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In memoriam: 10 of England's beloved, long-lost grounds

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5. Walsall (Fellows Park)

FELLOWS PARK

  • Opened 1896
  • Closed 1990
  • Record attendance 25,453

To describe Walsall as one-hit wonders is a trifle unfair, but the match for which the club will always be remembered is the FA Cup Third Round match against Arsenal in 1932/33, which saw the humble Third Division North team defeat high-flying Arsenal 2-0.

A crowd of 25,000 packed into Fellows Park that day, a good many of them occupying the newly opened covered terrace on the Popular Side. As if in thrall to that immortal moment, between Walsall's finest hour and the demolition of Fellows Park in 1990, the fabric of the ground essentially remained the same.

Opened in 1895, it was known as Hillary Street until 1930, when it was renamed after a board member. The Saddlers retained the link with the naming of the HL Fellows Stand at the nearby newbuild Bescot Stadium; the site of Fellows Park is now a Morrisons supermarket.

Fellows Park

Fellows Park's Popular Side or Cowshed in 1985/86. Pic Bob Lilliman, Groundtastic Magazine

Fellows Park

Fellows Park's Laundry End in 1985/86. Pic Bob Lilliman, Groundtastic Magazine

6. Wimbledon (Plough Lane)

PLOUGH LANE

  • Opened 1912
  • Closed 2001
  • Record attendance 18,000

Beloved by Wimbledon fans but loathed by visiting players and supporters, Plough Lane went from disused swampland to England’s top flight. Its cramped confines and singular lack of creature comforts entirely suited a team who delighted in scything down the high and mighty.

As Wimbledon rose from the Southern League to the First Division, Plough Lane remained stubbornly unchanged. The Main Stand and prewar South Stand opposite it didn’t stretch the full length of the pitch, the West Terrace had a minimal roof and the (away) Wandle End none at all. But when Wimbledon decamped to Selhurst Park in 1991 for a supposedly temporary groundshare, it was as if the club's soul had been torn out.

Worse was to follow, but there could be better news to come. Such is the enduring pull of Plough Lane, AFC Wimbledon are hoping to return there as part of plans to develop the adjacent Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium.

Plough Lane

Plough Lane's West Terrace in 1973/74. Pic Bob Lilliman, Groundtastic Magazine

Plough Lane

Plough Lane's South Stand in 1973/74; Wimbledon were still in the Southern League. Pic Bob Lilliman, Groundtastic Magazine

7. Middlesbrough (Ayresome Park)

AYRESOME PARK

  • Opened 1903
  • Closed 1995
  • Record attendance 53,802

At one time Middlesbrough had a drawing on their programme cover showing Ayresome Park as the centre-piece of a landscape that included the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge and numerous chimneys.

Ayresome Park was Teesside writ large, a vivid symbol of a town that once styled itself Ironopolis. Elements of the ground, the North Stand included, lasted all the way from the grand opening in 1903 to the last match in 1995, as Boro sealed promotion back to the Premier League.

The club gates, infamously locked by bailiffs in 1986 forcing Boro to play a home game at Hartlepool, have now been re-erected at the new Riverside Stadium. Ayresome Park had a brief afterlife as Boro’s training ground, but is now a housing estate.

Ayresome Park

Looking towards the East End at Ayresome's last match. Pic John Higgins, Groundtastic Magazine.

Ayresome Park

The North Stand at Ayresome Park's last ever match, 30 Apr 1995. Pic John Higgins, Groundtastic Magazine.