GROUND // 't Kuipje - KVC Westerlo

In the southern part of the Campines, a team like Westerlo has been growing slowly but steadily into the number one team of that whole region. But the character and style of the club has never changed. The local charm completely revolves around a team that has been playing in first and second division of Belgian football for years.

Usually we prefer teams at a lower level, but every once in a while we like to make an exception. KVC Westerlo is one of those. The village of Westerlo got to deal with football since pretty early days already. In 1917 some students created Sportkring De Bist Westerlo. Only five years later - after never having joined the Belgian FA - the team ceased to exist. In 1924, Westerloo Football Club was the successor. The first one to actually join the FA. But in 1930, they were no more either.

During the 30s several teams attempted to succeed Westerloo Football Club. In 1933 Kaaistraat Sport Westerloo started, but three years later they already stopped. Also in 1933, Rosalia Football Club Westerloo was founded, but they too stopped all activities three years later. Again in 1933, Westerloo Sport (although rumour has it they already existed since 1931 as De Bist), Sportkring Westerloo and Scrapnel Sport Westerloo started as well. The last one also disappeared in 1936, but the other two would change football in Westerlo forever.

Westerloo Sport and SK Westerloo decided to join forces in 1942, although it didn't become an official merger as SK Westerloo pulled back as a member of the Belgian FA and stopped all activities. Westerloo Sport did maintain their matricule number and changed their name into Voetbalclub Westerlo. The colours did change quite often throughout the years as well. They started in blue/yellow, went over to use red/yellow, white/black, again red/yellow, yellow/green and again the current blue/yellow.

The unofficial merger did turn out to be a success, as in 1968 VC Westerlo managed to reach the national leagues - fourth division - for the very first time. One year later, they found themselves in the third division, but in 1971 the team relegated back to fourth. Exactly ten years later, VC Westerlo even had to return to the regional leagues. In 1984 however, the team was back in fourth division and again they managed to promote immediately to third tier.

This time, VC Westerlo would never leave the national leagues. On the contrary; in 1992 they promoted to the second division for the first time ever. Five years later, in 1997, the top was reached; KVC Westerlo promoted to the first division in Belgium. And those who had thought they would be a lost case for that level, had to think again. For fifteen years straight VC Westerlo stayed in first division. In between they even won the Cup in 2001 and lost the finals of the Cup in 2011. European football was brought to 't Kuipje and the team had a way in finding unknown and exotic talent and transforming them in scoring machines.

After two years of second division, the Kemphanen (cocks of the Campines?) were back in first division in 2014. Sadly enough, this time it was only for three years. Ever since, Westerlo has been playing in the newly created 1B division, the second level. But it seems they are on their way back to first division as they are safely in first place. And right now, nothing seems to be standing in the way of their return to the top.

All this time, the club has been playing at the exact same location, 't Kuipje. But this is only the stadium it is right now since the 90s. A stadium where teams like RSC Anderlecht, KV Mechelen, Club Brugge and Standard have been sent back home with big figures. Quite some names have passed by Westerlo, but there is only one real Mister Westerlo. Jef Delen has played for the team for twelve years, all of them in first division, including Cup finals and European football. "Wij zijn van de Kempen, wij zijn van Westerlo, wij eten geire pensen, wij komen met de velo" - "We are from the Campines, we are from Westerlo, we like to eat tripes/sausages, we come with our bikes". Absolutely lovely!


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