What do Buffalo Bill, the students of Ghent University and a Belgian track and field athlete have in common with an Indian chief on the KAA Gent club crest? An attempt at an approximation
Founded in 1864 (soccer section since 1900), KAA Gent set the first major milestone in its almost 160-year history in 2015 with its first Belgian championship. Prior to that, the club had only won three cups in its long history and suddenly the Koninklijke Atletiek Associatie Gent was in the Champions League
The club from East Flanders also achieved sensational results here. The group stage was easily mastered, leaving renowned clubs such as FC Valencia and Olympique Lyon behind. Despite the famous and passionate cheers of the Ghent crowd (“Buffalo! Buffalo! KAA Gent!”), they were knocked out in the round of 16 by VfL Wolfsburg after two narrow defeats (2:3, 0:1).
The fact that these fan chants still echo through the Ghelamco Arena today is thanks to a Wild West hero from overseas. In 1895, William Frederick Cody – better known as Buffalo Bill – stopped off in Ghent with his Wild West show. During the performance, the audience was asked to shout the words “Buffalo! Buffalo!” during the performance. This battle cry impressed some students in the audience so much that they introduced the call into student life.
An athlete and the games in Antwerp
This lasted until 1920, when the Belgian athlete Omar Smet, who belonged to the athletics department of KAA Gent, responded to cheers from the American delegation at the Olympic Games in Antwerp with “Buffalo! Buffalo!” at the Antwerp Olympics. The nickname “De Buffalos” for KAA Gent was born.
Four years later, the stylized Sioux chief appeared on the KAA coat of arms for the first time. The fact that in 1924 a buffalo hunter and an iconic battle cry became an Indian chief on the flags of a traditional soccer club from the old continent can presumably only explain the faded memory since the visit of Buffalo Bills in 1895.
Respect, Valor and Honor
In addition, the face of the Sioux chief is intended to embody the traditional values of the club: respect, bravery and honor.
Tradition can also be found underneath the Indian head. In Belgium, the clubs wear martricel numbers, which were assigned by the association in 1926 according to the length of membership. With the “Stamnummer 7”, KAA Gent is one of the oldest clubs in Belgium.