Before going to Lier I took a quick trip out to Beerschot’s ground in the south of the city. Once Royal Antwerp’s small-time 2nd team, they’ve now pretty much taken over top spot in the city, at least in terms of league position and numbers through the turnstiles goes.
Part of that must be down to the fact that while Antwerp play in their once grand, but now crumbling De Bosuil Stadium, Beerschot’s place is a smart modern venue that actually has a whiff of ambition about it.
OK, it’s not the most exiting ground in the world, with three one-tier stands, and one slightly awkward effort with executive boxes at the front, but it was nice enough to make me wonder if I should have gone there instead of Mechelen. At least I would have seen a goal, not to mention been able to see both of the goalposts.
Once in the town of Lier, I first headed out to the ground of Lierse, about a mile in the opposite direction of Lyra’s ground, but sort of on the way to come back via the picturesque canal that runs through the town.
It was certainly a bit of a mixed bag. Two modern looking stands, including an impressive double tier stand behind one goal, faced with an older stand down the side, and a very makeshift looking temporary end behind the other goal, with a flimsy-looking upturned roof that looked like it’d blow away in a stiff breeze.
The main memory I’ll take away from Lierse though is the realisation that Belgians must have much less embarrassment about bodily functions than people in the UK. Right next to the main steps leading into one stand, without even a token screen from the passing crowds, you can find a “urinoir”, a urinal, for those happy to pee in full view of anyone walking past.
I did see Roosendaal’s station-side ground going both too and from Rotterdam, but I also passed Feyenoord’s De Kuip, and decided to take a closer look. I did know this would be futile, as bigger grounds, unlike smaller ones, virtually always tend to be shut up and let you see nothing, but I had three hours is Rotterdam, and Rotterdam isn’t a city whose attractions scream at you to visit. One of the main tourist attractions is the “Euromast”, a tall TV tower with an observation deck, whose selling point of “being able to see all of Rotterdam” could perhaps also be considered its biggest weakness.
In truth there are some nicer quarters of the city, away from the “bombed to crap in WWII” areas that had the misfortune to be rebuilt in the modern style, but not too many of them. Feyenoord’s De Kuip, pronounced like “de cap” except in a very heavy Dutch accent if the tram stop announcements were anything to go by, was the expected disappointment. All shut up, but it did still look quite imposing from the outside. All the exposed black steelwork, not to mention the fact that it still, even after renovation, had floodlights outside the stadium, makes it an interesting place. Maybe one day I’ll come back and get to go inside, which would make a Rotterdam trip rather more interesting.