Hull FC
The Boulevard





When Hull KR were promoted to the Super League in 2006 then it clinched a notable feat for the city, with Hull becoming the first place in the country to boast two top flight teams since the summer era of the sport began 10 years previously. At that time it had been proposed for the club to merge with local rivals Hull FC and form ‘Humberside’, but anyone who knows anything about rugby will tell you that Hull is a divided city, the eastern half red, the western half black, and so it was to stay, perhaps rightfully so, but what maybe many people outside of East Yorkshire might not so readily know is that it hasn’t always been that way.

Hull KR were formed in 1882, some 17 years after FC, but they quickly rose to become the leading team not just in the area, but one of the top sides in the North of England. Established by workers from the Hessle Road district, they spent their early years playing on various grounds in the local vicinity, but their success merited a bigger venue and so in 1892 they became tenants of the Athletics club at the Boulevard Stadium. The crowds flocked in, and with this a permanent base was sought, moving across to the east side the city three years later, where they’d remain until the present day.

1895 had been a significant year not just for KR with their move to East Hull, but for Rugby as a whole with the formation of the Northern Union. KR stayed loyal to the RFU until 1897, but FC were one of the founding members of the movement towards professionalism, and with the establishment of a new era, then a new ground was needed, so in September of that year, just weeks after the famous meeting at the George Hotel in Huddersfield, they hosted Liversedge in front of 8000 fans at the ground that their rivals to be had not long vacated.

Named the Boulevard, ironically the ground doesn’t actually stand on the road that bears its title. Instead, its main entrance is off Airlie Street, which was to give the club their nickname of ‘The Airlie Birds’. The site had been use for sports since the 1850s, and four years after moving in, FC bought it outright in 1899. 1904 saw football side Hull City start life there, and in 1927 greyhound racing made its debut as the club looked at ways to raise extra money. Speedway was to come in 1971, lasting 10 years, but none of the extra clubs and sports who called it home were to last as long as FC, who ended 107 years of history in 2002 when they moved into the newly built KC Stadium, only a short distance down the road. In its lifetime, the ground had seen many significant rugby games, including matches during the 1970, 1995 and 2000 World Cups, the latter seeing Australia crush Russia by a 110-4 scoreline. The grounds record attendance came in 1936 when 28,798 people saw the visits of Leeds in a Challenge Cup fixture, yet come its end, the final capacity stood at barely just over a third of that figure.

After leaving the site, the ground didn’t face imminent demolition, instead it was put back into use for amateur and youth rugby, before Greyhound racing was revived up until the summer of 2009 when the gates were locked once more.

Unfortunately for myself, FC had left the ground before I even started to get into Rugby League, so I’d never seen a game there, but on a visit to the city in 2010 then I decided to see what was left of the ground which stood disused with its future still to be decided by the local council.

Tightly packed in on three sides, in the few months since the greyhounds had moved out, as soon as arriving, then it was evident that the vandals had quickly moved in. The site is sealed off, but easily accessible with half the bars in the surrounding fences prised apart or removed altogether. The Threepenny Stand had originally been the stand of choice for home fans, but a new structure had been built in its place in 1995. Running the length of the pitch, about three quarters of it contains seats whilst the far end has a small section of terracing. Hospitality boxes stand at the rear, but this stand has seen the largest extent of vandalism, with most windows smashed and the internal areas completely wrecked. Many seats have been broken as well. Opposite once stood the East Stand, but this had since been demolished in 2006 due to health and safety fears, whilst the two ends curve around the track with terracing peaking towards its centre, the far end slightly bigger than the near end.

It has been mooted, probably more out of nostalgia than common sense, by a number of fans wishing for a return to the ground, but after having walked around the site then its obvious that it has seen its last days of professional rugby. Whilst the terracing could probably be easily cleaned up, it doesn’t excuse the fact that it is still open with only basic facilities. The Threepenny Stand is a complete wreck, and with nothing on the east side, the modern game has clearly passed it by with the RFL demanding grounds akin to the KC Stadium as part of the franchise requirements for the future. Despite this though, whatever becomes of it, then the ground has played a significant part in the history of the city, for all of its major clubs and sporting pastimes, so it would be hoped that its memory isn’t sold out for a cheap housing development with no reference to its former use should the inevitable come to happen. 





Turnstiles to the Ground


Rear of the Threepenny Stand


Up to the Terracing


The Threepenny Stand


The Threepenny Stand


Damage inside the Stand


Inside one of the Hospitality Boxes


The Bar Downstairs


The Threepenny Stand


The Far End


Damaged Building


Far End Terracing


Far End Terracing


The East Side


Looking over where the East Stand once stood


Near End Terracing


Near End Terracing
(note the KC Stadium in the distance)


"Penalty for Hull"


The Boulevard, Hull FC
1895 - 2002



The Boulevard Panoramic 1


The Boulevard Panoramic 2


The Boulevard Panoramic 3

 




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