Belgium Diary : July 9th 2003
Belgium Diary : July 9th 2003

The lightweights and those scarred by their experiences in Antwerp's shadier districts (and yes, we will find out exactly what did - or didn't! - happen, don't you worry Mr Ranner) have by now returned to dear old Blighty. It's left to the hardcore support to finish the tour off with the match against Geminal Beerschot to come..... Tim Lancaster takes up the tale.

Following the departure of Ranner and Seb it was left to the remaining rag tag party on the continent to fly the flag at K.Wijnegem V.C.s home ground for the clash with Germinal Beerschot.

The journey was undertaken with Robin from Blandford Forum who is the owner of a seven seat people carrier. With myself and Jon Brier in the kids seats, and Robin and navigator Martin in the front the remaining part of the sandwich was comprised of Pete, Robins daughter Tracey and Chris. A 2.00pm meet in the centre of Antwerp allowed us to pursue a very interesting path taking in the proper home grounds of Germinal Beerschot and Royal Antwerp before travelling to Wijnegem. Germinal Beerschot play at The Olympic Stadium in the South of the city. The ground boasts four massive stands, all with plastic seasts and with all sides covered. Imagine a slightly smaller version of a any Premiership ground or a much larger Halifax (New sides). The stadium is set in a built up area of very mixed culture, and we were welcomed in and shown into the ground by the very friendly reception staff. The ground was built on the former ground of Beerschot, and in its construction actually rose inside the original stadium!

Royal Antwerp's ground could not have been more different, the facia of the ageing main stand is not unlike Highbury, and inside the stand is a mix and mash of wooden seats, struts, and crumbling terrace. Opposite this structure was a huge sweeping terrace with wooden bench seats under a roof. This reminded me of pre-war Wembley shots. A new seated stand has been constructed behind one goal, and one feels that the old relics in place on the two aforementioned sides of this wonderful venue will soon disapear to be replaced by similar structures. After loads of photos we visited the club shop before driving the very short distance to Wijnegem.

K. Wijnegem V.C play at The Gemeentelijk Stadion. Admission was 7.5 euros. The ground had one small main stand flanked by two sections of cover, with a low slung covered terrace along the opposite side, very similar in design to the covered terrace at Chippenham Town. Although the club play in the Provincial Leagues (ie outside of the four national divisions) the pitch was superb and the bar was excellent, the club also seem to have a long and proud history, with countless photographs and press cuttings on the walls.

The Germinal Beerschot supporters were not at all as forthcoming towards us as the Royal Antwerp fans had been. I can see why Antwerp hate this lot so much as many of them seemed arrogant and bullish. "No one likes us and we are proud of it" was more or less the only contact we received from their fans. That said however the club officials and players wished us all the best for the forthcoming season and Jon even swapped a Yeovil Town scarf for a dodgy tee-shirt with a Beerschot player on it. Ranner would have died for the MULLET on display and the leather waistcoat that the owner possessed.

A few extra Yeovil fans who travelled on the day boosted the away contingent to about twenty, with Mark from The Beehive adding his flag to the mast. The final game over - we lost 4-1 - and it was back to the city centre for more beers before the 11.30pm night bus back to London.

Tim Lancaster

See Also ...

Belgium Diary 1, Belgium Diary 2, Belgium Diary 3, Belgium Diary 4.

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