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GROUND // Patronagestraat - KVV Zelzate

Usually the teams we are talking about (or the stadiums) were once great and richly filled but nowadays have fallen away (or are still at the top). It's very rare we have a stadium that has always seen lower league and now is on the rise to the top. KVV Zelzate is one of those rare examples.

Near Ghent, not that far away from the Dutch border you can find an exquisite stadium, typical for lower league football. Zelzate definitely is more known for Eddy Wally and the industry that has grown in the last century, but footballwise Zelzate has had their share of history as well. In 1922 and 1933 the only two teams (we know of) started their activities. Let's deepdive.

In 1922 the first team was founded (although we're not so sure under which name exactly) and they started of in a local FA being the Diocesaan Sportverbond. A couple of years later a move was made to the Katholiek Sportverbond, changing their name into Katholieke Vlaamse Voetbalvereniging. This happened in 1926. In 1933 then the birth of the second team in Zelzate followed. VC Blue-Boys joined the Flemish FA. The two teams couldn't meet each other in an official game.

In 1937 then Katholieke Vlaamse Voetbalvereniging changed their name again, this time into the infamous Sint-Laurens Voetbalclub. But it wouldn't take until after WWII before both teams moved to the Belgian FA. SLV was the first one to take the step in 1945. In 1946 VC Blue-Boys followed. A true battle began. While SLV promoted to higher regional divisions and had success with their number one player to this day, Armand Seghers. In 1949 Armand moved to AA Gent, became a very popular player and even made it to the Red Devils, but he was so popular a lot of SLV fans followed him to AA Gent.

SLV fell back to the lower leagues again. During the 50s they restored they position in the top regional league. But while SLV was having some good years, VC Blue-Boys faced financial problems. In 1957 they finally made a re-start and changed their name into FC Zelzate. A new board, a new vision and new ambition for the future was part of the change as well. In the 60s SLV remained the bigger team since FC Zelzate mainly went up and down the third and fourth regional league, but by the end of the 70s both teams were at the bottom of the leagues.

Slowly but surely KSLV (as they became royal in the 90s) went back up to the top of the regional leagues. Very slowly though. And it wasn't without any struggle. Right up until 2008. KSLV and KFC Zelzate decided to join forces and become KVV Zelzate. The team would use the matricule number and the stadium of KSLV. Unlike most of the mergers this one proved to be a huge success. Their first year as one team was in the second highest regional league and they ended 6th. Their second year they ended 3rd. In the following year (2011) they won their league and finally Zelzate was represent again in the top regional league.

But it didn't stop there. Every year their end position would improve compared to the previous one and in 2018 KVV Zelzate managed to go to the national leagues (third amateur) for the first time in their history. And even there they are continuing their good football. The first year they ended 7th. This year they are making a joke out of the competition, leading up the tables and looking to promote to second amateur.

And the team knows it can achieve great things. In 2008 already they were checking to have a new stadium, but the finances weren't there yet. Not even in the village treasury of Zelzate. In 2017 they faced the same as plans to start building a new sports complex fell through. But if we look at their sportive successes and the stadium they play in right now, however charming and wonderful we feel this is (and it really is!), the Belgian FAs restrictions and regulations will make sure KVV Zelzate will have to do something if they want to go to second amateur, or who knows sooner or later the first amateur. What a shame that would be for their beautiful grandstand!


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