The Boulevard (stadium)

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The Boulevard
The Boulevard rugby league ground Hull.jpg
The Boulevard in May 2006
Full nameThe Boulevard
LocationKingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
Coordinates53°44′22″N 0°22′9″W / 53.73944°N 0.36917°W / 53.73944; -0.36917Coordinates: 53°44′22″N 0°22′9″W / 53.73944°N 0.36917°W / 53.73944; -0.36917
Capacity10,500
Construction
Built1895
Opened1895
Closed2009
Demolished2010
Tenants
Hull F.C. (1895–2002)
Hull Vikings

The Boulevard was a multi-purpose stadium in Hull, England. The venue was saved from demolition and reopened on 25 October 2007 as the home of greyhound racing in the city. There were plans for it to be used as a community stadium hosting rugby league matches and speedway,[1] but it eventually closed and was demolished in August 2010.

History[edit]

Looking north towards the backs of houses on Carrington Street

In the past the ground was used mostly for rugby league matches and was the home stadium of Hull F.C. before the opening of KC Stadium. The main entrance was on Airlie Street, giving rise to Hull FC's nickname as 'the Airlie Birds'. When it closed, the stadium's capacity was 10,500 people. The Boulevard also hosted four matches in various Rugby League World Cups, as well as tour matches between Hull and visiting nations such as Australia and New Zealand. The ground had a strong connection with the city's former fishing industry being not far from Hessle Road.

The stadium has also been used for football with Hull City A.F.C. using the ground at times for their home matches.

In 1970, British League Division Two speedway returned to Hull for the first time since 1949 and proved to be exceedingly popular with large crowds cheering on the Hull Vikings each Wednesday. Hull had the dubious distinction of being the very last league speedway team ever to appear at the famous West Ham Stadium, on 23 May 1972, when they beat the closing Hammers 40–38. Subsequent years saw their promotion to the first division and the inclusion of world champions Barry Briggs, Ivan Mauger and Egon Müller to ride for the team. Promotional changes, falling crowds and financial problems eventually saw the Vikings demise until their resurrection some years later at Hull's other rugby league and speedway stadium, Craven Park.

The Boulevard was also the host of the annual Yorkshire Television Trophy meeting during the 1970s, and early 1980s. With the British leagues home to not only the best British riders such as 1976 World Champion Peter Collins, 1980 World Champion Michael Lee, Dave Jessup and Malcolm Simmons, but also to many top class riders from around the world including World Champions Briggs, Mauger, Müller, Ole Olsen and Bruce Penhall, plus Billy Sanders, Dennis Sigalos, Shawn and Kelly Moran, and Phil Crump (the inaugural Yorkshire TV Trophy winner in 1974), the meetings often attracted fields which were as good in quality as many World Finals.

The 380 metres (420 yards) long speedway track surrounded the rugby league field without intersecting it at the corners. This saw the Boulevard have fast, almost 100 metre long straights and tight bends. The run off the corners onto the straights was narrow due to the fence not following the curve of the track but being straight from back in the turns.

The ground consisted of three stands, the most popular being the Threepenny stand, where the majority of singing and chanting occurred. It was given its name when the stadium opened as it was 3 old pence for entry. In July 1985, Hull's threepenny stand closed for safety reasons. A plaque was unveiled on the 'new' threepenny stand some years ago by STAND and Hull FC.

Greyhound racing[edit]

1927–1934[edit]

The stadium first hosted greyhound racing in 1927 when the Associated Greyhound Racecourses Ltd promoted a meeting on 2 July. The track was soon to be one of three greyhound stadiums operating in Hull after two more followed suit, within one year Craven Park stadium had opened and in 1934 the Craven Street track opened but the latter was short lived.[2]

The football team moved out after finding a new home at Boothferry Park in August 1947 and the greyhound racing soon followed after coming to an end on 11 December 1948. Despite the Boulevard being considerably bigger than Craven Park the difference in popularity and tote turnover was significant. In 1947 the tote turnover of Craven Park was £578,628 compared to the Boulevard's £23,263.[3]

2003–2009[edit]

In 2003 Hull F.C. found a new ground at the KC Stadium joining up with the football team and putting the stadium under imminent threat of closure. Luckily the greyhound operation had just finished at the New Craven Park and transferred to the Boulevard saving the stadium from closure.[4] The track was constructed with a circumference of 387 metres and distances of 270, 460, 655 and 845 metres. Racing started in December 2003 with Friday and Saturday night racing under the supervision of Racing Manager, David Gray.

