Progression is part of life and stops us all from standing still. However, history should still be preserved and be remembered, and if it all possible, stay alive as those around it progresses. How much would a fan give to go back to the ground where they spent so much time? Back to the spot where they stood or sat every match, experiencing the highest of highs and the lows that sometimes only football can give out?
Football gives us much more than what happens on the pitch. Some of the greatest memories fans retain are not only about the great and not so great things they witnessed happen on the field of play. It could be the place they used to stand or sit, the people they went with, the traditions that never changed from leaving home to the final whistle.
Old Football Grounds Should Be Saved for the Future
A Sad Day When an Old Ground is Demolished
What is left of them? Some are now merely housing estates situated where they once stood. They are usually sold for a small fraction of what a new stadium costs. Maybe several parts of the ground are now scattered about at the new stadium or the occasional street sign. Many buildings across the United Kingdom and beyond are listed buildings, and only in exceptional circumstances can they be changed or demolished. England loves its history, and in any other walk of life, a building that has stood for 100 plus years and gave thousands a lifetime of memories that get passed on from one generation to the next would be cherished. The same cannot be said for football grounds when really, it should.
Could They Be Saved and Used?
Due to the tragedies at Hillsborough and Bradford City, amongst several others, stadiums needed to change to keep fans safe. The changes had to be made in the aftermath of the devastation caused to so many through those tragedies. Very few could argue against them.
Some grounds needed major overhauls, to the extent that when the safety measures were put in place, capacity was reduced significantly. It caused many teams to think of relocating. If they did so, in many cases, the grounds that had served the club and fans so well for decades were reduced to dust. Couldn’t they have been saved to at least some extent?
Could they have still been put to good use? Used for the reserves and youth teams, and, if a club has one, then also the women’s team. Cup games that would attract half of a normal capacity could see an almost full house at the old ground. Admittedly, finances to keep an old ground up and running could be too much for some clubs.
If not the full ground then maybe one of the stands could be converted into a club museum, a sports bar or restaurant, for example. Arsenal, when they moved the short distance to The Emirates Stadium from Highbury kept the iconic East Stand with its famous marble entrance hallway. Although now a housing development, the pitch is a garden area for those that live in one of the many flats that now occupy the site of some of the Gunners’ most famous matches.
Give Our Old Football Grounds a Future
The grounds that have given fans so many memories deserve a future. A future that includes generations not lucky enough to have seen their team play there, but can still get a feel of what it must have been like.
Grounds like the old Wembley, Filbert Street, The Baseball Ground, Roker Park and The Dell, to name just a few, cannot be brought back. However, should a club wish to move in the future, a new way of thinking could help preserve the history of these precious places.
When Sunderland’s Roker Park closed its gates for the final time before becoming a housing estate, Bob Stokoe, their manager during the famous FA Cup run and final victory in 1973 said: “There will never be anywhere like Roker Park”.
Managers, players and fans of other clubs would say the same about their old grounds too.
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