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GROUND // Rode Kruisplein - FC Oxford Hemiksem

For those who have been following us, they know the unique aspects that come with the Belgian matricule numbers and how it influences the football landscape dramatically. But not many people know about the peculiar history of FC Oxford Hemiksem.

Let's turn back the time to 1912. Football is already in full development and the smaller villages get a taste for the game as well. Football Club Hemiksem is created, but doesn't join the Belgian FA immediately. The Great War disrupts normal life and it isn't immediately clear if FC Hemiksem ceased to exist or not (which wouldn't have been an exception).

But all of a sudden FC Hemiksem pops up as a member at the Belgian FA in 1921. Five years later the team received matricule number 59. A historically low number which speaks to the imagination of many teams and fans. Sadly enough the results weren't like many other teams in that age and FC Hemiksem didn't make it to the national leagues. The lower leagues are much more familiar to the team. At least until 1961.

In the meantime FC Hemiksem received the company of AC Hemiksem. Athletic Club Hemiksem was founded a couple of years after FC and joined the Belgian FA in 1923. Three years later matricule number 360 followed. Less magical, but still filled with magical history nevertheless. AC did manager to get to the national divisions though. In 1930 they promoted to third division for the very first time.

The first couple of years they would play the top of the league, but as the years went by the results changed from nearly promoting to saving their asses from relegation. One could almost say the Second World War saved the team. In 1944 for instance they ended second to last in their league, but the competition didn't start the next season. Again a season later the Belgian FA decided to undo all relegations during the war. AC stayed in third division, but only for one year though. That year they ended very last. AC Hemiksem stayed in the regional leagues. At least until 1961.

Because in 1961 Football Club Hemiksem and Athletic Club Hemiksem decided to join forces and K Verbroedering Hemiksem was born. Sadly enough matricule number 59 disappeared as the new team continued using number 360. For the next couple of decades Verbroedering stayed in the regional leagues, longing for the glory days of Athletic Club.

In 1995 it finally happened. The team promoted to fourth division and returned to the national divisions. Just like six decades before the first years were very good. But it didn't last. After four years the national story was told and they relegated back to the regional leagues. It even took a turn for the worse and Verbroedering went all the way down to the lowest regional league possible. By the time the clock ticked 2013 it was all over. The board sent in their notice and the matricule number ceased to exist. The remains of the team were put elsewhere.

That elsewhere turned out to be Oxford Hemiksem. Oxford is what you can call a teenager with a lot of wrinkles or a senior with pimples. The team decided to join the Belgian FA in 2001 and received matricule number 9398 (a lot less sexy than the other two numbers mentioned. But by then they had already had quite a history. We even have to go all the way back to January 15th 1915. That's when Oxford Hemiksem was created.

Oxford joined the Belgian Socialist FA and often competed for the title. In 1932 they would actually win the league. More or less 40 years later (during the early 70s) they moved to the Workers Association and the successes were very good in that league as well. But the new millennium brought some fresh ideas and Oxford decided to join the Belgian FA after more than 85 years of existence.

In 2013 then they offered a solution to dissolved Verbroedering Hemiksem. This time the name stayed the same and their own matricule number was kept. The team did move to the old home ground of Verbroedering which was in use since 1961 if we are not mistaking. That also meant they left their own stadium after almost a century. The most beautiful memorabilia were brought over to their new home. One of them is the wonderful entrance gate. Ever since there is only one team left in Hemiksem, but their history still lives on.

Whether or not we will see Oxford playing the national leagues any time soon is highly unlikely. So far the team mainly played the lower regional leagues. But they did manage to win another award; the Panda award. Early 2020 they were rewarded for their initiatives to keep the panda alive. The start of a beautiful rise up? With such a history, such a wonderful name and such a beautiful stadium it'll have to come some day...


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