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GROUND // Stade Joseph Marien - Royale Union Saint-Gilloise

The Stade Joseph Marien had been Pitch'd already before (click -, but recently the stadium underwent some renovations in order to be able to play in second division. For two years RUSG played their home games in the national stadium (which was too big unfortunately), but now the team is back home. And we decided to re-visit the stadium.

Since last time we were creative with our text and didn't really give a history of the team, this re-visit gave us an extra opportunity to still go down RUSG memory lane. In 1897 already Union Saint-Gilloise started playing football, afterwards receiving matricule number 10 - making them one of the oldest teams in Belgium for sure. Before they had Stade Joseph Marien, RUSG kind of wandered around in Uccle, Forest and Saint-Gillois. In 1898 RUSG started playing in competition in second division and already in 1901 the team managed to reach first division football. They quickly became one of the better teams in the country and in 1904 RUSG managed to win their very first championship title. The same year Belgium officially played their first games and RUSG delivered most of the internationals.

They were that good the next three years they would also win the championship and even the B team was almost unbeatable. They won the second division several years in a row, obviously not being able to promote to first division. In 1908 Racing Club de Bruxelles beat them (RUSG ended second), but the next two season it was RUSG again. By 1910 they had won six titles in only seven years time. Also the next years RUSG was the better one in the country. Before WWI started they would win another title (although the Belgian FA wanted to take it away as they accused RUSG of professionalism. Luckily Daring Club de Bruxelles (second) didn't accept the title as they didn't win it on the pitch - you can't imagine this happening these days) and two Belgian cups.

After the war their Stade Joseph Marien was officially opened (in 1919) and RUSG started playing great football again winning another title and ending in the top of the league several times. This changed as of the second part of the 20s. RUSG ended in the middle section more often than they were used to. In 1925 and 1926 the stadium was already up for renovation (ain't that quick?). In 1931 they even just avoided relegation to second division. That was also the year of the big change. Dudenpark (as the stadium was called up until that year) changed its name into Stade Joseph Marien and RUSG went up in the league again.

1933, 1934 and 1935 would be magical years for the team. Three championships in a row and they managed to not lose 60 games in a row. It gave them the name Union 60. Unfortunately it happened to be the big rival Daring Club de Bruxelles who ended the magical tour of unbeaten matches. To never forget this wonderful series of games the Jules Pappaert cup was created (named after the captain of the team), given each year to the team with the longest period without any loss. The trophee was awarded from 1953 to 2012 and RUSG won it two times themselves. But the streak of 60 games was never ever beaten by anyone.

Afterwards it seemed the dream of Union was over. Year after year the results started to get worse and slowly a new team, RSC Anderlecht, took over the position of RUSG. In 1949 a first relegation finally happened. Two years later they returned, but it would never be the same again. They did manage to get European football from time to time and especially their first time was a success, beating Leipzig XI and AS Roma - reaching the semi finals. During the 60s though Union went up and down between first and second division a couple of times and in 1973 it seemed finally over. That was the year the relegation spell began. First to second division; In 1975 to third division and by the end of the 70s even fourth division followed.

In 1984 RUSG was back in second division and the team changed their name one final time into the current Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. Unfortunately RUSG would have to play third division most of the times in the next couple of decades, apart from a couple of years in second division. The last years the team seems to be taking a turn for the better though. RUSG is now in second division since 2015 and the new chairman (since early 2018) has expressed his wish to see the team back in first division soon.

It's almost impossible to name the players that have played for the team. It does stand out both Herman Van Holsbeeck and Constant Vanden Stock were active for RUSG. They both played on the wonderful Stade Joseph Marien, which was originally built for the Olympics in 1920 (where Belgium became the very first world champion ever). The city of Forest wanted to break down the stadium afterwards to build a new city hall, but fans of the team came in uprise. The Belgian FA had to mingle and the city of Forest decided to leave it as it is. In fact, the team decided to redo the stadium and in 1926 the wonderful mainstand was built. A mainstand which is now a protected building.


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