Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The lights go down

Hull's finest: Ken Wagstaff & Chris Chilton*

You don't have to be a fan of Hull City to read this post. You don't even have to be a fan of football. Here's the back-story: Boothferry Park was the home of Hull City from 1946-2002. They've never been a fashionable club. And until recently they've never been a particularly successful club; they plied their trade in the lower leagues for many years in front of a faithful following - many arriving at the ground by train. That's right, by train. The platform being at the back of the East Stand.

But then they moved. Not far, but they left Boothferry Park. To a shiny new stadium (as Boothferry Park itself must have been once upon a time) that looks like any other shiny new stadium; soulless and characterless. And what became of Boothferry Park? Look away now if you well up easily. This film was made in 2006.

The story as you've probably gathered doesn't have a happy ending. The final three floodlights came down last Saturday; now there's no visible evidence that football was ever played there. Again, those with a weak heart are advised not to click here unless they get a kick out watching three short clips depicting the decline (quite literally) of each remaining pylon.

I'm so glad my dad doesn't have access to the internet. We were both born in Hull and it was my dad who took me to see my first game of football at Boothferry Park in 1969. It would break his heart.

* I politely refrained from calling them Hull's leading lights


  1. It's a sad moment, but apparently not sad or newsworthy enough for our beloved local newspaper, which has always hated Hull City, to make the fuss it deserves. Those magnificent free-standing pylons were unique in football and even as a teenager in the Well in the 1980s I noticed the striking contribution they made to night matches, beyond the type of lighting now built into the framework of stadia.

    You're a bit harsh on the KC, John. It's a decently designed, unsymmetrical example of nu-stadia and by dint has more soul and class than some of the legokit homes built for Leicester and Southampton, which have been used as an excuse to rob all supporters of their dignity and maturity with the rules they brought in with their hideous constructions. And the KC is still undervalued as far as its contribution to non-stop success in the noughties is concerned. As soon as we were there, the crowds started to come back and we achieved three promotions in six years. That wouldn't have happened at Fer Ark. Most members of the Tiger Nation would tell you that they miss Fer Ark for nostalgia reasons but not because of anything that enhanced the spectacle of seeing good football. We didn't play any good football there for for the last 13 years of its lifetime. When the KC was planned and built, everybody approved, and still do.

    I watched the Tigers from every available section of Fer Ark and, apart from fan culture stuff like the dust showers and graffiti, don't miss it at all. What was a problem was the way the old place was allowed to rot away upon the club's exit from it. It should have been tarted up as a luxury training ground or bulldozed the moment its usefulness expired, and neither happened. For years fans would break in to take photos of its continuing decline, even the BBC did a feature on it when Phil Brown was being flavour of the month around September 2008. It did have the best pitch - by definition of actual prizes won - for many years, but the rest of the ground was seriously in decline and, for what little money we had, irreparable.

  2. I'm a huge fan of Admiral 70s kits - were Hull ever Admiral branded ?

  3. Matt - Thanks for putting the story in perspective. After I left Hull I would go back from time to time and you could see the ground going to seed while you were watching the game. Did you blag any memorabilia when it went - turnstile, seat, Gents sign?

    Mond - Have a word with Matt, I'm sure he's the font of all Tigers kit knowledge. This is my shirt: a keeper's shirt from the early '90s - it's my winter running top these days.

  4. It's happening all over JM... footie stadiums, concert venues, historical buildings...

    Why have em (and all the lovely atmos and memories inside) when you can have a shiny new purpose built shell, with the atmosphere of a clinic inside.

    Soon this country will look no more than about 20 years old. Ugh.


  5. Hi, thanks for the link to my site, it was quite a sad few hours watching the floodlights go down, very surprising the lack of media coverage as well. I will link this site from mine if you'd like? link swap?

    Thanks again.

  6. Thank you Lbp. If nothing else, at least you've got a story for your grandchildren in years to come. You've obviously had time to 'bed-in' at the new place. How does it feel? Has the move worked for you?

  7. The K.C is probably the best move Hull City have ever made, but there was something special about Boothferry Park, I have some great memories of that old ground. I'll add your link to my link page tonight, I'm hoping to put up the Wembley play off final highlights from a few years ago.

    Thanks again -