Now entering a second decade of competing in Belgium’s top flight, KV Kortrijk also came close to cup glory in 2012 but European football has eluded de Kerels from the Guldensporenstadion, the Boys from the Stadium of the Golden Spurs.
Created from a merger of Koninklijke Kortrijk Sport and Stade Kortrijk in 1971, forced by bankruptcy to drop down to the amateur divisions in 2001 and bought by Cardiff owner Vincent Tan for €5 million in 2015, KVK represent the proud Flemish town of Kortrijk, right by the French border.
With a long history dating back to SC Courtraisien in 1901, after the merger 70 years later KV Kortrijk needed only five seasons to rise up from the lower rungs and reach the top flight in 1976. Their coach was former Belgian international full-back Georges Heylens, with later twice national team coach Georges Leekens steering KVK to a top ten position in the Eerste Klasse in 1989.
A near consecutive run of 15 seasons in the top flight came to an end in 1992. Despite the powerful presence of young brothers Mbo and Émile Mpenza, later to win 100-plus caps for Belgium between them, KVK only regained the top tier in 1998 – and then only for one season.
Worse was to follow. Back-to-back relegations saw the club hit the wall and almost sink to the fourth flight, a last-gasp win over RCS Visétois keeping KVK in the third-tier Derde Klasse A.
Goals from young Cameroun striker Ernest Nfor, on loan from Gent, then helped Kortrijk win the Belgian Second Division in 2008 and return to the top flight after ten years.
And there they’ve stayed, without reaching the heights of local rivals Zulte-Waregem but attracting the likes of later Aston Villa star Christian Benteke, top scorer under returning coach Georges Leekens when KVK achieved a best-ever fifth place in 2010.
Two years later, Under-20 France forward Steeven Joseph-Monrose and Belgo-Moroccan attacking midfielder Mo Messoudi, plus Ernest Nfor, back from Zulte-Waregem, were the key players behind Kortrijk’s run to the Belgian Cup final. An early red card for opponents Lokeren did little to sway the game KVK’s way, and a late goal saw the trophy go to the team of ten men.
For Kortrijk coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck, who had dragged the club up from the Second Division, it was a bitter blow, compounded by a Europa League play-off defeat to Oostende, 7-6 on penalties, two years later. Montenegrin international Žarko Tomašević missed Kortrijk’s eighth and final spot-kick. Vanhaezebrouck duly left for KAA Gent, winning the Belgian title a year later.
That same month, May 2015, KVK became part of Vincent Tan’s football empire, although a rapid turnover of managers has been the only apparent outcome so far. Current incumbent Yves Vanderhaeghe, a former Anderlecht midfielder with 48 Belgian caps, at least a long history with KVK, having served as assistant coach for much of the club’s recent decade-long stint in the top flight.
KV Kortrijk inherited the Guldensporenstadion from Kortrijk Sports, who had it built in 1947 on the same site as the ground they had played on since 1921.
Renovations were then carried out when KVK were enjoying a purple patch, first in 1988, then again in 2008. Current capacity is just over 9,000, with nearly 6,000 seats.
Home fans stand behind the goal in Tribune 2, with seating for the KVK faithful opposite, in sectors P-R of Tribune 4. Visiting supporters are allocated sections M-O, the nearest half of sideline Tribune 3 to Tribune 4. Press and VIP occupy the bulk of Tribune 1.
Just to the right as you exit the train station, bus No.4 leaves perron 11 every 30min (currently 13 and 53 past the hour) to the Stadion stop by the Guldensporenstadion, journey time under 10min.
Alternatively, bus No.42 also serves Stadion, leaves perron 23 from the concourse alongside, but only every 1-2hrs.
To walk it, head straight down Koning Albertlaan past the Parkhotel, in the same direction until you reach the river. Cross over Nordbrug by the Balthazar restaurant, head up Noordstraat, before turning left onto Meensesteenweg. Allow 30min from the station.
A taxi from the station shouldn’t cost more than €12.
Advance tickets are sold at the club office (Mon-Fri 2pm-5.30pm) and, for top-category games, Sat 10am-1pm. These are specified as Anderlecht, Club Bruges, Standard Liège, Genk, KAA Gent and Zulte-Waregem.
Tickets are also sold online at a slighter cheaper rate. Internet sales are limited, and a ‘sold out’ notice doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t be available on match day itself, from the windows on Moorseelsestraat, 90 minutes before kick-off (or, for away fans, on Meensesteenweg). Contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org to check.
Behind the goals (Tribunes 2 and 4), prices are set at €17-€20 (online €14-€17), and at €25 (€20) for sideline Tribune 3, and at €35 (€30) for Tribune 1. Under-12s are charged €10 (€8) across the board, even for top-category matches. Everyone else pays an extra €5.
The KVK Fanshop (Mon-Fri 2pm-5.30pm, Sat 10am-1pm, match days) stocks a modest range of merchandise, first-team kits of white with red trim and second choice outfits in turquoise. T-shirts bear the name ‘Kerel’, making you one of the Kortrijk boys.
Coming across the river from town, and up Noordstraat, you find popular pre-match bar/restaurant Menenpoort on the corner with Meensestraat, the main road that leads to the stadium. A little further up on Kortrijksestraat, Estaminet is a classic corner bar, as is De Vlaskapel on Moorseelsestraat, a revered KVK haunt.
Back on Meensesteenweg, on the corner with Doornstraat, Concorde should cover all modest pre-match needs.
At the stadium, near the club shop, match-day bar De Kouter (aka ‘Kerels know why’) is equipped with that essential accoutrement as kick-off approaches, a ping-pong table.