Saturday, September 02, 2006
YRKV Mechelen - KRC Mechelen (28-11-2004)
Scotland has the Glasgow derby Celtic-Rangers, Serbia the Belgrade derby Partizan-Rode Ster, and Belgium… Belgium has the Mechelen derby KV-Racing. I know, the Mechelse derby does not have the same reputation and scale as the other two, but in relative terms the intensity is certainly comparable.
On Sunday 28 November 2004 KV Mechelen played Racing Mechelen at the Scarletstadion, sold out with some 13.000 spectators. This is comparable to a well-attended game in the Belgian first division, but this game was not played in the first, not in the second, but in the third division (A). This notwithstanding, the game was sold out weeks in advance and there were fans from Germany and the Netherlands (e.g. Roda JC fans with KV and FC Dordrecht fans with Racing). We only got two tickets because one of J.B's colleagues had some connections at KV.
As things had gone out of hand in the last Mechelse derby, in part because of foreign hooligans (particularly from the Netherlands), the security measures were even more extreme this time around. They reminded me of the most heated confrontation in Dutch football, ajax-Feyenoord: there were at least one police helicopter, two water canons, ca. 8-10 police vans, and some 100 policemen. The few thousand Racing fans walked though partly closed-off streets and with a heavy police escort from their stadium to that of KV, better known as Achter de Kazerne (Behind the Barracks) .
After having circled the whole stadium, to kill time in anticipation of J.B.'s arrival (who had his personal struggle with the Belgian railways), we enterered the already well-filled stadium around 13.30. We had tickets of 11 euro for Tribune 3, vak G, i.e. standing places behind the goal. From there we could see every quite well, although we sometimes had to duck to stay under the roof and bend to look around the pillars. Obviously, we were with the Kakkers, i.e. the fans of KV!
At 14.00 the teams kicked off at a beautiful green pitch, which had become perfect for slidings because of the steady rain the days preceding the game. From the beginning both teams flew into the game, sliding and tackling all over the pitch. The referee kept the game tight, giving two KV players a yellow card within the first 5 minutes. He thereby kept the number of incidents limited, which was quite an achievement given the heated atmopshere on and off the pitch. Consequently, the game developed into a very heated and interesting match, in which little good football was shown, but the players fought for every inch, and the spectators were kept on their toes.
In the 25th minute KV scored the deserving 1-0 lead thorugh “Patje” Goots, the former striker of d´n Antwaarp(Royal FC Antwerp) and the (self-declared) star player of KV. The stadium exploded and the goalie and players of KV ran like crazy men over the pitch. In the 39th minute KV even scored the 2-0, which was deserved if somewhat flattering. J.B. and I joined the KV fans in celebrating the goals and dancing into half time.
After half time the game seemed over, when in the 60th minute a Racing player got his second yellow and was sent off. But soon after a KV player met with the same fate, by stupidly standing too close in front of a free-kick, and the game was 10 against 10. KV had also started to play sloppy and arrogantly in the second half, while Racing kept fighting for every chance. And despite KV kept the best of the game, you could feel it change, which led around the 75th minute to the 1-2. Both before and after that goal KV had many counter-attack chances, but most of them were screwed up by Goots, whose prima donna behavior begged for a substitution. In the 91st minute KV was punished after all: Racing scored 2-2 and the very good ref ended the game a few seconds after.
After this dramatic ending, J.B. and I realized we were both frozen and went to a cafe to have some coffee. After having brought our body temperature back to acceptable levels, we could not but conclude that this had been a fantastic football afternoon. KV-Racing might not be a Celtic-Rangers or a Partizan-Red Star, but there is no doubt that it is thé derby of Belgium and a football fest that should not be missed (if you can get a ticket).
Posted by Grondhopper at 1:56 PM