Seven years after bankruptcy and the dramatic year 2013, Beerschot will soon again be playing in the top league in the 2020-2021 season. So we are back in division 1A. In our new form we have four titles in a row, three period titles in 1B, two lost promotion play-offs and a corona crisis year. The path our club has followed over the past period has been an emotional rollercoaster in which we were compelled to go fully back to basics and rise from the ashes again. Supported by a brilliant rank and file (thanks supporters!) and with footballers who one for one are proud to have played for or still play for Beerschot. A symbiosis of healing, cleaning and joyous experiences.
All together we have achieved the revival and realised our sporting dream. With blood, sweat and tears. Very many ups and few downs. Fully savouring our sporting successes and championship celebrations. And the return of our matricule number: the 13.
In those seven years we have seen unbelievable growth at our club, we now have a strong backbone, we have found ourselves again. The Beerschot family is now closer than ever, purple and white etched in our hearts more distinctly than ever.
The course we have followed is more than exceptional and unique. Promoted 5 times in 7 years. No one had done this before. We can take a look back at the 2013-2020 period with just as much pleasure as pride:
“The new Beerschot” was born during the unforgettable Fan Day on 30 June 2013 with more than eight thousand supporters in the Olympic stadium, a fair number of ex-players who came to show their support, five thousand season tickets sold straight away, new enthusiasm, new hope, and clearly defined ambitions. And a full house for the season opener against Ternesse a good two months later.
KFCO Beerschot Wilrijk then thundered on like a high speed train through the first provincial league, promotion and the third division. Herentals, Esperanza Pelt and Oosterzonen stayed in touch in spells but – and we write this without wanting to appear boastful - we more or less won the championships with our eyes closed. That’s just how it was. It seemed simple. But it wasn’t.
The Kiel train thundered on. And even in the brand-new First Amateur Division. Yes, we did it again. The 2016-2017 season was just about perfect with 80 points out of 90: 26 victories, two draws and only two lost matches. Beerschot again joined the professional footballing world and the club structure and staff were also reformed. Everything was developed more professionally.
In the meantime there was an extremely hard confrontation with tragic deaths: Rik Coppens, the face of Beerschot. Tim Nicot, upcoming talent on our left wing. And Marc Steenackers, who came from being a supporter and hotel and catering expert to become Managing Director. Their sporting and organisational inheritance lives on.
What followed was three years in the extremely challenging 1B division. In the first season we were leading half way after a match at Union but we ultimately missed out on promotion in the 89th minute after a dubious penalty was awarded to Cercle Bruges.
So time to take stock and try again, with new owners. Francis Vrancken and his company DCA together with prince Abdullah Bin Mossaad became and are the new bosses at the Kiel, now assisted by Philippe Verellen, the CEO of Wolf Oil.
Attempt two got off to a difficult start, but a win at Oud-Heverlee Leuven in the second half of the season set up a promotion play-off. KV Mechelen, sentenced for match-fixing, won 2-1 in the return away match. This was all in the closing phase again, giving us a second sporting hangover on the trot.
Then we landed in the year 2019-2020. Call it the corona season. A rocky passage once again: After not a great start Hernan Losada took over at the helm. Our Beerschot legend made sure of the turnaround and had Beerschot playing freely again, all crowned with a period title at Lokeren and final matches against OHL, with Beerschot winning the first encounter 1-0. Then the coronavirus drew a line under the footballing world, and the season was halted 2 days before the return match in Leuven.
Now the Pro League has decided to expand 1A to 18 clubs next season, so both OHL and Beerschot will be given a ticket to the league. We have fulfilled our sporting ambition. We, at Beerschot, are back where we belong: at the highest level. We didn’t return to the top in the way we imagined or as we would have hoped, but it was well earned and we are there. The whole of Beerschot is rightly proud.
“The Bear is back”… And are we ready for it!
text: Danny Geerts