Standard number 858 belongs to the past. After the 2-2 in the final game against FC Meensel-Kiezegem, KMJ FC Zichem joins the lost clubs. Last season, eighteen transfers were announced around this period, now the club is putting an end to its story. Normally the blue shirts had to play the final round for preservation, but they gave up for that.
In 1916, the Marie-José Zichem football club was founded on May 31 to offer children sporting diversion against a background of war and horror. In the 1970s, the club reached its peak and played several seasons in the first provincial, most recently in 1979. At 107 years old, KMJ Zichem was one of the oldest football clubs in the region. There were no youth teams since 2005. Last year, derby rival and neighbor KVV Scherpenheuvel Sport, with base number 981, already stopped its operation. Now it’s the Carnival Club’s turn.
In November 2022, it became clear that KMJ’s story was over. Chairman Hans Verhaegen then reported the unfortunate news. “Sponsorship has been much less in recent years than before,” says Verhaegen. “A consequence of corona. The costs of our worn-out infrastructure also rose. The subsidies we received from the city of Scherpenheuvel-Zichem were not in proportion to the costs. That is the theme of the story. I invested money over the past two years to keep it livable, but I must not continue to put myself in the pocket for the pleasure of others.”
“We told the players six months in advance that it was over, so that they could look for another team. As a nice farewell gesture, they have taken on the work for the club for the rest of the season, in exchange for free food and drink. Given the stricter rules in the future, I see more and more clubs calling it quits. A merger was not an option, the simplest thing was to call it quits. It is a pity that the oldest number in the region will cease to exist,” says Verhaegen.
Captain Lennert Goossens, midfielder Gil Willems and top scorer Davy Van Gestel say goodbye to the club and their careers at Zichem. “Last season was still played out, with the players still receiving a payment for the month of September. A mussel supper had just been organized at the time. At the end of January we still hadn’t seen any money. In February 2023 it turned out that the club had significant debts. We got together after that news and decided to continue playing for free, under our own management. We opened the canteen in consultation with the spokesperson and the chairman. Manning the entrance and maintaining the grounds was also done by the players.”
“We finished the year in friendship and with pleasure with only volunteers. Urbain Verheyen (86), the man who had been making the club magazine for more than thirty years, also saw his hobby disappear. He concluded with an obituary of the club. The players responded to this and had a letter drawn up at Van de Laer funeral home in Scherpenheuvel-Zichem”, says the player trio.
The future of their infrastructure on the Kwalijkstraat is unclear. That should be discussed with the city. The city partly owns it together with a private person. If necessary, another sports club can be accommodated or schools and associations can organize tournaments there.