It is "Big Derby" day at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday lunch time. For 121 years the Beerschot v Antwerp match is the fiercest battle in Belgian football history: the mother of all derbies as it is called. Where the purple part of the city of Antwerpen clashes with the red part. For the fans without doubt the most important match of the season. Okay, there's only three points in it. But much more important the prestigious title of "Ploeg van 't Stad" ("Team of the City") is at stake. Antwerp came up on top twice last season. High time for Beerschot to claim it on Sunday. Kick off is at 1.30 pm.

There have been countless hard fought derbies throughout the years. The one that sticks in mind most vividly is the confrontation in September 1988 in which Beerschot overpowered and outplayed their rivals for 90 minutes. Five-one the final score was, with goals from Ton Blanker, two from Patrick Goots, Jos Daerden and Willy Wellens for Beerschot and a late consolation goal - if you could call it that - from Geert Emmerechts for Antwerp in the dying minutes. Euphoria at Beerschot; gloom and doom at Antwerp. Sweet memories they are.

But who won the very first "Big Derby" you may wonder. We have to go back to May 1900 for that. Afred Grisar had founded Beerschot as an omni sportsclub in 1899, expanded the accommodation and created a nice football pitch in his aim to start up a football team. The search for football players was on and he tried to lure away 15 players from Antwerp FC, where he had been a goalkeeper a couple of years earlier. 

The Beerschot Athletic Club could boast with the finest accommodation in Belgium at the time, which charmed the Antwerp players. On top of that Alfred Grisar took advantage of the rift between the Antwerp players and their Board of Directors and promised his former team mates a voice in the team selection and his ambitions plans. During a meeting in the prestigious Grand Café at the De Keyserlei avenue in the city centre he convinced fifteen Antwerp players to exchange their yellow and black shirts (Antwerp changed to red and white a couple of years later) for the purple and white ones of Beerschot. Their names: Jules de Sorgeloose, the brothers Albert, Eugène en Fernand Friling, Alfred and Louis Grisar, Cecil and Horace Jacobs, Herbert and Walter Potts, Jan Robyns, Charles Servais, Gerald Turnbull, Gaston Van Malderen and Florent Voets. The consequence of that exodus was that Antwerp FC had to pull back from the 1900-1901 season. They were livid. The foundation of a long rivalry was laid!

On Sunday 6th May 1900 the very first Big Derby was played to celebrate the opening of the brand new Beerschot Stadium. It was a friendly in which a young, skimmed and inexperienced Antwerp side was swept away by Beerschot. The scoreline says it all: 6-1. Beerschot's team consisted of no less than nine former Antwerp players. Only Dick Gandon and Philip Wolff hadn't played for the rivals before. 

The names of the players who won the very first title of "Ploeg van 't Stad': Alfred Grisar, Albert Friling, Fernand Friling, Florent Voets, Cecil Jacobs, Walter Potts, Jan Robyns, Eugène Friling, Philip Wolff, Dick Gandon and Horace Jacobs. Beerschot heroes they are!

Five months later, on Sunday 21st October 1900, Beerschot started the 1900-1901 season with an impressive 10-2 victory over Cercle Brugge.

By Danny Geerts

Jupiler Pro League

1 Club Brugge 76 pts
2 R. Antwerp F.C. 60 pts
3 RSC Anderlecht 58 pts
4 KRC Genk 56 pts
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