This article, I will precise, focuses heavily on amateur football in Belgium and low-level leagues within the Belgian FA’s structure. I avoided most bigger, more famous grounds, since most people already know (or can find plenty of information on) whether a certain ground is still existing or not.
Amateur football is a coming and going of clubs. Some are impulsively formed clubs of friends who however realise after a while they have no time to continue the club and disband, and the more serious amateur clubs not all show commitment to their association. Some of those better organised clubs after a while choose to make the change to the Belgian FA’s leagues.
But also in the lower levels of those leagues within the Belgian FA, clubs come and go. A lot of clubs existed for just 1 season or shorter. A lot of teams merge after a while. Some remain in existance and stable, but move to a new ground.
If a club disappears, merges or relocates, what happens to their ground? In some cases the answer was clearly given in articles online, in some cases I went to check myself, but in some other circumstances I am clueless myself. Here is an overview, people reading this are free to pass any info!
– the focus is on amateur leagues and the lowest divisions of the Belgian FA’s leagues
– the list is obviously incomplete as there are so many clubs in Belgium that listing all of them would be impossible. This is a select list of clubs that somehow interested me for one reason or another.
So, here we go!
SK Denderhoutem is currently a stable club playing in the town itself and in the Belgian FA’s league. They however previously played in the KKVS amateur league and then were based on a field just next to the main road connecting Aalst to Ninove. I passed this ground earlier this week, it is still there but it is badly maintained and unlikely to be used again.
FC Nederboelare, playing in the East-Flanders/Flemish Brabant division of the KAVVV amateur league, nowadays plays its games in the municipal sports stadium (which features a true seated stand, unusual for this level!). Their previous home was a pitch near the church of Nederboelare, which I visited many years ago. The pitch was OK, but very high weeds had taken over the few concrete steps intended for the watchers. Unsure what happened to this pitch.
‘t Fonteintje Erpe-Mere was a club from the KKVS league, having a tiny accomodation not far from the "border" with Lede. The field however is gone, and has been used for building new houses.
La Ruelle and ‘t Steegje, both KKVS affiliated and both playing in a small ground in Moorsel (Aalst) also saw their ground lost and probably there’s buildings on it now as we speak.
Another KKVS participant from the past, SK Dendermonde, has the most unusual location as ground: a field in the middle of the wood, surrounded by very swampy ground and with the banks of river Dender nearby. Very well hidden. The field still exists, and is apparently occasionally used but not for football purposes.
Ekkergemboys, KKVS affiliated and having their pitch not too far of the famous church of the Ekkergem district of Gent, ceased to exist and so did the ground.
We are still in KKVS surroundings when VK Mater comes up. They had a not very well in balance field with a small canteen, and should not be confused with RC Mater who are still existing with no issues. VK Mater however is gone, and I heard the pitch is hardly recognisable anymore, I have not had the chance to go and see for myself.
RC Jager Brakel also played in KKVS, just like their fellow villagers Kruisstraat Brakel. While Kruisstraat is still going, what happened to RC Jager and their ground is totally unknown to me.
St Anna Hardy was one of the more succesful clubs in the league of the KKVS, but they changed named to SV Hardy Waasmunster and moved to the Belgian FA where they still play. Their new ground is located next to some Industrial ground, a bit further down the road from their previous ground dating from their time in the KKVS leagues. That ground, about on the border between Hamme and Waasmunster, was at that time already full of high grass and cows had made it their new home. Very unlikely this ground is still existing, and even if the field is never used for building houses, after all those years it’s unlikely you’d still recognise the field.
There does not Always have to be tension between players and coaches. One club within the KKVS even named itself TV Herzele (TrainersVrienden = friends of the trainer). Their ground, not to be confused with KFC Herzele’s ground, I am unsure what happened with it.
Beekboys, another club from Erpe-Mere, never had their own pitch and just used the fields next to the municipality’s buildings. So obviously these grounds are still there and can be rented by other teams. Beekboys as well played in KKVS league.
We make a little jump to the LVVM, the amateur league of the Meetjesland area. Most teams used other clubs’ grounds to share, or still exist. One exception I immediately think of was Captains, who had their ground in the Broeders Van Liefdestraat in Eeklo. This ground was later used by Young Stars Eeklo who played in the Belgian FA’s lowest leagues. The ground however is gone, and houses are standing there now.
FC Nederzwalm, of whom I am not entirely sure in which league they played, used to have an own ground, but I am clueless if it still exists.
We make a jump to the Belgian FA now.
Olympia Erondegem was in the lowest provincial league when they merged with Oranja Erpe due to losing their pitch. That pitch is still there, you can still visit it. Beware of very high grass and a canteen that seems in ruins.
Talking about ruins, let’s move a bit further to Terjoden, a district of Aalst. The club (which merged with Welle, but the newly formed Terjoden-Welle had to groundshare in Denderleeuw and now ceased to exist) had its own pitch near the Industrial estate, and that ground is going to disappear rapidly. I was there some months ago and saw weeds almost 1 meter high on the pitch, a canteen in ruins, … No way this field is ever going to be used again.
In Gent, the city has encouraged mergers and promised in return to help maintaining accomodations. In Drongen, this has worked, as the current club is a merger that over several years swallowed three clubs: Luchteren (the area where the club plays now), VV Drongen and FC Baarle.
FC Baarle had their ground next to the E40 highway and was clearly visable. Maybe I just didn’t pay well attention but I cannot recall it still being there.
