Castleford Tigers
The Jungle

Ground No. 3
Visited - Sunday 11th June 2006
Result - Castleford Tigers 26-26 Bradford Bulls
Competition - Super League
Attendance - 7600

With Castleford looking to leave Wheldon Road for a new, modern stadium, it put the ground towards the top of my list to visit. Unfortunately the club (and town) had recently had a setback with those plans with the rejection of a casino bid, but I was still looking forward to visiting the ground all the same.

With the journey up to Yorkshire being a fairly long one, I’d set out early on the Sunday morning, having to change trains in Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds before finally arriving into Castleford just after 1pm. From there it was a short walk through town, and along Wheldon Road before arriving at the ground itself, formerly known by the name of the road it stands on.

On arriving at the ground, the first impression is of how little development it has seen in recent years compared to other venues. That isn’t to say that it hasn’t been cared for though, as all of the exterior still looks reasonably smart, and in good condition, so after having a quick walk round and back into town for a much needed drink on what was a VERY hot day, I eventually went in through the Main Stand turnstiles and up onto the terracing.

As with the outside, once inside it is still evident that the ground has changed very little over the years with terracing running around all four sides of the pitch. Behind one set of posts was the Railway End, which was an uncovered terrace that wrapped around the corners to meet the Main Stand on one side, and the Princess Street Stand opposite. Behind the Railway End were a number of executive boxes, as well as the scoreboard in the corner. This seemed to be where the majority of Bradford fans were congregating, bathing in the bright afternoon sun. Adjacent to the Railway End was the Princess Street Stand, which was another terrace, this time covered that ran the full length of the pitch. Similar in style and at the near end of the ground was the Wheldon Road End, which was a fair sized terrace, with a low roof. The only thing that let it down was a distinct lack of crush barriers, but once full, that didn’t make a huge difference. The final part of the ground was the Main Stand, which was in three parts, with at the two ends a couple of uncovered terraces that wrapped round from the ends, whilst in the middle between them was the Main Stand itself, which was all-seated with a low, pitched roof that was supported by quite a number of pillars that must have made the view poor if sitting in there.

After having taken a few pictures, and visited the stall handing out free dandelion & burdock (much needed with the weather!), I eventually found a good spot to stand in, in the Wheldon Road End, and waited for the game to start.

Having seen Castleford at Warrington a couple of weeks earlier, they had very much reminded me of Wolves (the football version), in the way they had inevitably collapsed to a defeat, despite leaving the fans on tenterhooks right to the end with various moments of hope cruelly dashed before too long, and this game was to be no different when with just minutes gone, Bradford cruised into a 12-0 lead following tries from Michael Withers and Terry Newton, both converted by Paul Deacon. Despite this set-back, the home side came back fighting, and encouraged by the fans in the Wheldon Road End, they dominated the rest of the first half, going in with a 16-12 half-time lead, looking by far the better side, despite what the league table suggested before the game.

In the second half, Castleford went 20-12 up early on thanks to a try from Wayne Pryce, but unfortunately that was the end of their dominance, and my mind was soon rushing back to comparisons with Wolves, when despite not really looking too convincing, Bradford came back at the hosts and made the score 20-22, before with just three minutes left they increased their lead by another four points to seemingly put the game beyond the Tigers. With some fans already leaving, and Castleford’s effort looking to go unrewarded, Michael Shenton had other ideas and in the very last minute, after some determined running upfield, he went over the line to make it 24-26. Despite the last minute drama, it seemed to be too little too late, with Shenton having gone over right in the corner, to give Craig Huby an almost impossible position to score from. With the ball virtually on the touchline it was hearts in the mouth time, and the pressure was on, but Huby managed to hold his nerve with a fantastic kick that went sailing right between the posts to make the home crowd erupt in delight at sealing a dramatic last minute draw.

It was the least that Castleford deserved, as they really had been superb and to the neutral it really had been a fantastic game to watch, even I was jumping around at the end following Huby’s conversion! Throughout the game, the fans in the Wheldon Road End of the ground had helped to create a great atmosphere, so not just the team, but they as well were deserving of what could prove to be a vital point.

After leaving the ground, the walk back to the train station didn’t take long, and I was soon back on a train heading southwards in a good mood, stopping off in Leeds to find a pub to have a few drinks in and watch the second half of Mexico vs Iran.

Overall, it had been quite a good day out. The ground might not be one of the most modern in the world, but it is a real classic, and sadly a dying breed with its extensive terracing and ‘old school’ feel to it. When the club do leave, it may well be a step forward for them, but at the same time it will be a sad day for those of us who prefer to visit grounds like Wheldon Road/The Jungle.

Welcome to Castleford

Rear of the Main Stand

The Club Shop

The Arthur Atkinson Memorial Gates

Rear of the Wheldon Road End

Rear of the Princess Street Stand

The Railway End

The Princess Street Stand

The Wheldon Road End

The Main Stand

The Main Stand

The Wheldon Road End

The Princess Street Stand

The Railway End

The Main Stand

The Jungle Panoramic


1 comment:

  1. Hi
    I am planning to visit Wheldon Road this weekend, as it appears this season will definitely, definitely be the stadium's last. I am keen to see if it has changed at all since your visit.