This was a most unexpected, & much welcomed match! A pres-season game at KFC Katelijne, who play in the fourth level of the Belgian pyramid, on Sunday 20th June 2010. Although I tend to include the 'start of a season' as 1st of July, I 'amemded' this, so this was my first match of the current campaign. After all, you can't have a 'pre-season' match as an 'end of season' one!
I was indebted to my good Belgian friend Nicolas Lucas for finding this match for me. The day before I had been been with the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Team, in the UR Namur supporters' tournament, which was why I was in Belgium.
This was a pre-season against local Belgian top flight side KV Mechelen, who I visited back in February 2009.
Although I've been to a number of Belgian grounds now, my geography of the country is still poor. This is the railway station, I hadn't even realised there was one, until Nicolas checked!
It's just undertwo miles or so from the station, a straight forward walk, before turning down this small road to the ground.
Here we approach the entrance.
A board back on the main road, advertising the match.
Just before we got to the entrance there was a secondary pitch on the right. It had this small bit of cover in the corner, which it turned out, backed onto cover inside the main ground, on the other side.
This second pitch is railed off.
At the ticket booth now. Ten euros to get in, a nice little fundraiser for the little club. Shame more English professional clubs don't do the same for their small non-league neighbours.
Through the barriers & it's open hard standing, up to the clubhouse ahead.
We are at the corner of the pitch, and here we look over to the small main stand on the far side.
Behind the goal, to our right, is a small section of cover, the bit backed onto the other pitch, and open standing past it.
Under the cover is just a couple of steps of terrace.
This was my first 'corner flag' shot of 2010/11 !
Moving round we look down the clubhouse side touchline.
A similar shot, a few yards along, from behind the goal. It is a 'strange' ground, in that you can't walk all the way round it, so we are going to head behind the goal, anti-clockwise, until we reach the stand.
Past the small area of cover it is just hard standing behind the goal.
Behind the net we look toward the stand.
And then moving on. Narrow hard standing, with flat dry grass behind. Note the rail on the right, behind the netting, for the other pitch.
At the second corner now, looking across the pitch, pre-match.
Here we look back along the tight, open area behind the goal.
Down the far side, leading up to the main stand it's more of the same, with a bank of advertising behind.
Having turned the corner we look back behind the goal.
Moving along we reach one of the dugouts, stand behind.
From here we look over the pitch to the bar side. You can see there are two small areas of cover either side of the tunnel in the middle.
Here we are at the side of the stand. Unfortunately this was pre-reserved for special ticket holders, so I couldn't gain access to it.
This is a view of it, from the other side of the pitch. From here it was not possible to go any further, so it's time to go back & return to where we came in, at the ticket booth.
On the way back round I pass one keen fan with a big flag.
Round the other side I have a quick look inside the clubhouse.
As they like to do in Belgium, various league tables on the wall.
Presumably from the previous season, I think this is the first team one.
Match poster in the window.
Outside is this football themed beer table.
Queues for the food stall.
And a beer one being set up.
To the left of that is another pitch.
Simply railed off.
Dugouts on the far side.
A top worn by one of the many visiting fans.
On the pitch side of the clubhouse, in front of the windows, is a small area of covered hard standing, which go along to almost the halfway line, but you can't go any further along this way.
Here we are, further along, nearer to the tunnel.
You can see where the space for supporters ends, in the left of this picture, taken from the other side of the pitch.
Having gone round the back we see a similar area at the other end of the club buildings,
From this part of the ground we look over to the main stand.
Here we zoom in on it a bit.
From where we are to the corner it's open hard standing.
One young fan looking forward to the match, proudly wearing his autographed shirt.
Almost at the corner now...just fields beyond! This really is the countryside!
From this corner we look back along the touchline on this side.
Before looking behind the completely open end behind the goal.
A view over the pitch, from this flag.
Now heading toward the area behind the goal.
From here we glance back at the covered standing areas along the side.
Directly behind the goal, looking through the net.
And then toward the final corner, with another bank of advertising in that corner.
In front of them we look over toward the main stand.
Among the commercial boards is the club scoreboard.
From the corner we see back behind this goal.
The last corner flag picture of the day, with some of the hard standing along the last side in shot on the left.
Very narrow, with a slight slope on the grass.
As we get closer to the seats there are more hoardings, & the little sloped area is a tiny bit steeper & uneven.
We have now reached the dugout on this side of the stand.
And here we look into the stand from this side.
Again stewarded, so I can't gain access.
Another close up, taken from the other side, after the match.
The home dugout is on the right, as we look over at it.
And this is the visitors one, to the left.
I now get ready to settle for the game, choosing to stand to the right of the seats. I clock this visiting fan behind the goal, to my right.
The two teams enter the pitch.
Pre-match huddle from the visitors.
The game kicks off.
Now for a few action shots. As you will notice, the ground has filled up a little.
I don't know why, but I like taking pictures of match officials abroad. I think, because they don't wear our 'traditional' black so often.
Back to the game...
Oh dear! You really have to be good if you wear boots like that...& you're only on the bench, with five minutes to go!
A game of 'two halves'. Mechelen changing the entire team at half time, this was the final score.
Just time for the post match interviews...
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