Sunday, March 06, 2011

Sunday Sadness

Left, the monstrous East Stand, an Eighties addition to a previously open terrace which ruined the view of the pitch from the landings of Swansea Prison, seen in background. Front, a gaping void in the North Bank, the large terrace which could hold 10,000-plus fans in pre-Taylor Report days.

They're finally demolishing the Vetch Field, former home of Swansea Town, which has been standing empty for six years. The turf trodden by Ivor and Len Allchurch, John and Mel Charles, Terry Medwin, Cliff Jones (not to mention Dave Gwyther and Tony Millington), will become a 'landscaped area'.

Someone's pinched the clock.

There's something awfully sad about an abandoned football ground. I felt the same about Park Avenue, which for years remained empty in Bradford 7, the posts gone and the grass growing a yard high.

Photo by ronaldaroo on flickr.

"Where now are the coaches and people ? where is the rattle a'rattling?
Where are the shirts and the scarves and the two sides battling?
Where is the roar and the chant, and the toilet roll throwing?
Where is the hand round the pint, and the cigarette glowing?"

The sporting landscape of a Swansea childhood is vanishing - at neighbouring St Helen's, the disappearance of the Mound Stand destroyed one of cricket's great pleasures - the ability to watch the sea and the shipping between deliveries. Then the old East Stand, recipient of a couple of Gary Sobers' six sixes, was demolished and replaced by what looks like an aluminium bus shelter. The stand overhung the Mumbles Road and was supported by pillars on the pavement, giving a cloister effect and shelter from rain. During the early Sixties wave of Welsh nationalism, the letters F R E E W A L E S ! were painted on the pillars. Within weeks some wag had painted out the W, and the pillars advertised free ales until demolition.

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