After the council refused to extend the greyhound racing lease the stadium remained unused until 25 October 2007 when it reopened again for the first time in 28 months. Racing changed to Thursday and Saturday nights and Mick Smith was brought in as Racing Manager.

Closure and demolition[edit]

On 17 June 2009 it was announced that the Boulevard would close to greyhound racing once again after less than 2 years. After going to once a week racing, promoter Dave Marshall pulled the plug on funding for the stadium.[5] On 22 August 2010, BBC Humberside reported that the stadium was in the process of being demolished after a council inspection due to safety concerns.[6]

Rugby League Test Matches[edit]

List of rugby league Test and World Cup matches played at the Boulevard.[7]

Test No. Date Result Attendance Notes
1 5 November 1921  Australia def  Great Britain 16–2 21,504 1921–22 Ashes series
2 13 November 1927 England England def  New Zealand 21–11 7,000 1926–27 England vs New Zealand series
3 25 October 1970  New Zealand def  France 16–15 3,824 1970 Rugby League World Cup Group Stage
4 7 March 1992  Great Britain def  France 36–0 5,250 1989-1992 Rugby League World Cup Group Stage
5 10 October 1995  Papua New Guinea drew with  Tonga 28–28 5,121 1995 Rugby League World Cup Group B
6 23 October 1999  England def  France 50–20 3,068 1999 Anglo-French Challenge
7 4 November 2000  Australia def.  Russia 110–4 3,044 2000 Rugby League World Cup Group 1

Rugby League Tour Matches[edit]

Other than Hull F.C. club games, The Boulevard also saw Hull and the county team Yorkshire and a combined Hull F.C. and Hull Kingston Rovers XIII play host to international touring teams from Australia (sometimes playing as Australasia) and New Zealand from 1907–2002. New Zealand did play Hull F.C. as part of their 1980 tour of Great Britain and France, though that game was played at Boothferry Park.

game Date Result Attendance Notes
1 16 November 1907 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 18–13 1907–08 All Golds tour
2 5 November 1908 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Yorkshire Yorkshire 24–11 3,500 1908–09 Kangaroo Tour
3 30 January 1909 Hullcolours.svg Hull def. Australian colours.svg Australia 9–8 10,000
4 4 November 1911 Australian colours.svg Australasia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 26–7 6,000 1911–12 Kangaroo Tour
5 24 December 1921 Australian colours.svg Australasia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 26–10 12,000 1921–22 Kangaroo Tour
6 4 November 1929 Australian colours.svg Australasia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 35–2 10,000 1929–30 Kangaroo Tour
7 25 December 1933 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 19–5 16,341 1933–34 Kangaroo Tour
8 23 October 1937 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 22–12 15,000 1937–38 Kangaroo Tour
9 23 September 1948 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 13–3 16,616 1948–49 Kangaroo Tour
10 8 September 1952 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 28–0 15,364 1952–53 Kangaroo Tour
11 15 October 1956 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Canadacolours.png Hull / Hull KR XIII 37–14 17,172 1956–57 Kangaroo Tour
12 26 October 1959 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Canadacolours.png Hull / Hull KR XIII 29–9 15,944 1959–60 Kangaroo Tour
13 12 October 1963 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Canadacolours.png Hull / Hull KR XIII 23–10 10,481 1963–64 Kangaroo Tour
14 29 October 1978 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 34–2 10,723 1978 Kangaroo Tour
15 16 November 1982 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 13–7 16,049 1982 Kangaroo Tour
16 16 November 1986 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 48–0 8,213 1986 Kangaroo Tour
17 14 November 1990 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 34–4 13,081 1990 Kangaroo Tour
18 22 October 2002 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand def. Hullcolours.svg Hull 28–11 12,092 2002 New Zealand Kiwis tour

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dogs back on track at Boulevard". BBC News Online. BBC. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  2. ^ "Greyhounds, Saturday 13 October". Hull Daily Mail. 1934.
  3. ^ Particulars of Licensed tracks, table 1 Licensed Dog Racecourses. Licensing Authorities. 1947.
  4. ^ Hobbs, Jonathan (2003). Greyhound Annual 2004. Raceform. p. 158. ISBN 1-904317-21-9.
  5. ^ "Hull to close Saturday". Racingpost.com. 25 June 2009. Archived from the original on 14 May 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Demolition work to begin on Hull FC's Boulevard stadium". BBC News Humberside. BBC. 22 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  7. ^ "The Boulevard results". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 8 December 2014.