Belgium is divided culturally and politically into two regions. We have the French speaking area of Wallonia, to the south and east and the Dutch, or Flemish speaking area of Flanders, to the north and west. ' The only things holding this country together are beer, chocolate and a king',
For my sixth match in as many days in Holland and Belgium I am going to a 2nd Division match in the small town of Hamme. www.footiemap.com is a great resource to find clubs. I take the train from Ghent to Saint Nicolaas and then 20 minutes on a local bus. It's KFC Vigar Wuitens Hamme v FC Molenbeek Brussels and there are about 1,200 fans at the small Gementelijk Stadium on a cold afternoon. The home team are part timers, while the visitors, all in red, are full time and try to use the name FC Brussels, to make them seem more important, although the only really decent team left in the capital is RSC Anderlecht.
Hamme are in Internazionale Milan colours of blue and black stripes and black shorts, and there the similarity ends. They are to Inter what a fake Gucci bag is to the real thing. Most are local boys with names such as Tim Vieminckx, Koen Van der Heyden, Ewen Verheyden, Tom Van Hyfte, Jonas Vandermariere, Karol De Smet, Vincent Verhoeven. Their opponents have at least 7 Africans starting with such names as Sanoge Mouussa, Couibaly Aboubal, Tomoa Adey, Matumona Zola and are very skillful. I fill up the press box, taking the sixth seat and the rest are amused and think this must be the worst match I could see. www.vwhamme.be
At half time I am led into the VIP dining room for the season ticket holders and there just inside the door is a round table with six seats and neat sign saying 'PERS', which is Dutch for Press. Set out is a small feast that would do credit to a Champions League match - a plate of delicious Belgian pastries, a cup of coffee and a glass of brandy. I am SO impressed that I take a photo. I ask the lady at the bar and she tells me the brandy is Cognac Bisquit Classique de France. I don't profess to be an expert but it's a nice touch. Since one of the six Pers -journalists- stays in the press box, there is an extra delicious custard pastry 'pour moi'.
It's not a great match with some sloppy passing, but when FC Brussels score first through Kiele Lezi in the 44th minute, it doesn't look as if they will lose the lead. Fans leave early but in the last minute a silly mistake and V W Hamme equalise from Tim Vlemincky, and share the points but are 17th in the 19 team table, seven below their opponents, with lots of work to do to keep in the division.