Sunday 12th October 2014 ko 15.00
4de Nationale A
K STANDAARD WETTEREN 1 (Droessaert 90)
SPORTING WEST HARELBEKE 0
Entry €10 (all areas)
One advantage of the Sobemai game finishing sooner than we’d planned was that we reached the East Flanders town of Wetteren earlier than we expected. The town is most famous for the explorer Émile Pierre Joseph Storms who was born here and did much to open up what is now the Congo to western influence, and expand the Belgian empire in the late 19th century.
4 exhausted hoppers parked up near the Marcel de Kerpel stadium and were happy to find a frituur next door for a spot of brunch. If you want a typically Belgian cuisine you could a lot worse than the humble frituur where a wide range of food is available so long as its deep-friend and served with chips! Its cheap, cheerful and tasty, but a tip from me, do not order a large portion of anything! I’ve eaten in several over the years and I’ve never managed to consume a large helping yet!
The theme of typically Belgian continued once we’d found someone to collect our €10s at the ground! The provision of a pitchside café and eating area behind glass is a Belgian norm, and so is the token system for purchasing drinks. The idea is each drink costs a certain number of tokens that you buy from a separate booth. It removes cash from the bar, but you always seem to have a token or two left over when the transaction, in this case 4 coffees, is complete!
The ground is far better appointed than the club’s current status. Named after the local businessman that built it to lift the club out of provincial football, the Marcel de Kerpel stadium was built for national football, but has, so far only seen the club host second tier football, with the club suffering the second of two successive relegations last season to return to one of four regional leagues, and just one level above provincial football.
We sat exhausted in the clubhouse with that coffee to stave off fatigue for an hour or two, and I watched the Harelbeke ultras set up on the half-way line. There weren’t many of them, just the five of them sporting two drums, two banners and a smoke bomb, the latter of which went off rather prematurely! They made a lot of noise for such a small group, and I was pleased to catch up with one of them at half-time.
“We’re small, and we’re sh*t, but we’re loud,” he said, “a bit like our team!”
That was I thought, a little harsh on his team, they were third after all, perhaps a turgid first half was in part to blame, and the ultra’s mood would not have improved when his team lost the game from virtually the last move of the game, a cross from the right being headed home powerfully by Jonas Droessaert.
The hopper in me loved at least seeing a goal, this tour hadn’t exactly been swamped with them, but I did feel a pang of remorse for the Harelbeke ultras. Their support deserved at least a point.