Saturday, August 13, 2016

Belgium was enjoying fine turn of a decade: vice-champions of Europe and at club level – ranked 12th for 1981, but 5th for the more important 5-year table, kept by UEFA. Behind the numbers was inevitable reality – no matter how great a generation was, Belgium was small country, and, including foreigners, there were no more than 100 classy players or 4-5 stronger clubs. Nothing new and a look beyond those few strong teams the picture was just as it ever was: not so great. That was why only the champion of Second Division was directly promoted and the second promotional spot was decided by play-off tournament. The lower league was sharply divided – two absolute outsiders at the rear end: ROC Montignies s/S. - 15th, and SK St.-Niklase SK - 16th and last, both not only with 17 points, but with exactly the same goal-difference - 27:54. Since both clubs were going down to third level, final positions mattered only for the record – number of wins decided that: ROC had 5 – 2 more than St.-Niklase – and got the next to last place. Above them were three clubs with 25 points - KFC Diest, 14th, RC Jet de Bruxelles, 13th, and KRC Mechelen - 12th. In the safe middle part of the table all was placid enough up to the top 5 teams – those from 2nd to 5th place qualified for the final promotional play-off. Charleroi was perhaps a bit unlucky, finishing 6th with 32 points. The lucky ones were KV Mechelen - 5th with 33 points, SC Hasselt - 4th with 34, KSK Eendracht Aalst - 3rd with 37, and RFC Sérésien - 2nd with 40 points. Technically, it looked somewhat unfair to RFC Seresien, for they had strong season and finished clearly above a whole bunch so-so teams, but rules are rules, and they had yet to earn promotion. Which was not to be, for RFC Seresien lost steam and finished last in the round robin play-off tournament. Just the opposite happened to KV Mechelen, the weaker team in the championship – now they put a fine effort and finished comfortably on top with 3 wins, 1 tie, and 1 loss.
Standing from left: Freddy Verbelen, Stanley Brookes, Mark Talbut, Gustavo Lisazo, Dirk Crabbé, Henk van Rooy, William Janssens, Francis Spinnael
First row: Ronny Lambrechts, Robert Immens, Marc Decoster, Dirk Mertens, Bruno Charels, Karel Kesselaers.
Not a squad to brag about, but happily promoted.

That left the winners: KSK Tongeren practically had no rival this season – 18 wins, 9 ties, and 3 losses, 63-26 goal-difference, and 45 point – the nearest pursuer was 5 points behind. Going up again, but the real test would be next season. Same for KV Mechelen.