Union back in the top-flight after 48 years

For the first time since 1973 there will be First Division football played in the Joseph Mariën Stadium in the Brussels municipality of Vorst. On Saturday evening Union Saint-Gilloise extended their lead at the top of the Second Division to 20 points after a hard-fought victory in the Brussels derby against RWDM. 

With 5 games left the club that has the third highest total of Belgium League Championships under its belt (11) is already sure of the Second Division title and promotion to the topflight. Once the 2021-2022 season gets under way there will be two Brussels clubs in the First Division for the first time in 13 years.

FC Brussels' relegation in 2008 marked the beginning of a club that eventually called it a day in 2014. Ironically perhaps it was victory against the club that now plays in the same stadium as FC Brussels RWD Molenbeek that saw Union gain promotion. 

As those that know popular Belgian culture are aware matches between Union and Molenbeek are always highly charged affairs.  Bosseman and Coppenolle, a play written in 1938, tells the story of the rivalry between fans of Daring (one of the clubs that merged to form RWDM) and Union. Sadly, on Saturday evening the corona restrictions meant that, as was the case in the previous two derby games, no fans were allowed to watch inside the stadium. Instead, many thousands of fans of Union and RWDM and others watch the game at home on television or listened to commentary on the radio. 

They were treated to an exciting derby with RWDM creating a couple of good chances early on. However, a blunder by the RWDM keeper Anthony Sadin (ex-Union) saw Union Saint-Gilloise go 1-0 up through Undav on 16 minutes. 

No sooner had play resumed than Lavie equalised for RWDM. Union took the lead again on 34 minutes through François. 2-1 was to be the final score. Despite RWDM looking strong in the first half and the visitors having a few (half) chances towards the end of the game, Union’s victory was deserved. 

The Club that is backed by the Brighton Chairman Tony Bloom, who was at Saturday’s game, should prove to be a welcome addition to the Belgian topflight. After having played four derbies against RWDM this season, Union can look forward to at least two derby games against RSC Anderlecht in the league next season. 

Speaking after Saturday’s game the Chairman of Union Saint-Gilloise Alex Muzio said “This is an historic day for all the supporters”. 

 

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