Not far from the Dutch border in the midst of De Kempen there are quite a lot of treasures to be found. When we were in the neighbourhood of Dessel we just had to pass by Arendonk to visit this absolute gem. Unfortunately there were no activities and the ground was completely closed. But we believe these pictures give a quite good overview of the ground.
Not long after the matricule numbers were implemented in Belgium Verbroedering Arendonk was founded (in 1927). The team already played games since 1924 but it wasn't until three years later everything was official. During WWII the team would find their way up and in 1948 they first reached the national divisions, third division at that time.
Verbroedering had the perfect team to stay in that league, until the Belgian FA decided to reform the football structure in 1952. They had to go to the newly created fourth division in that year. In 1955 they relegated to the regional leagues. They managed to go back immediately, but again one year later the national story was over and out for Verbroedering. The team would up until this day never go back to the national leagues.
The stadium where they currently play was built in 1959 and it's an absolute dream of a ground for groundhoppers like us. Although they also have 16 (!) more modernized football pitches nearby (sportpark Heikant), the first team still plays in the Kerkstraat. And hopefully they will stay there for many years to come.
Initially they played elsewhere, but after mergers with FC De Zwaluw in 1931 and the good results in the 40s the ground in the Kerkstraat was built. Since 1962 they have a local rival, KFC Vrij Arendonk, a team Verbroedering plays derby's against. Also this season they are in the same league and a couple of weeks back there was the half-yearly Arendonk derby. Unfortunately we couldn't attend the game itself.
Anecdote: During WWII transport wasn't that easy and the players of the team often had to bike their way to the opponent. Even if it meant using a tandem and biking for over 60km to get to Zwarte Leeuw or Heist-op-den-Berg.
We are now February 2021 and it's with sadness we have to add an update to this article. The two Arendonk teams mentioned in this article have underwent a merger to become KFC Arendonk Sport. This happened in 2018 already, not long after we had visited this stadium for the first time. The matricule number of Verbroedering Arendonk was kept and the new name is kind of returning to the original roots. Verbroedering Arendonk was in fact founded as FC Arendonk Sport.
Sadly enough this also meant the stadium in the Kerkstraat was abandoned to move to the newer sports place in Meulegoor and Heikant. The Kerkstraat stadium will be demolished to make way for a school (if our sources are correct) and the demolition won't take long anymore. It's said to believe this will start in February 2021 still.
We decided to go back and pay our respect to this stadium as a salute to history. As per coincidence it snowed heavily just the days before which gives us quite unique pictures as well. Enjoy the stadium while you can!
If you want to enjoy our articles in Dutch, you can read them here.