When we walk in the beautiful area of the Ardennes, we see wonderful nature, amazing historical buildings and absolute gems when it comes to football stadiums. Some of them abandoned, others in serious decay, but all of them have a unique history. One of them definitely is Stade de la Géronstère in the community of Spa.
While a lot of football teams in Belgium have a shared history with a beer brewery, Spa has one with water. It's the place where the famous mineral water comes from, even more famous than the team itself.
Although R Spa FC still is one of the oldest teams in Belgium. Already in 1897 there was a football team in Spa and two years later they joined the Belgian FA. But a few years later the team ceased to exist. It took until 1914 until the current team was founded. In 1926 they received matricule number 60. That was also the year when they first reached the national divisions, back then it was third division. The next seven decades R Spa FC would mostly play on the regional leagues, only occasionally making an appearance in the lowest national divisions. This happened during WWII, 1952 and 1965; all for just one season. But the 90s finally became a successful era for the team. In 1997 they became champion in 8th division (the lowest league in Belgium) and in 1999 it all happened in a heartbeat. In only six years time they went from 8th division to 3rd division, very unique in football history.
Unfortunately the success didn't last long. In 2004 they went back to fourth division and the next couple of years Spa would go up and down between 4th division and the highest regional league. In 2014 dark clouds appeared above the mineral water source and its beautiful stadium. In October everyone within the team was asked not to talk to the press anymore and two months later they had to file for bankruptcy. The rest of the season was completed with youth players causing the team to loose almost all of their games, very often with remarkable results such as 8-0.
A new investor was found to save the matricule number and make a start through in 6th division, but it seemed the investor itself wasn't debt free. The Belgian FA decided to give Spa an extra penalty and made them go to 7th division for a start through with minus 9 points. R Spa FC Renouveau (as the team is often referred to these days) was still in full reorganisation and last season was again a dark season. Now they will kick off the new season on 8th division again. Remarkable as little over 10 years ago they were still in third division!
The Stade de la Géronstère is an absolute eyecatcher. A perfect grandstand in just the perfect amount of decay, surrounded by overgrown terracing in the midst of the green area of the small city of Spa. It's easy to find, easy to access and we duly recommend this one to all groundhoppers.