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Abandoned Football Grounds


Writer Alex Norwood looks at abandonded football grounds around the UK...

A football stadium is a symbol of interaction, freedom, and fair-play. Millions of fans visit stadiums over time and some of them become real shrines or holy places for their fans. But that doesn't apply in every situation. There are some situations in which these great constructions that were once full of people, cheers, and energy, are left in ruins for several reasons. If you're interested in a few famous examples, keep reading this article, you're in for a treat.

Belle Vue Doncaster

Belle Vue was, for many years, the home of Doncaster Rovers between 1922 and 2006. Located in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, the field was also called by the fans OBV or Old Belle Vue. Built by Charles Sutcliffe in 1922, the stadium first had a capacity of 7000 spectators and it grew from year to year when finances allowed it. In 1938, the capacity reached 40000 and 10 years later, it also established its record audience at 37099. The decline for Belle Vue started in 1995 with a damaging fire that, as investigation showed later, was planned by none other than the chairman of the club, Ken Richardson. A brief renovation was done in 2003 and 2004, and even the name was changed to Earth Stadium. But all the efforts were, eventually, hopeless when the Keepmoat Stadium was built. The Old Belle Vue remained in ruins and is now almost completely demolished.

Boothferry Park Hull City

The Boothferry was the home of Hull City starting with 1946 up until 2002 when the team moved to the new stadium built for them, Kingston Communications Stadium. But even though it has a lot of history in it and was a real monument for the city, in recent years, supermarkets started to be allowed to embed themselves in the structure and even demolished parts of it. Between 2008 and 2010, the demolition process was finalized and now only the die-hard fans still remember how it felt to see a match there.

Buckingham Road

The home of Aylesbury United, Buckingham Road stadium was built with funds from the sale of the old stadium at Turnfurlong Lane. The remaining funds were used to build a strong team that at its peak, reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup. But things were far from being great, as the club was first threatened by financial issues and then a legal issue led to them being forced to abandon their stadium. Despite lots of attempts to undo the situation and save the stadium from falling into ruins, the costs were too high so its fate was sealed.

Burnden Park

This legendary stadium hosted the Bolton Wanderers between 1895 and 1997. As for the major events that are tied to this legendary stadium, we can encounter the 1901 FA Cup Final and, of course, one of the greatest disasters in English football history. It was the 9th of March 1946 when an estimated 85000 showed up for the match, at least 15000 over the capacity of the stadium. The stampede that was created led to the death of 33 fans of the Bolton Wanderers and an estimated 400 that were injured. The investigation that followed the incident led to the development of more rigorous crowd control techniques. After this event, it enjoyed a quiet and average life, until 1992, when the directors decided that it would be too difficult and expensive to convert the stadium into an all-seater and in 1997, the stadium hosted its final match against Charlton Athletic. A new stadium was built close by and that meant the end of all the 102 years of football history.

Firs Park

The Firs Park was the home of East Stirlingshire FC starting 1921 up until 2008. A small stadium in Scotland that enjoyed some football history until the management decided that the costs of improving facilities were too high and decided to build another stadium instead. The final game took place in 2008 before moving to Ochilview Park, a few kilometers from the former stadium.

Layer Road

The stadium that was built in 1907 as the home of Colchester United had a capacity of over 6000 but it often hosted more than 17000 in FA Cup matches where Colchester had a good run. One of the features of this ground was that the back of the goal was actually cut back into the stand, pretty unusual for a football field. The last match was played in April 2008 after 98 years of history and great experiences.

So, there you have it, just a few of the hundreds of abandoned football fields in England and all across the globe. Time is not at all forgiving with these sporting venues as the need for modern, larger stadiums led to them being demolished.