|Club Ground History Prior To Fellows Park|
|Before moving to
the new Bescot Stadium in 1990, Walsall had
previously played for 94
years at Fellows Park. The Club was formed as
Walsall Town Swifts in a 1888, from a merger of
two existing clubs; Walsall Town (founded 1877)
and Walsall Swifts (founded 1879). The new
amalgamated Club played their first game at a
sports ground, called 'The Chuckery' near to the
Walsall Arboretum. This friendly against Derby
St Lukes took place in September 1888. The Club
joined the new Second Division of the Football
League in 1892 and on September 3rd that year
they played their first ever league match
against Darwen at the Chuckery ground. Due to
complaints from local residents, the Club had to
vacate the Chuckery ground and find a new home
for the following season. It was decided to move
to a new ground at West Bromwich Road, but due
to delays in preparing the ground, the Club were
forced to play the first two games of the new
season at the Wood Green Oval. The first game to
take place at the new West Bromwich Road ground
in September 1893, saw a 5-1 victory for the
Saddlers over Crewe.
|History Of Fellows Park|
Club then moved to the Hillary Street
ground in 1896 (later to be renamed
Fellows Park). The first game to be
played there was a friendly against
Glossop on September 1st that year.
Walsall run out 4-1 winners and four days
later the ground witnessed its first
league game against Burton. This saw
another victory for the Saddlers by two
goals to nil. However the Club had return
to the West Bromwich Road Ground in
December 1900, as they were unable to pay
their rent on Hilllary Street. This was
sorted out for the commencement of the
1901-02 season and Walsall returned to the
Hillary Street ground. It was not
until 1930 that the ground was renamed
Fellows Park in honour of the then
chairman of the Club Mr H. L.
The ground was all terraced for many years and only on three sides as there was a with brick wall running across one end of the ground, which formed the back of the adjacent laundry. The first real building at the ground was a Main Stand on one side, which was closely followed by the installation of a roof over the Popular Terrace in 1933, which stood opposite. Floodlights were installed in 1957 and the first floodlit game to be played at Fellows Park, was a friendly in the December of that year against Falkirk. In 1960 the Laundry and associated brick wall were demolished and a small open terrace was constructed, this became known as the Railway End. Five years later a roof was constructed over the opposite terrace, the Hillary Street End. In 1975 an extension was added to one side of the old main stand (which replaced a small area of terracing), which added around 1,500 seats. The roof was also extended forwards to cover the terraced paddock in front of the stand. In 1985 for safety reasons the ground's capacity was reduced by over half to around 12,000.
May 1st 1990, saw the last ever league match to be played at Fellows Park. This saw a 1-1 draw against Rotherham United (attendance 5,697). The last first team game was played there ten days later for a Peter Hart Testimonial game against West Bromwich Albion.
|The Popular Terrace|
|What Was The Ground Like|
|The ground before
the Club's move to the Bescot, was one of
character. At one end was a small open terrace,
which was known as the Railway End (formerly the
Laundry End) and was usually allocated to the
away support. Opposite the Hillary Road Terrace,
was a covered terrace, which extended around two
corners of the ground, one of which was covered.
The Popular Terrace on one side of the ground
was a smaller partly covered terrace (to the
rear). Both the Hillary Road & Popular
Terraces, had a fair number of supporting roof
pillars. The Main Stand on the other side of the
ground, was a small covered seated stand, that
ran for about two thirds of the length of the
pitch. This stand which also had a number of
supporting pillars, had terracing to the front
and one side of it. The seating in this stand
was elevated above pitch level, which meant that
supporters had to climb a small set of stairs to
enter the seated area. The ground also had a set
of striking looking floodlights that could be
seen for miles around.
|The ground has
been completely demolished and is the now the
site of a supermarket complex.
|25,343 v Newcastle
Division Two, 1961.
|Did You Know?|
Park was one of only three Football League
grounds to be named after a person. The
other two being those of AFC Bournemouth
(Dean Court) and Cardiff City’s Ninian Park.
On February 25th, 1970 Walsall played a ‘home’ third division League game against Brighton and Hove Albion at West Brom's Hawthorns Ground because Fellows Park had been waterlogged for some weeks. Brighton won the match three nil!
|YouTube Video Of The Ground in 1979|
Below is a video from YouTube showing the ground in 1979.
Thanks to W Gibson for sharing this with us: