Sunday 11 September 2022

SK Londerzeel - Eeckelaers Stadium

SK Londerzeel
Eeckelaers Stadium
Brusselsestraat 149
1840 Londerzeel

+32 52 30 06 53

Ground Number: 1105
Saturday 10th September 2022
SK Londerzeel 2-4 Antwerp City Pirates
Tweede Klasse VFV B


The club was established in 1929 and played under the Flemish FA originally, before joining the Belgian FA. They played in the Belgian regional leagues up until 1980 when they joined the fourth tier. They would only last a few seasons before being relegated but returned in the early 90s. They went down again in 1994 but would return again in 1999 and this time they were here to stay. A 3rd place finish in their debut season saw them narrowly miss out on promotion but in 2004, they had a couple of yearly exits in the playoffs, following runners-up spots. Promotion was finally achieved in 2006 when they were champions but they would only last a couple of years before going down again. In 2013, Londerzeel were promoted back to Third Division. After the reform of amateur football in Belgium, the club began playing in the Belgian Division 2 in 2019.

Londerzeel is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. The municipality comprises the towns of Londerzeel proper, Malderen, Steenhuffel (home of Palm Breweries) and Sint-Jozef. The population for the area is around 18,000. Londerzeel has been twinned with Gladenbach (Germany) since 2010.


Originally this blog was meant to be for a visit to Abergavenny on Friday and happily, fellow hopper Colin was happy to join me. We chose it over options at Kington Town and Hay St Mary's as the roads were a lot better and the journey a lot simpler. It was the start of my fortnight off work and I was looking forward to some time off and chances to watch some football and relax. However, a huge spanner was thrown in the works when I was driving home from work on Thursday. The Queen had been taken into hospital ill at lunchtime and she was dead by dinner. I'm not a royalist myself, but I recognise the great job that she has done for her country. I was, however, concerned about my time off being ruined by the cancellation of everything due to enforced mourning and virtue signalling. There was certainly no let-up on social media with plenty of tributes, fake or not and sadly some disrespectful ones too. I might not be a royalist but I respect people's right to mourn. 

In other news, I was having a bit of a tech upgrade, getting a new computer and Chromebook. The latter was a bit of a farce with the Wycombe store being out of stock and the website not working for me. In the end, I gave up with Currys' obstinate website and saved myself £40 by getting it secondhand on eBay. But with regards to football, sycophantic virtue signalling was the order of the day where the authorities were concerned. The whole of the UK's football schedule was pulled with zero respect to the fans. Most sports carried on, but the dictators at the FA singled out football fans as punishment once more. I hope that when the time comes to pay tribute, people are respectful because, at the end of the day, it is not the Queen's fault that the FA have created resentment. I could either spend all weekend being annoyed or get myself abroad and the latter is what I did. I already had Eurostar tickets that had been amended many times due to Covid and so I just brought these forward from next March to now. With less than 24 hours' notice, the amendment was gonna cost me, but the hit of £160 was not outrageous. Nor was the hotel cost of £150. I could have got a hostel for super cheap, but in the end, opted for the comfort option for peace of mind. A lot of the cheaper hotel options were dismissed for that reason too.

When it came to choosing my game, the Futbology app was my friend. There were plenty of options, but Londerzeel looked by far the nicest venue. It was a good value fare on the bus too. Everything was all a bit rushed and I'd have loved more time. But we can only play the hand we are dealt and I was glad to get something nailed down. I also had a few drinks on Friday, as well as booking tickets to see Kunt and the Gang in December, following his tribute to the queen. The day of the game came and I woke early at around 6.30 am. I sat watching TV for a bit, then had a shower, some fresh clothes and some breakfast. I left at 9.15, dumping my car at Colin's and walking the 20 minutes to the station. I had to wait 15 minutes for my train. It was late of course, only by a few minutes and so was the underground when I changed at Harrow with two trains sitting around doing nothing. Eventually, a train came and I was at King's Cross St Pancras by 11.15.
A pint was obligatory and so I headed to the excellent Barrel Vault Wetherspoons. A pint of Black Dragon was £5.19, probably the priciest Spoons but it was worth it. After that, I headed to get my train. Ticket check, bag check, body scan and passport control were all done within 20 minutes, an easy and pleasant experience. Sadly, the bar on the other side was lacking with only strawberry Rekorderlig so I passed and had the soft drink I'd brought with me. Eventually, I was hungry and went to Pret A Manger for a meatball wrap and drink. I boarded the train with 20 minutes before departure and we were soon on our way. Like the departures hall, it was packed with people going away. We left England, went through the tunnel and then a stretch through rural France before we got to Lille 90 minutes later. It was then another half an hour to Brussels. I got there at 4.15 and due to confusion with the ticket machines only accepting pre-payment cards, I decided to walk it. As it turned out, I later found out that you could use your bank card on the entire network. was at my hotel an hour later, being distracted by a couple of shops and a cash machine. It wasn't the nicest of areas, the permanent smell of cannabis about and a lot of people congregating. The Hotel City Center was a clean no frills hotel, a bit pricey for what it was being last minute, but I was happy with my room. I dumped my stuff and headed out. My original plan was decent, get a bus for €2.50, superb value. However, building works were going on and the road was closed. The time was getting tight and I could have taken an easy option and gone to Vilvoorde. However, it looked pretty basic and I though it was worth the extra effort going to Londerzeel, even if I might miss the start. 

