Sealand Road


Sealand Road

Infobox Historic building
name= The Stadium, Sealand Road
location_town=Chester
location_country=England
architect=
client=Chester City F.C.
engineer=
construction_start_date=
completion_date=1906
date_demolished=1992-93 (closed 1990)
cost=
structural_system=
style=
size=

Sealand Road was the home stadium of Chester City Football Club (until 1983 known as Chester Football Club) from 1906 until 1990. Although officially known simply as The Stadium, it was more commonly referred to as Sealand Road. It was much-loved by supporters of Chester, who currently play at the Deva Stadium.

Moving In and Out

Chester moved to Sealand Road from Whipcord Lane in 1906, thanks to the help of local MP Alfred Mond [cite book | author=Chas Sumner | title=On the Borderline: The Official History of Chester City 1885-1997 | year=1997| pages= p.125|id=ISBN 1-874427-52-6] . The first game was on December 15 1906, when Chester beat Bangor City 4-0 in The Combination. Over the years The Stadium continued to take shape, with improved cover stands helping Chester win election to the Football League in 1931. The stadium was one of the first to have a public address system, with the matchday announcer regularly saying "Hello Spion Kop, Hello Albert". From 1990-2000, Chester had a fanzine called Hello Albert. Albert was believed to be a long-standing supporter [cite book | author=Chas Sumner | title=On the Borderline: The Official History of Chester City 1885-1997 | year=1997| pages= p.126|id=ISBN 1-874427-52-6] .

Floodlights were installed in 1960, with the towering 126ft lights being used for the first time in a 2-2 Football League Cup draw with Leyton Orient in October 1960 [cite book | author=Chas Sumner | title=On the Borderline: The Official History of Chester City 1885-1997 | year=1997| pages= p.126|id=ISBN 1-874427-52-6] . They were officially opened later in the season with a prestigious friendly against Manchester United.

In 1979, the look of Sealand Road was significantly changed when a new grandstand was opened, replacing the previous small stand. Towering over the rest of the ground, the 2,874 capacity stand provided improved viewing facilities but was criticised for reducing atmosphere levels as it was detached from the rest of The Stadium [cite book | author=Chas Sumner | title=On the Borderline: The Official History of Chester City 1885-1997 | year=1997| pages= p.126|id=ISBN 1-874427-52-6] . The paddock area in front was not open to spectators. In the final years, the other three sides were taken up with the open Kop End (away) and covered Sealand End (home) and Popular Side (half for home fans, half for away fans).

Chester suffered a major blow in August 1989, when it was announced the club had been refused a safety certificate for its away standing areas. This reduced the capacity of The Stadium to below 6,000 [cite book | author=Chas Sumner | title=On the Borderline: The Official History of Chester City 1885-1997 | year=1997| pages= p.126|id=ISBN 1-874427-52-6] .

This was to be Chester's last season at Sealand Road, as they were controversially moved out by their owners and left homeless at Moss Rose, Macclesfield from 1990-92. They returned to the city at the Deva Stadium in August 1992.

Memorable Games

Although Chester have never played in the top two divisions of the English system, Sealand Road housed several prestigious games. The most memorable were in the 1974-75 season, when they reached the League Cup semi-finals. League champions Leeds United were beaten 3-0 at Sealand Road in round four, with Newcastle United losing a replay on the same ground in the quarter-finals. This led to Sealand Road being the unlikely venue for a League Cup semi-final on January 15 1975, when Chester drew 2-2 with Aston Villa in the first-leg in front of 19,000.

The record attendance at Sealand Road was set in an FA Cup third round replay tie against Chelsea on January 16 1952. Watched by 20,378, Chelsea won 3-2 in extra-time.

The first Football League match at The Stadium saw Chester thrash Wigan Borough 4-0 on August 29 1931, with Frank Cresswell scoring the first goal cite web|url=http://www.chester-city.co.uk/first_match.asp|title=Match report on chester-city.co.uk|author=|accessdate=2008-01-12] . Unfortunately the result was later deleted from the records as Borough resigned from the league in October, meaning the first result to stand is a 3-1 win over Halifax Town the following month.

The final Football League match was a 2-0 home win over Rotherham United on April 28 1990, with Graham Abel scoring the final goal in front of 3,827 cite web|url=http://www.chester-city.co.uk/last_match.asp|title=Match report on chester-city.co.uk|author=|accessdate=2008-01-12] . One of Rotherham's players that afternoon was Bobby Williamson, who is now Chester manager. On May 3 1990 Chester Reserves draw 3-3 with Tranmere Rovers in The Midland Senior League in The Stadium's final ever game [cite book | author=Chas Sumner | title=On the Borderline: The Official History of Chester City 1885-1997 | year=1997| pages= p.126|id=ISBN 1-874427-52-6] .

The Stadium hosted Welsh Cup finals, including when Chester beat Wrexham in 1933, and was also often used for local cup finals and minor internationals. In 1935, The Stadium famously staged an England amateur trial match involving two referees - an experiment that was largely not considered to be a success [cite book | author=Chas Sumner | title=On the Borderline: The Official History of Chester City 1885-1997 | year=1997| pages= p.54|id=ISBN 1-874427-52-6] .

Chester's record Football League victory was registered at Sealand Road in February 1936, when Chester hammered York City 12-0.

The Stadium was the venue for the Football League debut of Ian Rush, when Chester drew 2-2 with Sheffield Wednesday in April 1979.

Today

The Stadium remained in place for nearly three years after Chester moved out, much to the frustration of supporters who were being forced to travel across Cheshire to watch home games at Macclesfield until the Deva Stadium was opened in August 1992. Unfortunately it was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair during this period, with grass growing to incredibly long lengths.

The Stadium was finally demolished in 1993 and the site now houses an out of town shopping park. The stand roof was soon in use by Port Vale for their away enclosure. Chester's new Deva Stadium home is a short walk away along Bumpers Lane.

External links

* [http://www.chester-city.co.uk/sealand_road_1.asp Sealand Road pictures (shortly before demolition)]

References


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