Fartown Ground, Huddersfield
|Full name||Fartown Ground|
|Former names||St John's Ground|
|Record attendance||35,136 Challenge Cup Semi Final 19/4/1947|
|Huddersfield RLFC (1878–1992)|
Fartown Ground, is a sports ground located in the Huddersfield suburb of Fartown in West Yorkshire, England and is predominantly famous for being the home ground of Huddersfield Rugby League Club from 1878 to 1992. It was the scene of many great games, including the Challenge Cup finals of 1908 and 1910, several Challenge Cup semi finals and international matches.
The Giants are still known as "Fartown" or "the Fartowners" by many of their older supporters. The highest attendance at the stadium to watch a Huddersfield game was 32,912 against Wigan on 4 March 1950, although a Challenge Cup semi-final between 19 April 1947 attracted a crowd of 35,136.
The ground was originally known as the St John's Ground, after Huddersfield St John's Cricket Club who became its original occupants in 1868, the ground had previously been owned by the proprietor of the George Hotel in Huddersfield.
In 1875 St John's Cricket Club merged with Huddersfield Athletic Club to form the Huddersfield Cricket and Athletic Club. The name of the stadium was also changed to Fartown Grounds.
Although the athletic club had formed a rugby football section in 1866, Fartown was initially used for athletics festivals alterations made in the summer of 1878 meant that rugby could begin at the start of the 1878/79 season with the visit of Manchester Rangers on 2 November. The venue quickly became synonymous with Huddersfield RLFC.
Senior football was played at Fartown just once, an FA Cup semi final in 1882, organised as part of an attempt by the Football Association to promote the game of soccer in what was, at the time, a predominantly rugby focused town. Blackburn Rovers drew 0-0 with Sheffield Wednesday, forcing a replay at Fallowfield in Manchester. Blackburn eventually won 5-1, and went on to lose 1-0 in the final to Old Etonians.
The Challenge Cup finals of 1908 and 1910 were played at Fartown with a replay at the ground required in 1910.
On 11 August 1943 an exhibition baseball game was staged between two teams of American soldiers which attracted 2,400 curious spectators.
The 1980s saw the stadium decline rapidly as Huddersfield RLFC struggled to pull in spectators. The main stand was closed due to storm damage in 1986. A new board of directors took over in 1989 when and injected some much needed financial resources into the club. As well as beginning to improve the playing staff, the new owners also carried out a considerable amount of work on the Fartown stadium and by the end of the 1989/90 season significant progress was being made.
Huddersfield RLFC moved to Huddersfield Town FC's Leeds Road stadium in 1992, and then to the McAlpine Stadium in 1994, although they continued to use Fartown as a training base until 2004. The ground is now rather dilapidated, and is only used for staging amateur rugby league games.
However, in 2009 the venue became hosts to a new sport when it became the home of the Huddersfield Hawks American football team, who recorded their first win at the ground with a 20-9 victory over the Manchester Tyrants.
The rugby ground was adjoined by a cricket field, once considered to be the finest wicket in Yorkshire. A total of 76 first-class and 9 list A one day matches were played on the pitch, the first on 28 August 1873 when Yorkshire played Nottinghamshire, and the last on 17 August 1955, when Yorkshire defeated Gloucestershire by 67 runs.
Yorkshire also played games against the touring Australians and South Africans at Fartown and an England XI played the Australians there in 1884. The first county one day game played there was held on 1 June 1969 in the Player's County League against Sussex while the last came on 9 May 1982 in the John Player League when Yorkshire played Worcestershire.
Yorkshire's highest score at Fartown was the 579 for 6 declared they accumulated against Glamorgan in 1925 while Middlesex scored 527 in 1887. Worcestershire were dismissed for 24 in 1903 while Yorkshire were humiliated for 31 by Essex in 1935. AJ Webbe scored an unbeaten 243 in Middlesex's run spree in 1887 while the prolific Percy Holmes scored 220 not out for the Tykes against Warwickshire in 1922. A.W. Mold took 9 for 41 for Lancashire in a Roses Match in 1890 while CT Spencer took 9 for 63 for Leicestershire in 1954.
- Fartown, cricketarchive.com
- Fartown matches, rugbyleagueproject.org
- "First-Class Matches played on Fartown, Huddersfield (76)" (Web list). Cricket Archive. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
- "England XI v Australians" (Web match review). Cricket Archive. Retrieved 16 January 2008.