Five former stadiums that hold a special place in rugby league and what stands there now

MOVING out of an old rugby league ground into a new one is the sign of modernisation.

Gone are the old terraces, the uneven steps and the ramshackled wooden stands and in with the new sleek, shiny new stadia.

Over the years, however, that has meant that some atmospheric grounds have been lost. Here are five of the best.

The Boulevard – Hull FC

Hull moved out of The Boulevard in 2003, but it had served the Black and Whites since 1895. Unfortunately, the whole stadium itself was demolished in 2010, but with a capacity of 10,500 the atmosphere inside The Boulevard on game days was something to behold. Incredibly, 21,504 people flocked to the old venue back in 1921 when Australia beat Great Britain 16-12 in the Ashes Series. Must have been packed in like sardines! The Boulevard is now actually The Boulevard Academy – a secondary school on the old site.

Central Park – Wigan 

Another old-school favourite, Central Park was built in 1902 and demolished in 1999. In those 97 years, Wigan called Central Park their home. With a capacity of 18,000, the stadium’s record attendance actually stood at a remarkable 47,747 when St Helens came to town back in 1959. Unfortunately, all of that original aura is now lost and has in fact been replaced by a Tesco supermarket!

Knowsley Road – St Helens

Is it becoming nostalgic yet? Knowsley Road, another favourite all-time classic, opened for business in 1890 before being closed in 2010 and then demolished in 2011. Over that period, the venue was actually expanded in 1960 and then renovated in 2006 before Saints made the decision to move to their current Totally Wicked Stadium. With a capacity of 17,500, the record attendance was – perhaps unsurprisingly – against local rivals Wigan back in 1949 when 35,695 people turned up! Knowsley Road is now a housing estate.

The Willows – Salford

Built in 1900, The Willows was home to Salford from 1901 to 2011 when it was closed before being demolished in 2012. With a capacity 11,363, the record attendance for the old venue was 26,470 in 1937 when Salford took on Warrington in the Challenge Cup. Over the years, The Willows was renovated in 1966, 1971, 1975, 1989, but is no longer there in any capacity, shape or form. It is now a housing estate!

Wilderspool – Warrington Wolves

One of the oldest and most intimidating grounds to ever exist in rugby league, Wilderspool was opened in 1881, but Warrington didn’t start playing there until 1898. There the Cheshire club stayed until 2003 when the Halliwell Jones Stadium was built. Over the years, Wilderspool was expanded in 1983 and then again in 2000, but the capacity was set at 9,200. That being said, a record 34,304 spectators turned up to see Warrington lose only their second game of the 1948-49 season to Wigan. Wilderspool is, too, a housing estate now.