GROUND // Gemeentelijk Sportpark Hulst - HVV '24

How many teams are blessed with two full-fledged grandstands on both their A-pitch and their B-pitch? Especially in the lower leagues, this is rather unique. Just across the border, in The Netherlands, HVV '24 is one of the precious few.

It's 1924. Two active football clubs, Seolte and Majella, decide to join forces and become the official VV Hulst. Not sure where they played exactly in these first few years. We only find results as of 1927-28, when they played in the national third division. Back then there was no professional league, so the amateur leagues were considered to be the top of Holland. Right up until 1950, with a small break due to WWII, they stayed in that third division.

For 4 years the club played in fourth division, but then the real glory years for VV Hulst started. And those had an impact on several items. In 1953 they promoted back to third division and only two years later the team went up to second. 1954 was also the year when The Netherlands started with professional football. For two years it was a bit of touch and feel but since 1956 the structure has been set and the amateur leagues are just after the two professional divisions.

Between 1955 and 1964 the club continued in the second division of the amateur leagues. One of the items influenced by the wonderful years was their stadium. In 1958 VV Hulst moved into their current stadium, albeit the current B-pitch being the A-pitch back then. The grandstand then built was the very first of its kind, the first Elascon stand. A hype started and up to this day these stands are amongst the most beautiful ones in football. Only three years later a second item was influenced. The team name changed into HVV '24.

All of this was rewarded with promotion to the first amateur league in 1964. Unfortunately this only lasted for one year as the following season HVV went back to second amateur league. Ever since the club has been going up and down. The 70s were mainly spent in the third league, the 80s in the fourth league, and the last 30 years were a healthy mix between second and third league.

In 2006 an era ended. The Elascon stand would not be used for A-football any longer. Luckily the team preserved the stand and it's still there in all its glory. Right next to this pitch the team built their new grandstand. Glad to see how HVV '24 handled this. The oldest Elascon grandstand (or so we have been told as we can't find any real confirmation on this) is something that has to be preserved!

Angelo Nijskens is definitely the player in which HVV '24 takes the most pride. He started his football career in Hulst and at the age of 15 he moved to KSK Lokeren. He would develop a taste for nice stadiums as he later on moved to Bayer 05 Uerdingen, RFC de Liège, Sporting Charleroi and Alemannia Aachen. What a career, we must say.