Football in Mesen. It's a little bit different compared to football in the rest of the world. You can find Mesen in the Westhoek in Belgium and it has never had a team which was affiliated to the Belgian FA. They did have some local teams in local FAs. But the biggest football history there can be found in WWI.
We'll start our story with FC Mesen. It's a team with a little bit of a dual history. We can't find many details on the team(s), but we do know there are some photographs of an FC Mesen in 1942. It's been confirmed they played their games on a pitch in the Nieuw-Zeelanderstraat. But the start of the team and what happened with them after 1942 is not known. We can only determine the team disappeared before 1971.
Because in 1971 a new FC Mesen was created. It's possible this was a re-start of the old FC Mesen, but we can't find any confirmation on this. During the first two years the team moved around a couple of times before they settled themselves on the same location in the Nieuw-Zeelanderstraat in 1972. Throughout the next years they have given quite some football joy and they even gained company of a certain NSV Mesen (Nieuwe Sportvrienden - New Sport Friends). But after a while this team ceased activities as well.
Their home ground was sublet for a while to a local paintball club, but in 2014 it went on to get a whole new purpose. Ever since it's the official stadium which represents the Christmas Truce. The exact history on the Christmas Truce is a bit cloudy though. It's confirmed football has been played on several locations on the front, but it wasn't an official game. The Khaki Chums Cross in Ploegsteert (not far away from Mesen) has been determined as the official place where the first game was played. But there were several games between Ploegsteert, Mesen and a location just over the Belgian/French border.
Everyone with passion for true lower league football without too much tralala or anyone interested in the combination of football with war history, you're definitely at the right address here. The whole area is full with interesting places and this stadium is a must visit. Who wants to read more about this, can do this in 'You Not Shoot, We Not Shoot', written by Marijn Sillis. Or you can watch this movie we made.
If you want to enjoy our articles in Dutch, you can read them here.