Running out of time, I decided on the train instead, €6.40 was still not bad value. It was an unusual (compared to back home anyway) double-decker train, but it was clean and comfortable. Sadly, the connecting train to Londerzeel was only an hourly service, so I had to wait nearly half an hour for it. It then sat around on the platform for ages before departing five minutes late. These minutes were critical as I was already due to arrive at the game ten minutes late. I was hoping that there would be a Taxi for the 2km journey, otherwise, I was going to have to jog. The latter proved to be the case although by jogging to the ground, I managed to only be seven, rather than 15 minutes late. I walked through a pleasant town, although like many other Belgian backwaters I have visited, there was not a lot going on. I arrived and it was easy to find the entrance and pay €10 to get in. It was a lovely ground and at halftime, I had a nice Kriek Beer in the bar. It was the usual token system, with a 50-cent supplement for my drink, so it makes you wonder why they bother in the first place. It was good value in my mind though and a nice bar with some nice club artefacts. 

Londerzeel had started the season well, thumping Condruzien 9-0 in the Belgian Cup before going out 4-2 to RAAL La Louviere in the next round. In the league, they had opened the season with a 1-1 draw at Bochult. City Pirates meanwhile, had gone a round further in the cup, beating Rochefort 2-1 and Olympic Charleroi 1-0 before a 2-1 defeat to Dikkelvenne. They'd opened their league campaign with a 2-0 defeat at home to Perpingen-Halle. Thankfully it was 0-0 when I got there seven minutes late. Goalscorer details were not online at the time of writing this, but they were announced at the ground. The visitors took the lead on 9 minutes, a good through ball and a low shot. It was all square on 19 minutes, a curling shot going in off of the left-hand post from the edge of the area. Both teams would have goals disallowed in quick succession - City Pirates on 34 minutes, Londerzeel on 35, both for offside. The visitors retook the lead on 50 minutes through a penalty. They further extended their lead on 57 minutes, a lovely curling shot into the top right-hand corner. A breakaway goal from an attack down the right side and ending in a low shot extended the lead to 4-1. On 75 minutes, Londerzeel reduced the arrears, a shot was parried by the visiting keeper and the follow-up trickled over the line. The hosts gave it a good go late on, shooting narrowly wide from a corner and having a header tipped over the bar. However, City Pirates deserved their win.

After the game, I checked out my options and decided to stick with what I knew, given the bus earlier. I did a 24-minute walk in 15 minutes. On the way, I chatted to a nice bloke who spotted I wasn't local and that I was a groundhopper. He gave me a team sheet from the game which was appreciated. I was back at the station in plenty of time, but of course, both legs of the journey had delays as was seemingly the norm in Belgium. It was just like back home, only more reasonably priced. I probably could have saved with a return but I wasn't sure how I'd be getting back. Eventually, I was back in Brussels. I was definitely going to Delirium Café, but first I wanted some food. McDonald's was the answer and I tried a few new things, the most impressive of which were chicken wings. It was a bit pricey though. From there, it was to the Delirium Café for pints of Delirium Red and Floris Cactus. Again pricey but I just wanted to enjoy myself. I headed back to my room but couldn't resist a stop at L'Ecuyer bar which was nice. I got a new tick of Kwak Red and this was another splendid drop. From there it was back by 1.15.


The Eeckelaers Stadium is a lovely ground, maybe not up there with the likes of Jette but still pretty awesome. The main stand stretches along the whole of one side. This is a mixture of seating and terracing, not dissimilar to the one at Aldershot Town. There is further cover behind one goal, with two glass-fronted bars, one for VIP's. The other two uncovered sides are nice too, chunky terracing and a TV gantry. The bar is excellent but I didn't see food or merchandise, maybe because I was late. It is around 25 minutes walk from the train station, you pass through the town on the way which had some nice looking places. 

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