An architectural look at Wrexham FC’s Racecourse Ground

Recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest stadium still to be hosting international football matches, the Racecourse Ground is the home of current National League side Wrexham FC. Apart from a short period in the 1880s, the club has been playing football at the Racecourse Ground since its formation in 1874.

The Racecourse Ground is the largest stadium in North Wales and the fifth largest in Wales, making the team one of the few Welsh sides playing in the English football league. The ground located on Mold Road near the A483, with Wrexham General Railway Station is adjacent to it.

Beginnings

Before football matches were played at the stadium, it held, as its names suggests, horse races. The first recorded race was on September 29, 1807, and was for the Town Purse price of £60. Three-day race meeting were held annually for 50 years, but races were stopped in 1857 because the authorities claimed that horse racing encouraged crowd trouble and drunkenness.

In the 1860s, donkey and bike races were held at the Racecourse Stadium. In the summer, Wrexham Cricket club played matches there, and in 1864, at a meeting of Wrexham Cricket Club at the Turf Hotel public house, it was decided to form a football club in order for the cricket players to remain active in the winter. This was just one year after the formation of the Football Association and the writing of the first laws of football.

The first matches of the newly formed football club were probably held at Acton Park on a pitch with no facilities.

Wrexham Football Club started playing matches at the Racecourse Ground in 1874. Two years later, the first international football match was held at the Racecourse Stadium between Wales and Scotland. In 1905, the Racecourse became the permanent home of Wrexham FC.

The development of the Racecourse Ground

In 1952, the Kop was built. This was a concrete structure for 4,000 standing fans and is now the oldest part of the ground. Four years later, in 1956, 34,400 fans – the largest crowd to fill the stadium – gathered to watch the match between Wrexham and Manchester United. In 1959 the first floodlights in the ground were switched on.

By 1972, the Sainsbury Stand had been built with seated accommodation for 4,200 people. The stand also contains hospitality rooms, the Centenary Club, and executive boxes.

After Wrexham were promoted to the old Second Division, the Eric Roberts Stand was erected for 3,800 away fans in 1978. In 1999, the most recent addition was added – the Pryce Griffiths stand or the Mold Road Stand.

Major work was carried out on the ground in 2014 that included replacing the pitch and adding a sprinkler system. New changing rooms were built for players and officials too.

Recent work carried out on the ground include new medical facilities. The camber at the Kop end was removed to keep the stadium capable of hosting international matches.

In 2015, thanks to a grant by Wrexham Disabled Supporters Association, a new viewing platform for disabled spectators was constructed at the back of the Pryce Griffiths stand. The ground also has eight allocated spaces for visually impaired fans.

Football fans like the atmosphere of the Racecourse Ground because no seat is far from the pitch and it has nearly a century and a half of history hosting football.

Present day architecture of the Racecourse Ground

 

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After some change of names, there are now stands situated on each of the four sides of the stadium.

The Mold Road Stand has disabled facilities and corporate sponsorship boxes. It also houses a television gantry, a TV studio and commentary boxes for the media.

The Glyndwr University stand is behind the goal and seats 2,800 fans.

The Yale Stand is a two-tiered structure for 4,200 people. The stand has an entertainment complex including the Centenary Club where VIP fans can wine and dine before taking their seats in the executive boxes

The Kop End is the oldest part of the stadium and situated behind one of the goals.

In recent years, further development work has been carried out at the ground. The Club Megastore has been moved from the stadium to the site of the old Dickens Showroom nearby. New administration offices are now located above the store.

There are designated family areas in the Kop Stand and the Mold Stand.

Present owners

By the mid-2000s, Wrexham Football Club was in financial trouble. Faced with possible financial failure, the club was taken over by the Wrexham Football Supporters Club, making the club one of very few in the UK to be owned by its supporters, with local rivals Chester FC being another.

In 2011, Glyndŵr University bought the stadium but allowed Wrexham FC to run the football side of the business on a 99-year lease. This means that the future of both the football club and the Racecourse Ground is secure.

The stadium’s name was changed in 2011 to Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium, and in 2016 became known simply as My Racecourse. As well as football games, the stadium is also home to the Crusaders rugby league team and sometimes Liverpool FC’s reserves play there.

The stadium is also used by students from the University who study journalism, history and sports. Students film both football and rugby games so that they can be analysed as part of their sports courses. Students also coach local children and community groups in football and rugby.

The Racecourse Stadium has recently become a venue for concerts, including the likes of UB40, Ollie Murs and the Stereophonics.

To increases revenue, Glyndŵr university hires out the hospitality suites for functions, conferences and meetings. Entertainment and hospitality rooms can be hired for match days as well as non-match days. It also remains a venue for international rugby and football matches.

The Racecourse has had a long history and, under its present management, should continue to entertain sports fans and concert-goers for many years to come.

Posted by Mark
June 2, 2017
Features

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