Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Belle Vue

Ground No. 14
Visited - Saturday 9th May 2009
Result - Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 17-28 Wigan Warriors
Competition - Challenge Cup 5th Round
Attendance - 4883

The name Belle Vue appears in many sports, perhaps most famously as the name of a stadium in Manchester which plays host to greyhound racing and a speedway team who also bear the name. Football also has two notable ones, Doncaster’s former home and Welsh side Rhyl’s ground, but the Belle Vue that has outlasted them all is situated in West Yorkshire, the home of Wakefield Trinity since 1895. Despite its longevity, its days do now look numbered with the club actively pursuing a new ground to replace its ageing facilities, although the number of setbacks they’ve had has led most people to question whether they’ll actually leave there at all!

Situated in the south of the city, I’d wanted to go for a while, having had brief glimpses on the train a number of times where you can see the floodlights just before entering Wakefield Westgate, so I was pleased when Wigan drew them in the Challenge Cup 5th Round, having missed the league fixture there a few weeks previously. Planning ahead, I’d managed to get some cheap tickets up there on the train, so arrived just before midday in a good mood, having a look around before making my way down to the ground.

As you might expect from such an old ground, it’s situated in a classic setting, tightly hemmed in with terraced houses and alleyways on three sides and the East Stand backing onto the busy A638 that runs adjacent. You can tell in an instant why they want to move, and that’s before you even go inside! Super League fans have long condemned it as the worst ground in the league, and whilst pictures show that it’s obviously not a glamorous, big modern super-stadium, then I’d always assumed that it was perhaps dismissed because of its relatively small size, but after going in you can see that it has seen better days. Coming through the main set of turnstiles, you enter in the corner of the East Stand and North Terrace. The East Stand is a small two-tier structure, with a terraced paddock sitting below a raised tier of seating that runs the full length of the pitch. The North Terrace is the biggest stand at the ground, with a capacity of over 5000 it’s a fair old size, the terracing running around each corner, and stretching back behind the sticks. One thing to note that it is in quite a poor condition, subsiding and crumbling in places, although it does get better on the West Terrace, which looks to be more modern (or at least renovated more recently). Only a small stand, it runs the length of the pitch and is split in two with an upper and lower section. Finally, at the South end is a hospitality block. Having had a look around, then I made my way into the bar which is located in the hospitality block, offering a great elevated view of the ground, before it was time for the game to begin.

Wigan had beaten Wakefield 40-26 the fortnight before, so the hosts were up for some revenge, and they showed their intents by cruising into a 10-0 lead with just six minutes gone, Jason Demetriou and Tevita Leo-Latu battering their way through some poor defending by Wigan. That was the wake-up call that Brian Noble’s side needed though and after a disallowed try on 9 minutes, Pat Richards did well on the left side to pass to George Carmont, who put the visitors back in it in the 12th minute. Ten minutes later and they were level, Michael McIlorum going under the posts before a drop goal from Danny Brough shortly afterwards restored Wakefield’s advantage. It wasn’t to last though, and Wigan took the lead for the first time when Cameron Phelps broke free to go over under the posts, Richards adding the two to make it 11-16 at half time.

After the break, the topsy-turvy nature of the game continued when Tony Martin went over with Brough converting for 17-16, but tries from Stuart Fielden and Sam Tomkins confirmed the win for Wigan, Pat Richards converting both to make the final score 17-28.

Whilst the game had given the travelling fans something to cheer about, it soon become evident why visiting supporters dislike the ground when the clouds started to gather during half-time, giving everyone a drenching in the second half thanks to the complete absence of cover over the terraced areas, overall though, it had been a good day out and I was still glad to have come. There are a lot of people that seem to presume old means character, but in this case, then it’s an example of why a new ground will be a move forward. It’s not so much that I dislike Belle Vue (not at all really), but with no cover and poor facilities/crumbling terraces, then it’s not a place to be treasured like say Knowsley Road or Castleford’s Wheldon Road, both of which may be old, but are well cared for and characteristic. Unfortunately those are two that might not be around for too much longer either, but when they do go, you get the impression that more tears may be shed than will at the passing of Belle Vue, certainly from my perspective I’ll be sad when those two are gone, but the overwhelming feeling for this ground will be one of please for Wakefield fans to see their club moving on and securing their future.

Welcome to Belle Vue

The Turnstiles

Rear of the East Stand

The Club Shop

Behind the West Terrace

Rear of the North Terrace

Looking across the West Terrace

The Hospitality Boxes

The East Stand

The North Terrace

The North Terrace

The West Terrace

The South End of the Ground

The East Stand

The East Stand

The North Terrace

The West Terrace

Belle Vue Panoramic 1

Belle Vue Panoramic 2

1 comment:

  1. The old girl (133 years) has been a great, historic, iconic and much loved home of the famous Wakefield Trinity Rugby League Club. She's been revamped with new roofs on the North & West terraces offering good cover from the elements so while not at her best at least she'll look good in the final couple of years before Trinity move.

    Despite Belle Vue's age there's no doubt that it's one of the most atmospheric grounds in the game, something the new modern stadia seem incapable of replicating. When Wakefield move, Belle Vue will go the same way as other past magnificent stadiums like Central Park, The Boulevard and Knowsley Rd so supporters should make the effort to visit one last time.