GROUND // Esplanade de la Citadelle de Namur - Excelsior Sporting Club Namur (lost ground)

Football history is something which keeps on amazing. And sometimes you find yourself at places of which you could have never imagined football has been played there. One of such places can be found in Namur. The Citadel of Namur doesn't only contain historical monuments and buildings, but also the remainings of what once was a football stadium.



The old football history of Namur is a very vague story. There are quite some inconsistent stories, not much documentation and especially a lot of different version that contradict each other on how football started exactly in Namur. As of 1920/1921 it seems there is a bit more certainty on the details. That's when the ball really started rolling for current matricule number 156, after a merger between Red Star Namur and Union Sportive Jamboise to become Namur Sports. What would follow is a continuation of national league football and a lot of mergers.



The team promoted to the national leagues for the first time in 1927. Only for one year though, but a long period would start not long after. In 1931 they returned to third division and they stayed in the national divisions continuously until 1984. They've played in second, third and fourth division. But even after 1984 it remained a success. In 1986 they were back in fourth division and up to this day they would never go back to the regional leagues. Again second division was reached.




But it would be a story filled with mergers as well. In 1933 the team received their royal title (Royal Namur Sports) and in 1941 the name was changed into Union Royale Namur (after an unofficial merger with Wallonia Association Namur). Later in 1989 UR Namur merged with Royale Entente Sportive Jamboise to become Royal Football Club de Namur. UR Namur was taken up again in 1996 and only six years later they merged with Racing Wallonia Saint-Servais. Two more would follow. In 2017 Racing FC Fosses was absorbed to become Union Royale Namur FCL. Two years later Etoile Rouge Belgrade was involved as well.




But anything before 1921 is a bit more unclear. Officially UR Namur FLV is the continuation of Red Star Namur, founded in 1913. Football in Namur actually already started in 1899 with the creation of Namur Football Club. They ceased activities in 1904 however. One year before Atheneum Football Club de Namur was born (the team where the great Armand Swartenbroeckx played) and for a couple of months in 1904 there was also Sporting Club Namurois. In 1907 Namur Football Club was re-created, but they disappeared again in 1910. Union Sportive Namuroise was created in 1908 and in 1912 Stade Namurois joined the group.



In the merger of 1921 Etoile Sportive Namur is being mentioned as well, but no official document can back this up. There are suspicions the merger should have taken place in 1920 already and ES Namur would become the new name, but that deal fell through. A journalist in Namur did mention in 1933 the names of the team were Among Friends, Atheneum Externat Football Club, Namur Football Club and Excelsior Football Club since 1906. Again no documentation can be found that could back this up. There is also a mentioning of Excelsior Sporting Club Namur on the website of UR Namur FLV, a team supposedly involved in the merger of 1921 (or 1920 according to that website?).



But there is no Excelsior Sporting Club Namur in the documentation of the Belgian FA. It is a fact the team has existed as that team actually played their games on the Esplanade on the Citadel of Namur. And they did so up until the mentioned merger. Based on what we have found and based on our experience we might be able to put together the following. Excelsior SC Namur wasn't a member of the Belgian FA, but of a different association. It's possible the team was created in 1906 as Among Friends, changed their name the same year into Atheneum Externat Football Club. That team then joined the Belgian FA in 1907 as Namur Football Club (with a link to the earlier Namur FC between 1899 and 1904). They left the Belgian FA and continued as Excelsior SC in a different league. But again, these are all our personal findings and we can't prove this.



With all of this being said, the location remains a very unique one and it's for sure this is a long forgotten football stadium. The stand in front of the historical building reminds us of old football days. While we keep on looking for the actual history of football in Namur before 1921, we get to enjoy this wonderful terracing with huge nostalgic feelings and emotions. The entrance gates pictured here however were not part of the original football stadium. They were just too beautiful not to include them. ;-)



If you want to enjoy our articles in Dutch, you can read them here.