Dewsbury Rams
The Ram Stadium

Ground No. 19
Visited - Sunday 26th June 2011
Result - Dewsbury Rams 28-30 York City Knights
Competition - Co-operative Championship
Attendance - 974

“(it) was the largest assemblage ever seen on a football ground in Yorkshire” was the claim of the Dewsbury Reporter in March 1880 after over 16,000 turned out to see Wakefield Trinity beat the hosts at Crown Flatt in that years Yorkshire Cup Semi-Final. With a population of only around 30,000 at the time, it showed just how popular rugby was becoming in the town, with the club having been founded only five years previously. It’s still the case today, albeit not quite so much with the crowds, but Dewsbury is well and truly a rugby town with football never really having taken off there at any point.

Founded in 1875, Dewsbury were one of the strongest teams in Yorkshire in their early years, winning their first trophy in 1881, gaining revenge on Wakefield from the previous year by defeating them in the Yorkshire Cup Final in Leeds. Their famous Crown Flatt ground was revered as one of the best in the area, and when the Yorkshire Senior Competition was formed in 1892 then they became founder members. Surprisingly, three years later, despite being present at the historic George Hotel meeting in Huddersfield, they opted to stay in Rugby Union as opposed switch to the newly formed Northern Union, the only member from the Yorks. Senior Competition to do so. It wasn’t to last though, and having given up on Rugby in 1897, a brief flirtation with soccer was bought to a halt in 1898 with the club being reformed and accepted into the 13-a-side game. 1912 saw their greatest success, beating Halifax to lift the Challenge Cup, and they took part in the first ever final to be held at Wembley in 1929, unfortunately meeting a stronger Wigan side on the day. Since then, the club have largely competed amongst the second tier of teams in the game, being unfortunate not to join Super League in 2000 after winning the Premiership Grand Final, their new ground not meeting the standards set down by the RFL, and as a result the last decade has been one of consolidation, switching between the first and second divisions of the National Leagues/Championship, with the 2009 season being the major highlight since the millennium, the club going unbeaten, winning all 18 matches to win the league and promotion back to the Championship.

Having survived the first season back at this level, this was where they were when I planned to visit, with the game against York City Knights being a battle at the bottom, both sides finding it tough in the higher league, York having followed Dewsbury back up to this division 12 months later in 2010.

The club had left their original Crown Flatt ground in 1994, an arson several years earlier having sealed its fate. Situated out on the edge of the town, the new ground, often referred to by the same name has been built with a capacity of 3500, with stands on either side of the pitch for fans to view the game from. Heading out early, then the journey to Dewsbury had gone fine, with a quick change of trains in Manchester and arriving in just after 1 o’clock, having time to have a brief look around the town before heading up to the ground.

Situated just to the east of Huddersfield, there are a number of theories of how the name of the town got its name, one being that the second part denotes ‘hill’ (Duw’s burg (God’s Hill)), and it would make sense with the walk up from the town being a hefty uphill hike, not made any easier by the beautiful, yet scorching June sunshine. The ground itself is built on a former colliery, and is visible on approach, with the main road leading into it giving you a good elevated view from the outside. The Main Stand on the nearest side is all-seated and contains most of the clubs facilities with the changing rooms, the club shop and offices built into it, the stand itself running for nearly the full length of the pitch, falling short by about 15 metres at each end. At one time, it seems the seats were split into blocks denoting the clubs colours, red, yellow, black, yellow and red again, but except for the central block, then they are all now red, with executive boxes to the rear giving it a smart look. On the opposite side of the ground is a similarly sized stand, albeit all terraced with a bar underneath, which has an interesting display denoting the timeline of both the game and the club. Both ends are slightly sloped grassy areas, taped off from fans, with only a scoreboard at the near end giving anything to look at.

Going into the game, both sides had by all accounts been playing well of late, being unfortunate in not picking up results to go with it. The York fans had travelled down in surprisingly good numbers, making up at least a third of the 974 crowd and it was them who were cheering first, in just the 4th minute, Anthony Thackery having an easy run over the line as the visitors caught the hosts still half asleep, Tom Bush adding the extras. It didn’t take long for the home side to wake up though, and on 10 minutes Scott Turner was first to a kick over the line by Don Brambani, to make it 6-4, the conversion missed. The game was fairly even after that, but whilst most of the play was in York’s half, it was the Knights who were playing the smarter game, never really looking in danger from the hosts, and they added another 12 with good tries on the break thanks to Matt Garside and Ryan Esders who were beneficiaries of some good wing running down the left. Going towards the break the home fans looked resigned to another defeat, yet come the interval they were the ones in a more buoyant mood thanks to two late tries, firstly by Pat Walker who jumped highest in the corner to collect another Brambani bomb and go over in the 38th minute, and then right on the hooter, Scott Turner got his second going over from close range to make it 18-16 half time.

In the second half, Dewsbury came out firing Andy Smith capitalising on a mistake in the 51st minute to go over, and Turner getting his hat-trick four minutes later thanks to Brambani doing well to knock the ball back to him to power over. Unfortunately though, despite his help in the try, he missed the fairly easy conversion and it would come back to haunt him as from out of nowhere, York looking dead on their feet at 26-18 rose like lazarus. Another break on the hour mark saw Thackery get his second to make it 26-24, but a penalty from the halfway line by Pat Walker looked to have won it for Dewsbury, until right at the very death. A disallowed try for the visitors (forward pass) should have been the warning, but with the hooter gone, a pass wide from James Ford to Dave Sutton saw the winger crash over the line to equal the scores, leaving hearts in the mouth of both sets of supporters as Chris Thorman stepped up. He was having to move advertising boards, the kick was from so wide but with a well place shot he sent the ball sailing over the posts to give York a dramatic win and send their vocal fans home delirious.

Staying behind to get a few extra pictures, then I made my own way back shortly afterwards, glad to have come, delighted with the choice of game, or more to the point, the end of it. It was harsh on Dewsbury, but just the sort of match you want to see as a neutral. As for the ground, despite only being two sided, it suits the clubs needs perfectly, with the terrace offering good, steep views (despite the pillars for the roof), and whilst it may have stopped them progressing to Super League, it offers as good a trip as any outside of it.

Welcome to the Ram Stadium

Rear of the Main Stand

The Rams!

Rear of the Main Stand

Rear of the South Terrace

Dewsbury Flag

The Main Stand

The South Terrace

Home Dugout!

The Far End

The Near End

The South Terrace

Rear of the South Terrace

Inside the bar
(click picture for full size)

Ready for Kick Off

Interesting Spectator! 

Harsh Scoreline

The South Terrace

The Ram Stadium Panoramic 1

The Ram Stadium 2


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