By Walter Broeckx
Regular readers will know by now that from time to time when there is no Arsenal football around the regular writers will go to the end of the world to see some local football and report about it.
This time my travel didn’t take me to the end of the world. No in fact it took me to the closest top division ground to my house in Belgium. Only some 15 minutes away from my house depending on the 4 red lights I have to pass on the way to the stadium.
So off I went to see the Lierse Ladies play the ladies from PSV Eindhoven. For those who know a bit of geography will raise their eyebrows and say that Eindhoven is in Holland and that Walter lives in Belgium and that is also the country where Lierse is situated. So before we talk about football let me tell you that around 2 seasons ago the Belgium FA and the Dutch FA decided to improve the standards in women football. And the way forward was a joint top division with the best teams from Belgium and Holland.
A condition was that the teams involved should be linked to a first division club (or a professional football club at least) and that if possible the games should be played at the main pitch of the clubs. Now I really cannot judge if this has improved the football in both countries. But I must say it adds a bit of extra to it. After all you cannot go and watch a match of PSV Eindhoven any day of the week.
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So the match was played at the Lierse stadium. A nice English shaped stadium with a capacity of some 14500 places in total. The stadium used to be called ‘Het Lisp’ which is the name of the site of the city it is located. And to link with English football. For those old enough to remember the sign at the Leeds ground ‘Remember Lierse’ this was the club that inflicted that famous victory over Leeds.
Lierse had lost the first leg 0-2 at their home ground in the Uefa cup 1971-1972. And nobody gave them a chance to overcome Leeds who at that time were one of the strongest teams in England. But Lierse did the unexpected and trashed Leeds at their home ground with 0-4. A thing that still has all the locals exited up to this day even though only a handful will have seen it happening with their own eyes.
Anyway back to the women in the BeNeliga as it is called.
Heads or tails?
PSV Eindhoven was the best team in the opening stages. A few decent dribbles, a few shots, some pressure but no goals. But the Lierse goalkeeper was doing a good job and looked very strong. After 15 minutes a lovely ball to a PSV striker behind the defence resulted in a collision between the keeper and the striker. The keeper fell with her chin on the knee of the striker and this resulted in a very bad injury. A chin fracture and a bleeding wound that had to be stitched on the field resulted in the keeper having to leave the field.
An unlucky collision with bad consequences.
It took away the drive of the match a bit. Referee, assistants and 4th ref doing a great job and they had the match completely in control.
A concentrated onlooking assistant keeps his eyes firmly on the pitch
I then had discovered that the captain of Lierse was a young girl that had done an internship at the place I work a year ago for her study. So I had an extra look at her. Pure football wise of course. Lien Mermans was her name and she also plays for the national team of Belgium.
She was the one that turned the engine on for Lierse. PSV was the better team but couldn’t score and Lierse gradually grew in to the match. But apart from a few shots from distance they couldn’t really make things happen in the PSV penalty area. Half time approached with the score at 0-0.
I went out of the stand to see if I could find something to eat in the stadium. A bag of crisps was all I could get. That wouldn’t satisfy Nicky at all. So off I went outside the stadium. And some 50 meters outside the stadium was a ‘frituur’. You always find a frituur nearby in Belgium. Apart from my own village where we hadn’t a frituur for a year or so. We almost lost the right to be called a village at that moment. You don’t need a church in your village to be called a village. No you need a frituur.
What is a frituur you might ask? Call it the original McDonald or Burger King fast food restaurants. You can buy chips and all kinds of meat made out of all kinds of stuff that you and I don’t want to know. I didn’t want to each chips or fries for other English speaking persons. We call it ‘fritten’ in Belgium by the way. So I needed to buy something and I took the Bicky Burger from the menu.
A burger backed in the same oil as the fries. Put it between a soft sandwich (the MCD/BK type) and add to it some fried onions, and on top of that 3 different ‘bicky’ sauces. A calorie bomb I can tell you that. Together with a cola I paid less than 5 euro for it. Around £4 in total. Including a paper napkin to wipe up the grease on the chin. And my beard.
I made it just back in time to see the second half getting started. Lierse had a real big chance but the forward blew the ball over the bar. And on the other side PSV got rewarded at last for their technical play. A good attack, foul from a defender and the excellent referee put the ball on the spot. Penalty for PSV that was coolly converted. 0-1 and I thought that there would be no way back for Lierse.
But the Lierse captain took her team by the arm and by hard working she showed the way to a rise in the level. And after some good pressure from the home team they could equalise in the 66th minute of the match.
Lierse has just scored the equaliser
This was the signal for Lierse to ad even more pressure. And a bit later a ball hit the post and then a mighty scramble followed with the ball going all the way in front of the goal line but no Lierse player could get the ball over the line.
Mean while the Lierse spionkop was very lively and the use of smoke bombs ruined the atmosphere a bit and the whole stadium trembled when they set off a fire cracker. I loved the signing guys but this was over the top. Luckily they left if with that one cracker.
cough cough cough. Just stick to the singing next time. cough cough
Meanwhile PSV was having some bad luck. A player having to leave the field. 3 subs in total being made. One PSV girl felt sick suddenly and had to run in the dressing room to…get sick. And on top of that another PSV player twisted her foot and couldn’t carry on. So PSV only with 9 players in total on the field suddenly.
And this was the signal for Lierse to try to win the match they could and should have had in the bag by then. In the 89th minute a corner was taken shortly and the shot was diverted in to goal. Much to the delight of the few hundred home supporters. My estimation was that some 500 people attended the match.
Lierse has just scored the winner and starts to celebrate. PSV players hang their head in disappointment
PSV couldn’t reply any more and had to accept defeat. The Lierse ladies were over the moon by this unexpected win over a team that is firmly above them in the league table. But this is football and even when women take the field anything can happen.
A very enjoyable evening in a nice surrounding. Two teams who gave it all and 4 referees who kept it all within the rules. Football can be a party. I had the impression when I left that many of the Lierse ladies were in for a party that night.
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