Thursday, March 13, 2008

K. Londerzeel SK – KVC Willebroek-Meerhof (09-03-2008)

As a preface to an Editors concert later that evening, JB and I decided to take a small hop to the small town of Londerzeel, in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. At the agenda was a game in the Derde Klasse A (Third Division A), between Londerzeel SK and KVC Willebroek-Meerhof. Although it was only a 45 minute drive from our usual starting point, Leuven Central Station, we left late and managed to arrived a couple of minutes after kick-off at the little impressive, but therefore highly authentic Burgemeester A. Lambertstadion.

We bought standing place tickets for 10 euro each, which gave us access to the one covered stand in the stadium. As the weather was dismal, even for Belgian standards, roughly everyone had congregated there, or in the canteen, which gave the appearance of a good crowd. However, the stadium can hold only 3.000 and I estimate that this afternoon only 3-400 were in attendance. Probably some 50 were away fans from the town of Willebroek, only 10 km away.

We were some ten minutes late, but it was clear we hadn’t missed much. The hosts are low in the table and are battling relegation, whereas the visitors are in the safe zone, but too far behind to hope for promotion. On a very muddy and wet pitch, both teams struggled to control the pace of the ball, although they did so well (for the Belgian Third Division). This notwithstanding, very few good attacks were created.

But roughly five minutes before half time the game truly exploded. In the 39th minute the hosts scored through a header: 1-0. Just three minutes later there was a small brawl and a red card for one of the visitors. So, Londerzeel SK was one goal and one player up. Satisfied, if cold, the fans found shelter in the canteen, and so did we.

Although I had told myself not to snack, I couldn’t resist the mexicano-sandwich-with- samourai (let’s face it, who could?! – well, ok, JB, but he is a vegetarian), so I committed this cheap sin for just 2.50 euro (and didn’t regret it). With a full belly I took my place on the small covered stand, away from rain and wind, and saw a relatively entertaining start to the second half. In the 46th minute a Londerzeel defender headed a header from his goal line, and 5 minutes later the Willebroek goalie saved a strangely bouncing ball.

However, in the 55th game the game was over. A Londerzeel player went alone at the goalie and scored cool in the far corner: 2-0 against 10 men, game over! Both teams had some chances afterwards, but it would be the hosts that scored also the last goal through a strong header. Although surprising, given the rankings of the teams in the league, the 3-0 victory of Londerzeel SK was deserved. And, given the difficult circumstances, the level of play hadn’t been too bad.

Neither of us knew exactly why, but we liked the Burgemeester A. Lambertstadion and the atmosphere at Londerzeel SK. Maybe it was the authenticity. Maybe it just reminded me of my days at my amateur football team in the Netherlands. In any case, the K. Londerzeel SK is worth a visit! If only for the fascinating steps over the ‘players tunnel’, just in front of the canteen!

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