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Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium, The Witness of a Tragedy

Tue 25 January 2022 | 5:30

Top facts about Hillsborough Stadium addresses the history and development of the stadium that has been home to the English-based League One football club Sheffield Wednesday since the initial plans and designs were in place.

Hillsborough Stadium is a 39,732-seat association football stadium in Owlerton, a north-western Sheffield suburb in Yorkshire, England. Sheffield Wednesday has called it home since it first opened in 1899.

Since it was initially used in 1899, the stadium has seen significant investment, with new stands being built all around and the historic South stand being considerably re-built in preparation for the Euro 96 cup finals.

It has two two-tiered stands and two single-tiered stands, all of which are covered. The capacity of all four stands is similar, with the South Stand being the largest and the West Stand, which normally houses away fans, being the smallest.

The Hillsborough disaster occurred on 15 April 1989, when 97 Liverpool fans were crushed to death during an FA Cup semi-final. The Taylor Report into the disaster resulted in a slew of long-overdue safety improvements at the ground and other large stadiums across the country, including the requirement for clubs in England's top two divisions to have all-seater stadiums and the removal of perimeter fencing around the pitch, which had only been installed a few years ago.

Sheffield City Council has approved the club's plans to refurbish the stadium and increase its capacity to 44,825 in order to host World Cup matches. Prior to the 2015–16 season, the scoreboard was replaced by a modern 'big screen,' and the playing field was upgraded to the Desso GrassMaster system, which included a complete replacement of the under-soil heating and drainage systems.

 In 1966 and 1996, the stadium hosted the World Cup and European Championship football tournaments, respectively. The stadium's capacity has been temporarily lowered to 34,854 for safety reasons, although work is still underway to restore it to its full capacity.

Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium, The Witness of a Tragedy

We start from the very beginning and work our way up to the stands and their development throughout the years.

Hillsborough Stadium History – The Very Beginning

Sheffield Wednesday

were advised during the 1898–99 season that the land they rented at Olive Grove will be needed for railway construction. They were allowed to stay for the rest of the season, but they had to find new footing for the following season.

Several locations were considered, however they were ruled out due to a variety of factors. The Midland Railway Company provided an option, but it did not meet the club's standards.

Finally, Silversmiths James Dixon & Sons owner James Willis Dixon of Hillsborough House provided a 10-acre (4.0 hectare) site at Owlerton, a sparsely populated stretch of land to the northwest of the city. The land was part of the Hillsborough House estate that the Dixons were selling off.

It was purchased for £5,000 plus expenses. One of the Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium is that to level up the terrain, which was formerly meadowland covered in dandelions, the soil was dumped at both ends.

For the start of the next season, the 2,000-capacity stand at Olive Grove was moved to the new location and joined by a freshly constructed 3,000-capacity stand. On September 2, 1899, the inaugural match was played against

Chesterfield

. The Lord Mayor of Sheffield, William Clegg, who is also a former Wednesday player, kicked off the match.

Herbert Munday, a Chesterfield player, scored the game's first goal in the new stadium, but Wednesday rallied back to win 5–1. Despite its position several miles outside of the city limits and insufficient public transportation, the new ground attracted an average of 3,000 supporters in the first three months.

Hillsborough Stadium History – The Good and Bad on the New Land

The Owlerton Stadium was the name of the stadium until 1914 when it was renamed Hillsborough to correspond with a series of upgrades to the stadium.

The stadium was renamed after the newly formed parliamentary constituency. The land proved to be good for Wednesday, with the first eight years appearing to be their most successful thus far, one of the Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium.

They won their first league championships in 1902–03 and 1903–04. This was followed by a second FA Cup in 1907.

On 3 April 1912, the stadium hosted its first FA Cup semi-final, a replay between West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn Rovers.

A goal in extra time gave West Brom the victory in front of a crowd of 20,050. On April 10, 1920, it hosted its first international.

A total of 25,536 people watched the England-Scotland match.

England

won the game 5–4 in the end.

Hillsborough hosted two additional FA Cup semi-finals in the following two seasons, both between Preston North End and Tottenham Hotspur. 

These matches drew 43,320 and 49,282 spectators, respectively. The highest-ever crowd was 72,841 for an FA Cup 5th-round match versus

Manchester City

on February 17, 1934.

The team claimed a record profit at the end of the 1912–13 season. The funds were used to build a replacement for the Olive Grove stand on the stadium's south side.

The Spion Kop's banking has also been enlarged in size. The new south stand was finished in time for the FA Cup first-round match against Notts County on October 1, 1913.

It cost £18,000 and comprised 5,600 seats as well as front-row terracing. The new stand included new offices, dressing rooms, refreshment rooms, and a billiard room.

