On February 11th 2017 we just had to visit a first division game in Belgium. We couldn't miss it for anything in the world. Except it wasn't really a first division game. Both teams currently play in the 5th league (the third national amateur league). The old RAEC Mons and the old RWDM faced each other with their new faces and in a direct confrontation for the title in that tier.
Although the history of RWDM is extremely fascinating, we will save that for when we finally get to visit the Stade Edmond Machtens. Here and now we wanted to experience the Mons atmosphere at the very unique Stade Charles Tondreau. RAEC Mons was one of the oldest teams in Belgium with matricule number 44. It all started in 1910, but there were already a number of teams active in Mons in 1905. Club Amateur Sportif was founded in that year, became a member of the Belgian FA, chose red/white as team colours and started playing on the grounds RAEC Mons played on for so long.
Shortly after that they changed their name into Cercle des Sports de Mons.
Another team, Stade Montois decided to merge with Cercle des Sports de Mons and also Nimy-Sportif and Olympique de Mons in 1910 to become Olympique Mons. Three years later they merged with Racing Club Mons. This just to demonstrate the ground was in fact already seeing football before RAEC Mons saw the same. In 1909 René Tondreau and others wanted to form a new team and give it a royal name (like Léopold Club de Bruxelles already had done in the past). In 1910 they received approval to do so and Albert-Elisabeth Club de Mons was founded shortly after. The same year, just after Cercle des Sports de Mons left the grounds, AEC Mons moved there and officially opened the ground for 300 spectators.
For ten years they played in blue/white (royal colour combination) until 1920 when they changed to red/white, the city colours. The year before, in 1919, they first appeared in the national leagues, back then second division. It didn't last for long though. In 1923 AEC Mons merged with FC Baudoir, only to change their name in 1934 into the known Royal Albert-Elisabeth Club Mons. In 1926 already they returned to the national leagues, back then third division. It took them a while but in 1949 they finally managed to return to second division, but when the football structure in Belgium was reformed in 1951/1952 they had to go down one division again.
For almost 50 years the team played in third division, apart from one year in fourth in 1960 and three years in second in 1974, 1975 and 1985. In 1988 RAEC Mons merged again, this time with Royale Union Jemappes-Flénu, completely absorbing that team. But then the new millennium came and RAEC Mons would experience something completely different...
In 2000 they won third division and promoted to second division again and a year later they already managed to reach the play offs for first division. They lost that year, but the year after that they managed to do the same and win those play offs. For the first time ever RAEC Mons would join first division. In 2005 they had to go back to second division, but they quickly returned. The next years would be defining for the future of the team. The coaches quickly followed and RAEC Mons struggled against relegation quite a lot. In 2015 it was the final straw for the team. They were already relegated to second division the year before and although they ended 7th that season RAEC Mons had to file for bankruptcy.
The team finally found a solution and they merged with RUS Genly-Quévy 89. The name was changed into Royal Albert Quévy-Mons and the team moved to Mons, continuing the activities of the former Genly-Quévy team. They started over in the top regional league and immediately won promotion to the national leagues. The history of RUS Genly-Quévy 89 is less impressive though. The team was founded in 1945 as Association Sportive Quévy-le-Grand et Extensions. In 1989 they merged with FC Genly-Noirchain to become US Genly-Quévy 89. That team was in fact a continuation of the once existing Cercle Sportif Quévy-le-Grand (between 1928 and 1934).
The stadium then. Stade Charles Tondreau was built in 1910 and afterwards heavily modernized from time to time. They never renovated the full stadium and after the final renovations in the early years of the current millennium the stadium now looks like a stadium with two faces. One side with a lot of passion and soul remembering the old days, with standing areas and terracing the way we, groundhoppers, like to see them. On the other hand there is a quite modern part which over the years already has had the marks of soul and passion as well. These two parts are very different from eachother, giving the ground a very unique image.