Perry Barr Stadium

Perry Barr Stadium (also known as Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium and previously as Alexander Sports Ground(s)[1]) is a stadium and a Greyhound Board of Great Britain regulated greyhound racing track on Aldridge Road in Perry Barr, Birmingham, England. The track is operated by the Arena Racing Company (ARC), who lease it from owners the National Asset Management Agency. Racing takes place every Saturday evening, in addition to their four ARC fixtures.

Perry Barr Stadium
Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium Bloye stag 94.jpg
Full namePerry Barr Greyhound Stadium
LocationAldridge Road, Perry Barr, Birmingham, England
Coordinates52°31′11″N 1°53′56″W / 52.5196°N 1.8988°W / 52.5196; -1.8988Coordinates: 52°31′11″N 1°53′56″W / 52.5196°N 1.8988°W / 52.5196; -1.8988
OwnerNational Asset Management Agency
OperatorArena Racing Company
Construction
Opened27 July 1929 (1929-07-27)
Expanded2007
Tenants
Stadium from Aldridge Road. There are extensions to either side of the original block.

Opened in 1929, it was built for Birchfield Harriers, who left in 1977. It is now used for greyhound racing and speedway. It is not to be confused with the Birchfield Ladbroke Stadium that is also known as the old Perry Barr Stadium which closed in 1984.

LocationEdit

 
Perry Barr Stadium from the south-east, 1937

The stadium is opposite the former Birmingham City University main campus and close to (and served by) Perry Barr railway station. It sits in the fork of the A34 Walsall Road (to its West) and the A453 Aldridge Road. The River Tame flows northwards between the stadium and the A34.

Birchfield HarriersEdit

The stadium was originally constructed for an athletics club, Birchfield Harriers who held its opening ceremony on 27 July 1929,[1] having purchased the land on 11 November 1926.[1] The façade still carries their badge, a running stag, rendered in Art Deco style bas relief, carved in 1929 and attributed to William Bloye.[2] The site was formerly a rubbish tip, chiefly for fly ash from a local power station.[1]

Birchfield Cycling Club used the venue for cycle races, and, from the mid-1930s, the cycle track outside the running lanes was used by the Sunbac Speedway Club for dirt-track racing (speedway).[1] In the 1930s and 40s, Aston Villa Football Club's second and third teams trained at the stadium.[1]

Soon after the start of World War II, the stadium was requisitioned by the government and used by the Home Guard.[1] Later in the war it was used to accommodate Italian prisoners of war;[1] the last of these did not leave until January 1946[1] and the club only returned to the stadium the following month.[1] Shortly afterwards, the club hired out the stadium on Saturday evenings, to Birmingham Speedway. Floodlighting was installed to facilitate the latter,[1] and this allowed for the first floodlit athletics meeting ever held in the United Kingdom, in September 1948,[1] after the lights had been turned on near the end of an earlier meeting, which had overrun into dusk.[1] Floodlit horse jumping competitions were also held.[1]

On 29 May 1954 Diane Leather became the first woman to run a mile in less than 5 minutes, during the Midlands Women's AAA Championships at the ground.[3][4]

In 1977, their centenary year,[1] Birchfield Harriers moved to the newly built Alexander Stadium, nearby,[1] and the old venue was renamed "Perry Barr Stadium".

SpeedwayEdit

The stadium is also the home of the Birmingham Brummies speedway team. The stadium was expanded in 2007 to facilitate a speedway track.[5] The shale track is 292 metres (319 yards) in length.

In 2008 the Stadium hosted the Elite League Riders Championship. It was won by Australian Jason Crump. In 2009 a round of the British Sidecar Speedway Championship took place at the Stadium, which was won by Rod Winterburn and Gareth Winterburn.[citation needed]

Greyhound RacingEdit

 
Perry Barr Aldridge Road c.1980

Origins & OpeningEdit

Perry Barr had been without greyhound racing since 1984 following the surprise sale by Ladbrokes and subsequent demolition of the old Perry Barr stadium on Walsall Road, and known latterly as the Birchfield Ladbroke Stadium. However during 1990 negotiations started with the aim to re-introduce the sport at the Alexander Sports Ground across the other side of the A34. The stadium was no longer used for athletics because the new Alexander Stadium Stadium in Perry Park was serving this purpose. Maurice Buckland a former trainer and head of a consortium called the Perry Barr Greyhound Racing Club suggested the idea of greyhound racing at the venue it was given planning permission.[6]

