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GROUND // Albert Ombeletstadion - KHO Bierbeek

On to a team that has never played the national divisions... yet! But they are close, so close. Near Leuven there are a lot of treasures to be found and in Bierbeek we came across the Albert Ombeletstadion. It's their third stadium, after having wandered around for 12 years in Mollendaal and Boomblok.

In 1938 the team started playing recreational football as Hooger-Op Bierbeek. After two years the team joined the Flemish FA and after some very good results HO Bierbeek decided to join the Belgian FA in 1943. Across the decades the team would slowly but surely work their way up. In the beginning playing the third regional leagues for a long time (the lowest at that time), and after a while they started going up and down between the second and the third regional leagues. As of the 70s HO Bierbeek became a regular in the second highest league.

Later on they would regularly appear in the top regional league and these days they are a regular in the top of the first regional league, frequently only nearly missing out on promotion to the national leagues for a very first time ever.

The more notable changes for the team across their existence are slim. Only in 2004 a first change happened. A couple of former Stade Leuven board members (after the merger between Stade Leuven, Daring Leuven and Zwarte Duivels Oud-Heverlee) joined KHO Bierbeek and for a short while the team name changed into KHO Stade Bierbeek. In 2014, exactly ten years later, the name was changed back into KHO Bierbeek.

One of the most known former players KHO Bierbeek has had was Mark De Man. He ran through the youth leagues with Zwarte Duivels Oud-Heverlee, RJ Wavre and RSC Anderlecht, before he was active as a senior at RSC Anderlecht, Roda JC, Germinal Beerschot and OHLeuven. He only stayed for one year, before moving to nearby competitor SC Out-Hoegaarden.

The name Hooger-Op was initially chosen to differ the team from all of the Unions, Darings and Sportings; but one can say right now KHO Bierbeek is literally "Hooger-Op" (Higher-Up), playing on somewhat of a hill.

In 2001 the team started working on a new stand and switching the A and B pitch with each other. Only 7-8 years after finalizing the current B stadium a completely new stand was built and everything was switched over.

Anecdote: Everyone knows the majestic pitch in Maldegem containing several defunct train wagons. Well, it seems Albert Ombelet, part of the board of KHO Bierbeek, was one of the first buying and using old train wagons as dressing rooms for the players. This was still when they were playing on their second ground, Boomblok.

Anecdote2: Everything in the Albert Ombeletstadion in the beginning was built by the team members themselves. After a renovation in 1975 there was still a lot of work to be done. Finally in 1986 everything was finished and the new stadium was opened with a match between Racing Jet Brussels and KRC Mechelen. It is believed the late Raymond Goethals (coach of RJ Brussels at that time) said the pitch wasn't even good enough to use as training facilities. By 1994 the last piece was finalized, the covered seating area. Everything was under impulse of Albert Ombelet himself.

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