Five years ago this month we said goodbye to Belle Vue, Rovers’ home for eighty-four years. Like many other supporters I’d grown up on the terrace of the Popular Stand, progressing from school, to sixth form, to university and on to employment, whilst never straying more than six feet on the concrete of a Saturday afternoon. And so leaving the ground, as ramshackle and unsuitable as it had become, was still a significant wrench. But that still paled to going back there a week or so ago.
There are supporters of other clubs who naturally lament what happened to their former homes; cursing the housing estates that have taken the place of Roker and Ayresome Park, or refusing to shop at the retail park stands on the site of Goldstone Ground. But, whilst watching the site at which you went through more emotions than you knew you possessed turn quickly into suburban monotony may be disappointing, it is nothing to seeing it abandoned to decay. Unlike the former homes of Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Brighton, and countless others what is left of Belle Vue remains, and here is what it looks like today.
The wall at the corner of the Town End, which previously directed ‘Visiting Supporters’ towards the Rossington End terrace.
What remains of the Town End (looking towards the Main Stand side of the ground). Fencing scrapped. Crush Barriers sold on to other clubs, Portacabins turned executive boxes also removed.
The Popular Stand, fixtures, fittings and roof sold on and now standing elsewhere.