GROUND // Kastanjelaan - Dames SV Zulte Waregem

It's been a year now since the last time a men's first team has played football in the Kastanjelaan in the East Flemish Zulte. The first year since 1950. And the village surely misses the old days. Because a lot of history has been written there in the Kastanjelaan.

For that complete history we first need to go back to an era way before 1950. 1912 to be exact. That's when Club Zulte Sportief joined the Belgian FA. They supposedly already existed in 1911 though. Sadly enough WWI stopped their activities and the team disappeared from all tables. It would take until 1927 before Zulte could enjoy their own football again. That year FC Zulte Leiezonen was founded.

Again it didn't last that long. Only six years later FC Zulte Leiezonen merged with the neighbouring Olsene Stormvogels to become Hand-In-Hand Olsene-Sportief. Zulte was without football again. In 1935 however Voetbalclub Zulte Sportief solved the worries. And this time it would last longer, although Zulte Sportief did decide to abandon the Belgian FA in 1939. They joined the Catholic Flemish Sports FA instead.

In 1947 another - new - team did join the Belgian FA. Voetbalclub Sportkring Zulte left the Flemish FA. Ten years later they changed their name into Sportkring Zulte, better known as SK Zulte afterwards. In 1950 the team moved to the Kastanjelaan and real history could begin. But their matricule number would disappear in 1976.

Because that year they merged with their local neighbours Zulte Sportief. Yes, the same team that left the Belgian FA in 1939. They rejoined in 1950 (although there was some protest from SK Zulte). Following the rules back then, they received a new matricule number. VC Zulte Sportief and SK Zulte officially became Zultse Voetbalvereniging in 1976. The merger would continue to play at the Kastanjelaan.

Most of the games in those years were played in the regional leagues. There were some highlights in the top regional league, but throughout the years Zultse VV did manage to portray some great results. They found themselves in the third national division by the time 2001 hit. During those years the West Flemish neighbours from Waregem had gone through highs and lows. After years in the first division they had fallen back to the fourth division due to financial problems. A merger seemed the only way out.

But that merger would never happen. KSV Waregem ceased to exist in 2001 and their matricule number disappeared, including their wonderful history. Zultse VV changed its name into Sportvereniging Zulte-Waregem and moved to West Flanders. The Kastanjelaan did remain in use for the B team and later on the C team of SV Zulte-Waregem.

The stadium in the Kastanjelaan would still see national football however. In 2001 the ladies team of Zultse VV went their own way, with their own matricule number, as Dames Zultse Voetbalvereniging. In 2010 the name got changed into Dames Zulte Waregem (without the dash, which the men had taken away as well in the meantime). Again two years later they gave up their matricule number and became part again of SV Zulte Waregem. Right now the team is playing in the Super League, the highest national division in women's football.

But men would still play games at the Kastanjelaan. A year after the move of Zultse VV, Jong Zulte was created. They managed to get a deal with the village and SV Zulte Waregem. A real team from Zulte was playing here again. Throughout the years they too managed to climb the leagues. In 2018 they even made it to the top regional league. But end of 2020 Jong Zulte made a drastic decision. As of 2021/2022 the club would voluntarily relegate back to the lowest regional league and at the same time they would move out of the Kastanjelaan. Jong Zulte now plays a few blocks away. Away from the old history which connects almost all former Zulte teams.

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