England’s lost grounds

A youngster could once recite all of England’s football grounds without listing a mix of international and obscure commercial brands.




But many of those old stadia disappeared in the move towards modernity and greater capacities around the turn of the millennium. With West Ham’s Upton Park soon to follow, the BBC paid a visit to some of the game’s iconic old landmarks to see what stands on the sites of old glories. We fill in a few blanks to paint a fuller picture of the grounds loved and lost.

Arsenal and Highbury

Opened: 1913.

Closed: 2006.

Moved to: Emirates Stadium.

Now: Flats. Highbury’s North Bank and Clock End stands have been demolished, but the protected facades of the old East and West Stands were preserved and form part of the new apartment complex, structured around the old pitch, which has become a garden.

A mixed blessing for residents, as Dr John Jeans told the BBC: “Every home game at the Emirates there are people huddling at the four corners of the old ground. When someone comes out, they pile in... You have stewards trying to take people out.”

Southampton and The Dell

Opened: 1898.

Closed: 2001.

Moved to: St Mary’s Stadium.

Now: A housing estate. Now a mixed development of houses and apartment blocks around an open space where the pitch once lay.

The cursory nod to football: Le Tissier Court and other units named after old legends.

Best feature must be Crossley Place, a social housing section. Mark Crossley was the only keeper to save a Matt Le Tissier penalty.

As Saints fan Nick Illingsworth put it: “Was someone in the developers a Nottingham Forest fan with a bit of a sense of humour?”

Bolton and Burnden Park

Opened: 1895.

Closed: 1997.

Moved to: Reebok Stadium.

Now: A retail park. A large Asda has replaced Nat Lofthouse as the central pillar of this set-up.

Burnden’s old centre circle is acknowledged in the carpark.

Supporter Anthony Rearden didn’t sound terribly impressed with the memorabilia efforts: “There are about 10 football photos by windows near the checkouts.”

Oxford United and The Manor Ground

Opened: 1876.

Closed: 2001.

Moved to: Kassam Stadium.

Now: A hospital. The non-profit Manor Hospital has been built on the site of the old ground.

Diehards are able to replicate that old sinking feeling they often experienced at home matches by walking in the main hospital entrance, situated at the entrance to the old London Road End where the hardcore stood.

“It’s a very weird feeling when you walk up there,” said Matthew Cavill, from supporter’s trust OxVox.

Middlesbrough and Ayresome Park

Opened: 1903.

Closed: 1995.

Now: A housing estate. Anotherresidential development with an occasional nod to the old home of legends like Wilf Mannion and George Hardwick and, er, Juninho.

Ten bronze sculptures pick out key parts of the old pitch: a sculpture of a football in somebody’s garden marks one of the penalty spots, while there are a set of football boots on a doorstep, where the centre spot once kicked things off.

Millwall and The Den

Opened: 1910.

Closed: 1993.

Moved to: The New Den.

Now: A housing estate. Eamon Dunphy’s old stomping ground on Cold Blow Lane has become another housing development known to locals as Little Millwall.

“Only good teams and brave players felt comfortable after looking round the Den. And most of them exited their comfort zone when the game kicked off,” wrote Eamon, in The Rocky Road, of the place’s intimidation value.

The replacement estate regained some of that reputation in 2007 when a woman was killed in the crossfire of a gun battle between rival gangs.

Brighton and Goldstone Ground

Opened: 1901.

Closed: 1997.

Moved to: American Express Community Stadium.

Now: A retail Park. Brighton fans staged several pitch invasions during the 95-96 and 96-97 seasons, in protest at the stadium’s impending sale.

To no avail; the site has since been converted to a ‘warehouse-style’ retail park with drive-through Burger King.

Sunderland and Roker Park

Opened: 1901.

Closed: 1997.

Moved to: Stadium of Light.

Now: A housing estate. During the ground’s closing ceremony, Republic of Ireland international Charlie Hurley, named Sunderland’s player of the 20th century, dug up Roker’s centre spot for replanting at the Stadium of Light.

