Eendracht Aalst is dominating the region in and around Aalst, but there's a lot more football to be found. In the neighbouring Erpe-Mere there is a rise of a team which consists of many different clubs together. We passed by several of them; first stop was Mere.
We are in 1918. The end of WWI is there and there's joy for everyone. The startup of normal daily life with entertainment had happened. In Mere, Vrij en Blij was created, a theater company that tried to give the local community more joy. The name (Free and Happy) wasn't chosen by accident. Exactly ten years later they even created their own football team. Meirsche Klauwaarts was created in 1928. Originally they joined the Flemish Sports Association, but after a while they had to cease activities because they couldn't make use of their pitch anymore.
In the meantime more football clubs joined. In 1937, Rapid Erondegem was created in the neighbouring Erondegem. They joined the Flemish Football Association first, but in October 1944 they decided to follow the example of Meirsche Klauwaarts. They had restarted their activities earlier that year and had joined the Belgian FA as Mere Football Club. Rapid did the same as Football Club Olympia Erondegem.
Little more than 20 years later, more clubs joined. In 1967 Football Club Edixvelde Nieuwerkerken joined the party. Nieuwerkerken is in fact a part of Aalst, but the smaller suburb of Edixvelde is part of both Nieuwerkerken and Erpe-Mere. Only two years later, Oranja Erpe was created as well. And those weren't the only teams. But we'll save a bit for later.
None of those clubs managed to get to the national divisions throughout the decades. But the desire to get there started to live. Still last century, they realised they wouldn't get there if all teams would remain separate. Already in 1999 things started to change. FC Edixvelde Nieuwerkerken ceased to exist and unofficially became a part of Mere FC. Three weeks after that FC Olympia Erondegem and Oranja Erpe joined forces to become Koninklijke Voetbalclub Erpe-Erondegem (better known as KVC Erperondegem).
But that wasn't enough. Again the national divisions were far away and ten years later other changes happened. Mere FC absorbed KVC Erpe-Erondegem after they went bust in 2009. But even that didn't bring any successes. The renewed Mere FC even relegated to the lowest regional division. Although they didn't stay there for long. Still everyone kept its fire burning for more. In the meantime only four clubs remained and talks started to join all those four teams into one big team.
Already before 2016 those talks were going on and since 2019 they became more and more serious. It still took until 2021 before actual actions were taken. Originally SK Aaigem, KFC Olympic Burst, Mere FC and KRC Bambrugge were to become one. But SK Aaigem dropped out and KFC Olympic Burst wouldn't live long enough to make it to the merger. The other two became Erpe-Mere United in 2021. Officially the stadium in the Sint-Bavoweg still is the B pitch of the merger, but the pictures show not a lot of balls have been played there after 2021/2022.
At least temporarily. Because in the meantime decisions have been made to build a brand new stadium here where the merger will eventually move to. What you see now will completely disappear. Mere FC did manage to get media attention in the last couple of years. In 2020 Kevin Franck ended his footballing career there. He managed to make it to the youth teams of Real Madrid ages ago. And although he never made it to the first team, he did play for the bigger teams in the greater region of Aalst and even beyond. Next to that we are sure Mere FC will never fade away. Since a couple of years now, the old shirts are being gifted to Senegalese kids, which makes Mere FC a very popular team somewhere in Senegal right now...
If you want to enjoy our articles in Dutch, you can read them here.