Lost football grounds & stands | The Cemetery End

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They were once familiar, spiritual homes to thousands of fans. But although long lost, they will never be forgotten. Indeed, some of the old names, like the Baseball Ground or Roker Park, still trip easily off the tongue, conjuring up glorious images of heroic battles won or lost.

It’s like an “all our yesterdays” A to Z of grounds and stands gone by. From Ayresome Park to The Victoria Ground, via The Dell and The Goldstone Ground.

Wrexham
Mold Road Stand, Racecourse Ground, Wrexham. The stand was demolished in 1998 having been unused since the 80s. © The Cemetery End
Wigan, Springfield Park, Upson
Springfield Park, Wigan Athletic, closed in 1999. © The Cemetery End

Paul Claydon and Vince Taylor have put together this compilation of some of the best known, and some not so well known, grounds and stands to have been “lost”, or moved out of between 1995 and 2020 in their book, The Cemetery End | 25 Years Of Lost Grounds & Stands.

Their project began with the March 1995 first publication of their football grounds magazine, Groundtastic.

Featuring lost grounds such as Brentwood Town’s The Hive and Bradford PA’s Horton Park Avenue, it became the first in what has grown into an archive of lost stadiums, grounds and stands spread across the nation. 

Victoria Ground, Stoke City
Victoria Ground, home to Stoke City until 1997. © The Cemetery End
Exeter City
Cowshed, St James’ Park, Exeter City. Knocked down in 2000. © The Cemetery End
White Hart Lane, 1986, Tottenham Hotspur.
The Shelf, White Hart Lane, 1986, Tottenham Hotspur. © The Cemetery End

In the 25 years that passed since 1995 hundreds of once cherished stadiums have been demolished, their places taken by modern superstructures, housing estates and supermarkets, or as in a few case, just  left to rot and be reclaimed by nature. 

As the magazine approached its 100th edition thoughts turned to how best to mark the first 25 years of ‘Groundtastic’ and to reflect on  the changes made to the football landscape in those years.

The result was the publication of their book, The Cemetery End, a pictorial commemoration of the grounds and stands consigned to history during that period, featuring more than 350 grounds and stands that have been lost across the length of Britain.

The Dell, Southampton
The Dell, home to Southampton from 1898 until 2001. © The Cemetery End
Roker Park, Sunderland.
Sunderland’s Roker Park opened in 1898 and was home to the club for 99 years. © The Cemetery End
Rochdale
Wilbutts Lane Terrace, Spotland, Rochdale. Demolished at the end of 1999/2000 season. © The Cemetery End

Until then, there had been no central record of all these closures.

“By publishing The Cemetery End, that has been rectified,” say Claydon and Taylor, the dedicated football fanatics behind Groundtastic. “The book will serve as a point of reference for years to come.”

Claydon, from Braintree in Essex, has been a Norwich fan since aged five, and is now a season ticket holder. But it was following Braintree Town in the Eastern Counties League, taking in grounds such as Great Yarmouth’s The Wellesley and Wisbech Town’s Fenland Park, that fuelled an interest in other stadiums. And that went to new levels when he followed Southend through the divisions, eventually completing “the 92”, visiting all the grounds in the Football League.

Ipswich Town
North Stand, Portman Road, Ipswich Town. Replaced by a modern stand in 2001. © The Cemetery End
Feethams
East Stand, Feethams, Darlington FC. Demolished in 1997. © The Cemetery End

Romford born Taylor counts himself a West Ham fan, although it was Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road ground that kick started his love of football after his first live match there in 1965. Involving himself with Billericay Town though, introduced him to non league football, opening up a whole new world of football venues to take in, which now tops over 200. 

A favourite ground for Taylor is Brooklands, the old Romford ground. It was where he first saw football in the flesh and became hooked. Brooklands was lost in 1977 and is now covered by housing.

