GROUND // Gemeentepark - KFC Schoten SK

Not far from where R Antwerp FC, Brasschaat, Kapellen, City Pirates (in Merksem) and the former Germinal Ekeren are (or were) playing, there is also KFC Schoten SK. Once at a higher level, but now battling in the lower regional leagues of Antwerp football. Not even that long ago they played in the national divisions. A forgotten past it seems.

First, let's go all the way back to 1916. While brave soldiers were fighting serious battles in the trenches in West Flanders, Schooten Sportkring was founded. It was supposed to be a place of hope in dark times. But the very first football team in Schoten ever didn't exist for long as in 1920 the team ceased to exist. The exact same year the team was revived and a year later they joined the Belgian FA. Still it didn't go smooth. In 1926 Schooten SK stopped all activities. One year later though the team came back and it was then they received their matricule number (as it was only given since 1926), although it was based on their membership since 1927 instead of 1921.

Finally the team could play without any worries and pretty quickly they managed to reach the national divisions in Belgian football. Between 1934 and 1936 Schooten SK played in the third division. Afterwards they relegated back to the regional leagues and for 60 years they continued playing those leagues. Continuously going up and down. The main highlights in those six decades were the royal title in 1955 (when they changed their name into Koninklijke Football Club Schoten Sportkring) and a merger in 1992. The merger happened with Hoogmolen Sport Schoten, a team created in 1946 and who only joined the Belgian FA in 1956 and always played the regional leagues. But it was more of a take over than a real merger. The name remained KFC Schoten SK, the old matricule number was kept and the stadium didn't change either.

That merger on the other hand worked like magic as shortly after the team finally managed to return to the national divisions. In 1996 they promoted to the fourth division and after only one year they returned to third division. 61 years after the last time they played that division. The results weren't too bad either (coming very close to second division even), but in 2002 dark clouds appeared. Although they ended above relegation, it seemed they had tried to bribe players the year before. KFC Schoten was punished with relegation to fourth division and a reduction of 12 points. Without those 12 points reduction they would have ended fifth (and had a chance to promote to third division), but instead KFC Schoten SK relegated to the regional leagues.

After two years they returned to fourth division, but things would never be the same again. After four years of national football the team relegated back to the regional leagues in 2009. A downward spiral started as in the meantime they are playing the fourth regional level, the lowest there is in Belgium. KFC Schoten SK has to start from scratch again. But this time they are facing a healthy future. And one day they will return in the national leagues. Even if it would cost them 60 more years.