The second-round tie was decided by a replay on February 4, 1914, in front of a record-breaking home crowd of 43,000.

The match was famous, however, for the collapse of the new retaining wall at the Penistone Road end of the pitch, another one of the

Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium.

It resulted in 70 injuries, forcing the match to be called off while the injured were rushed to the hospital.

Hillsborough Stadium History – One of the Post-war Bests

Hillsborough became one of the best stadiums in the country after World War II. There were a total of 27 FA Cup semi-finals held there, one of the Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium.

The stadium was one of the venues for the 1966 Football World Cup, hosting first-round matches between West Germany, Argentina, Switzerland, and

Spain

, as well as a quarterfinal encounter between West Germany and Uruguay, which West Germany won 4–0.

In 1960, the North Stand was demolished, and construction on a new £150,000 stand commenced. Husband & Co, a local firm, developed the new stand, which was 360 feet (110 meters) in length.

Another one of the Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium is that it was only the second cantilever roofed stand in the country, following one at Scunthorpe United's Old Showground, and the first to span the entire pitch.

Stanley Rous, the secretary of the Football Association, officially opened it on August 23, 1961. Hillsborough's seating capacity was nearly increased from 9,000 to 16,000 with the addition of the 10,008 capacity all-seater stand.

The stadium hosted its first national cup final in 1977 when Everton and Aston Villa met in a replay of the Football League Cup final. A 52,135-strong crowd witnessed a 1–1 tie, forcing a rematch.

The pitch hosted three FA Cup semi-finals in a row at the end of the 1980s, culminating in events that transformed the face of football stadiums across the country.

The Hillsborough Disaster

When Liverpool faced Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final on April 15, 1989, the ground witnessed the biggest sporting catastrophe in English history.

96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death during the match, one of the

Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium.

Sheffield Wednesday was criticized by official inquiries into the disaster for failing to act on previous occurrences (particularly the 1981 FA Cup semi-final) that showed Hillsborough's risk of crushing.

The ground's Leppings Lane end lacked a current safety certificate, which had not been renewed since 1979.

The Taylor Report's recommendations resulted in a number of safety enhancements at sporting venues around the United Kingdom.

Over the next four years, Hillsborough's terraces were converted to all-seated accommodation, and the pitch's perimeter fences were replaced with low safety barricades to provide emergency access to the playing area.

A memorial to the 96 supporters who died at Hillsborough in 1989 during the FA Cup semi-final between

Liverpool

and Nottingham Forest can be found outside the ground, near the main entrance on Parkside Road.

On the tenth anniversary of the disaster, April 15, 1999, the memorial was unveiled. It reads: In memory of the 96 men, women, and children who tragically died and the countless people whose lives were changed forever.

FA Cup semi-final Liverpool v

Nottingham Forest

. 15 April 1989. "You’ll never walk alone." The Hillsborough Flood caused minimal damage to the memorial, but it was easily and quickly rebuilt.

The River Don breached its banks on June 25, 2007, following a period of severe weather in the area, flooding the entire land with several feet of water, another one of the Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium.

Dressing rooms, restaurants and kitchens, offices, and a supermarket were all damaged, with millions of pounds in repairs required.

The clean-up took months, but because the floods hit in the middle of the season, Sheffield Wednesday's games were only mildly impacted.

On June 25, 2008, a flood memorial was unveiled beneath the South Stand.

Hillsborough Stadium Records & International Games

Hillsborough's largest attendance was achieved in the FA Cup fifth round on February 17, 1934. Considered one of the Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium, a total of 72,841 people attended the match against Manchester City, which ended in a 2–2 draw.

Since the stadium's conversion to an all-seater facility was completed in 1993, the greatest attendance was during a Premier League match versus Manchester United on February 2, 2000. A total of 39,640 people watched the game.

Hillsborough's greatest season average attendance was 42,520 in Division 1 during the 1952–53 season. The greatest average attendance in English football's second division was 41,682 in the 1951–52 season when the team was promoted from Division 2 and Derek Dooley set a league record with 46 goals.

The greatest average attendance in English football was reached in the 2004–05 season when 23,107 spectators watched League One games at Hillsborough.

The lowest average attendance at Hillsborough was in the first season after its opening (1899–00), when each game drew an average of only 6,800 supporters, owing to the fact that the new stadium, then known as Owlerton Stadium, was a fraction of its current capacity.

The Euro 96 match between Turkey and

Denmark

on June 19, 1996, had the highest gate earnings of any match at Hillsborough. The match had an attendance of 28,671 people who paid a total of £1,012,150 to see it, another one of the

Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium. 

