Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oud-Heverlee Leuven – KV Mechelen (30-08-2006)

On a Wednesday evening I leave work early to take the six o’clock train to Leuven, a university town at some 70 km south of Antwerp. My friend and fellow-groundhopper J.B. had suggested to see a game of OHL before and with “Malinwa” coming to town, this was the perfect opportunity. I have a weakness for KV Mechelen, partly because of their loyal following (see below), partly because they beat ajax in the European Cup final of 1988 (1-0). At Leuven station we were joined by my Japanese friend A.H., with whom I saw some games in Japan last month (see other stories).

We took the bus (line 2) to Stadion Den Dreef in the city district of Heverlee. In and around the stadium red-yellow were the most popular colors: the KV fans had made it a home game. We joined the away supporters and bought a ticket for 12 euro – standing behind the goal, no roof. Fortunately, this was the one dry day of the week, as they had taken my umbrella at the entrance. While the away stand is normally the most empty in the stadium in Belgium, this time it was the fullest. Overall, some 5.500 people came to see the game – a phenomenal number for a second division game in Belgium – and the majority were KV Mechelen supporters. The stand behind the goal was almost full and the atmosphere was good (the quality of the songs, however, as well as the catering, was fairly poor).

The game started well and both teams were fairly equal. Pace was rather slow and the technique of most players not striking, but they worked hard and tried to attack. After some 30 minutes a KV player was sent off for a second bookable offense – harsh but fair – but surprisingly Malinwa bounced back and scored the 0-1. Afterwards the team defended bravely, still leading at half time. The second half was relatively one-sided, with Malinwa being pushed back further and further. Still, both teams got only a few chances. One of the most remarkable events of the second half was a phenomenal tackle on OHL player Boy-Boy Mosai, with an estimated 1.50m the smallest man in Belgian football, as well as an impressive tackle by Boy-Boy (both received a yellow card). Some 10 minutes before the end the inevitable happened after all: OHL scored the 1-1. Fortunately, KV stayed concentrated and in the end got a very deserved point, despite being down with 10 men for two-thirds of the game

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