When our Media Manager, Connor Grace, asked me which was my favourite ground I played on I quickly realised it wasn’t such an easy decision. I had to take into consideration factors such as the playing area, changing facilities, memorable team performances and even travel to and from grounds.
The playing area at Leeds’ Headingley Stadium was always one of the best and would come high in the list of one of my favourite grounds. Underground “heating” was installed in the 1960’s which meant that games were rarely, if ever, called off because of frost and snow. However, I almost fell out with the Headingley ground in the 1973/74 season. Trinity progressed to the Yorkshire Cup Final which the sponsors Esso had decided that the final would be played at Headingley. And our opponents in the final….Leeds! Can you imagine being given home advantage in a Cup Final? No, I thought not. The Wakefield Express reported, “There need be no recrimination about Trinity’s failure to win the Yorkshire Cup Final at Headingley last Saturday. The players gave everything they had and it was a case of defeat with honour. The farcical situation of having to play a cup final on their opponents’ ground meant that the odds were stacked heavily against them.”
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the journey to such as Wigan, St Helens, Warrington etc had to be made across the Pennines via the A62 and the East Lancs Road, with the M62 not completed at that time. These journeys often took up to three hours which included a sandwich stop at the Floating Light Inn on the top of the Pennines just outside Oldham. And remember we were going to Wigan’s Central Park, St Helens’ Knowsley Road and Warrington’s Wilderspool grounds in the days before the modern DW Stadium, Totally Wicked Stadium and the Halliwell Jones Stadium. All three of the original grounds were great places to visit and whilst victory was not always the end result, the atmosphere was second to none. Having mentioned changing facilities, I should at this stage make a comment about Salford’s former ground, the Willows. The changing rooms were beneath the main stand and had a severe sloping roof. Our five foot six-inch-tall halves were normally deemed safe, but anyone any taller would regularly bang their heads. Not the ideal preparation prior to playing against the likes of David Watkins, Mike Coulman, Ron Hill etc. who would quite easily bang your head if you had not already done so!
So, what about some of the grounds which didn’t come up to the afore mentioned. Dewsbury’s Crown Flatts was far from flat. It is remembered for its infamous “nine oil” as it was called. The vast slope meant that one corner of the pitch was way lower than the rest and when Nigel Stephenson’s kicks put you in the “nine oil” believe me, you struggled to get out. Not too many miles from Crown Flatts we find Batley’s Mount Pleasant which could have been better called ‘Mount Unpleasant’. Again, the slope was the main problem falling at least twenty metres or more from top to bottom. Please don’t think I’m being disrespectful to these two clubs because I’m not and wouldn’t do. I spent time at both clubs as Coach and Player-Coach and enjoyed (most) of my time there.
But at the end of the day I would have to pick our home ground as my favourite. Steve (the Bath) Dutton has continued the excellent work as his predecessor Frank Ryalls in regularly producing the best playing area in the league by far. And whilst the stand and terraces are now somewhat “tired” there’s still no better atmosphere particularly when Trinity are heading for victory.
And hopefully it will not be too long now before we are back in action and seeing Trinity charge up the Super League table and progress towards a Challenge Cup Final appearance.
Regards to you all,
*This feature from Terry was published in July’s edition of the Mighty Trin. You can buy your copy HERE to read many great features!