Royal Excel Mouscron, conveniently abbreviated to REM, were officially created in 2016 but its immediate antecedents date back nearly a century.
Most notable were Royal Excelsior Mouscron, a 1964 merger of lower-league sides Stade Mouscronnois and Association Athlétique Mouscronnaise, both established just after World War I. Mouscron’s main stadium, Stade Le Canonnier, was unveiled in 1930. The nickname of Les Hurlus has also been a constant feature of football here, a reference to Mouscron’s religious past and border location alongside France.
Royal Excelsior had their heyday in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Bringing over the Mpenza sibling strike duo, Émile and Mbo, from Kortrijk, shortly after gaining promotion, the Mouscron side set Division 1 alight under later national manager Georges Leekens. A third place in their debut top-flight season allowed Mouscron to make their European debut in the UEFA Cup – and saw the Mpenza brothers leave for Standard Liège.
Mouscron lasted two rounds in Europe, a modest achievement matched in 2002-03 when the role of losing finalists in the Belgian Cup brought Fylkir Reykjavík and Slavia Prague to a renovated Stade Le Canonnier. Two goals from the prodigal Mbo Mpenza weren’t enough to take to the Czech capital following a 2-2 draw.
Perennially mid-table in the top tier, Mouscron struggled to make ends meet with low gates and no silverware and were declared bankrupt in 2009. Soon afterwards, a new club emerged, an amalgamation of Royal Excelsior Mouscron and nearby RRC Peruwelz. Royal Mouscron Peruwelz made their way up the divisions, two consecutive promotions taking them to within a whisker of a third, top-flight status denied in 2013 by dint of a poorer head-to-head record against Cercle Bruges in the play-offs.
The following season, Les Hurlus topped the play-off table to access Division 1.
Each of the next five seasons saw Royal Mouscron Peruwelz, renamed Royal Excel Mouscron in 2016, brush with relegation but avoid the drop in the play-off round.
Former Hamburg SV midfielder Bernd Hollerbach steered Mouscron to a brighter start in 2019-20, with former Manchester City midfielder Aleix García pointing the way to a potential top-six finish.
Stade Le Canonnier has stood at this location south-east of town since 1930. For six decades, the ground witnessed a modest standard of football, the rise to Division 2 coinciding with the building of a new Tribune Est in 1991.
Five years later, with Division 1 status secured, the stadium gained a secure Tribune Nord for away supporters, extended Tribune Est and modernised changing facilities. In 1997, Mouscron Red Fans gathered in a newly built Tribune Sud for the visit of Metz in the UEFA Cup, a memorable night at the Stade despite the 2-0 defeat.
Two years later, the original grandstand erected in 1947 was torn down and a new one erected, with business seats and a gym for the players.
The current ground holds nearly 11,000, 3,550 of those standing places, 1,350 for away fans in the Tribune 2 Nord. There are also nearly 300 seats for visiting supporters at the Nord end of Tribune Est. Home fans still occupy Le Kop in the Tribune 4 Sud.
Press are allocated an office in the upper tier of the Tribune 3 Est – Tribune 1 Ouest opposite comprises three tiers. All is covered although with parking places at a minimum, there has been talk of building a new ground at the club’s training centre of Futurosport on main road N58 about 3.5km east of Mouscron station.
Stade Le Canonnier is about a 10-15min walk from Mouscron station – turn left on the main road, avenue de Barry, until you reach rue du Stade, then turn right. The nearest public transport is the stop for bus Nos.1 and 2 at rue du Congo, the other side of the roundabout from rue des Canonniers, an elongation of rue Du Stade. These run, infrequently, from central place de Picardie.
Advance tickets are sold from the billetterie (Tue-Thur 2pm-5.30pm, Fri 2.30pm-6pm, Sat 10am-noon at the stadium) and online. On match days, it opens before and after the game, and at half-time – €3 is added for buying on the day.
Tickets start at €12 to stand on Le Kop (Tribune 4), and €16-€20 to sit in Tribunes 1 and 3 along the sidelines. A match de gala, for the visits Anderlecht, Antwerp, Bruges, Genk and Standard Liège, is priced at €15 to stand, €20-€30 to sit. Discounted rates, for 13-18s and over-65s, are €8/€12-€16, and €13/€17-€22 for a match de gala. For under-12s, it’s €5 across the board.
At the stadium, the club shop (Tue-Thur 2pm-5.30pm, Fri 2.30pm-6pm, Sat 10am-noon at the stadium, match days) sells replica shirts (first kit, all red with a white band, away, black with yellow trim), scarves and coffee cups.
The classic pre-match bar is the Coin du Stade (rue de Roubaix 210), about 300 metres along rue du Stade from the ground itself. Under manager Bernard Bourgeois for more than 30 years, this is a classic Belgian bar, with Belgian pinball, Belgian billiards and Belgian beer, Maes. Throw in a league ladder and the Tintin figures behind the bar counter, and the signed photograph of Jean-Marie Pfaff, and if any passing Martian points his zap gun at you and demands you take him to Belgium, this is where you should come. Diagonally opposite, the Le Cannonier is bigger and blander but with a huge screen for match broadcasts, and table football.
At the ground are two standard bars alongside each other under Tribune 1, Le Stade and Le 3ieme Mi-Temps, with Le Sportif upstairs for press and guests on match days.