Brandywell Stadium

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The Brandywell
Tobar an Fhíoruisce
Location Lone Moor Road,
Derry,
Northern Ireland
Opened 1928
Owner Derry City Council
Capacity 7,700 (2,900 seated)
Public transit access Waterside railway station
Tenants
Derry City

The Brandywell Stadium (Irish: Tobar an Fhíoruisce1)[1] is a municipal dual-use football and greyhound racing stadium located in Derry, Northern Ireland.

Location, features and history[edit]

The stadium is situated on the Lone Moor Road just south-west of the Bogside in the Brandywell area and shares the road with another sports-ground, Celtic Park, the headquarters of the Derry GAA. The ground, which is within walking distance of the city centre, is more commonly referred to as simply, the 'Brandywell', and is the home of Derry City FC. Previously it was the home of Derry Celtic. The ground, as well as the stadium, features a large grass training area, a club shop, a club house, from which the club and ticket offices operate, and parking space for cars and coaches. The legal owner of the stadium is the Derry City Council, however, which, under licence, permits Derry City to make use of the grounds for training matches and the running of its various other club affairs, such as administration and the retail outlet. stadium manager Alex "pube" Mcdonnell estimates the capacity to be 'a couple hundred'

Plans of Derry City's to purchase a pitch fell through after their formation due to the tight timescale between their birth in 1928 and the season's beginning in 1929 and so the Londonderry Corporation (now known as the Derry City Council) was approached for the use of the Brandywell Stadium which had been used for football up until the end of the 19th century. This began an association between the club and the ground which has survived until the present day. The club are still operating under the constraints of the Honourable the Irish Society charter limitations which declare that the Brandywell must be available for the recreation of the community. In effect, the club do not have private ownership over the ground and, thus, cannot develop it by their own accord with that discretion being left to the Derry City Council.

The Brandywell on match-day.

Derry City's first game at the Brandywell was against Glentoran on 22 August 1929. The stadium has played host to many notable matches, such as Derry City's 1-0 victory IFK Göteborg on 27 July 2006 in the UEFA Cup first qualifying round.[2] However, current facilities for spectators and media simply cannot cope with the demand for some matches. The ground also hosted the FAI League Cup final in 2006 between Derry City and Dublin rivals, Shelbourne FC. Derry won the dramatic game after it went to a penalty shoot-out.[3]

The Brandywell Greyhound Racing Company are also tenants at the ground, and have been since the 1940s. As a local greyhound racing venue, the stadium is equipped with an ovoid running track encircling the football pitch. The dimensions of the pitch itself measure 111 yards in length by 72 yards in width. Due to health and safety regulations the stadium has a seating capacity of 2,900 for European football competitions run by UEFA, although it can accommodate 8,200 on a normal domestic match-day including those both standing and seated.[4][5]

For a period of 14 years, between 1971 and 1985 only greyhound meetings and junior football were held at the venue as both the police and the Irish League imposed a ban on Derry City using the stadium as their home ground due to the Troubles. Derry City used the Coleraine Showgrounds instead for a number of 'home' ties from September 1971 before leaving the Irish League entirely in October 1972 due to the unsustainability of such an arrangement. The area surrounding the stadium was considered to be too dangerous by the Irish League for the visit of a number of opposing teams, especially those with unionist support, due to the Troubles. 1985 saw Derry admitted into the Republic's league, the League of Ireland, and a much-welcomed return of senior football to the ground.

Unusually, The Brandywell do not usually have a police presence inside it during Derry City games however the PSNI do have the ability to enter the stadium in an emergency.[6]

The Brandywell Stadium also hosts the final games of the Foyle Cup tournament.

In 2002, the stadium was voted the tenth favourite sporting venue in the UK by BBC's Radio Five Live.[7]

Development; past, present and planned[edit]

The Brandywell's 'New Stand' under floodlights

The Brandywell has undergone large-scale redevelopment is recent years with the curved cantilever 'New Stand' being constructed in 1991 and the terraced 'Jungle' being demolished in 2004. The 'Jungle' section was the home of Derry's noisier hardcore element of fans. Many of these fanatics now occupy the area of and surrounding Block J in the 'New Stand'. The quieter blocks of the 'New Stand', where the remainder of the more-reserved spectators sit, are sometimes referred to as the 'Library' in jest by the louder group.

