Any article that attempts to delve headlong into the back story of Belgian football will be unavoidably complex, so do bear with us here as we round up the country’s Lost Champions in this latest edition in our ongoing series. There’s five of them: one from Beveren, one from Antwerp and three from Brussels. It’s the capital clubs that need most of the explaining with two former title winners disappearing following a merger, the new club they formed going on to win a title of its own before ultimately disappearing too.
Racing Club de Bruxelles was founded in 1890 and the football section from which much of its fame derived followed four years later. Racing were six-time champions between 1897 and 1908, but the club lost its way between the wars and drifted between the top three divisions. Decline continued in the second half of the century and another relegation from the top tier in 1955 marked the last occasion the club would play at that level. Eight years later Racing merged with fellow Brussels club White Star to become Royal Racing White.
Racing’s big rivals in the early days of the Belgian game were Daring Club de Bruxelles, champions twice before WW1 and three times in the years immediately after. In a nod towards their long-term future, Daring absorbed another local club in 1920 to become Daring Club Molenbeek before reverting to their former name in 1950. Daring trudged on until 1973 when it joined forces with the aforementioned Royal Racing White to become RWD Molenbeek.
Hopes were high that RWD could establish itself as a Brussels superpower capable of matching mighty Anderlecht. Early signs were promising. Winning the Belgian title in 1975 and reaching the UEFA Cup semi-finals in 1977 were highlights, but much of RWD’s modern history was beset by financial problems which eventually led to them going out of business in 2002.
One of Belgium’s most famous old names, Beerschot VAC, was a breakaway club formed by former players of Royal Antwerp. The club would go on to thoroughly dominate the Belgian game between the wars, winning five titles between 1922 and 1928 and adding another couple just before the outbreak of WW2.
After the war Beerschot never came close to replicating its pre-war fortunes and the club laboured on until 1999 when financial issues drove it out of existence. Another Antwerp club in Germinal Ekeren moved into their stadium and changed their name to Germinal Beerschot, then Beerschot AC, before in 2013 going the same way as its illustrious predecessor.
Our final lost Belgian champion is one of the most recent in our entire series. KSK Beveren won the national title in both 1979 and 1984, took some notable European scalps and were renowned for producing great goalkeepers like Filip de Wilde and Jean-Marie Pfaff. Beveren’s post 80s decline led to dissolution in 2010 as part of a merger with KV Red Star Waasland. The new club plays today as KV Red Star Waasland-Beveren in the Belgian top flight.