John Giles once described Hurley as a ‘colossus’. In an ironic tribute to one of the great street footballers, the place where he made his name is now a web of estates with names like Promotion Close, Midfield Drive, Goalmouth Close and Turnstile Mews.

Leicester City and Filbert Street

Opened: 1891.

Closed: 2002.

Moved to: King Power Stadium.

Now: A student village. Officially named The City Business Stadium in the nineties, a title everyone thankfully ignored, the stadium was demolished in 2003, having sold for development.

A Filbert Village student residence has been built on the old site, supplying accommodation for two local universities.

The venue’s most famous product is remembered by Gary Lineker Road.

But some of the site remains derelict, where real live foxes can sometimes be found in the scrubland.

Manchester City and Maine Road

Opened: 1923.

Closed: 2003.

Moved to: City of Manchester Stadium, now known as the Etihad.

Now: A mixed development. Might even knock a commission out of this. “Beautifully-designed modern and energy-efficient new homes” are for sale at the Maine Place in Moss Side, on the site of the former Maine Road Stadium.

Choose between The Oakes, The Lee, The Doyle, The Corrigan or The Clarke developments. Looks like The Allison and The Rosler have sold.

Swansea City and Vetch Field

Opened: 1912.

Closed: 2005.

Moved to: The Liberty Stadium.

Now: Allotments. Lay idle for six years until it was demolished in 2011 in a bid to attract some interest from developers. The centre circle was maintained as deceased supporters’ ashes had been sprinkled there.

No interest materialised and part of the land was diced up into the Vetch Veg allotments.

Earlier this year, the Vetch Masterplan was unveiled, a community initiative including sheltered housing, a care home, a community orchard and a children’s play area. Diving will be strictly prohibited in all public areas.

Derby County and Baseball Ground

Opened: 1890.

Closed: 1997.

Moved to: Cardiff City Stadium.

Now: Housing with commemorative statue.

Cardiff City and Ninian Park

Opened: 1922.

Closed: 2009.

Moved to: Cardiff City Stadium.

Now: A housing development.

Doncaster Rovers and Belle Vue

Opened: 1922.

Closed: 2007.

Moved to: Keepmoat Stadium.

Now: Derelict awaiting development.

Bristol Rovers and Eastville Stadium

Opened: 1897.

Closed: 1998.

Moved to: Memorial Stadium.

Now: An Ikea store.

Huddersfield Town and Leeds Road

Opened: 1908.

Closed: 1994.

Moved to: Galpharm Stadium.

Now: B&Q retail park.

Reading and Elm Park

Opened: 1896.

Closed: 1998.

Moved to: Madejski Stadium.

Now: A housing estate.

Wigan Athletic and Springfield Park

Opened: 1901.

Closed: 1999.

Moved to: DW Stadium.

Now: A housing estate.

Hull City and Boothferry Park

Opened: 1946.

Closed: 2002.

Moved to: KC Stadium.

Now: Supermarkets.

Darlington and Feethams

Opened: 1883.

Closed: 2003.

Moved to: The Darlington Arena.

Now: Derelict awaiting development.

Coventry City and Highfield Road

Opened: 1883.

Closed: 2003.

Moved to: Ricoh Arena.

Now: Housing — the pitch is a park.

Shrewsbury Town and Gay Meadow

Opened: 1910.

Closed: 2007.

Moved to: New Meadow.

Now: Apartments.

Colchester United and Layer Road

Opened: 1910.

Closed: 2008.

Moved to: Colchester Community Stadium.

Now: Housing.

Rotherham United and Millmoor

Opened: 1910.

Moved out: 2008.

Moved to: Don Valley Stadium.

Now: Rugby union.

Chesterfield and Saltergate

Opened: 1871.

Moved out: 2010.

Moved to: B2net Stadium.

Now: Housing.


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