KFC Diest is one of those precious few absolute gems in Belgium. And also one of the oldest teams in Belgium, with a groundhopper's dream as a home ground.
The club started already in 1909 (although there is some debate about this as they joined the Belgian FA in 1919, but probably already existed before 1910. No-one knows for sure) and in 1926 they received a magical matricule number, 41. At first the team was named Hooger Op Diest FC and they started off in the regional leagues in Limburg. These days they are affiliated to the Brabant region.
That last thing happened in 1922 when they won the championship in the third regional league in Limburg and made the move to the second regional league of Brabant. Ten years later HO Diest FC managed to reach the national divisions for the very first time (third division at that time). Four years later they relegated back to the regional leagues.
By the end of WWII HO Diest FC played the national leagues again, but only for a short period. In 1948 a first drastic change happened. They merged with Standaard Athletiek Diest (they always played in the regional leagues and in fact they were a continuation of the old Standard Club Diest which existed for only 10 years and only played competition for two season) and the team name became FC Diest. That's when all of the magic happened.
In 1954 they went back to the national leagues (fourth division) and in 1956 they promoted to third division. One year later already second division welcomed them. And even there they had a lot of success. In 1961 they won the league and went to first division for the very first time ever. 1964 was their absolute best year ever. KFC Diest ended 7th in the league and lost the cup final to AA Gent only after extra time (and a late equalizer by Gent in the 91st minute).
Between 1965 en and 1970 they briefly played in second division again before they went to first division for a last run. In 1975 it was over. In 1987 they even relegated to third division. But thanks to a merger with FC Assent in 1988 they went back to second division (more on the wonderful FC Assent story down below). After the merger the team name changed into K Tesamen Hogerop Diest.
In 1996 even second division came to an end. In 2002 fourth division waited for them and in 2005 they had to go back to the regional leagues again. 2005 proved to be a hard year as well. The team had a lot of financial problems and the city of Diest took over ownership of the stadium. In 2006 KTH Diest went bankrupt and the team started over in the third regional league as KFC Diest. Ever since KFC Diest seems to have a bright future again. In 2009 they promoted to the second regional league, in 2010 they went to the top regional league and finally in 2016 they managed to enter the national leagues again where they have been playing up until now.
KFC Diest as quite a long list of famous ex-players, such as Jos Heyligen, Timmy Simons, Bruno and Patrick Versavel, Ariël Jacobs and Kenneth Van Goethem.
The stadium was built in 1946 and offers everything a groundhopper dreams of. Beautiful stands, enormous terracing and rundown terracing around the stadium.
And now on to one of the most remarkable football stories in Belgium; FC Assent. Only a true oldschool fan will remember the days of FC Assent. Assent is a very small village and part of Bekkevoort, neighbouring Diest. FC Assent was created in 1974 by the business man Marcel Theunis.
In no time they went up in the leagues. In 1980 (only six years after first playing football), FC Assent was already in the national leagues. In 1981 they promoted to third division and in 1986 they went to second division. Only 12 years after being created! Wonderful!
Even in second division the results were very positive. In their first year they already managed to go to the play offs. FC Assent had been able to attract players like Bert van Marwijk and Wilfried Van Moer as coach.
Due to Assent being very small and the rise up was too fast, there were practically no fans. In modern day football that unfortunately also means there is no incoming money. Therefore it was decided in 1988 to merge with the neighbouring KFC Diest to become KTH Diest. These days there is nothing left of FC Assent anymore. Not even the stadium, which was located in the backyard of the industrial complex of Marcel Theunis! The link with KFC Diest has always been there as FC Assent started off with players of KFC Diest that didn't manage to break through.
FC Assent had the same chairman and a couple of other people as the old Assent VV. Yes - you are reading it correctly. FC Assent wasn't the first attempt of football in Assent. In 1953 Assent VV was created, after support from former FC Diest goalie Jean Exelmans. This team never managed to get away from the lowest regional league and just like FC Assent, Assent VV only existed for a very short period. In 1958 the team ceased to exist.