The new build was completed quickly and the new stadium opened on 16 October attracting trainers the calibre of Geoff DeMulder who guided Fearless Mustang to the 1991 English Greyhound Derby final as a Perry Barr trainer during the first Derby tilt for the new track.[7] [8]

The circumference of the track was 435 metres with wide straights and bends and race distances of 275, 460, 500, 660, 710 and 895 metres. An 'Outside Sumner' hare was used on Tuesday and Thursday race nights overseen by Racing Manager Gary Woodward. There were kennels for 82 hounds on site. A former trainer from the previous Perry Barr called Frank Baldwin took over as Racing Manager in 1991.[9]

Recent History & GRA takeoverEdit

A major race called the Birmingham Cup was held at Perry Barr until 2009 and it also hosted the original classic race the Scurry Gold Cup from 2005-2008. Another Perry Barr hound called Heres Seanie (trained by Pat Ryan) reached the 1995 English Greyhound Derby final and Racing Managers included Ian Hillis and Tim Hales.

The Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) under their parent company Wembley plc planned to build a track in Liverpool and acquire Perry Barr. The former did not materialise but in May 2005 a £4.2 million takeover was agreed with the Perry Barr Greyhound Racing Club. Stephen Rea and Gary Woodward were brought in as the General and Racing Manager. After initial investment into the stadium the GRA brought the former classic race the Scurry Gold Cup to the track following the closure of Catford Stadium. The stadium hosted two trainers championships in 2005 and 2012 and inbetween the Scurry was moved to sister track Belle Vue Stadium but the rekindled Birmingham Cup was discontinued in 2009 leaving Perry Barr with no major event of note.[10]

The track today uses an 'Outside Swaffham' hare and is a regular on the Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) overseen by Racing Manager Martin Seal.

In recent years the GRA, under new parent company Risk Capital, ran into financial difficulties and unpaid loans resulted in NAMA (Ireland's National Asset Management Agency) taking control of the GRA. In 2013 an agreement was brokered securing the use of the stadium by the GRA until at least 2026 from parent company NAMA; and as Perry Barr has since become the only remaining GRA stadium not to be sold to other commercial investors by NAMA it remains the most secure stadium still operating under the GRA banner.[11]

In 2017 the stadium was awarded the prestigious St Leger after it switched from sister track Wimbledon.[12] One year later in 2018 the stadium signed a deal with ARC to race on Monday, Thursday and Saturday lunchtimes and Sunday afternoon.[13]

ARC takeoverEdit

In October 2019 GRA Acquisition sold the lease to the Arena Racing Company[14][15]

In 2021 the stadium was given the prestigious Laurels and Oaks and now holds four of the original classic races the St Leger, Laurels, Oaks and Scurry Gold Cup.[16]

CompetitionsEdit

St LegerEdit

LaurelsEdit

OaksEdit

Scurry Gold CupEdit

Birmingham CupEdit

GuineasEdit

Track recordsEdit

CurrentEdit

Metres Greyhound Time Date Notes
275 Horseshoe Ping[17] 15.81 17 May 2007 Scurry Gold Cup final
480 Drumkeen Oyster[18] 27.93 25 September 2015
660 Newinn This Way[19] 39.55 31 July 2015
710 Space Jet[20] 42.59 30 September 2021 St Leger final
915 Aayamza Royale[21] 56.42 30 September 2021
480 H Taipan[17] 28.75 23 January 2007
660 H Selby Ben[22] 41.73 18 January 2005

