Monday 12 September 2022

RU Saint Gilloise - Joseph Marien Stadium

Royal Union St Gilloise
Jospeph Marien Stadium
Chau. de Bruxelles 223
1190 Forest

Ground Number: 1107
Sunday 11th September
Royal Union St Gilloise 1-2 KRC Genk
Jupiler Pro League


The club was established in 1897 and its full name is Royal Union Saint-Gilloise. Originally located in the municipality of Saint-Gilles, in Brussels, the 1920s saw them move to the Joseph Marien Stadium in the neighbouring municipality of Forest.

They had a period calling the Belgian National Stadium home for a while, whilst their ground was refurbished around five years ago.

Between 1933 and 1935, the club went an incredible 60 matches unbeaten, eventually being defeated by Daring Club Bruxelles, one of their fiercest rivals at the time.

The club was hugely successful prior to the second world war, winning the top tier title 11 times and the second tier on 8 occasions. After a long spell in the second tier, the club was promoted to the First Division for the first time in 48 years in 2021. The incredible success continued, with the club finishing as runners-up to Club Brugge last season and securing qualification to the Champions League for the first time in their history.

The Belgian Cup was also won twice in 1913 and 1914 as well as the Du Nord International Challenge Cup three times.

In Europe, their best run came in the 1960 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. They beat Leipzig and Roma over two clubs before losing 8-4 to Birmingham City on aggregate in the semi-final. It would be another British team, Rangers, that would knock them out of the Champions League in the 3rd Qualifying Round this season. Though they secured a 2-0 win in the home leg, they lost 3-2 on aggregate. This entitled them to a place in the Europa League and they got off to a good start, winning 1-0 at Union Berlin in the week.


As part of my hastily arranged trip to Belgium, I wanted to get as many games in as possible. The easiest one to play was the game at Royal Union St Gilliose, being that they were the only game that I could see on Sunday night. I had seen them play at the Belgian national stadium five years ago but they had come on leaps and bounds since then. The only issue was ticketing. Whether they had sold out, or the website was not very good, there were no tickets available for physical money. There was however an option to click one of the disabled helper spaces down the front. The charge was nothing and I thought that it was strange that they'd leave this option open. However, they sent me an electronic ticket with a barcode, but even so, I wasn't altogether confident that I would get in. I would have been content to pay 47 Euros in the business seats, they said there were two left, but when I zoomed in, there was nothing, aside from my free space.

From my last game at Jette, I walked five minutes back to the Tentoonstelling tram stop. It has been a real local derby as there was a sign on the way, welcoming me to the visitors' town, Ganshoren. It was around a ten-minute wait for the tram and then a few minutes for the connection. When I got to the right subway stop, I walked to the ground as it was only marginally slower than the bus. With my iffy ticket, I acted as nonchalantly as possible and happily, there were no issues. I was in with ten minutes to spare, going around and standing on the big side terrace. The food and drink selection was very basic and I was slightly thirsty but I couldn't be bothered queueing. It was very hot on the open terrace too.
USG were 6th in the league and in their last three league games they had won 3-1 at Zulte Waregem and 2-1 in the local derby against Anderlecht. They'd also lost 4-2 at Antwerp. Genk meanwhile were in second and on a decent unbeaten run. Their last game had been a 0-0 against Sint Truiden and prior to that they had won 4-0 at Seraing and 2-1 against Cercle Brugge. Genk started on top and Joseph Pantsil opened the scoring on 15 minutes with a drilled shot into the bottom left-hand corner. They continued to dominate but the second half saw the hosts come into it more. They had the ball in the net on 68 minutes and it appeared to be an error with the keeper spilling the ball. However, the goal was disallowed and the keeper spent a few minutes getting treatment for an injury. They did equalise on 74 minutes, Loic Lapoussin's shot going in off the bar. For a while, it looked as if they might go on to win. But there was a late sting in the tail. A corner was put in and Mbwana Satta headed home to grab a late winner for the visitors.

The Genk fans celebrated the goal wildly but the Union fans were brilliant too. Both teams got quite the ovation from their respective fanbases, with both sets of fans staying behind for a good while. It was different to what you see in England where everyone gets gone quickly. It was a good end to the weekend, but overall, just as back home, I prefer the smaller teams where its not so busy. After a wander around and a look in the clubhouse, I headed to get the tram 81 to Gare L'Quest and then the 1 metro to De Brouckere. I'd seen a place called the Blue Note Pub in Halle, however, I decided to leave it until tomorrow. Instead, I headed in the direction of Delirium to see how busy it was. I was hoping to have a look at their bottle menu and try some new stuff. They appeared to be only offering a limited choice but there were still a few hundred to choose from. I opted for a Lindemans Raspberry, a very light one at 3.5%. As my mobile signal was poor and the WiFi not working, I decided to go to Brewdog again. There I had a retry, and a pint of Lambourn Perry before heading back to my room. I was back around 11.15 and was annoyed to see that noisy work was going on outside my room. However, they stopped around an hour later and I managed to get some sleep, waking around 6 am by some slamming doors. I didn't have to get my Eurostar until 9PM, maybe I should have paid the extra £30 and gone home earlier. Nevertheless, the plan was to stay in the room until the checkout time of 11, have a look around some shops, go to a pub in Halle and do some touristy stuff, possibly visiting some football grounds for photos.


THE JOSEPH MARIEN STADIUM is a real throwback and a great ground to visit. The entry to the ground is unusual, no turnstiles but stewards with scanners and then a separate check for bags. The ground itself has one main stand, the only side that is covered and this holds a few thousand. The two ends have been converted from terracing into seating and are quite basic and situated a fair way from the pitch. The best part is the large uncovered side terrace where most of the home atmosphere comes from. Food and drink wise is not the best, the only beer available being Jupiler from the league sponsor. Food in the ground is limited, but there's a better choice outside where there are also more drinking places. The club shop offers a reasonable range and is located in the pleasant clubhouse.

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