1910 - Football Ground
As soccer grew in popularity - the Football League was formed in 1888 - facilities were provided for the increasing numbers of spectators willing to pay to watch matches. The first step was to fence in the field and install gates where admission charges could be collected. To give fans a better view, terraced banks of earth or rubble were built up around the sides of the pitch. Season-ticket holders and club officials might sit under cover in a grandstand. Though there were many variations, two basic designs evolved for football grounds. They can be found wherever professional soccer is played. One is rectangular in form, with stands parallel to the touchlines and more stands or open terraces at the ends. In the second design, the standing or seating areas are swept round in a curve at each corner of the pitch, which significantly increases ground capacity. How have safety factors affected the design of football grounds?
Few grounds have produced architecture of any special merit - Pevsner mentions only Wembley and Hillsborough - but their shape and form was heavily influenced by the work of one man, a Scots architect called Archibald Leitch. Between 1902 and 1939 he designed stadiums and grandstands for thirty or more major clubs in England, Scotland and Wales, and his ideas were widely copied by others. His trademark was a two-tier grandstand with seats at the back and a small standing enclosure in front. This ran the full length of the pitch, with exposed terracing on the other three sides. In 1909 Leitch engineered the country's first double-decker stand - a style widely emulated since, because it holds more people in less space, and brings spectators closer to the pitch. The supporting uprights partly block the fans' view but these obstructions were eliminated by the subsequent development of the cantilever stand, first introduced at Scunthorpe in 1958 and offering much improved visibility. Most grounds have grown up piecemeal over the years - very few, with the notable exception of Old Trafford, have any structural unity - and many fine old grandstands survived well into the modern period. The Bradford fire of 1985 and the Hillsborough disaster four years later led to a major appraisal of the safety of all Britain's football grounds. In a frenzy of long-delayed maintenance and rebuilding work, crumbling concrete terraces were closed down and fenced off while scores of old wooden stands - too expensive or just too far gone to be brought up to scratch - were demolished. Less stringent laws, however, apply at grounds with low average attendances, and this has enabled many relics of the past to soldier on for few more seasons. Sudbury Town's ground, cramped but cosy, is typical of a small-town club. The main stand was built in the early 1900s and the illustration shows it as it would have looked in its early days, in the club's original colours of chocolate and amber.
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