player who had the courage to play abroad is one thing, along with being at clubs in a successful era in their history, without actually winning a medal of his own. A fantastic career with I’m sure many stories, with no silverware to boast for it! I wonder if the second coming in the form of management will happen for Francis Severeyns?

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: RSC Anderlecht 1946/47

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!

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: Royal Antwerp 1956/57

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 their own progression back into the top flight this season, I thought I’d try and dig up some stuff from their last title win, as in Pro League success! Going all the way back to the 1956/57 season. Sixty years ago Antwerp were the pride of Belgium lifting their 4th and last title with a team where, surprisingly, they won but never really built on that success.

Whenever I do this, especially with a league title, teams who have a group of players who spend around about a decade together usually build on that success. This unfortunately wasn’t the case for The Great Old, where Belgium’s oldest football club just let those overtake. A great side full of quality, English manager Harry Game had a title winning side that spread goals around the team, had a solid defence and scored, what looked like 3 goals per match looking back at their scorelines.

Winning the title by 6 points ahead of Anderlecht and Gent, it was deserved as they had the least defeats and most wins. As I’ve already mentioned, the side had players who will always be remembered, not just because of this titles success, but for their love of the club for the years after. Great players such as Vicky Mees, who was as pivotal for Belgium as he was for Antwerp. A true gentleman, he was voted Royal Antwerp Player of the Century. 

Eddy Wauters was also at the club, although going by my research, he was away on loan that season! Going on to manage the club and act as chairman, a true legend was amongst this squad. Another Eddy, Eddy Bertels was also there, spending 12 years at the club and scoring 16 goals this season. Other goalscorers were Jef Van Gool, Louie Verbruggen and Constant De Backker, all hitting double figures this season and spent a combined 36 years at the club! With the latter doubling up as a defender as well as striker, showing how versatile De Backker was. Ahead of his time.

All these players were real Antwerp greats who will always live forever at the club due to the fact this is the last title ever won in the top tier and for all we know, may be the last? The unpredictable nature of certain clubs winning the Belgian league occasionally proves that may not be the case, but for as long Club Brugge and Anderlecht dominate, who knows? 

For all the Antwerp fans who may read this, I felt that I didn’t pay homage to you getting promoted, so I thought I’d, deservedly, finally write about you and give some credence to a side many of you will have never witnessed, but only heard about…

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: F.C Liègeois 1895/96

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.

Due to midweek fixtures last week I suspended this and decided to not do one until this week. As we’re nearing the end of the season, I thought I’d go all the way back to the beginning. No, not July 2016. More the summer/autumn of 1895! 

Seven teams kicked off the inaugural season in Belgium and the prize wasn’t just the Coupe de Championnat, but history. To be always known as the first ever champions of the the best sport invented and brought to Belgium would be a massive achievement and F.C Liègeois took that title.

With the matricule number of 4, the team from Liège consisted of 18 players and 7 of those came from England. Of course we all know Antwerp are the first club established in Belgium due to Englishman coming over, so those seven must be amongst the founders of Liègeois.

Going back to the league, with 7 clubs, only 12 matches were played by each team that season, and Liègeois won by 6 points ahead of Antwerp, losing just 1 match in the process. In this paragraph, as much as I’d like to celebrate this fact, I can’t help but look at a club who not only finished bottom, but had a -46 goal difference from those 12 matches, but were only in existence for 9 years, dismantling in 1901…Union F.C d’Ixelles.

With these group of players however, I’m used to squads in Belgium around the early 1900s (yes I know this is the late 1800s) sticking together for years and just taking over Belgian football in their own cycle, but a lot of players left sharply as a new century dawned. Defender Ernest Moreau and goalkeeper Fernand Defalle were those who lasted over a decade. 

Even though football only just begun anywhere for that matter, let alone Belgium, as I’ve already mentioned, players left, or seemed to leave, after the cycle ended for Liègeois. After this first season, they went on to win another 2 titles before the 1900s before their title drought began. A team full of history did as most Belgian clubs do unfortunately and become unsustainable. Merging eventually, the likelihood of now R.F.C de Liège becoming a major force is unlikely unfortunately.

As sad as that is, the club as a whole has had highlights as well as lowlights over their existence, but one thing you can never take away and will never be achieved, is being the maiden champions of their football league…never! The first name will always be F.C Liègeois.

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: Standard Liege 1957/58

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 thought after the season Standard Liege have had, and I have already written about the team, I thought I’d write again with the sacking of their manager this week. But I’ve gone back so far, I’m certain the majority of the Stade Maurice Dufrasne know not a lot about this side, and…Weren’t old enough to see Les Rouches’ first ever title success. 

It is coincidental that next season is the 60 year anniversary of this success, and forgive my naivety (or stupidity) but Standard took the title off runners up Royal Antwerp, but they both had the same points and Standard Liege had a worse goal difference? They also had a worse goals for and won less matches. I can only think of head to head?

But anyway, Standard were crown champions nonetheless and will remain champions of this season forever. They had a side in this season where nobody won individual titles and they didn’t have a top goalscorer in the league, although we know that there isn’t a correlation in Belgium between goalscorers and title winners! However, 55 goals scored this season in a 30 match league isn’t a fantastic return. 

The club did have players who seemed to love the club. Maybe it was because they liked Liege, their other jobs were based there, etc, a number of players spent well over ten years of their career at Standard. And with them staying, they won multiple titles as they averaged a league championship every 2-3 seasons over a 14 year span. They also managed to finish runners up twice too in that spell.

Going by length of time, the most loyal from whom I could find was Denis Houf. The midfielder turned striker spent 16 years at the club, most of that before and after their fantastic transition towards regular title winners. Along with him, Henri Thellin spent the same amount of time at the club. The Belgian international, who was actually born in Belgium, was a stalwart for the club. With just these 2 alone there were many players who could’ve had a testimonial, which is testiment to them, as Liege looked to be building something before they built it, with many players joining or coming through in the late 40s early 50s! You also had brothers vying for 1 goalkeeper place, with only one winner, Jean Nicolay, who also won the Golden Shoe in 1963.

The player who seemed most interesting, and that’s not me saying that, it was through research, was the Congolese player Paul Bonga Bonga. The African was the first from his continent to be selected in World Soccer Magazine’s world XI in 1962 (of course the same year Brazil won the World Cup) which is a superb achievement. Only spending 6 years at the club, although a lot longer in Belgium in total, he helped the side win 3 league titles, which is impressive!

The side consisted of mainly Belgians, and the majority all represented their country, unsurprisingly. The whole point of this post though is the fact that the current side will not be identical to this side. Not to sound harsh, I don’t mean they won’t win a title, although that does seem unlikely in the short term, but can you see the players in the current squad staying at the club for over a decade? That doesn’t happen anywhere and maybe that’s why success can be hard to come by nowadays unless you’re loaded with cash. Either way, with this stressful week and Mechelen coming up (and regarding the 57/58 season, Mechelen were relegated bottom!) maybe inspiration can be drawn…