Romford Brooklands
Brooklands Stadium, Romford. Demolished in 1977. © The Cemetery End
Brisbane Road, Leyton Orient.
Brisbane Road, Leyton Orient. © The Cemetery End
Upton Park, The Boleyn Ground, West Ham United.
West Stand, The Boleyn Ground, West Ham United. Demolished in 2001. © The Cemetery End

For Claydon it is Highbury. “It is where I first saw ‘live’ football,” he recalled. “Although I was already by then a Norwich fan, my dad was Arsenal and he was keen to introduce me to the sights and sounds of football there. 

“I loved it, from the impromptu stalls set up in gardens of the houses near the ground to hearing grown men swear out loud – an eye-opener for me at eight years old! “Obviously, Highbury has now gone, although I do like the way they have retained some of the key features in the flats built on the site.”

Highbury, Arsenal.
Highbury football stadium, the home of Arsenal FC between 1913 and 2006. © The Cemetery End

Claydon becomes wistful when contemplating the old grounds, complete with their wooden stands and vast open terraces, but is also realistic.

 “It cannot be denied that they were unsafe, uncomfortable and very much of their time,” he said. “Modern grounds have undoubtedly changed the atmosphere, with most people having to sit and movement very much restricted. 

“Sadly a lot of the new grounds are very similar, perhaps with just different colour seats in a characterless bowl. It is accepted that a modern structure is limited in how it can be constructed, but it doesn’t take much to add some unique touches to help individualise a ground. 

“Of the most recent grounds, Tottenham is awesome, mainly due to its size and the fact that they have added character with the cockerel on the roof etc. Brentford is also different, with strangely angled roofs and odd coloured seats. It’s one of the few new builds you can identify on the TV straight away.

Elm Park, Reading
Elm Park, home to Reading FC from 1896-1998. © The Cemetery End
Eastbourne United
Main Stand, The Oval, Eastbourne United. © The Cemetery End
Baseball Ground, Derby County
Derby County’s unique Baseball Ground was in use until 1997. © The Cemetery End
Colchester United
Layer Road, Colchester United, 1907-2008. © The Cemetery End
Clydebank
New Kilbowie Park, home of Clydebank until 1996. © The Cemetery End
West Stand, Stamford Bridge, Chelsea 1983.
West Stand, Stamford Bridge, Chelsea FC 1983. © The Cemetery End

 “I think Safe Standing is likely to be more widely available in the years ahead, but this will not be the panacea that some envision. You will still have to buy a ticket and will have to stand in your allocated space, just like with seats.  

“The days of turning up early to gather with your mates on your favourite spot are gone.”

Claydon the football fan is not asking for much.

“At the end of the day, if I can visit a ground with some character and/or history, meet some good people to chat to while I’m there, and see a good game I am happy,” he said.

Burnley
Bee Hole End, Turf Moor, Burnley. © The Cemetery End
Goldstone Ground, Brighton & Hove Albion.
Goldstone Ground, home of Brighton & Hove Albion from 1904 until they were evicted in 1997. © The Cemetery End
The Kop, Valley Parade, Bradford City.
The Kop, Valley Parade, Bradford City. © The Cemetery End
Bolton Wanderers
Burnden Park, home Bolton Wanderers from 1895 until 1997. © The Cemetery End
Blackpool
Spion Kop, Bloomfield Road, Blackpool. © The Cemetery End
Birmingham City
Railway End Stand, St Andrews, Birmingham City. Built in 1964, demolished in 1998. © The Cemetery End
Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough
Ayresome Park, home to Middlesbrough from 1903 – 1995. © The Cemetery End
Bayview Park, East Fife
Bayview Park, East Fife. 1903-1998. © The Cemetery End

The Cemetery End is available online via the ‘Groundtastic‘ website.

If you enjoyed that, you may also like Apocalyptic football stadiums by Alex Mather where he the discovers cold, harsh reality of empty football grounds up and down the county.

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