New life breathed into the Great Old as Royal Antwerp return to top flight

Royal Antwerp FC

By Samindra Kunti

March 13 – Belgium’s oldest football club Royal Antwerp will return to the Belgian top flight after an absence of 13 years following a 5-2 aggregate win over Roeselare in the promotion play-offs. 

Last season Antwerp missed out narrowly on promotion and the ‘Great Old’ were desperate to make this new opportunity count. Antwerp had won the first leg 3-1 and travelled to Roeselare with confidence of holding on to the result.

The match began at a furious pace. At the half-hour mark Tuur Dierckx opened the scoring for the visitors, putting Antwerp in the driving seat with a vital away goal.

Baptiste Schmisser’s equalising header gave Roeselare some hope, but substitute Stallone Limbombe put the tie beyond doubt with a second Antwerp goal after the break.

With the club rejoining Belgium’s elite, Antwerp’s town hall has mooted the idea of a new state-of-the-art stadium for the city. The Bosuil, Antwerp’s home ground, is one of the most picturesque, but outdated, stadiums in Belgium. The club, however, remains apprehensive at this stage.

Antwerp is Belgium’s oldest club and was founded by English students residing in the port city in 1880. The Great Old have been Belgian champions four times, winning a last title in 1957. Since then the club has been in decline and faced a series of financial challenges in the 90’s in particular.

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