One of the most beautiful lost grounds in Belgium wasn't being visited that very often until recently. A couple of groundhoppers had already discovered this one and we had this on our to do list for a while now. So a couple of weeks back we were finally able to pay a visit to this absolute gem; the abandoned stadium of Sporting Outgaarden in the Jongensschoolstraat.
Outgaarden is a small village near Hoegaarden and one might think football isn't a big deal there. Looking at the Belgian FA statistics, that seems to confirm that story. But the history goed deeper than that. Already during WWII there was a team called FC Autgaarden that played friendly games. Even after the war they didn't join an FA and continued playing friendly games. During the 70s they did finally join an FA, the amateur local FA at that time. During the subscription the name changed into Sporting Outgaarden.
There they made a steep way up and ended up in the top league within a couple of years. They would never give away their strong position and in 1991 the decision was made to join the Belgian FA, more or less 50 years after their creation. Across the next 19 years they would only play in the regional leagues, often going back and forth between third and fourth regional division. In 2009 they promoted to the second highest regional league for the first time and immediately also the last time.
In 2010 they underwent a merger with the neighbouring SC Hoegaarden, becoming SC Hoegaarden-Outgaarden (but everybody keeps calling it SC Out-Hoegaarden). The stadium was used as a B pitch for the team in the beginning, but these days it's completely abandoned. Pity to see this in decay.
SC Hoegaarden on the other hand is in fact just as old as Sporting Outgaarden. After 12 years of CS Grand Pont Hougaerde (between 1926 and 1938 - discontinued due to poor results), Sporting Club Hoegaarden was founded in 1941. Across the years they would play in every single regional league there is, often staying the that league for a number of years before going up or down a league.
The highest position ever reached was fourth national division in 1999-2000, only for one season though. They have had good results in the top regional league in early 60s and throughout the 90s. Currently, since the merger with Sporting Outgaarden, they have climbed their way back up from the third regional league to the top regional league, heavily competing for a spot in the national divisions again. That ambition is being shown with appointing Tom Soetaers as their new head coach last year.