Friday, September 01, 2006

RAEC Mons – KVV Sint-Truiden (05-08-2006)

On a Saturday my Dutch groundhop friend M.T. came to pick me up in
Antwerp to travel to Mons (in Dutch: Bergen) to visit the Royal Albert-Elisabeth Club Mons. At 20.00 the RAEC Mons would play KVV Sint-Truiden, a game in the second round of the Belgian First Division. We arrived more than two hours before the game and decided to look for a snackbar in the center of Mons. As is the case in most Belgian cities these days, unfortunately, one cannot find an authentic “frituur” anymore, so we settled for one of the many döner kebab places. Surprisingly, Mons has a cozy ‘historic’ square in the center of what is for the rest a classic Walloon town.

Around 19.30 we parked the car just behind the Stade Charles Tondreau, on the side of the away supporters. Next to us two very attractive girls parked a huge Mercedes, supporters of Sint-Truiden, but we still decided to join the home supporters (an unwritten rule of groundhopping is that you normally sit with the home crowd). Once we had finally circled the whole stadium, a fair walk, we were confronted with a long line in front of the ticket office. This (as well as the women ;-) made us reconsider our earlier decision and return to the away supporters (but only after buying a small souvenir in the small fan shop).

After again circling the stadium, we were only allowed into the away supporters stand after having re-parked our car in the special parking space for away supporters. We bought a ticket for the covered seating stand for 20 euro and took our places.... right, next to the nice women. In all honesty, they were the ones that made this groundhop such a success, as the game was very poor and was made only noteworthy because of the two (!) red cards for Sint-Truiden – which led to broad speculation about the Chinese mafia (involved in the match fixing scandal of last season). In the end Mons won 2-0, but they were only able to score against 9 men. Both teams will definitely not play for the prizes this season

RAEC Mons is probably worth a visit mainly because the fact that is already rumoured for years that either they will go bankrupt or they will merge with La Louviere. However, they have just built an ultramodern new stand on one side of the pitch, and they seem to aim at rebuilding the whole stadium.

Given that Mons is the city of Elio Di Rupo, leader of the Walloon Parti Socialiste and thus one of the most powerful politicians in Belgium, RAEC Mons is probably not as threatened in their existence as some might think. Anyway, the team might not be good, but they always attract a decent crowd (for Belgian standards). The Stade Charles Tondreau currently holds 9.000 people (4.000 seats) and even for the low-key game against Sint-Truiden the home stands were three-quarters full. The home supporters create a decent atmosphere, but that could hardly compensate for the poor quality of football. Two of the away supporters, on the other hand..

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