Jef Mermansstadion, Merksem

posted in: Antwerp, Stadiums | 0

The stadium of SC Merksem bears the name of the greatest footballer who ever graced this suburb of Antwerp.

Jef Mermans came back to his old stomping grounds aged 35 and after 15 seasons and 249 goals for Belgian giants Anderlecht. He would still play three seasons at the club which was then still called Olse Merksem. As a tribute the stadium was named after him.

Olse Merksem remained until 1976 in the Second or Third national division. In that year Olse Voetbal tore away and the club continued as SC Merksem. it would be an unlucky period for the club from Antwerp, in less than 5 Seasons they relegated from the Second Division back to the Provincial Divisions.

A short revival in 1982 brought them back to The Fourth National Division but in 1986 the club slumped to the Provincial Divisions again where they stayed until 2012. That year SC Merksem wins the Antwerp Playoff round and promotes again to the Fourth Division. To celebrate this a name change is made: the club will now go through life as Merksem-Antwerpen Noord SC. Barely two years later, this name is also dropped and a name is chosen tohave more pull with the youth and to indicate the club is active in the entire city of Antwerp and not just Merksem. The new name is SC City Pirates Antwerpen.

A positive side is that the Merskem board did not give up during the difficult years. Many clubs fell back through the divisions neglected their stadium only fragments of the glory days are still visible.
Not here: the Mermansstadion got a refresh and a brand new artificial turf was laid out and new changing rooms opened.

Jef “The Bombardier” Mermans can rest assured, his name is being honored.