The history of the "first city of Belgium" dates back thousands of years, before the Roman Empire. Those Romans made the village into an actual city and a ball must have been kicked early. Flash forward 1900 years or so and we find two football teams in Tongeren controlling the area.
In the beginning of the 20th century, two local rivals fought some serious battles. Cercle Sportif Tongrois and Patria FC Tongres were the two protagonists. Patria was created in 1916 and Cercle saw its' life starting in 1917. Both joined the Belgian FA in 1917. Both of them were children of war, one could say. And that passion for battle remained on the pitch after the war.
In 1926, a small provocation happened. The FA had decided to implement the system of matricule numbers and the existing teams received their number based on date of membership. Patria was just a little bit quicker on the ball and they received matricule number 71. A lower number than the 73 of Cercle. Cercle didn't really appreciate that. The latter however was the first one to reach the national divisions one year earlier. In 1925 they were in the second division.
Patria did the same in 1929, although it was the third division back then, and the two teams changed second for third division regularly. Cercle was the first to change their name with a royal title, Royal Cercle Sportif Tongrois. A few years later the name changed into the Flemish K Tongersche SV Cercle. But then that second war happened. And it would become one with a huge impact on football in Tongeren.
By the time the war was almost over, a drama happened in the old stadium of Cercle. On January 30th 1944 the Germans raided the derby against the neighbours from Hasselt, searching for all men in Tongeren. The players managed to get away by hiding beneath the cult worthy stand which is now in decay. But a lot of fans were captured and brought to working camps.
It would take a while before the city had processed the drama and the whole battle between Patria and Cercle all of a sudden wasn't that important anymore. But after the war things slowly returned to normal. In 1947, Cercle won a small battle. They claimed Cercle Sportif Tongrois was already created in 1908 and had affiliated the FA in 1910. Sources at the Belgian FA say there was a possible mix up with FC Tongrois, created in 1909 and disappeared during WWI. Yet Cercle got what it wanted as the FA followed their story.
Cercle Sportif Union Welkenraedt-Herbestal had given up their matricule number 54 after a merger with Standard Bruyeretois in 1932. Back then the rules dictated a merger had to request a new matricule number. Matricule number 54 was given to Cercle Tongeren and they became the oldest team in the city after all. A weird story which can only be written in Belgium of course. But isn't that what makes football so charming and interesting? One year later Patria changed its name from French to the Flemish Patria FC Tongeren. Again three years later, they received the royal title as well.
The battles between Cercle and Patria continued afterwards. Their games were played in the third and fourth division. Patria moved to their brand new ground in 1966, naming it De Motten. But it would only be the homeground of matricule number 71 for three years. Because in 1969 Cercle and Patria decided to become one. Sportklub Tongeren (after only 8 days already changed to Koninklijke Sportklub Tongeren) continued with the matricule number of Cercle, remained playing for a while in the Sportpleinstraat but quickly moved to De Motten.
And that merger turned into a huge success. In no time, Tongeren was represent again in the second division. The results remained great. That great the team was able to show off their football art at the highest level for the very first time ever. Stadium De Motten saw first division football from 1981 to 1983. And later on the team did stay in second division until 1996. But slowly they slipped away. In 1996, SK Tongeren relegated to the third division and in 2010 they went down another league to the fourth division. All of a sudden it went very fast. In 2014 Tongeren found themselves in the second regional league of Limburg.
Time to put a stop to all of that negativity. KV Heur VV (from Tongeren as well) offered a helping hand, changed their name to KFC Heur-Tongeren and continued with their own matricule number 4600. Matricule number 54 however wasn't deleted, but remained in use for the youth teams. The comeback actually happened as the team went back up to the second amateur division (the fourth level).
In the meantime KFC Heur-Tongeren had already turned their back on the legendary De Motten. In 2006 they moved to a more modern complex. De Motten changed its' focus on athletics as the local athletics team stepped on the forefront. They are still active in the stadium, although the look and feel of the stadium changed drastically over the past years. Already in 2004, the fairly large Elascon stand (built in the 70s) was demolished, just like all of the terracing. Now the only remaining stand; the grandstand; will be demolished as well.
Just to be complete; in 2021 Heur and Tongeren officialised their merger. Matricule number 4600 disappeared and matricule number 54 came back in use for the first team. A first team with a new and old name: KSK Tongeren was re-instated.
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