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12 abandoned Football League grounds

Friday 31st January 2020
Not gone but forgotten. No place that provides the history these grounds did deserves such a fate.
Not gone but forgotten. No place that provides the history these grounds did deserves such a fate.

The UK’s football landscape changed markedly in recent decades and not just in cultural terms. The money, media hype and pampered players all turned the game into more of a television show than a sport but the most striking change is physical. The stadiums of old with their sweeping vistas of concrete terraces, rickety wooden enclosures with paddocks tacked on the front or lovingly designed cantilever stands are fast disappearing to be replaced by the concrete and steel identikit all-seater venues.

The Taylor report, other safety regulations and clubs' increasing desire to milk the maximum ticket money possible from their fans [harder to do when punters are allowed to stand] converted historic venues beyond all recognition. Watching a match at any professional club in the modern era seems centuries removed from the experience of yesteryear. Long gone are the men in flat caps, relaxing after a hard week’s graft down the mines or up the mill, smoking their pipes and eating their meat pies on the terraces. It’s probably for the best. Had they turned up at the ground to find standing was no longer permitted, stewards would evict them for offensive language and pasties now cost £4.50, they’d have marched off to find some rugby to watch.

But even after the nets were taken down, the snack bar shuttered and the gates locked for the final time, a few monuments to those long-lost days of old school football linger. The gritty colosseums where 11 hardened men once kicked a pig liver about before as many as 100,000 crammed-in spectators are mostly gone, some after standing empty for years, decades even.  

Here are a handful, along with one or two more modern structures who share their fate.

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Jonny Keen

Glasgow based writer keen (geddit?) on the cultural elements of football. More interested in the fortunes of Cefn Druids or HJK Helsinki than the latest goings on at Manchester City or Real Madrid.

Once played 10 minutes of a game in the 17th tier of English football. He thinks the best food in football is to be found at Forest Green Rovers and Rayo Vallecano are the only club in Madrid. 

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