Monday, 12 September 2011

The end of The Willows

I went to Salford yesterday for the last ever match at The Willows, Salford rugby league club's home since 1901. With no away fans admitted, just over ten thousand turned up, about twice the average gate.

On the pitch, it was definitely a game of two halves: a tight first half in which Salford's defence kept the score to 18-12 at half time and then a second half in which the Catalans ran in four more tries and the last ever points scored, after the hooter had sounded, were from the boot of the French stand-off Thomas Bosc.

Salford are due to move to the new City of Salford stadium in Barton-upon-Irwell in time for the start of next season. I've heard some fans complain before (and again yesterday in the queue for the turnstiles) about Barton being outside the historic boundaries of the City of Salford. I'm not really bothered about that but I've still got mixed feelings about the move.

I understand that the chances of Salford remaining in the Super League if they'd stayed at The Willows were slim and that a bigger, more modern stadium will generate the revenues they need to become a competitive force in it. But even with its standing sections, the new stadium is never going to have the atmosphere of The Willows with its low roofed terraces and high open corners hemmed in by the adjoining streets.

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