Hillsborough continues to hold the record for the largest crowd ever seen at a third-tier football match in the United Kingdom. The Boxing Day Massacre, when the Owls defeated Sheffield United 4–0 in a top-of-the-table game, drew 49,309 fans, making it one of the most memorable days in SWFC history.

The FA Cup semi-final rematch between Chesterfield and Middlesbrough on April 22, 1997, attracted the highest crowds at Hillsborough, totaling £680,965. A number of 30,339 people watched the game.

Sheffield Wednesday's highest-earning game at Hillsborough was a

Premier League

match against Manchester United on March 7, 1998, which drew 39,427 supporters and netted £386,426 for the club.

Hillsborough hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1966 and the UEFA European Championships in 1996. Prior to the construction of Wembley Stadium, it was also used for certain England matches. Two England under-21 internationals were held there.

On February 28, 1984, they faced France in a UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group 3 match. The hosts defeated the guests 6-1, with four goals from Mark Hateley and single goals from Dave Watson and Mel Sterland.

On October 11, 2005, they met Poland in a 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification Group 6 match. Steven Taylor scored twice for the hosts, as well as single goals from Carlton Cole and Jerome Thomas, while Marcin Kikut scored for the guests in front of 23,110 spectators.

Hillsborough Stadium was chosen by The FA as a possible venue for matches as part of England's FIFA World Cup bids for 2018 and 2022 on December 16, 2009.

Hillsborough Stadium Stands – The North Stand

The first North Stand was constructed between 1899 and 1903, while the current stand was constructed between 1960 and 1961.

It has a seating capacity of 9,255 people. Chansiri is the current sponsor of this stand. The North Stand, which runs along the north side of the pitch, is the third-largest at the stadium.

Between 1899 and 1903, the first North Stand was constructed. One of the Top Facts about Hillsborough Stadium is that this stand was remarkable at the time since it contained separate facilities for men and women, as well as a tiny semicircle that provided a good view of the pitch from every position (though the supporting pillars did cause some obstruction).

Until the early 1900s, the grass bank in front of the stand was transformed into a terrace.

Until the late 1950s, when the club opted to build a whole new stand, the stand was connected to the original North West Terrace. In 1961, the current North Stand was built.

Hillsborough Stadium Stands – The West Stand

The old west stand was established around 1900, while the current stand, with a seating capacity of 6,658 people, was built in 1961–65.

On match days at Hillsborough, the visiting fans are situated in the West Stand. There are 2,494 seats in the bottom half and 4,164 seats in the upper half of the structure.

When needed, the stand is connected to the North West Corner, which serves as an expansion zone for away spectators (1,337 seats).

The first stand, which was built around the turn of the century and could hold up to 3,000 fans, was a covered terrace.

The North West terrace was added in the 1920s before the Leppings Lane stand was rebuilt by a 12,000-seat partially covered terrace.

The West Stand was totally dismantled before the 1966 World Cup and replaced with a two-tiered structure with 4,471 seats in the upper tier and a standing terrace in the lower tier.

Hillsborough Stadium Stands – The South Stand

The old South Stand was constructed between 1899 and 1903, and the current stand was constructed between 1913 and 1915 and extended in 1995.

The total capacity of the stand is 11,352 (all-seater). On the banks of the River Don, Hillsborough's largest stand is located.

It includes an 8,275-seat lower tier (including the directors' box) and a 3,077-seat upper tier known as the "Grand Stand." The club's Family enclosure is made up of the four blocks of seating on the Upper-tier closest to the east.

The modern stand has undergone a number of renovations, the first of which was a conversion to an all-seated stand in 1965 ahead of the 1966 FIFA World Cup, and the most recent of which was a major £7 million redevelopment for the Euro 1996 international competition, which included the addition of an upper-tier (Grandstand) with 3,077 additional seats, a new roof, 30 executive boxes, two conference suites, a bar, a restaurant, and a variety of office space.

Hillsborough Stadium Stands – Spion Kop Stand

The Spion Kop, which seats 11,210 people, was completed in 1914. It was named after a hill that was the site of a battle during the Second Boer War, as were several other huge terraces at English football fields.

The Spion Kop, which is built into a natural hill at the east end of the pitch, is home to Wednesday's most boisterous supporters.

Fans affectionately refer to it as "The Kop." Following the Taylor Report, the Kop was the last section of the Wednesday stadium to be converted to all-seater accommodation, with the modification taking place in 1993 to conform with new FA Premier League criteria.

The Kop's capacity was halved as a result, but it remains one of Britain's largest single-tier stands.

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source: SportMob

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