Union & Molenbeek, a historic rivalry
The rivalry between Union and RWDM is not a recent one. The first real derby took place in 1912, when RWDM were still known as Daring Club, and the rest is history, with derbies that have never ceased to be the talk of the Belgian press. The rivalry was even immortalised in the play 'Bossemans et Coppenole', a great classic of Belgian theatre.
The beginnings of the Zwanze derbies
In the pioneering days of football, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the dominant team in the capital was undoubtedly Racing Club de Bruxelles. By 1903, the Uccle-based club had already won five Belgian league titles. Union Saint-Gilloise, a young up-and-coming outfit, came to take the glory away from the big Racing, eventually taking the title from them in 1904. The derbies that followed between these two teams between 1904 and 1911 were a real battle both on and off the pitch! The whole of Brussels was looking forward to the confrontations between these two clubs. Union-Racing was the Brussels derby to watch. Then came the rise of Daring Club de Bruxelles in 1912 and the decline of Racing CB, giving rise to the greatest Brussels derby of all time.
The rivalry between Molenbeek and Saint-Gilles lasted more than half a century, culminating in 1935, when the two clubs fought bitterly for the league title. That same year, Daring put an end to Union Saint-Gilloise's sensational run of 60 games without defeat.
There's only one real derby
There were also derbies between Union and Sporting Anderlecht until 1973, which were real derbies, passionate and exciting, but never reached the heights or the tension of the matches between Union and Daring. Why was that the case? Quite simply because there were no disputes between the two clubs, either on a sporting or a fan level. In fact, it was not uncommon for Sporting fans to support Union and vice versa when their team was playing away.
On the other hand, it was impossible for an Unionist to attend a Daring match outside of derby days, and the reverse was also true for Molenbeek supporters, except they wanted to support the opposing team. The last match between Union and Daring took place on 9 April 1969 in the Belgian Cup (3-0).
After 1973, Union's last season in the top flight before the historic rise of 2020-2021, derbies between Union and Molenbeek were limited to the 1984-1985 in the Second Division between RWDM, a club formed from the merger of several Brussels clubs, and Union. Both matches went in favour of RWDM (6-1) and (0-1), who became champions that season.
In 2020-2021, it was Union who came out on top three out of four derbies against RWDM, and it was Saint-Gilles who were crowned Division 1B champions!