We can finally say those magic words again: Elascon alert! There aren’t too many left anymore, but the ones that are still there are greatly admired. In the small village of Hornu, well hidden, you can find Stade Barbet. The home ground of RLC Hornu is a well preserved and maintained stadium with a beautiful and in the meantime very rare Elascon grandstand.
In 1918 already there was a football team in Hornu, but there are very little records of that. Even the name seems to be unknown. After one year the team was dissolved. The dream was kept alive though and in 1921 Léopold Club Hornu was created, becoming one of the handful of teams referring to one of the former King Léopolds. The team played the regional leagues the first couple of decades and in 1926 they received the rather low and unique matricule number 129. It’s still one of the oldest active football teams in Belgium.
It would take until 1946 before they first reached the national divisions, third division at that time. Although it was for just one year, in 1950 they already returned. This time they managed to stay for a number of years. In 1952 the football structure changed and a fourth national division was created. RLC Hornu stayed in the national leagues but was directed to fourth division. In 1955 their national story was told. The next couple of decades the team would fight their battles in the regional leagues. Throughout the decades people got used to the regional leagues, so it was a big surprise when the team made a sudden revival during the 90's.
In 1996 RLC Hornu went to the top regional division and one year later they managed to go back to fourth division. Unfortunately this lasted only one year and ever since Le Léo had to deal with the regional teams in the neighbourhood. For a brief moment they even went to the second lowest regional division, but since this year they are back in the top regional division. Could it be they repeat their success from the 90's?
Michel Wintacq is most probably the best known football player in Hornu. He started his career at RLC Hornu before moving to La Louvière, RFC de Liège, Standard de Liège and Racing Jet Wavre. He even made it to the Red Devils once. He almost deserves the same respect and gratitude as the ground caretaker we met during our visit. Like many teams RLC Hornu is depending on volunteers to keep their stadium intact. You’ll see in the pictures one guy singlehandedly taking care of the pitch and the grandstand in Hornu.