Thursday 27 November 2008

Union Saint Gilloise; Brussels, Belgium

Union Saint-Gilloise have quite simply the most beautiful stadium in the whole of Belgium! It oozes history, & would romp into my top ten of al-time great grounds I've been to, if ever I bothered to sit down and list them!

This magnificent stained glass window of their club crest sits inside the main entrance. There were stewards on the door, but they kindly allowed me to take photos.

Here are the turnstiles, as we approached the ground.

The main stand, which I believe is protected, as a listed building.

Here is a close up of some of the artwork on it.

At one end of it is the clubhouse, this is my brother Ferenc standing outside. The day before we had seen UR Namur play, having played their supporters' team beforehand, for the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Team.

These are all part of the Hamlet 'Rabble': (left to right) Steve, Mick, Phil, Paul, Mark, Ferenc & Andy.

The beautiful frontage of the stand.

The stadium is named after this man.

With another old dignitary remembered here. These are both inside the main entrance, along with the stained glass you saw earlier.

This is inside the bar. Unfortunately we didn't have a Dulwich Hamlet scarf to give them, but posted one to them a few days later.

The 'Tate Modern' it's not! I'm sure there is some story behind this!

You can also get into the bar from inside the ground, this is just inside the turnstiles, and they clearly like to model it on the traditional English pub!

The main stand runs along the length of the pitch, with the away fans located at the far end of it.

Here is another view of it from behind the goal.

And along the far side is this large open terrace.

you cannot stand behind the far goal. There are some offices, with just open tarmac.

Behind our near goal there is no terracing, just an open path, with toilets and a small club shop. Behind the perimeter fence you can see the old banking from years gone by, that goes up into the surrounding wooded parkland.

At the back of the terrace, in the middle, was this small beer stand, which was happily sampled by most of our party!

The pre-match line ups.

Another look at the terrace, with more people in it this time.

And even a four legged fan!

The scoreboard was perched up in the old, disused terraces.

One man waves his flag.

Here's another snap of the entrance to the terrace area, I'm not sure why I chucked it in at this point, but now it's here I can't be arsed to move it!

The toilet block behind the goal...and that man with the flag!

From the corner flag we look across to the large terrace.

As does this old boy in a beret.

Behind the goal again here is the main stand.

And we're now back on the terrace to watch the remainder of the match.

If ever you are passing through Brussels & get the chance to visit only one ground then the Joseph Marien Stadium must be the one.

Royal Leopold Uccle Forestoise; Brussels, Belgium

I returned to this ground in June 2009, sadly not to see a match, but to photograph the new concrete stand, that replaced the old wooden one, that has now been demolished, but of which you can see pictures of if you scroll down, after these new ones:

The gate I got in through last time was shut, so I took this one 'blind', by holding my camera up, and clicking over the perimeter fence.

Fortunately gates were open at the other side of the ground. The new stand is almost finished, but not quite, as you see here. I understand it is now complete.

Similar shot, but a little closer.

Backless plastic bucket seats.

This is, presumably, the new players' tunnel.

This section looks like 'open' dugouts at the front.

The new structure from behind.

And, lastly, the clubhouse on the far side that I snapped previously, had this sign in front of it. Either it wasn't there, or I somehow missed it! Either way, at least I know what it is now.

Now you can see my original post:

I took photos of Royal Leopold Uccle Forestoise FC in January 2008, when I was wandering around Brussels, after a couple of contributors to the Tony Kempster forum suggested it was worth a visit, after I ask for some reccomendations. I wasn't disappointed! And I am so pleased that I did. For the 'jewel in the crown' of this ground was the old wooden stand, which was demolished in the summer. On my next visit to Brussels I will try to get back here & take some pictures of it's replacement.

Here is the entrance from the road. Before even looking at the stadium I was already 'falling in love with it' because of these gates!

There was a poster on the wall for their next home game.

Through the gates, but outside the actual ground, was this war memorial.

And another stone, commemorating a former club president.

This is a close up of him.

As we enter we are in a corner of the ground. Ahead of us is an old open terrace. But before we stand on it we turn right, behind the goal, to head towards the old stand.

There is a small ,higherstretch of terrace here, with some park-style benches further along. The steps at the front continue all the way along. The building behind, along the side, was closed, but appeared to be the bar/changing rooms.

Directly behind the goal we see the beautiful old wooden stand.

On reaching the corner we could climb some steps, up to the firt floor level of the brick building, and look across the pitch.

And we also look back, to get a look at the terracing at this end of the goal.

Here we are now in the old stand, looking pretty average with it's plastic seats, patched up I wouldn't like to guess how many times over the years.

Still smart in places, despite it's shabbiness.

This is a nice angle from within.

Old terracing in front, and disused dugouts.

From this angle, behind the other goal, you really can appreciate this grandstand.

I suppose it would be possible to stand behind this goal, but not the most roomy of vantage points!

And from this end we see the bank of terracing down the far side, which we saw as we first entered.

Not the safest, by English standards, but unspoiled by health & safety regulations. Marvellous!

Tucked behind this is a small clubhouse. I'm not sure if this was connected to the football club or not, but I would guess that some fans would use it as a matchday wateringhole regardless.

From the terrace, still at this end, we look across to the stand. Such a tragedy it's no longer there.

Here are the current dugouts, on the terrace side.

A welcoming club banner at the back of the terracing, hich is the last picture I have to show you, as we've now seen the whole ground, and thus overstayed our own welcome!