The experienced groundhopper often thinks he has seen it all. But every once in a while there are these surprises which makes all time and effort spent worth wile. Some time ago we were invited to visit Aalbeke and we have to admit; what a beauty! The Garenwinder stadium is home to KFC Aalbeke Sport, a team in the shadow of Kortrijk.
Deeply hidden in West Flanders, near the French border, there's this small little village called Aalbeke. It's already close to a thousand years old and until 1977 it was an independent village. With less than 3000 inhabitants it has always remained a small village. That makes it more surprising to learn they already had a football team in 1935 when FC Aalbeke Sport was created. The Blauwe Uilen (Blue Owls) started off in the regional leagues, and let's already give you a spoiler, they never left those regional leagues.
There were some highlights to note across the decades though. Especially during the 50s the Blue Owls had their best period when they managed to promote to the top regional league twice (1952 and 1959). Twice, it didn't last long and for the years thereafter the team would play their games at a lower level. More changes would come after they celebrated their 50th birthday in 1985 and received the royal suffix. In 1996 for instance they decided to join forces with the much younger Sporting Rollegem (created in 1984). The new name became KFC Verenigd Aalbeke-Rollegem (KFC United Aalbeke-Rollegem). In the neighbourhood they became better known as KFC VAR, a name well before its time so it seems now.
The name was changed back into KFC Aalbeke Sport in 2007, making them go back to the old days. Exactly 10 years later a new chapter would commence in Aalbeke. Project 2023 started and it had three main focus points. One was the promotion to the third regional league, secondly a better focus on the youth development and lastly an artificial pitch. We are not immediately a fan of the last item, but the first two only prove lower league football is far from being dead.
In the meantime the artificial pitch has been installed (since 2020) and the mentioned promotion was already a fact in 2019. The way to the top regional league (and return of their best years) is completely theirs for the taking. The whole team had a huge transformation and they owe no-one but themselves. We can only show our respect for all of the hard work and at the same time their grandstand blows you away completely. As we have been told it was built by the end of the 80s and it's surprisingly big for the leagues the team has been playing in, not to mention the great oldschool feeling it gives you. There are plans to renovate the grandstand or even to build a completely new one, but for now we can still enjoy this beautiful discovery.
If you want to enjoy our articles in Dutch, you can read them here.