Just across the language border not that far from villages like Geraardsbergen and Ronse, there is a small Walloon village with an unexpected rich football history. In Lessines there is currently only one team, Royal Entente Acren Lessines aka La REAL. A part of this team has a history in the beautiful stadium of Stade Philippe Notté.
La REAL is in fact a merger between three teams. The very first beginning was in 1911 when Football Club Lessines-Ollignies was founded. The name does make us believe this is also already a merger, but it was rather difficult to find some history on this team. The team never really made it to the national leagues. At least not until the team merged with Royale Union Sportive Lessinoise (RUSL), a team founded three years after FC Lessines-Ollignies. RUSL did make it to the national leagues though. Their first appearance was in 1968. In 1977 they relegated back to the regional leagues.
After the merger in 1996 the new team name became Royale Association Sportive Lessines-Ollignies (RASL). In the beginning the new team remained in the old stadium of RUSL but in 2000 they moved back to Stade Philippe Notté, the real home ground of the former FC Lessines-Ollignies. Again three years later RASL finally made it to the national leagues, unfortunately for one season and one season only.
In 2016 their story kind of ended as they went up in a merger with the neighbouring Royale Entente Sportive Acrenoise. That team was founded in 1939. Initially this team played in blue and yellow to the village colours, but when the club secretary had to buy a new outfit in the early years there was only enough financial capability to buy a purple white outfit. Hence the team colours changed. They always played in the regional leagues, until 2011. The year they first reached national football. And they would stay.
In 2016 it was finally decided to create one big team in the greater municipality of Lessines, including also Acren and Ollignies. Royale Association Sportive Lessines-Ollignies was absorbed by Royale Entente Sportive Acrenoise and the new team name became Royal Entente Acren Lessines with a soft touch towards René Magritte whom was born in Lessines.
Once there were different teams with different stadiums in the bigger area of Lessines. Now all stadiums are part of La REAL. Stade Philippe Notté is stadium number 4 of the team, mainly used for training purposes and youth games. We can consider this one to be a lost ground, although very well maintained. Definitely a must visit for all groundhoppers. Not often visited, but not that far from other beauties in the area and easy to access.
Nice little details: The grandstand looks very much like the grandstand of Jong Geraardsbergen a few kilometers further. And the terracing created behind one of the goals is made of torn down light pillars.