A beautiful stand, some nice anecdotes and a typical lower league team. What more can a groundhopper ask for? SK Heffen plays in the very accessible Robert De Buyserstadion, somewhere between Mechelen and Willebroek.
We've mentioned this before and it's starting to be a real obvious statement, but WWII brought us quite a lot of new football teams. No different story in Heffen, near Mechelen. SK Heffen was created in 1942 (although they mention 1941 themselves and celebrated 75 years of existence in 2016) and after they joined the Belgian FA they had a very quiet yet stable existence. For decades SK Heffen played in the lower regional leagues being mainly the third and fourth regional divisions.
The start of the new millennium brought a lot of activities and changes though. It seems like the last 20 years or so were more of a rollercoaster compared to the first 50-ish years. It all started with two promotions in two years time. In 2000 and 2001 they managed to promote, ending up in the second regional division. This also created some ambition and a renovation of the stadium was needed. For this they replaced their kantine and dressing rooms by buying an old railway (or was it tram?) station from a smaller village in the Limburg province. Once you know this some of the elements might come across as being very train-familiar indeed.
Unfortunately they didn't stay for very long in that second regional league. Shortly after they relegated again and since 2010 SK Heffen is back in the lowest regional league. The team does still spend quite a lot of time and energy in their players and their fans. In 2016, when they celebrated their 75th anniversary, they even had a new beer created - the Hefferke Tripel Hop (we wonder if we can still find this somewhere).
Interesting anecdote is the fact a couple of years ago the team had hired an artist to create something special just behind the main stand. After having spoken to the chairman we are led to believe the piece of art was absolutely beautiful, but it had one big failure. It was made out of grass. So as soon as grass started growing and the lawn had to be mowed, the piece of art was gone. Shame.
Also great to see the board had a leisure football team to play themselves as well. Racing Heffen only existed for a short while though, but the neighbouring ground they were using is still there somewhere. Watch out for our next update - surprise surprise. We do hope this team continues surviving as the modernization of football is hitting these type of teams more and more unfortunately.