De Schalk, Willebroek

posted in: Antwerp, Stadiums | 0

The De Schalk Stadium in Willebroek is undoubtedly one of the largest and finest accommodations in the lower divisions of National Football Divisions. When the Stadium opened on 16 June 1984, it offered space for 10,000 spectators. With 1,114 seats, 1,500 covered stands and 7,357 uncovered stands at the inauguration De Schalk seemed far too large for a club from the 4th National Division. Despite that fairly recent date the main stand underwent the necessary adjustments to meet the commercial requirements of modern football at the start of the century. The only thing missing are decent floodlights because make no mistake, the lights that are visible from the A12 motorway do not belong to the football stadium but to the neighbouring athletics stadium.

The main user of the stadium was KVC Willebroek-Meerhof. The club with Matricule 85 was formed in the year 2000 by the merger of FC Meerhof and K Willebroekse SV. The latter club was founded in 1919 and played in orange-black equipment. After having taken up residence in the Pickerystadion in 1931 in the Appeldonkstraat the club, only a few years later, became a fixture in the national series. In the mid-1960s Willebroekse even played two seasons in the Second Division. The absolute highlight in the club history the orange shirts experienced on 29 January 1964 they defeated Standard de Liège in the Belgian Cup after taking penalty kicks. The following decades, the team moved between Third and Fourth division. When the club exchanged in 1984 the old Henry Pickery Stadium for the modern De Schalk they went into a downward spiral. Willebroekse SV was relegated to the Provincial Divisions in 1990 where they would remain active until 1998.

In the year 2000 a merger with local village club FC Meerhof followed. Matricule 85 would henceforth be worn by KVC Willebroek-Meerhof. The characteristic orange-black equipment was replaced by the combination of red-white-black. The merger club started in the Fourth National Division but was promoted in 2004 to the Third Division in which they had several successful years. With Dirk Van Oekelen (ex-STVV, ex-RWDM) and former Golden boot and Red Devil Gilles De Bilde Willebroek-Meerhof had some big names on their payroll. The club was ambitious but due to the moderate public interest and the lack of interest of the municipality potential investors looking for an adventure in the Second Division would drop out. Willebroek meanwhile adopted the orange-black of yesteryear but relegated in May 2010 to the Fourth Division . A few months later the club announced, that unless the necessary funds were found the club would not be able to start the new season. Local fan actions followed and while the club was able to finish the season they folded a few months afterwards.