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Stradey Park (Welsh: Parc y Strade) was a rugby union stadium located near the centre of the town of Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, Wales. It was the home of the Scarlets region and Llanelli RFC rugby teams. The stadium was a combination of seating and standing with a total capacity of 10,800 (22,500 before 1990). Following the Scarlets' move to Parc y Scarlets in 2008, Stradey Park was demolished two years later and replaced with housing.
Parc y Strade
|Location||Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales|
|Owner||Llanelli RFC Ltd|
|Operator||Llanelli RFC Ltd|
|Closed||15 November 2008|
Llanelli RFC (1879–2008)
The ground originally opened in 1879 for use by Llanelli RFC. In 1887, Stradey Park was chosen to host its first international rugby union match. In the early days of international rugby, all the British countries switched venues on a regular basis to allow supporters the chance to see their team and clubs the opportunity of share gate receipts. Stradey Park was selected as part of the 1887 Home Nations Championship, with the opening home match for Wales being against England. The game was arranged for 8 January and a temporary stand was erected to allow a seating area so the club could charge higher ticket prices; but on the day the English team refused to play on the ground as the pitch was frozen. The adjacent cricket ground was in better condition, so the match was moved there along with the entire crowd, many members of which were extremely unhappy as they lost their seating area.
Four years later, Stradey Park was given another chance to host the national side when they were again selected to host the Home Nations Championship. In the final match, Stradey Park played host to Ireland and again temporary stands were erected, this time on the east and west sides. On this occasion there were no problems and the ground successfully hosted an international match on 7 March 1891. Although no official attendance figures were taken, the South Wales Daily News stated 'an immense concourse of people assembled on the park; in fact it was the largest that had ever been witnessed at a football match in the tin plate town'. Two years later, Stradey Park was the final venue of the 1893 Home Nations Championship, hosting Wales against Ireland. Wales, under the captaincy of Welsh rugby legend Arthur Gould, beat the Irish team by a single try scored by Gould's brother, Bert Gould. The score not only gave Wales the win but also saw Wales lift the Triple Crown for the very first time in the country's history.
Due to the ground's owners, Llanelli RFU Ltd, having financial difficulties following the game turning professional, Stradey Park was sold to the Welsh Rugby Union in 1997 for £1.25 million. The ground was repurchased by Llanelli RFU Ltd in 2005.
When the Scarlets regional side was formed in 2003, it was decided that they would play the majority of their home fixtures at Stradey Park. Llanelli RFC continued to play their home matches at the ground. The stadium was also host for Llanelli A.F.C.'s UEFA Cup games in the 2006–07 season.
The last game to be played at Stradey Park was on 24 October 2008, when the Scarlets defeated Bristol 27–0 in an EDF Energy Cup match, with a crowd of over 10,800 in attendance. The occasion featured a procession of former club captains, as well as choirs, traditional songs and a firework display to commemorate the closing of the old stadium.
Stradey Park was sold to developer Taylor Wimpey in February 2008. A new stadium, Parc y Scarlets, was built at Pemberton on the eastern outskirts of Llanelli, financed by Carmarthenshire County Council and cost an estimated £23 million. The funding came partly from the re-development of the Stradey site and also from the sale of a fast-food outlet and hotel on the site of the new stadium. Parc y Scarlets opened on 15 November 2008.
Stradey Park Stadium will be demolished and a small garden of remembrance placed on the site to remember the sporting heroes who played there and the fans whose ashes were scattered on the pitch. Residents at Stradey still oppose the high density housing development on the stadium site and the threat to nearby Sandy Lake which may be lost by planned diversion of the Cille River to allow building of these new homes.
This has caused some controversy as the ground is built on what has been designated by Carmarthenshire County Council as 'Recreation Land', and this has led many local residents to petition for no houses to be built on this land and instead for Stradey Park to be renovated. The site remained derelict for two years after its final match and was eventually demolished in 2010 to be replaced with housing.
The ground was divided up into six separate blocks for the purposes of accommodating spectators. Two standing terraces at the far ends of the ground, known as the East Terrace (which has no roof) and was also be referred to as the Town End, or more informally the Tanner Bank, and the West Terrace or for sponsorship reasons the CSA Covered Terrace which as suggested has a roof. The West Terrace was also referred to as the Pwll End. There were two seating blocks, the North and South Stands. Again for sponsorship reasons the North Stand was known as the WRW Stand. In front of both stands were standing areas called the North and South enclosures respectively.
There were several bars located around the ground both inside and out. Outside of the ground was located the car park, the ticket office and official Scarlets shop.
One unusual feature of the ground was the scarlet saucepans placed atop each goalpost. The utensils are a reference to the past of Llanelli as a major tin plating centre, as well as to the traditional club anthem, "Sosban Fach" (Welsh for "little saucepan").