Monday, 11 September 2017
KV Mechelen - AFAS Stadion
Ground Number: 720
Sunday 10th September 2017
KV Mechelen 1-1 KV Oostende
Belgian Jupiler Pro League
SOME FACTS ABOUT KV MECHELEN
The club was established in 1904 and have the nickname of the Yellow Reds.
Domestically, they have won 4 Belgian Championships and one Belgian Cup. The last of these league wins came in 1989, with the Belgian Cup win coming in 1987.
That win placed them in the European Cup Winners Cup for the following season. They won the competition, beating Ajax 1-0 in the final. They then went on to beat PSV Eindhoven in the two-legged final of the European Super Cup.
The club suffered a decline in the 1990's, even dropping as low as the third tier at one point. They are now back in the top tier of Belgian Football, playing there since their return in 2007.
When I'd booked my trip to Brussels, this was the first game that I'd penciled in. I'd even booked a hotel for an extra night, due to it being a late kickoff. Booking a ticket online was a pain, with the system on,y accepting Belgian cards. I emailed the club for help and thought they were ignoring me. This seemed strange when other hoppers had got a good response. I discovered why a couple of days before when I checked my spam folder and found the email they'd sent in there. It was too late to pre book tickets, but they reassured me that buying on the day would be no issue.
From my afternoon game at Halle, it was back to the train station and on to my game at Mechelen. It was simple enough to buy a ticket and a simple journey with me getting a single train to Mechelen Nekkerspoel, the station nearest to the ground. I arrived just after 6 and headed to the ground to buy my ticket, but not before getting my return train ticket to save time after. I walked up to the ground, arriving just before 6.30. There wasn't much action going on and bar a burger stand and a small cafe bar, nothing outside the ground. Inside was a lot better, so after purchasing my €17 ticket, I went through the turnstile. I was dismayed to find that they were operating a card only system where you had to buy a card for a Euro and then load it with cash. With the card costing a Euro, I handed over a tenner and got €9 on it, plus a nice souvenir. I headed to the bar and got a Mort Subite Kriek which was at least reasonable value at €2.20 and very nice. When I came to buy food, it turned out that I was mistaken and they only took cash. So I ended up spending all my funds on cherry beer, which wasn't really a hardship. Food wasn't great, being generally expensive. I had an underwhelming Bratwurst Roll for €5.50.
It was nice being able to take my drink on the terrace to watch the game. The game took a while to get going with the first goal not arriving until 71 minutes. Gano played a good through ball to Musona who slotted it past the keeper. Mechelen were already down to 10 men at this point with Rherras getting his marching orders for a foul. The hosts did get back to it with around 10 minutes to go when Matthys crossed from the edge of the area and Bande finished from inside the 6-yard box. The game finished with both sides having some good play, but not really creating anything significant. I left the ground at 9.50, with it taking 15 minutes to walk back to the station. I only had a short wait for my train, with me getting the 10.15 train which took just over half an hour to get to Brussels Central station. After finding a cash machine, which took a while, I returned to my old haunt of the Delirium Cafe where I had a few nightcaps before heading back to my room.
THE AFAS STADIUM is an interesting mix of old and new. Two of the stands are joined on to each other and offer great views, especially from the top tier. The other side stand is smaller and has seats in the top tier and terrace below, whilst there is also further terracing behind the goal and also a section in the corner for away fans. The one remaining stand offers a small bank of seats behind one goal, with an executive area above
There are limited options around the ground. There is a burger stall outside the ground as well as a small cafe bar. Inside the ground, the bar is excellent, though you have to buy and load a contactless card. Food is sold for cash and in my experience was pricey and not great. There is also a large club shop which has a good variety of things for sale.