White Star Lauwe 2 Sassport Boezinge 1
Belgian Provincial League – West Vlaanderen
That was precisely what Jamesie said when Ben suggested a few weeks ago on our messenger group that we spent Sunday afternoon at White Star Lauwe.
I’m not sure I would have been quite so enthusiastic about a sixth tier Belgian game had the learned one not jumped into the debate at the very early stages and suggested I looked up some images of the ground.
You see, in hopping circles, for a ground to be described as ‘Pornography’, it was to be something pretty special, and it has to meet certain criteria. To begin with, it cannot be modern in any way, shape or form. It has to have furniture, or structures if you prefer to call it by the more common name, and the structures have to be unspoiled by the passage of time. I don’t mean unspoiled as in weather worn, rotting or falling apart, I mean unspoiled as in they cannot have been upgraded, refurbished or indeed modernised in any way.
Put simply, the bigger the health and safety risk, the more decrepit the facilities and the more antiquated a ground is, the greater the chance it has of becoming top shelf material.
White Star Lauwe did look upon first inspection to meet that criteria, but the proof of the pudding of course, was always going to be in the eating.
Lauwe isn’t far from Kortrijk, and after a pretty lengthy lie in courtesy of a modest consumption of Austin Maxi Brake Fluid the night before, we made it just over an hour before kick-off. Almost smack bang in the centre of the small town, White Star is one of two clubs in the town who play in the same league. Racing Club being the other, the derby is apparently well attended and a bit tasty!
What a friendly club they are as well. Immediately upon walking through the turnstiles the chap on the gate wanted to know where we were from, and consequently the conversation immediately moved onto Marc Degryse. Degryse was a Belgian international who lived locally and played for Sheffield Wednesday in the mid-Nineties. I threw Gilles De Bilde into the mix
We hadn’t been in the bar long before we were approached by another Gentleman, called Rudy Ducoulombier, who it tuned out was a Director of the club, and also a former professional footballer in Belgium, having played for Kortrijk, Waregem and Sint-Truiden amongst others during his career.
He bought us a drink and was incredibly passionate about the game and his hometown club. Once again, the fact we had travelled to see his club was something that created a significant amount of curiosity.
So, the ground. Were we talking Fiesta, Razzle, or maybe even Red Hot Belgian?
|Red Hot Dutch|
It’s very impressive, you walk through the turnstiles and to the left is the clubhouse, complete with empty oil drums outside that are used as tables. Moving on from the clubhouse is a small area of terracing behind the goal, but then when you move round to the side you encounter a vast terrace that runs the length of the pitch, and if I was to draw comparisons it would be somewhere like Carshalton Athletic that could be described as a mirror image?
The far goal is inaccessible albeit another clubhouse sits there that serves the nearby all weather surfaces. However opposite the terrace is an old fashioned main stand, underneath which are the dressing rooms, but painted in yellow and black, it is a wonderful structure that provides a real focal point to the ground. Next to the stand is another small area of covered terracing the leads back down to the turnstiles.
Hard core definitely, bordering on illegal, would be my best classification!
So what about the game? Well having seen the tepid encounter in Holland the previous day, which was technically at the same level, I was somewhat apprehensive, but to be fair, it turned into the best game of the trip so far.
Victor Christiaens gave the hosts a 17th minute lead after what had been pretty even early exchanges, and then right on the stroke of half time White Star scored a second courtesy of the same player.
Sassport were not finished though and they pulled a goal back just after the hour mark through Friso Mando, and despite some late pressure they couldn’t force an equaliser.
The game was hard fought, fast paced and competitive, and with both sets of fans pretty vocal amongst the modest crowd, it was a very enjoyable afternoon at a superb venue.
Top shelf material without a doubt....possibly even under the counter.