Furthermore, the stadium saw the construction of 450 extra seats opposite the 'New Stand' on the site of the old 'Jungle' to complement the pre-existing small Glentoran Stand (the old main stand; an elevated wooden structure with bench seating) on that side of the ground, as well as the development of a drug-testing facility, in August 2006 in order to cope with the demand for Derry's UEFA Cup second qualifying round tie with Gretna FC. Although the reminder of available space around the pitch and racing track is used as a terrace, development is set to continue with the building of the proposed Brandywell Complex. On behalf of the club, Brandywell Properties' plans for the complex include an 8,000 all-seater stadium (which will be expandable), new playing and training pitches, an indoor football complex, retail units, a medical centre and a pharmacy. There are, however, no plans under the current proposals, to include a dog-racing track. The cost of this development, which is aimed to be completed by 2012, is reportedly £12 million.[8][9][10] Work on the new complex was planned to begin by Spring 2007. The need for new stadium facilities became prominent with the old side of the stadium becoming noticeably more run-down by the season. However, as legal owners of the land, Derry City Council ultimately holds the key to the proceeding of any planned development.[11][12][13][14]

While an alternative idea of building a new multi-purpose stadium for the city (which would also provide a new home for Derry City FC) on the site of a dismantled British Army post at the city's Fort George, or even a move to a re-developed Templemore Sports Complex, has also been aired due to delays in the process, on 12 January 2007, financial advisor and former Gaelic Athletic Association president, Peter Quinn, who played a pivotal role in securing funding for the re-development of the modern-day Croke Park, was appointed as a consultant by Brandywell Properties to spearhead the club's bid to take over the re-development of the Brandywell Stadium and help the plan progress.[15] On behalf of Brandywell Properties he is to seek funding from both the Irish and British governments, as well as injections from the National Lottery along with sums from other sporting agencies in order to help raise the £12 million needed. The proposals will eventually be submitted to the Government, as well to the city council.

On 19 February 2007, the chairman of Brandywell Properties, Jack McCauley, a former chairman of Derry City, re-iterated the intention of focusing on the Brandywell Stadium for re-development and made it clear that the club's traditional and spiritual home at the Brandywell was "the only show in town" as far as the football club was concerned. He also expressed how he was "amazed and surprised" that options such as the Templemore Sports Complex and Fort George were actually talked of being available.[16]

Records[edit]

The stadium in song[edit]

Road sign outside the stadium, changed to "Brandywell road".

During games, Derry City's fans can often be heard singing:

We all live in the randy Brandywell,
The randy Brandywell,
The randy Brandywell.
-To the tune of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Iarratais agus Foirmeacha – Eolas ar Chúnamh Deontais – Aguisín 3
  2. ^ Derry City 1-0 IFK Gothenburg (agg 2-0) Gerry Ormonde, Ireland Mad, 28 July 2006.
  3. ^ Jennings the hero as Derry retain League Cup Irish Football Online, 18 September 2006.
  4. ^ Brandywell gets seating increase BBC Sport Online, 9 August 2006. Retrieved 3 October 2006.
  5. ^ Brandywell Stadium The Stadium Guide. Retrieved 3 October 2006.
  6. ^ The PSNI rejects hooligan claims surrounding Brandywell
  7. ^ "Celtic Park voted top venue", BBC Sport Online, 16 August 2002. Retrieved on 8 May 2007.
  8. ^ Brandywell revamp plan unveiled BBC Sport Online, 15 June 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2006.
  9. ^ "Re-development of the Brandywell Stadium and Showgrounds: Executive Summary", Brandywell Properties Trust Ltd. and Peter Quinn Consultancy Services Ltd., 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
  10. ^ "Re-development of the Brandywell Stadium and Showgrounds: Economic Appraisal" (ZIP), Brandywell Properties Trust Ltd. and Peter Quinn Consultancy Services Ltd., 2007. Retrieved on 2 May 2007.
  11. ^ Derry fans make stadium plea Eleven-a-side.com, 22 February 2005.
  12. ^ Emerson, Steven. "Plans for new Brandywell stadium put on hold", Derry Journal, 1 May 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-01.
  13. ^ Emerson, Steven. "Key questions on Brandywell plan remain unanswered", Derry Journal, 1 May 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-02.
  14. ^ "Councillor views on Brandywell redevelopment", Derry Journal, 1 May 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-02.
  15. ^ Big name to help City's bid for stadium Belfast Telegraph, 12 January 2007.
  16. ^ "There's only one show in town! - Insist Brandywell Properties Trust", Arthur Duffy, Derry Journal, 20 February 2007.
  17. ^ "Derry City", What's the score?, January, 2000.

Footnote[edit]

^1 "Tobar an Fhíoruisce" translates literally into English as "the well of pure water".

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°59′26.28″N 7°20′9.6″W / 54.9906333°N 7.336000°W / 54.9906333; -7.336000