1. Park Avenue- Bradford
The old terracing from the Park Avenue stadium in Bradford was found beneath these trees in 2015. Source: Carl Marsden http://www.bpadmc.co.uk/
This stadium opened in 1880 and was a multi-sport venue, boasting both a football and cricket pitch adjacent to each other. While the cricket pitch remains to this day, the football stadium and surrounding terracing, which hosted league football until 1970, was left derelict. Bradford Park Avenue had to sell the ground for financial reasons but was liquidated in 1974 with an amateur club formed in its place. The old Park Avenue stadium buildings were demolished in 1980, but the terracing and pitch were still left alone. After a brief reincarnation in 1987-8, when the amateur club played there for one season, the ground was left derelict once again for nature to take its course, when an indoor cricket centre was built on part of the old football ground. In September 2015 a group of archaeologists and football historians set about digging for the remains of what used to be an important Bradford sporting venue. The site is now being re-developed into a state of the art cricketing training facility, due to open in 2019 on the site of the old football ground. A reformed Bradford Park Avenue FC play at the Horsfall Stadium, a separate stadium and compete in the Conference North.
2. The Boulevard, Hull
Terracing at the Boulevard in Hull, nowadays a school. Source: Wikipedia, Creative commons, Author: Paul Glazzard
Home to Hull FC for 107 years, this tough, intimidating rugby league venue was often a graveyard for many an opposition player. Its notorious “Threepenny” stand, where the hardcore home support would gather and sing their anthem, “Old Faithful” was legendary in the game. This all changed when the team moved into the purpose built KC Stadium, along with Hull City FC in 2003. At first the ground reinvented itself as a greyhound stadium in 2007 and it looked as if the historic ground had been saved. By 2010, the dogs had moved out and the council in with plans to turn the site into a school. After local opposition and a failed plan by Hull FC to use the Boulevard as a training facility it was finally levelled in 2010. Three years later the brand new Boulevard Academy school opened and took in its first pupils.
3. Ayresome Park – Middlesbrough
Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough was built in 1903 and home to the town’s football club until they moved into the purpose built Riverside Stadium in 1995. There were two mysterious legends surrounding the old ground. The first is that a band of gypsies were evicted to make way for the building of the new stadium. In revenge they cursed the club to ensure that success would never be enjoyed by the team, while they were resident at the ground. This proved pretty much to be the case until 1995 when they moved out and then started to enjoy better success. The second is that a “ghost” fan, known as “Ned”, would appear at the gates of the ground if Middlesbrough were going to win. On the site of the old Ayresome Park now stands a housing estate, which may sound like a boring replacement. However, this being the North East there is still the statue of a bronze football, which marks where the centre circle used to be and a pair of football boots on the spot where one of the most famous Ayresome goals was scored – North Korean Pak-Do Ik’s winner against Italy in the 1966 World Cup….
4. Chandos Park – Leeds
This sports ground in Roundhay, Leeds played host to the “minority” sport that is Rugby Union. The old Roundhay Rugby Union Club were formed in 1923 and became a force in the Yorkshire amateur Rugby League leagues. Their finest hour came, when they hosted Union giants, Leicester in the third round of the John Player Cup in 1981, which attracted a crowd of 3,000 to this small, suburban ground. The visitors won 34-3. In 1992, Roundhay merged with Headingley to form Leeds RUFC. They left Chandos Park to share with Leeds Rhinos at Headingley Stadium and eventually helped the new club enter the top flight of Rugby Union in 2001, known then as the Leeds Tykes. As for Chandos Park, this was still used by the reserve and development teams until 2006 when the bulldozers came in to create a new housing estate. All rugby facilities moved to an expanded West Leeds RUFC in Bramhope.
5. Don Valley Stadium- Sheffield
Perhaps the biggest fall from grace of any Yorkshire sports stadia comes in Sheffield. The Don Valley stadium was built to much fanfare in 1990 in readiness for Sheffield’s hosting of the World Student Games the following year. After this event it was used as a community athletics facility, concert venue, the home of Sheffield Eagles Rugby League side and for a time Rotherham United FC from 2008-12. The decision to demolish Don Valley, then the second largest athletics facility in the UK, after the London Olympic stadium, came as a huge shock to many, with council cuts cited as the major reason. A brand new community stadium for Sheffield on the site of Don Valley is in the planning stages, which will provide a home for Sheffield Eagles and the Sheffield Sharks basketball club. The old Don Valley, where Jessica Ennis was discovered and Helen Sharman dropped the torch at the World Student Games opening ceremony are now just memories.