Belgian Jupiler Pro League

Stadium ‘Constant Vanden Stock’


ATT: 27,300

Belgian season – Matchday 17

In a country where luxury chocolate is often held in more importance than football and where football stands are occasionally simply named Nord, Oost, Zuid and West its hard to convince many fans that Belgium has a self styled ‘hate game’.

A ‘derby’ is of course a well worn form of terminology used in modern football.

From Argentina to Serbia the term is used to describe intense match-ups often between two inner city rivals.   From Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Belgrade to London and Rome, most cities have football clubs where ‘derby day’ is seen as the main event in the calendar for fans, players and the media.

So while the likes of Inter versus AC Milan or Celtic versus Rangers feature huge levels of inner city intensity and often animosity some of the more modern football rivalries make no sense geographically.

The modern Liverpool versus Manchester United or Ajax v Feyenoord rivalries have grown out of success both enjoyed in the 60’s and 70’s.

In Belgium the Club Brugge and Anderlecht rivalry has grown in strength and intensity.  

The rivalry grew out of a sustained period of success for the two when both clubs were regarded amongst European football’s elite. Club Brugge had reached a UEFA Cup final in 1976 and a European Cup final at Wembley in 1978 only to lose to Liverpool.

Anderlecht, the giants from the capital, can however point to three major European trophy successes. This includes two European Cup Winners Cup titles and a UEFA Cup allegedly won in suspicious circumstances in 1983.

In a country that is virtually always seen as the symbol of absurdity, it is an unusual rivalry given the km in distance between the two cities.

On a cold, dry Sunday afternoon the two clubs met in the Belgium capital; gameday 17 of the Belgian season.  

Out in the Anderlecht district of the Belgian capital stands the Stadium Constant Van Den Stock the home of Anderlecht. Founded in 1908 as Royal Sporting Club Anderlechtois – when Brussels already had five other clubs in the First Division – Anderlecht have played at the ground since 1913 and it was originally called the Stade Emile Verse.

Despite not winning the first league title until 1947, Anderlecht have since amassed a succession of trophies performing regularly in European competition. Many of those earlier European ties were though moved to the Heysel Stadium including the 1967 ECWC final against West Ham United.

It was not until the 1980’s that the home of Anderlecht became a modern football amphitheater.

Redevelopments began in 1983 and new stands arose of two tiers with cantilevered style roofs.  This was amongst the first stadia in Europe to court the newer breed of business spectator.  They installed glass fronted private boxes or ‘business seats’ where fans could watch football from padded seats and be served hospitality.

Anderlecht’s rivals Club Brugge KV are older than Anderlecht having been founded in 1891 as RFC Brugeois.  

During the 1970’s they won a hattrick of championship titles and a place was gained in the 1978 European Cup final against Liverpool.  Alas, unlike Anderlecht, they have not been able to secure a European title although they have always remained the larger of the Bruges sides compared to Cercle.

History aside as a football occasion demand for match tickets was huge.  

With Anderlecht in Europe and performing well the ‘sold out’ signs had gone up a few days before the tie.

Outside the stadium however, as fans stood drinking all the finest Belgian beers, tickets were available at face price with €30 easily getting someone a ticket and into the event.

Club Bruges were backed by a travelling support of around 1,400 fans in a lower tier of the stadium and it was the visiting team who took the lead.  

Anderlecht however came back into things scoring through Praet before taking the lead by virtue of a strike from Deschacht.  Captain Simons missed a penalty late on but the man who opened the scoring Vazquez brought things back equal by scoring a late equalizer for Club Bruges.

For many people there are far bigger games in Belgium amongst them the Anderlecht versus Standard Liege tie.  

Many see the Standard versus Charleroi tie as having more intensity given the working class traditions of both.

But the match up between Bruges and Anderlecht has taken on an esteem far greater than any other in more modern times here; indeed, the game is perhaps regarded as even more important to Club Bruges than the inner city derby v Cercle Bruges.

But the fixture has become like many other modern day derby matches, less a clash of true inner city rivals and more a cliched stereotyped driven clash.

Anderlecht are more often than not seen as the team who likes to play ‘technical and beautiful football’ watched by the upper classes while Bruges are the team of ‘regional hard workers’ and working classes.

Regional v city dwellers but the truth is far more nuanced.

In truth there was nothing much to shout about in this tie.  The two club’s fans may not like one another due to years of rivalry. But the fact both club’s still tend to be the ones contesting the Belgian domestic silverware makes this so eagerly anticipated a fixture – at least in Belgium.

FT: 2-2 (Vazquez 1-0, Praet 1-1, Deschacht 2-1, Vazquez 2-2)

RSC ANDERLECHT: Proto, Deschacht, Mbemba, Vanden Borre, Acheampong, Defour, Tielemans, Praet, Najar, Mitrovic, Conte

CLUB BRUGGE: Ryan, Duarte, Mechele, De Bock, De Fauw, Simons (missed pen), Vormer, Vazquez, De Sutter, Refealov, Izquierdo