When we say we visited a stadium in Brakel, East Flanders, most people would expect we went to Olsa Brakel. That team is the number one team in Brakel as we speak and has been so for quite a while now since they are very active in the national leagues and an occasional cup surprise. But, although we passed by the Olsa stadium, our attention was mainly attracted by the old FC Brakel stadium...
"The what?", we hear you say. Yes - there was another team in Brakel up until recently. While Olsa was founded in the early 50s, FC Brakel was already a teenager by then. Originally named FC Nederbrakel, the team was founded in 1942.
There is very little known about the team and its history. What we do know is that in 1971 the team name was changed into FC Brakel after the village merger between Nederbrakel and Opbrakel to Brakel. According to our knowledge the team always played in the regional leagues and that makes it even more remarkable they had a stadium like this.
Rumour has it the atmosphere was fantastic at FC Brakel and games were more intense compared to Olsa Brakel. It is a fact though that Stefan Leleu had his youth training at FC Brakel before he made the move to the national (and even first division) divisions. In 2010 FC Brakel suffered financial problems and the Belgian FA dismissed them from the leagues and any further membership. Ever since Olsa is the only team in Brakel.
Not long after FCB ceased activities a couple of people opened up a dog training school (in 2011) in the abandoned stadium. Up until this day it seems like they kept everything as it was. The pitch is the training field for the dogs, the grandstand with absolutely lovely wooden seats is a storage area and the terracing has been overtaken by nature.
There are a lot of lost grounds in Belgium, but this must be one of the least know, the least visited and the most remarkable one to be found as of yet (but we still have our share to do). Absolutely a must do for all groundhoppers!