The Racecourse Ground: Wrexham
The Racecourse ground situated in Wrexham, North East Wales is the oldest International Football Stadium in the World and has been the venue for some of British Football’s most historic memories. The following article details the fascinating history of the stadium.
The Racecourse Ground («Y Cae Ras» in Welsh language) is the long term home of Wrexham Football Club who currently ply their trade in the Blue Square Premier league, the Racecourse is the largest stadium in this league with a capacity of 15,000, however this is currently reduced to 10,500 due to the kop stand being closed awaiting renovation to take the ground to being an all seater venue. In early 2010 Super League (Rugby League) side The Crusaders relocated to Wrexham and now use The Racecourse Ground as their home base.
In the 1800’s the Ground was owned by Wrexham Cricket Club and was a venue for Cricket and Horse Racing (hence the grounds name). In 1872 Wrexham Football Club was born and thus the ground became a football stadium. In those days however it was less of a «stadium» due to the lack of facilities. The first stand to be built was the kop terracing in the 1950’s whch is the oldest remaining part of the gound. The current away supporters stand (Eric Roberts Builders Stand) was built in 1978 following Wrexham’s most successful period on the pitch. By this time floodlights had already long been installed. In 1999 the ground was brought to it’s current standards with the completion of a 3500 capacity, modern designed stand including restaurant and bar facilities. The current capacity of 15000 is dwarfed by the record recorded attendance of amlost 35,000 people to witness an FA Cup tie against Manchester United in the 1950’s
The Racecourse Ground’s most distinguishing fact is that it is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as being the oldest International Football Stadium in current use. Over the years it has hosted many Wales International matches meaning the roll call of world greats to have graced the Racecourse changing rooms is long and distinguished. The Raceourse ground was the venue when Wales beat England 4-1 in the then Home Nations Tournament, a game still oft referred to and featured on television programmes. Similarly the Racecourse ground is featured annually on the weekend of the FA Cup third round having been the venue for the greatest FA Cup giant killing of all time when Wrexham beat current league champions Arsenal 2-1 in 1990.
The ground is no stranger to club level European football either, Wrexham enjoyed many ventures in the European Cup Winners cup and in recent years Welsh sides Bangor City and Total Network Solutions have used the venue for their European ties.
The Racecourse ground is also a favourite rugby venture. Currently the home of Rugby league team «The Crusaders» it has also been used by Rugby Union region «The Scarlets» as well as playing host to World Cup Rugby League and International Rugby Union matches.
The future of the Racecourse ground is that Wrexham Football Clubs owners plan to redevelop land behind the top end of the ground into student accommodation whilst rebuilding the kop stand into a multi purpose stand. The future may be different from the past but it is certain that the history and memories of the ground will live forever.
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