FormerEdit

Extended content
Metres Greyhound Time Date Notes
275 Carrigeen Zig 16.66 30 April 1991 =equalled
275 Blissful Piper 16.61 4 June 1991
275 Motown Way 16.61 29 June 1991 =equalled
275 Ancient Heart 16.40 2002
275 Meadowbank Paolo 16.34 5 October 2003
275 Pennys Saga 16.29 1 July 2004
275 Giglis Roanokee 16.24 22 July 2004
275 Giglis Roanokee 16.22 5 August 2004
275 Ningbo Jack 16.05 9 August 2005
275 Laser Beam 16.06 2 August 2005 Scurry Gold Cup Final
275 Roxholme Freddie 16.04 18 August 2006
460 Torbal Ash 27.97 13 November 1990
460 Velvet Spark 27.67 1 August 1994
480 Derbay Flyer 28.80 25 September 1999
480 Burberry Boy 28.45 2 April 2003 Birmingham Cup semi-finals
480 Westview Lad 28.31 17 July 2004
480 Bat On 28.18 13 April 2006
480 Raging Jack 28.13 28 December 2006
480 Zigzag Dutchman 28.13 23 January 2007
480 Blonde Dino 28.07 19 June 2008
480 Sawpit Sensation 28.07 15 December 2011
480 Taylors Sky 28.07 21 March 2012
480 Judicial Review 27.96 31 July 2015
500 Westmead Spirit 30.03 10 September 1991
500 Toms Lodge 29.94 25 September 1993
660 Crown Lodge 41.17 14 November 1991
660 Lavally Pete 40.90 1 February 1999
660 Cuba 40.88 27 October 2001
660 Drumskea Beauty 40.69 5 October 2003
660 Drum Shane Boy 40.54 10 June 2004
660 Skipping Lady 40.44 1 July 2004
660 Dark Charm 40.16 22 July 2004
660 Jack Spark 39.98 9 April 2005
660 Head Iton Paddy 39.93 31 July 2008
660 Ballymac Sandra 39.88 3 August 2012
660 Droopys Lucinda 39.84 22 May 2015
710 Dark Luke 44.48 14 May 1991
710 Head For Glory 44.13 14 October 1999
710 Double Take 43.21 05 October 2003
710 Swift Jade 43.01 23 January 2007
710 Swift Ninja 42.97 24 January 2008
710 Chaotic Dotty 42.94 1 May 2015
710 Rubys Rascal[23] 42.69 14 October 2017
895 Shropshire Lass 57.19 6 July 1991
895 Spenwood Wizard 56.97 4 September 2000
915 Head Iton Jordan 56.75 9 August 2007
915 Savana Volcano[24] 56.50 22 April 2021
480 H Trojan Flight 28.91 24 March 2005
480 H Druids Mickey Jo 28.88 2 August 2005
660 H Olives Champ 41.22 26 March 1991

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Alexander, William O; Morgan, Wilfred (1988). The History of Birchfield Harriers 1877-1988. Birchfield Harriers. ISBN 0-9514082-0-8.
  2. ^ Public Sculpture of Birmingham, George T. Noszlopy, Liverpool University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-85323-682-8
  3. ^ "Athletics photographic encyclopedia". Sporting-heroes.net. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  4. ^ Stuart, Julia (19 April 2004). "Athletics: 50 years ago, Roger Bannister became a sporting legend with his four-minute mile. Why is his female equivalent just seen as an also-ran?". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Speedway track work gets underway". Birmingham Mail.
  6. ^ Genders, Roy (1990). NGRC book of Greyhound Racing, pages 68-69. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7207-1804-X.
  7. ^ Barnes/Sellers, Julia/John (1992). Ladbrokes Greyhound Fact File, page 142. Ringpress Books. ISBN 0-948955-22-8.
  8. ^ "Monthly Greyhound Star (Remember When) October edition". Greyhound Star. 2012.
  9. ^ Barnes, Julia (1991). Daily Mirror Greyhound Fact File, page 79. Ringpress Books. ISBN 0-948955-61-9.
  10. ^ Hobbs, Jonathan (2007). Greyhound Annual 2008, page 197. Raceform. ISBN 978-1-905153-53-4.
  11. ^ "New lease deal will keep the GRA tracks racing". Racing Post.[dead link]
  12. ^ "Wimbledon to close". Greyhound Star.
  13. ^ "Arc Schedule Released". Greyhound Star.
  14. ^ "ARC SECURE BELLE VUE AND PERRY BARR FROM FELTHAM". Greyhound Star.
  15. ^ "BELLE VUE/PERRY BARR ACQUISITION – GBGB STATEMENT". Greyhound Star.
  16. ^ "ARC takes Oaks to Perry Barr". Greyhound Star. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  17. ^ a b "Track records". Greyhound Data. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  18. ^ "2015 track record result". Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  19. ^ "THE LOVE THE DOGS MAIDEN STAYERS". Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  20. ^ "ARENA RACING COMPANY ST LEGER FINAL". Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  21. ^ "ARENA RACING COMPANY MARATHON". Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  22. ^ "2005 track record hurdle result". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  23. ^ "THE RACING POST STAKES". Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  24. ^ "SKY SPORTS RACING VIRGIN 535 MARATHON". Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Retrieved 2 May 2021.

External linksEdit