End of an era
Phóenix semper pérvivet

Hanon, Pierre Stats

In the bar Le Poep in the Wolvenstraat; that's where Pierre Hanon spent his childhood. Hannon was nicknamed Poep. It was a popular pub, frequented by Anderlecht fans. Every Sunday morning, 200 supporters went from the pub to the stadium. "A real football pub," says Pierre. "I remember that my father wanted me to demonstrate what I could do with a tennis ball. The tables were put aside and I could show my tricks. Everyone was watching, though now and then I broke a few windows. Show me what you got, they said. We were a poor family, but I had everything I desired. I slept above the bar. If it was very cold, I kept my jacket on. Now and then, I slept over at my grandmother's who lived 50 meters away from our door. It was more quiet there, cause the fans celebrated in the pub until 3 o'clock at night."

"My mother was also an Anderlecht fan. When I joined the first team, she attended the games carrying a big bell with her to make noise. The fans always asked Maria to sing a song while using her bell. So she did. For my boy, she said."

In 1945, at the end of the war, Poep joined Anderlecht. "I was 7 years old and on Wednesday afternoon I went to Anderlecht with 200 other kids. The field was divided in four. The goals were only two posts. On a free kick, I once flattened one of the posts. The coach Polleke Huyghe noticed it and asked me to come to the training half an hour later next week. That meant I made it to a better group. That group consisted out of 40 people and I was allowed to play a game that next Sunday."

"I remember watching the first team play on Sunday. Marcel Decorte, one of Anderlecht's big stars, told me that he came earlier so he could see me play. I always played in the position of central midfielder. Only at the end of my carreer I became a central defender. First in Anderlecht, then in Cercle Brugge."

"I was always better than the other kids of the same age. That's why they transfered me to a higher group. Under coach Noulle Deraeymaecker I made my debute with the reserves against FC Liège. I was fourteen years old. I didn't touch a ball and felt silly."

Pierre was also selected three times for an international youth tournament. In '53 in Belgium, in '54 in Germany and in 55 in Italy. Those international youth teams were trained by the Englishman Dugall Livingstone and later by André Vandeweyer who also trained the first team. Pierre played amongst players like Jef Jurion, Raymond Best and Guillaume Raskin. On his 18th, he joined Anderlecht's first team.

Hanon: "I almost never played a game with the reserves and suddenly Bill Gormlie aligned me with the first team. I played against Sporting Charleroi. We lost 0-1 with a goal of Mion. Ik was very nervous and played a bad game. The only thing I did right was a throw-in. I stayed on the bench for the rest of the season. But one year later, I got another chance. Lippens and Jurion were in Anderlecht's team. We beat Standard with 2-0. I ended the season again with the reserves."

His real debute was in Anderlecht's first European game in the season of '55-'56. Pierre was 19 years old and was in the Belgian army. Suddenly, he received an urgent phone call. Anderlecht needed him for the game against Voros Lobogo. Susse Degelas was ill and couldn't play. "I wasn't able to prepare myself. And it wasn't easy to take that day off. The ministery of defense had to intervene. I left the barracks and I played a decent game. We lost the game. The score was 1-4 with the Hungarian goalkeeper Arpad Fazekas playing a very good game. Later, he also joined Anderlecht. I proved myself that match. The trainer also trying to place me on the position of an offensive midfielder. But I was too slow to forfill the job. I was the player who could give good long passes, but I the box I was worthless."

In those days, first under Gormlie, later under Sinibaldi, the big Anderlecht got shape. We had 30.000 fans for every game. "It was the end of Jef Mermans and the start of Jef Jurion. It wasn't easy. Mermans was signaling me he wanted a long and high pass while Jurion wanted a fast and short pass."

In those days, everyone had a profession. Football was a hobby. Pierre worked as a public servant in Anderlecht. And many years later, he still worked there. His wife Jenny also worked there. Hanon: "I'm sure she could have had a wonderful carreer. But therefore, she had to follow a three-year education. I didn't want that. It was too difficult for us. But we managed to save all the money I earned with football. And that was more than the state paid us, certainly for European games. As long as the trainings were in the evening, I didn't have a problem to combine football with my work. But chairman Roosens transformed the club into a professional organisation and the trainings took place in the afternoon. I had to come to an agreement with my supervisor to stop working at three in the afternoon. I started earlier in the morning and skipped lunch break. Though for European games, I had to use up all my available holidays."

Under Sinibaldi, André Bérés, and Noulle Deraeymaecker, Hannon won five titles in a row. Sini was a good friend of Pierre. "I fit perfectly in Sinibaldi's tactics. I was the midfielder he needed to make everything work."

"I don't think we had a better team than Anderlecht right now. Every generation has his own way. Right now, the game is faster and more violent. I do know that we were better than Real Madrid in those days. We eliminated them in 1963. We only had one foreigner in our team, namelu Jan Mulder. I do remember our 10-0 defeat against Manchester United in '56-'57, under trainer Gormlie. And it could have been 20-0. Luckily, that was our only big defeat. Under Sinibaldi we lost 3-0 in Liverpool, but we were as good as them. We were just unlucky. Sinibaldi never talked about our opponent's weakness. He wanted us to play our own game. And if we ended up being weaker than the opponent: too bad! It's part of the game! These days, football is all about tactics. Maybe a bit too much..."

Hannon was also very important for the national team. He played his first international game in 1958 and his last in 1969 against Yugoslavia. He was well known for his hard shots from distance. He defeated famous goalkeepers like Gukya Grosics and Pierre Bernard with efforts from 30 meters.

Hannon played for more than 10 years in Anderlecht. In his last two years he ended up on the bench. Though he got a special match against AC Milan, to honour him. Though federal coach Raymond Goethals made him captain for the national team on the World Cup in Spain. He never had a glorious goodbye. "I wasn't alone. Maybe other players had to say goodbye to their club in the same conditions. Ending up on the bench... I left for Cercle Brugge and played against Rensenbrink, who had joined Anderlecht when I left. I think he's the best player the club ever had. Yes, I think he's better than Van Himst, Lozano and Vercauteren. In the recent generations, only Marc Degryse was able to demonstrate a high level."

After Anderlecht, he played for one year in the second division for Cercle Brugge. He promoted to the first division where he ended his carreer two years later. "My best memory while I played for Cercle was in the game against Club Brugge. "De Steur airlifted the ball on a free kick and I hit it very hard. The ball went in. An amazing moment!"

After his carreer, he became coach for Mons and lead the team to the second division. Afterwards he returned to Anderlecht and became youth coach. But he ended his carreer there because it was hard to coach his own son Serge. Though he returned later to succeed Van Himst. Under Luka Peruzovic, he became a scout. "Kiev was my first team to scout. One game later we were eliminated against Paris St-Germain. I ended my carreer when Peruzovic left. Now I enjoy traveling with Jenny."