High up in the Belgian 'Noorderkempen', you cannot pass by Hoogstraten. It's mostly known for the high amount of Dutch inhabitants, the strawberries and the old discotheque Highstreet. But it holds Hoogstraten VV as well: a club with a clear ambition.
It seems football in Hoogstraten started during WWI, with teams like Den Hoogstraetse Voetbalbond, Onder Ons and Vermaak na Arbeid. After the war their activities came to a standstill and numerous attempts were made to create new clubs. Without success. For the first true football clubs, the city had to wait until 1927. That's when Hoogstraeten Football Club was founded. The team immediately joined the Belgian FA.
A year later, Voetbalclub Vermaak Na Arbeid Hoogstraeten joined the party. But we can't say those two stories - Hoogstraeten Football Club & Voetbalclub Vermaak Na Arbeid Hoogstraeten - became a true success. In 1931 VVNA disappeared and in 1935 the same happened to HFC. But they did form an example for attempt number three: Hoogstraeten Voetbalvereeniging (still their official name - although Hoogstraten VV is being used) was created in 1936 and became a FA member.
Up until 1964, 'de Rooikens' would have to play their games in the regional levels, but from the very start it became clear what their ambition was. To maraude the leagues as high as possible in a healthy way. The club promoted several times to the top regional league, but they always relegated again. Until 1964 that is. That year 'de Rooikens' promoted to the fourth national division for the very first time. And also the last time, as they never left the national divisions since.
For 22 years straight, Hoogstraten VV would work on its next step in that fourth division. That next step was taken in 1986 when they promoted to the third division. A couple of times they just missed promotion to second division, but in 2002 their plan backfired. HVV relegated back to fourth division for a number of years. Their aim was to go back to third division quickly and in 2008 they reached that goal.
And that wasn't even their last stop, as in 2013 Hoogstraten VV had a delirium. Second division welcomed them; even though it was only for one year. In 2014 they relegated back to third tier. When the competition was restructured in 2016, HVV was put in the second amateur division (the fourth level); a division where they still play today. But it looks like first amateur division (or first national division as it's being called these days) needs to prepare to welcome HVV next season.
Throughout the years Hoogstraten VV has had quite some big names in its team. Some as youth player, others in the heydays of their career. Karel Snoeckx, Salou Ibrahim, Tom Boere, dad Jan and son Gert Verheyen are only a couple of examples. But only very few dared to do what Peter Meeusen did. He played for both Zwarte Leeuw Rijkevorsel and Hoogstraten VV. A big no no in the area since there is a huge rivalry between the two.
In the first years of its existence, the team played on a pitch which is unknown to us. They moved to their infamous Thijsakkerstadion in 1948. It would be their home ground for 55 years. In 2003 they moved out, but not without paying respect to the stadium by winning their last home game against rival Zwarte Leeuw. Now HVV plays in the Sportcomplex Seminarie, a place where the youth had already been playing since 1990. Hopefully that stadium gets to see second division football again soon.
If you want to enjoy our articles in Dutch, you can read them here.