Every once in a while we must do a re-visit. The wonderful stadium in Hoboken from KSC Maccabi-Voetbal Antwerp is one of them and it is way overdue. We have been there before but couldn’t enter the stadium on non match day. Therefore a match visit was on our to do list, for way too long. Recently we finally had the opportunity.
The team is very much aware of their history and the matricule number. They welcome groundhoppers as if they are family and it’s not without reason this is high on the list of a lot of groundhoppers. Even on their website they take pride in their matricule number. Number 201 (given in 1926) is the ninth oldest matricule number in the province of Antwerp. To give the history of this team, we have to go way back before the team actually started.
In 1895 the very first real Jewish team was founded as Israelitische Turnverein Konstantinopel and it was the start of the creation of a lot of Jewish teams to follow. Most (if not all) of these teams chose Maccabi in their name as a reference to Jehuda Ha Maccabi, a Jewish hero who represents courage, will for freedom and physical endurance. All of this even led to the creation of the Maccabi World Union in 1921. One year before SC Maccabi Antwerpen was founded. And even though all of these teams are Jewish, they are in fact open for everyone.
Although the first talks of creating the team started in 1919, it was only final in 1920. Three years later they joined the Belgian FA. In 1924 they started playing on a field in Wilrijk near the Maritime. We suspect this is the later cricket ground next to the Jain temple. If we are not mistaking we might be too late to visit this one as it seems to be demolished very recently, but we are still investigating the facts. Afterwards the team managed to get the European Maccabi Games to Antwerp a couple of times. In 1930 this happened for the very first time (back then the stadium in Berchem was used), but afterwards they did the same in 1985 and again in 2003.
Finally in 1960 it happened. The team managed to reach the national divisions. Two years later KSC Maccabi-Voetbal Antwerp moved to the current grounds in Hoboken, next to the stadium of KSK Hoboken. And the move gave the team strength. By 1969 they were in third division, fighting for their spot in second division. That year they missed promotion by ending second, with the same amount of points as Racing Mechelen. KRC Mechelen had one more victory and by the rules applied that time they promoted to second division, even though KSC Maccabi had a way better goal difference.
It seems that was the breaking point for KSC Maccabi. Since that year KSC Maccabi started to relegate more than promoting. And things took a turn for the worse during the 80s. In 1986 the team was bankrupt and they had to restructure their complete organisation. Luckily enough the team stayed alive and the matricule number was kept.
In 1990 the grandstand was extended with nicely built dressing rooms and meeting rooms. Ever since the team is going up and down the lower regional leagues in Antwerp. In 1995 however they were recognised for their history and tradition. The Zaatlaan, next to the stadium, was renamed into Maccabilaan. What makes this stadium stand out even more is the fact there are two absolute gems next to each other. On the right side you'll see the absolutely wonderful Elascon grandstand of RVC Hoboken.
Anecdote: The team always struggles to find an insurance company to insure their wooden grandstand. No company wants to risk any business it seems.
Anecdote 2: Sam Lavan is one of the few players that has made it to the big leagues. After having played for KSC Maccabi, he showed his skills at Beerschot, Lierse, Beitar Jeruzalem, Deinze, Roeselare, Antwerp and Berchem.