Fans that follow us already know Brussels is packed with nothing but absolute gems. One of those has been on our to do list for way too long. We always thought it was hard to visit, but in the end it seems it's really easy. The Kleine Heizel, also know as Petit Heysel or Heizel II, is located right next to the Koning Boudewijnstadion (we'll do that one as well sooner or later) and there are even more football fields in the direct neighbourhood.
When exactly this has been built is a big mystery for us. We know the current Koning Boudewijnstadion was built in 1930 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Belgium, but in the beginning it was just this stadium and nothing else. We also know the Kleine Heizel was used by Racing Jet de Bruxelles since 1970, so we still have a 40-year gap. We kind of assume, since the Koning Boudewijnstadion was renamed from Jubelstadion into Heizelstadion in 1946, this was also the year when the rest was added. It could have also been in the later 50s since that area was the center of Expo 58 and a lot of works were done then and there. If anyone knows, please do enlighten us. This is interesting stuff to know.
So from 1970 up until 1988 the Kleine Heizel was the homeground of Racing Jet de Bruxelles. This was also the year when Racing Club de Jette (playing in Jette - the current ground of RSD Jette) merged with Royal Stade de Bruxelles (a merger on its own between Union Sportive de Laeken and Union Sportive du Centenaire) to become Racing Jet de Bruxelles. The first couple of games were played in the Heizelstadion, but that seemed to be too big for the time and they quickly started playing in the Kleine Heizel. At that time having a capacity of about 12000 people it was still too big for the team as the team only attracted about 1000 fans. The stadium mainly saw second and third division football but in 1984 first division came to the stadium. Apart from one year they would stay in first division until 1988. At the end of that season Racing Jet de Bruxelles moved to Jette and became Racing Jet Wavre.
For a couple of years the stadium remained unused, until the 90s came and more lower league teams started playing there. FC Atlas de Bruxelles was the first, but not the only one. Later on also FC Bleid-Gaume, Etoile Bruxelles and a number of other teams (mainly playing in the Brussels FA) used the Kleine Heizel as their homeground. In the meantime RSC Anderlecht also started using the stadium for their ladies team and a couple of their youth teams. Anno 2018 only the youth teams of RSC Anderlecht playing in the Iris League play their games here. All of the rest moved out, merged with another team, or just simply stopped playing football.
But football isn't the only thing you'll see there. Since 2008 the national rugby association started hosting games there. Mainly Belgian cup games (such as the finals) and international games (when it's an attractive opponent they move to the Koning Boudewijnstadion, but usually their games are played in the Kleine Heizel). It's also the same national rugby association that may give some concerns to groundhoppers like us. For some years it was uncertain what was going to happen with this in regards to the Eurostadion. Now this plan has been put in the fridge a new monster popped up. The national rugby association has declared plans to demolish this stadium and build a completely new and modern stadium especially for their rugby games. They are looking to have the Kleine Heizel demolished by 2020. If it will come this far, only time will tell.
If these plans go through you'll only have limited time available to still check this one out. If you haven't already, please go now immediately! It's open a full weekend every two weeks and it's an absolute gem. The complete stadium still breaths the 70s and 80s atmosphere and with two massive terracing areas behind the goals, one small terracing stand and one magnificent seated grandstand this stadium has everything an oldschool groundhopper fantasizes about. Oh, and by the way... We saw a game of RSC Anderlecht U17 against RWDM U17, which RWDM won quite convincingly with 2-5.