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.

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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…

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: Waterschei Thor 1982/83

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 European football back this week, 2 teams from Belgium will fight for success tomorrow and hopefully will progress further in Europe’s second trophy. One of those teams has been successful before on the European stage, and the other could’ve been glorious… but in another guise. Waterschei Thor could’ve dreamed the impossible dream 34 years ago by winning the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, but were defeated by Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen in the semi finals.

For Waterschei, their tournament began in mid September with an emphatic 7-1 home win over Luxembourg side Red Boys Differdange. Hardly a glamour tie but a match that needed to be won nonetheless. Goals from Gudmundsson (x2), Berger (x2), Janssen, Vliegen and Coninx sealed the win and basically booked their place into the next round. Di Domenico scored an 80th minute consolation for the visitors which was their only highlight in that seasons competition. The second leg already over before it begun was a formality, with Pier Janssen scoring the only goal of the game in a match that simply had to be played.

Going into the next round, the test got slightly tougher as Thor drew B. 93 of Denmark. I say it was slightly tougher as the aggregate score was almost the same really. The first leg being away this time may have been tougher, but with second half goals from Gudmundsson and P. Janssen (again) helped the Belgians take a 2 goal lead back home. Waterschei wrapped the tie up quite easily. Gudmundsson and Janssen scored again, with Plessers fitting a penalty in between to make the scoreline 3-0 at half time. Vliegen made it 4 just after the hour to make it 6-0 on aggregate until another late consolation from Dalsborg made it 4-1 on the night!

With the tournament being comfortable so far, surely sterner competition was around the corner, and that came in the form of Paris St Germain. Today’s current French champions showed their quality back then, winning the first leg 2-0 at home. Goals either side of the break by Fernandez and Pilorget may have looked to seal the tie and end Thor’s competition there and then. They hadn’t had a set back like this through the competition and would have to show real character to progress.

An early goal would help if there was any chance of progression, and that didn’t come, but thankfully a first half goal did through Icelander Lárus Gudmundsson just before the half hour. With 45 minutes to save their European campaign, a strong willed second half performance was needed. A second goal came through JanssenRoland Janssen this time, levelling up the tie and took it to extra time. Thankfully for the Belgians, they stole the win in extra time through, who else, Pier Janssen!

With a memorable comeback, you’d think Waterschei were rewarded through drawing Scottish preliminary qualifiers Aberdeen in the semi finals. But unfortunately, that was not the case in terms of performance and result. Aberdeen turned on the style and destroyed Thor 5-1 in Scotland. Nothing went well as Waterschei were 2-0 down within 5 minutes! McGhee made it 3-0, with Weir making it 4 two minutes later, ending the tie essentially. Gudmundsson pulled a goal back, but that meant nothing as Aberdeen booked their place in the final with McGhee wrapping up the scoring to make it 5-1.

An unbelievable performance at home would have to happen, but a consolation from Voordeckers was all the Belgians got midway through the second half. There was some respect brought back through victory, but a 5-2 aggregate scoreline was all they got. Aberdeen went on to defeat Spanish giants Real Madrid in the final.

The point of this blog is that if Waterschei Thor could reach the semi final, KRC Genk, who were born through the merging with KFC Winterslag, could possibly achieve the same. And why not? If they turn it on like they did against Gent, then Celta Vigo have got a game on their hands. And who knows, they may just go one better…?

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: Union Saint Gilloise 1934/35

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 fantastic result at the weekend, I felt that I had to write about this great team that won their last top flight league title, allllll the way back in the 1930s! Doing my research, I thought I should educate myself and maybe others on this legendary team that could still be referred to as one of the greatest.

That season they won the league by 5 points in a 14 team league. The one blotch on their records are the 2 defeats that season, and the significance of those defeats is that it halted their incredible unbeaten run. Sixty…Yes 60 matches without tasting defeat. An astonishing record that is still held to this day. The defeat that ended the run  came against Daring Club De Bruxelles which would’ve been a Brussels derby. 

They lost another game that season too against Royal Beerschot, but back to the Brussels teams, there were 3 that contested in the top flight that season, but none of them being Anderlecht! The other was Royal White Star.