VV Drongen played in a swampy area just behind the monastry in Drongen center. It is unknown to me whether this field still exists.
In the city of Gent, football has been played behind the Rooigem swimming pool for many years, first by Olympia Gent, until they merged and moved the new club to Wondelgem. Sparta Gent then used the ground but ceased to exist. Whether a new occupant for the ground is being searched or whether the ground will disappear, is unknown to me.
In Gentbrugge, there used to be a pitch at Gentbruggekouter, the street besides the main church of the community. This pitch, which had lots of issues with the overflowing river behind it, was used first by FC Ledeberg, then later by FC Nieuw Ledeberg, then a while by Sparta Gent, and finally by the short-lived predominantly Kurdish expats team Gentse Rangers 2002. To my knowledge the ground has disappeared, but not entire sure.
In Sint-Amandsberg, also part of Gent, FC Azalea left their ground in the Oude Bareel district to merge with White Star and join them on their ground at the Rozenbroeken complex. Whether the old ground of Azalea still exists, I don’t know.
In yet another part of the municipality of Gent, Sint-Denijs-Westrem, there used to be a ground at the Borluutstraat in the middle of the town. It was the home ground of St-Denijs, until they moved to their new accomodation. The ground at Borluutstraat then became the new home of Avrasya Gent (a predominantly Turkish club) but they too have moved away to another ground. I am unsure if the ground is still there now that Avrasya Gent have relocated too.
SK Woubrechtegem was notorious in their last season of existance because of the extremely high number of goals against them. They were over 200 in 30 games if I’m not wrong. I very clearly remember the club finished that last season of existance with 1 point, ironically a draw in their last ever game of existance… They then merged with a club from the KKVS amateur leagues, VC Ressegem. Basically, VC Ressegem took over the matricule number of Woubrechtegem to assure a smooth move into the Belgian FA, but continued played in Ressegem and without even changing names. I am unknown if the ground in Woubrechtegem’s Perrestraat still exists. I’d be surprised if it did.
That same VC Ressegem had its ground just behind a castle-like building, and just before entering a wood. (not to be confused with SV Ressegem, another club with another pitch). VC Ressegem still exists (is now merging with KFC Herzele) but they recently played in Hillegem, indicating the ground near the woods of Ressegem either doesn’t exist anymore or became unused.
Another club famous for its many goals against, was Livinus Houtem. I remember having watched one game, in which they lost 0-6 but the name of the opponent I cannot remember. 0-6 wasn’t such a heavy defeat for their standards. The club played at the Polbroek street in St Lievens Houtem, but I doubt the ground still exists. Probably not, or I’d be very surprised.
Olympic Ronse used to have their own pitch, much older and not too well maintained compared to the accomodation of KSK Ronse. The club is gone, and about the ground I have no information at all.
FC Verrewinkel, in an outpost of Ukkel (Brussels Capital District), was used by FC Verrewinkel but after this club merged with La Rhodienne, the ground remained in use for amateur teams. Lately I have not heard of any team using the ground, so I fear this ground is gone…
In a more urban side of Brussels district, in Anderlecht, there used to be a ground "La Roue" used by many clubs, including Belgian FA affiliated clubs such as Fair-Play Bruxelles and Foyer Anderlecht-Betis. To my knowledge both clubs vanished and I have not heard any team using that ground recently. Should be an easy enough one to check though, La Roue has its own metro stop.
Just outside of Brussels, in Wemmel, was the first proper home ground of Etoile Marocaine. You could see the pitch from the highway, it has a quite large and strangely coloured canteen one floor above the dressing rooms and others. Etoile however moved into the capital district, changed names several times, and merged with Blue Star in 2013 to become the multicultural Sporting Bruxelles, which currently plays in Neder-over-Heembeek. I would be very surprised if anything remains of that ground in Wemmel used by Etoile Marocaine, given the many years they’ve already left it. When I was there, the canteen already looked eeriely empty (a scarf of another expats team, FC Atlas, hanging on the wall ; but more than that I cannot recall)
Sporting Bentille, from St Jan in Eremo (a very rural and quiet town near the Dutch border, not too far from Eeklo and Maldegem), merged with FC Kaprijke and the new team FC Kaprijke-Bentille located all teams in Kaprijke. I heard only parts of the Bentille ground remain, they are not used for football though and I am unsure if meanwhile the whole ground did not disappear. This should not be confused with another club from the village, Roal Benti, who are for many years going strong in the LVVM amateur league and have their own ground.
SK Lokeren, not to be confused with Europa League participant Sporting Lokeren, had a very small ground of its own, but then merged with Doorslaar. It is unknown to me if anything remains of their ground, since all activities seem to have been moved to Doorslaar.
Pollare, near Ninove, used to have a ground I visited when no club existed there anymore. That was about 10 years ago. I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that ground is still there.
Hopefully I can somehow verify one way or another whether these grounds are still there or not, but I am realistic that in most cases the answer will be "no".
Finally I wish to reflect upon my own daily life as yesterday I was crossing the border into Cadzand-Bad, the first coastal town across the border between Belgium and the Netherlands when coming from Knokke. Cadzand’s ground was in danger due to dangerous remainders from the World War being found under the football ground, and were forced to temporarily leave their ground. However, I was there yesterday, and not only the ground is totally OK again, they even improved it with a small stand (just 3 steps and a roof, but it’s still a small addition) and the canteen (shared with the sports complex next door) is extremely luxurious fot canteen standards. So I can with a good news message here, even if I had to actually look for it right across the border.