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Just the ticket… Belgian fan in hunt for Irish League sides’ stubs

Anderlecht supporter is collecting memorabilia from club’s European games


Collector: Matthias Willemarck from Belgium with some of his ticket collection

Collector: Matthias Willemarck from Belgium with some of his ticket collection

Collector: Matthias Willemarck from Belgium with some of his ticket collection

An RSC Anderlecht fan is on the hunt for some elusive ticket stubs from his side’s European exploits against Irish League opponents down through the years.

Matthias Willemarck (34) from Antwerp in Belgium, is hoping to add the home and away tickets to his ever-growing collection.

The 34-time Belgian champions were victorious in their European Cup ties against Derry City in 1965 and Glentoran three years later.

In 1989, Anderlecht were drawn against Ballymena United in the European Cup Winners’ Cup after the Braidmen beat Larne 1-0 in the Irish Cup showpiece.

After lifting the Gibson Cup for the very first time, Derry City became the first side north or south of the border to progress beyond the preliminary round of the European Cup after winning 8-6 on aggregate against Norway’s FK Lyn.

They were awarded a glamour tie against Anderlecht in the first round proper but after losing 9-0 in Brussels, the Irish FA controversially ruled that the Brandywell facilities were not deemed fit enough and banned the the club from playing their tie in the city.

This resulted in Derry City forfeiting the return leg in protest after a two month dispute.

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Alex Young’s Glentoran were hoping to make amends for their loss to Benfica in the European Cup the previous season, but Anderlecht proved too strong in 1968.

The Glens lost 3-0 in Belgium but goals from John Johnston and Thomas Morrow secured a respectable 2-2 draw at The Oval.

Alex McKee’s Ballymena were given a footballing masterclass by the Belgians as Anderlecht won 6-0 in Brussels’ Vanden Stock Stadium in the first leg before running out 4-0 winners at Warden Street in the first round tie.

Anderlecht’s squad that year included the father of Eidur Gudjohnsen, Arnor, who scored in both legs, Belgian internationals Luc Nilis, Marc van der Linden, Marc Degryse and Patrick Vervoort, as well as Finland international Kari Ukkonen.

The Belgian side went on to beat Spanish giants Barcelona, Admira Wacker and Dinamo Bucuresti, but lost the final 2-0 to Sampdoria in Sweden.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Matthias said he’s willing to swap tickets with anyone who may be able to assist his search, and was full of praise for Northern Ireland fans.

“I know the Irish League has Linfield, who are quite good, Glentoran, Glenavon, Cliftonville and Ballymena,” he said. “European wise they're not doing that great but the national team of Northern Ireland were at the Euros in France.

“I don’t really remember what they did on the pitch but I just remember what the fans did in the stadium singing ‘Will Grigg’s on fire’.

“That’s the thing that you remember and now with Covid you don’t have that but something like that with the fans sticks with you for the rest of your life.

“Northern Ireland lost against Slovakia in the Euros play-offs but maybe next time they can qualify, you never know. You guys are getting better and better.”

Matthias first started collecting match tickets when he was just 11 but in recent years he has focused on Anderlecht’s European games.

“I remember Anderlecht played in the Champions league against Chelsea and Liverpool and I went to the away games so I kept those tickets too,” he explained.

“After some years I got more and more, not just Anderlecht but from European and World Cups.

“You can exchange tickets with other people but after a while I had too many, but Anderlecht has a good history of European Cup games so I started to collect only those tickets.”

If you can help Matthias with his search, you can send him an email via matthias.willemarck@hotmail.com

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