Winning this title was Unions last ever top flight title. Their 11th in total in which they won in a 31 year bracket and it cemented their place as the most successful Belgian club, until World War 2 broke out. Holding the matricule number of 10, this old club has maintained their name, titles, history which is a credit to them in Belgium.

During this historic spell, they had a few Belgian internationals who went to World Cups too. You have goalkeeper Andre Vandeweyer who later went on to manage Union Saint Gilloise as well as the Belgian national team. Great defenders such as Philly Smellinckx who spent the entirety of his career at the club and Felix Welkenhuysen who did the same. Free kick specialist in midfield Jean Claessens and striker Jacques van Caelenberghe, who was as loyal to the club as Smellinckx and Welkenhuysen which is a credit to them, and showed how quality they were to win so much with the club. Lastly is Jules Pappaert who was captain of this great side. Known as PETATJE, he along with the rest was a Belgian international, but in his case, his career wasn’t ended too short, as he was 40, but was in devastating fashion as he died in the mid 1940s at that age.

There’s a long way for the current crop to ever replicate what this great side achieved, but until then, this team will live on as legends!

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Back in Time: KV Oostende 2012/13

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?

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: Zulte Waregem 2005/06

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.

This edition involves the reigning cup winners from this weekend, Zulte Waregem, and how they won their first trophy eleven years ago!

Last time around, their run to the final was longer and tough to be honest, against a Mouscron side who’s run was a bit more simpler. For starters, Zulte began their run against the most successful team in competition history, Club Brugge, and defeated them with a 2-1 win at home. The next round was slightly easier, on paper, against division 2 team Verbroedering Geel but progressing with a less than convincing 1-0 win away. Then there were two 2 legged matches against Westerlo and Standard, defeating the former 4-3 on aggregate and then the latter 2-2, progressing on away goals.

Zulte’s opponent’s in the final, Mouscron, had an easier run in my opinion, and definitely made the most of it. In the 6th round they hosted Torhat 1992 KM and disposed of them with a 2-1 victory. The next round was also a home tie against second division RAEC Mons, in which the top flight side came out on top 2-1 again, setting up a 2 legged quarter final against Beveren in which they won 2-0 on aggregate, and then overcoming Charleroi in the semi final 2-1 on aggregate to set the final up.

With this being Zulte Waregem’s first final and Mouscron’s second, returning 4 years after their first in which they lost to Club Brugge 3-1, there was going to definitely be a new name on the trophy! By league position, you’d think Waregem would come out on top with 8 places separating them so confidence would be high, but in a cup final, form sometimes goes out of the window.

But in this case, it would’ve seemed it meant a bit more as only 11 minutes in centre half Stefan Leleu netted to set Zulte on there way. And as the game progressed, things seemed to be going Zulte Waregem’s way judging by the scoreline, then again it only takes a second to score a goal, and in the 62nd, that’s what Mouscron did to spice things up. Bosnian striker Adnan Custovic levelled the final, making the match interesting going into the last half hour and setting up a real climax.

With stoppage time looming, like this season, things were going into stoppage time and I’m sure fans were either glued to their seat or making plans for extra time. Those who may have thought about refreshments however will have regretted their decision, as current KV Mechelen striker Tim Matthys popped up with a winner one minute into stoppage time, sending the fans into raptures and tears of joy. 

Obviously with cup competitions and a lucky draw, Zulte Waregem may have thought they wouldn’t have to wait 11 years until they got their hands on the trophy again, but I’m sure the wait was well worth it. On the other hand, Mouscron were just ecstatic to be a top flight team again, let alone trophy success.

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Back in Time: Standard Liege 2015/16

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 didn’t know which way to go here. Either the first ever winners, which I strongly considered, or remind anyone who reads this who lasts years cup winners were. Standard Liege faced league champions Club Brugge in a final where if it were this season, I think it’d be a different outcome.

Both teams had similarly easy matches leading up to the final in regards to opposition, with Brugge playing away at Patro Eisden Massmechelen (II), tearing into them with a 4-0 win, a home tie against 2012 and 2014 winners Lokeren with a 1-0 victory, a more comfortable away win at Westerlo, winning 2-0 and then a two legged semi final against Gent.

Standard, however, made lighter work of their opponents throughout their run to the final. Other than making hard work against Coxyde (II) winning 3-2 away, they then went on to win 2-0 in the next two rounds in home ties against St Truiden and Kortrijk respectively, before drawing Genk in the semi final.

