For Pitch'd, 2022 was a year packed with wonderful discoveries in Belgium and abroad. Mostly we go for the lower leagues, but every once in a while we also look at the top. To start of 2023, we decided to start with a first division team.
Just next to Flemish Brabant, not far from Liège (but still 100% Limburg), you will find Sint-Truiden. Rumours have it it's the only Belgian city named after its founder (Saint Trudo), but it's mostly known for the cultivation of fruit in the area. Sint-Truiden was active in football as well from the early days. To keep it nice and simple, we'll stick to Sint-Truiden itself and won't look at the fourteen smaller villages that also make part of the city.
Football Club Saint-Trond Sportif was already there in 1908. When exactly the club started isn't known, but in 1912 they disappeared again. La Vaillante de Saint-Trond was also active in 1908, but little is known about that team. After those two it remained quiet for a while. Until The Red Star Saint-Trond popped up in 1920. They must have been active before that already, but they wouldn't last long. In 1920 Red Star Saint-Trond withdrew from all competitions.
But then the current football story in Sint-Truiden began. In 1923 Football Club Gold Star Saint-Trond was founded. Only a year later, Sint-Truidensche Voetbalvereeniging joined the pack. By the end of 1924 Gold Star dismissed themselves to give their players the opportunity to join the new STVV. According to several sources, such as the club website, STVV is the result of a merger between Gold Star and a certain Union Sint-Truiden. We think this is unlikely since Gold Star only got dismissed after STVV was created, and there is no trace whatsoever of a team called Union Sint-Truiden. If anyone knows anything about this, please feel free to contact us.
The first game ever of STVV was a game against the older and neighbouring Cercle Tongeren. They were already playing the national second division at that time. It made the ambitions of the team from Sint-Truiden very clear. And rightfully so. In those first years in the regional Limburg leagues, STVV did well. In 1928 they already made it to the national divisions, the third division at that time. It was only for a year, but in 1930 the Sint Truiden boys were back again. And for a longer period this time.
Those successes didn't go by unnoticed. Other teams in the city were created, one of those was created by a fan group from STVV. They only existed for two years though, between 1927 and 1929. But the real STVV kept on going steadily. They only had to go back to the regional leagues between 1935 and 1937. Afterwards STVV would always play the national divisions.
In 1948 Sint-Truidense VV would play a third division game for the last time ever. They promoted to the second division and would always remain in either second or - later on - the first division. The Canaries would however still need to start their real successes. It's not clear as of when they got that nickname. But it is clear why they are called like that. The city colours are yellow and blue. When the team was founded, Sint-Truidense VV took over those exact same colours and they would mainly play in the yellow colour. And there we go... It's a nickname they most likely share with pride with teams like amongst others the Brazilian national team.
The jump to the first division was finally made in 1957. The real glory was coming. Stayen (back then still called Staaien) was STVV's home since 1927. It was completely destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt not long after. But finally it got to see top flight football. Two years after that promotion in 1957, the team managed to wheel in Raymond Goethals as their coach. He formed a team that would later be known as the giant killers. Stayen became the Hell of Stayen. Part of that success was the introduction of the offside trap by Goethals.
The most incredible years for Sint-Truidense VV were without a doubt 1966, when they ended second in the league, and 1971, when they lost the cup final. But alas, in 1974 STVV relegated back to the second division. It would take until 1987 before The Canaries were back in first division. After a few years in that first division, and again a few years in the second division, a second glory moment would arrive around the turn of the century. In 2003 STVV ended fourth in the league and lost its second cup final. Later on the ghost of relegations would haunt them and for several years the team would go from first to second division and vice versa.
Since 2016, STVV is back in the first division. The team isn't heading towards the title for now - being very realistic - but the title of Limburg is something they fight for every year. Their rivalry with KRC Genk is one of the biggest rivalries in Belgian football. Usually these type of rivalries are a long existing tradition, but this is a pretty recent one. When Waterschei and Winterslag merged to become RC Genk, they received millions from the coal mining industry. Sint-Truiden didn't like that very much. On top of that, Racing Genk left Stayen with a victory not long after, pushing STVV into relegation in 1991. Ever since the rivalry between the two teams has only grown worse and worse.
We're not sure if there were any real rivalries before that, but maybe the Hell of Stayen never needed that. The stadium was named after the former neighbourhood Staden (in the local dialect Staaien - later on Stayen) and saw a lot of top teams leave the stadium empty handed. The place could really be hell. Later on it was the first Belgian stadium to have an artificial pitch and recently it has been redeveloped unrecognizably. The only thing reminiscing to older days is the visitor's stand. Although that carries the negative name of "prison" or cage. Looking at this away-stand, the nickname seems understandable...
If you want to enjoy our articles in Dutch, you can read them here.