Royal Beerschot Tennis & Hockey Club

Mr. Alfred Grisar is the founder of Beerschot. Great sports fan as from childhood, he studied in 1899 at Brighton College in the United Kingdom, where he practised several sports.
Mr Alfred Grisar received a property of 19 hectares from his father who bought it at Kiel around 1895 and which had been the vast hippodrome of Beerschot with stands, horse stable, cloak rooms and buffet.
During his holidays in 1899, Mr. A. Grisar suggested to his father creating a sports club with most of the sports practised by the English Gentry. In this way, the foundation of the new club was decided on 3 September 1899.

The almost miraculous discovery of the self-written diary of Mr. A. Grisar tells us that in the beginning he wanted to create a club with 8 disciplines, i.e.: cycling, football, shooting, tourism, cricket, tennis, horse riding and running.
Mr. A. Grisar was 18 years old when he composed this journal. As for tennis, he wrote: all citizens of Antwerp play lawn-tennis, more precisely almost all of them. But not all of them have « courts » and they only have the possibility to practise this interesting game from time to time, when one of their friends have invited. What is more, a lot of tennis players are left aside in this way. Several tennis players that are not pleased with playing all the time against the same rivals and who do not have anyone to support them will be satisfied, because the club will organize several « tournaments » and championships where players can easily distinguish themselves.

We can read that at first he desired that the New Cercle would be named « Antwerp Sporting Club » and that its colours would be blue and red.

Unfortunately this project was delayed by the death of E. Grisar in 1899.
A. Grisar was recalled to Antwerp and did not return to Brighton anymore. He continued his idea and with de help of his four close friends, Max Elsen, Edouard Lysen, Charley Hunter and Paul Muller, he founded 11 February 1900 a sports club which he named « Beerschot Athletic Club » having as objective the practice of all athletic sports as football, running, tennis, polo, cricket and hockey.
The choice of the colours was made following the desire of Alfred Grisar who was  mourning his father’s death. This explains the presence of the colour purple in the colours of the club.

The meaning of « Beerschot »

The name Beverschot appears for the first time in 1155 in a deed of Bishop Nicolas from Cambridge. The fields are handed over to the Norbertins from the Abbey Saint Michel.
The swampsy part was called Bernescot, the wooded part Bernescothage. The northern part of this area was called « Kyle » the southern part « Bernescot » .
The name « Kyle » (Kil, Kiel) reminds a curve in the river. It is possible that Kyle was a small harbour, built by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood.
« Bernescot » could mean : a shelter to protect from danger, because bears circulated in the region. Don’t we find in the scutcheon of « Beerschot » a bear and three glove« Berescot » which became « Beerschot » by phonetic change, would mean a secured place, in order to protect the herd.

The first installations

A concrete tennis court was built, followed by a second similar one some time later. The stands of the hippodrome were arranged as buffet-restaurant and part of other stands were replaced to the centre of the football field. The existing cloak rooms for the jockeys, situated against the wall of the convent were at the disposal of the members of all sports.

The inauguration of the new rooms took place on 6 May 1900 in the middle of a great audience and the result responded largely to the expectations of the promoters because the new members joined continuously in order to obtain in 1901 the amount of 275 associates.
During the years, the sections developed marvellously since in 1913. The tennis installations were composed of 9 courts and the tennis pavilion was inaugurated in 1914.

As sport is the best artisan of grace, it is natural that Beerschot became the meeting place of the most active and elegant Antwerp high-society.

It was in 1918 that 3 members of Beerschot, Charles Cnoops, Paul Havenith and Fernand of Montigny took the initiative to realise an old dream referring to the VI Olympiad in Stockholm. They wish to be able to organize the VII Olympiad in Beerschot in 1920, games which afterwards would be called the « Olympic Games ».

Let us chronologically retake some results of the first years of our section.
In 1901, the club championship was won by Max Elsen.

The first Interclub Beerschot - Léopold encounter took place in June and Miss Louise Gevers was the revelation of the year triumphing in the international tournament of Ostend above the best female Belgian and foreign players.

For the first time in 1902, the championships of Belgium took place  in Beerschot and showing the victory of our player Miss Louise Gevers as champion of Belgium, beating in the finals Mrs. Comblen of Liège.

The first committee who directed the section along the first years, was composed of Misters Paul Havenith, Max Elsen, Charley Hunter, H.W. Gandon, André van der Meersch, Louis Grisar, Joseph Rymenans and Robert Gevers.
The first president was at 1900 Max Elsen

The presidents of the tennis section are

Paul Havenith 1900-1909
H.Evan Thomas 1910
Paul Havenith 1911-1912
H.O. Behrens 1913-1914

In 1903, a first international tournament was organised, honoured by the presence of C .Hobart , one of the best American players. The championship of the club showed the victory of Henderson against Eric Thornton.

Henderson reedited the victory of 1904 in which Miss Fusch also won the ladie single and Max Elsen and Robert Gevers the mens double.

In 1906 our club organized the Belgian championship for the second time. It was a great success. The men and ladies champions were: Willy le Maire De Warzee for male singles, Miss Dufersnoy for ladies singles, Lemaire and L. Trasenter for men doubles, Miss Dufersnoy and L. Transenter for mixed doubles and Miss Durfresnoy and de Selliers for ladies doubles.

1907/1908: the junior criterion was won by our representative H. Bernard.

In June 1909, an English manager, Mr Thomas Olher, was employed in order to organize the international tournament. The tournament did not meet the expectations

Five years later, in June 1914, Beerschot organised a new international tournament that was one of the most brilliant and interesting. Amongst the principal favourites we reveal the names of the misters le Maire de Warzee, Paul de Borman, Lammens, D. Kool (The Netherlands), A. Simons (Swiss) who had to win the male singles, and amongst the ladies Miss Pasquier, J. Liebrechts, Misses de Borman, Storms, A. Lent as winner of the ladies singles.

This tournament had a great success and was followed by numerous spectators who started to like this noble sport. In the same year also an encounter between the team of Scotland and Beerschot took place.

Unfortunately, the declaration of the first world war put an end to all these sports events.

Text and pictures:
Royal Beerschot Tennis & Hockey Club ( Jubilee Book 1899 – 1999)