Scarborough FC: Memories remain as historical stadium faces end

THE train ride into Scarborough during the summer months is invariably one filled with anticipation.

A pleasant day watching the cricket at North Marine Road is what has usually drawn us towards the seaside, while if the weather does intervene sanctuary can always be found in the public bar of the excellent North Riding Hotel behind the ground.

And if, worst luck, the rain turns out to be set in for the day, Scarborough offers several other hostelries in which to while away the hours – including, on our most recent visit for the County Championship fixture against Hampshire in August, one where a parrot could be found flying around the bar.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In the past couple of years, however, the final leg of the journey from Seamer to Scarborough has been spoilt by one thing. The brief glimpse of a decaying McCain Stadium from the train window.

Since the town's former Football League club folded in 2007, the old Athletic Ground – or Seamer Road as it was more commonly known before the sponsors came calling – has gradually fallen into a state of disrepair.

As happened at Hull City's former home Boothferry Park, the vandals quickly took advantage of it laying vacant by beginning a trail of destruction that included ripping out seats and smashing windows. The arsonists have also been regular visitors to a ground that first staged football in 1898.

Keeping out such morons has not been easy, with even a security fence put up a couple of years ago falling prey to the thieves just a few hours after being erected.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mother Nature has proved as equally unforgiving as the vandals, seizing control of the pitch and terraces to such an extent that it is difficult to believe that Conference football was played here as recently as 2006.

Now, it seems the end could be near after Scarborough Council last week invited companies to submit bids to level a stadium they bought for 1.3m from the football club's administrators.

The East and West Stands – which sit behind each goal – could still be saved and transferred to a new sports village planned elsewhere in the town. So might the floodlights that sit above one stand.

But what the news did do was put an end to any lingering hopes that football could one day return to a place once affectionately known to supporters as 'The Theatre of Chips' in recognition of the ground's sponsor.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It means that, soon, all Boro supporters will have are their memories. Of the three stirring FA Trophy runs that ended in success at Wembley, of the promotion season under Neil Warnock that brought entry to the Football League, and of the day not so long ago when a Chelsea side including John Terry, Frank Lampard and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink were fortunate to escape with a 1-0 victory in the 2003-04 FA Cup.

There was also the infamous afternoon in August, 1987, when a Wolves supporter crashed through the stand roof on to the terrace below as Scarborough's League bow was made memorable for all the wrong reasons.

The sounding of the death knell for a ground is, as any supporter of a club who has moved home will tell you, a sad day.

For the residents living nearby, however, the news that demolition of the McCain Stadium had moved a step closer must have come as a relief.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Living next door to somewhere that vandals, arsonists and goodness knows who else have been using as a playground for the past three years must have been a nightmare. It also cannot have done much for house prices at a time when anyone wanting to sell is hardly being inundated with offers.

It is for that very reason that the time has come for the McCain Stadium to be consigned to the dust.

Even if, come next summer, the train trip to Scarborough will be made that little bit sadder by the knowledge that another slice of Yorkshire sporting history has died.