Standard Liege, again, didn’t exactly ease to the final, but proved to do better than their future finalists, winning 3-1 on aggregate, including another 2-0 home win. Whereas Club Brugge needed away goals to progress to the final, drawing 2-2 on aggregate. 

Club Brugge were no strangers to the Croky Cup. Not only are they the most successful club in the competition, they were the reigning cup holders, beating Anderlecht the year before, whereas Standard Liege were participating in their first final since the 2010/11 season, defeating Westerlo.

This was the first time these 2 had met in the final since the 2006/07 season, where Brugge won the day 1-0. Standard were out to get revenge, and it started perfectly, with Jean-Luc Dompé netting on 17 minutes. The lead didn’t last for long, as Lior Rafaelov pegged back Les Rouches to make it 1-1 ten minutes later.

Going into half time 1-1, both teams were even, until Standard got a huge boost. Abdoulaye Diaby received a straight red card on the 51st, giving Liege the upper hand for the rest of the match and even extra time. With the clock ticking extra time looked a massive possibility entering the last 5 minutes, until Croatian striker Ivan Santini stole the show in the 88th minute! 

Courtesy of Getty Images

A massive win for a club who had a bit of a barren run trophy wise leading up to the match and the winner was scored just at the right time. 
Leading into this weeks Beker Van Belgie, it goes to show anything can happen. This is Zulte Waregem’s 3rd final in their current formation, whereas Oostende have never participated in the Belgian Cup Final. For the romantics they may want De Kustboys to come out victorious, but for me, I just want a great final, and with 2 of the top 5 playing, I’m sure that’s what we’ll get!

Til next time

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Back in Time: R.W.D Molenbeek 1974/75

​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.

Today’s effort from me regards a team from Brussels. No, not that one, a team gone but not forgotten. A team who only had 1 shining season in the top flight winning the Belgian Pro League halfway through the seventies. Racing White Daring Molenbeek. Finishing third the season before, the wheels seemed to be turning going into the 1974/75 season.

Managed by Felix Week, former professional footballer as a goalkeeper, he achieved what wouldn’t be seen as the impossible maybe at the time going by decent league finishes near the top, but now, it will be looked at as an amazing achievement. Winning the league by 9 points and losing just the 2 league matches all season in a twenty team league is impressive. The problem much like last week is that finding the key facts, unless I’m really typing in the wrong information, is so tough to find, especially about Belgium. With 6 foreign players, it goes to show that players playing abroad is nothing new, even if they were only from Denmark and Holland.

What else I noticed in the squad other than nationalities was the fact that 7 players had a link with rivals Anderlecht, whether during their playing career or later as manager, most famous being Jan Boskamp who’d but most well known in England at Stoke City. But the point is that you rarely see teams who go between city rivals that often. 

Going back to the league and their points tally and loss record, Molenbeek managed to win 25 fixtures. RWD finished, in order, above Antwerp, Anderlecht and Club Brugge, which again was a massive achievement going by Anderlecht’s and Club Brugge’s European exploits that decade, meaning that they were equally good domestically as well as in Europe. Along with that, the 2 made up the previous Belgian Pro League champions the 3 season’s before.

After this season, Molenbeek flattered to deceive the next season, finishing 3rd again and were knocked out by Croatians Hajduk Split 7-2 on aggregate. In Europe, they performed admirably in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup, losing out in the semi finals on away goals against runners up Athletic Bilbao. 

The club unfortunately, like most it seems in Belgium, dissolved in 2002. There are clubs, like Molenbeek and last week with Beerschot where they lose everything they worked so hard for. I really don’t know what I’d do if this happened to my team. To join forces with other supporters who you may have hated. The fact that you have to all!Pat leech off of another club altogether to just stay afloat, or rather, carry on. It is upsetting from the outside Nd surely devistating for those on the inside. A team deemed good enough to beat the likes of the best in Belgium and top the the tree, struck down. We all know this happens and teams can plummet down the pyramid, by to no longer exist is another story.

The spirit of fans can be inspirational and that’s been proven time and time and time again. Maybe one day Molenbeek, through any guise, will rise again, but with football teams you need unbelievable wealth…So it won’t happen soon, but it may not be impossible.