Ernest Sterckx Stadion, Heultje

posted in: Antwerp, Stadiums | 0

The Ernest Sterckx sports complex is named after the most famous sports figure in the history of the small municipality of Westerlo.

In the years after World War II Ernest “Nestje Sterckx won as a professional cyclist, among other races, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Brussels and Heultje FC named its stadium as a tribute to him. Proof that this hommage is clearly in the past is visible at the entrance. Under, and partly over, the remembrance plaque a dustbin is mounted.

Clean, sure, but you really can’t call it respectful. Even more so because on the billboard by the road entrance they even misspelled the poor guy’s name.

The idyllically named Heultje promoted in 1983 to the National Divisions and after three seasons the Red-whites even managed to climb up to the third Division where they joined fellow locals VC Westerlo.

 

In the third Division they managed to distinguish themselves for a long time and with the Nigerian striker Obobaifo Osaro they had an absolute star in their team.

 

But at the end of the 1990s it all goes downhill for Heultje. To keep their heads above water financially they’re forced to sell their best players and the following four seasons can easily be called disastrous. In 1992 the team barely avoid relegation to the the Fourth Division, in 1993 Obobaifo is unfortunately killed in a car crash and once again relegation is narrowly avoided.

 

In 1994 the club can not prevent the relegation and the following season in the Fourth Division is even worse. In less than 4 seasons Heultje went from being a top -team in the Third National Division to being relegated back to the Provincial Divisions.

 

Currently, the club literally reached the bottom, they are playing in the 4th Provincial Division and there’s little left of the glory years.
The Ernest Sterckx stadium is hardly worth that name, billboards are gone, concrete slabs are cracked and the iron constructions are rusting away visibly.

 

The contrast with First Division club and former rival VC Westerlo could not be larger.