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Anaglogs Daughter
12 Jan 13 12:26
Date Joined: 05 Jan 10
| Topic/replies: 29,477 | Blogger: Anaglogs Daughter's blog
By Indy Almroth-Wright

BBC Online

Walthamstow stadium ran its last race night in 2008 after 75 years

With greyhound tracks shutting down all over the country is the finish line in sight for dog racing?

The closure of Oxford's circuit last month was the final nail in the coffin for the sport in central southern England with all of its four tracks now shut.

Many others are struggling to keep going, as the number of stadiums has dropped from around 80 to 25 in England over the past 65 years.

The tracks at Portsmouth, Reading, Milton Keynes and Oxford have all closed following falling profits and attendances.

The sites are now mostly owned by property developers and earmarked for homes.

'Crowds of 50,000'

The Portsmouth track, which opened in 1936 and closed in 2010, is the first to be redeveloped.

Work on the land in Tipner started this week, with 1,200 homes and a business park planned.
Elsewhere, a scheme has been approved to build more than 300 flats and a leisure complex on the site of east London's famous Walthamstow Stadium.

Former greyhound commentator and race manager Mick Wheble, who has been appointed MBE for services to greyhound racing, started his career in Catford in the 1960's.

It was a boom time for the sport.

He remembers nights at London's White City track, now BBC offices, when crowds of up to 50,000 were common.

"It's simply a question of economics, now there's just not enough money in it," he said.

Mr Wheble spent the last 20 years of his career at the Oxford track which saw attendance numbers halve in the last five years,

"Oxford was probably the most modern track in the Thames Valley," he said.

"The cost of going went up, numbers slid down and then dwindled away."

But he hopes the sport will come out of decline.

"Usually every five-to-10 years racing has a boom," he added.

"I don't think it would ever completely disappear, but the biggest danger of closing tracks is if it went underground."

'Facing challenges'

Racing Post's Jonathan Kay believes the first seeds of decline in the sport were sown in 1961 when off-course betting shops were legalised.

"Prior to that, the only legitimate means of having a cash bet was by going to a racecourse, whether that be horses or greyhounds," he said.

"The situation was exacerbated in 1993 when betting shops were allowed to extend opening hours into the evening."

According to the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), the popularity of online betting has also led to the slip in attendances.

It maintains the challenge for greyhound tracks is to adapt to new audiences, while still catering for established customers.

Owlerton Greyhound Stadium in Sheffield is one track which is thriving, according to the GBGB.

Towcester hopes to broadcast greyhound racing on TV, multiple platforms and in betting shops
The stadium, first opened in 1926, underwent a re-fit in 2010 including the construction of a £1.6m panoramic restaurant and the addition of a casino.

Mr Kay also identified the Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service (Bags), started in 1967, as crucial to the health of the sport.

Around 72 Bags races are staged each day in stadiums purely for the betting shops and the internet.

"With bookmakers paying around £28m in fees directly to the Greyhound Board of Great Britain-licensed tracks," Mr Kay explained.

"There is no doubt that greyhound racing is facing many challenges and, sadly, more track closures are probably inevitable."

But there are signs of hope, with Coventry Stadium reopening last year and Towcester Racecourse in the early stages of developing a greyhound circuit to run inside its horseracing track.

Dog races from Towcester's track will be broadcast around the globe.

Mr Kay said: "I certainly do not think it is in terminal decline.

"If I am still around, I expect to be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first British race at Belle Vue in 1926."

The GBGB said greyhound racing had dropped from third to Britain's fourth most attended spectator sport after football, horse racing and rugby

John Simpson has been a professional greyhound trainer for almost 30 years.

The former Tottenham Hotspur footballer got into the game after injury forced him to retire.

He lives in Essex, with his dogs running at the Wimbledon track.

"We are struggling. We lost Bags [Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service] racing during the week.

"There are 25 tracks, 20 of them have got Bags where the bookies basically subsidise the tracks, so it's crucial. On Friday and Saturday nights it's busy, maybe 1,000 to 1,500 crowds, there's a lot of younger people coming now.

"But it's not done properly. There needs to be better advertising and marketing. There used to be 25 tracks in London now we only have one, to me Wimbledon must stay.

"These stadiums have been sold for development. But you can't keep having all this housing without entertainment.

"The number of trainers is falling. It's a lot of hard work when you can't afford to get help. If I was 30 and starting out as a trainer I would be worried."
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Report xmoneyx January 12, 2013 6:03 PM GMT
I'm amazed shawfield is still going

5 dog handicaps

the track itself is one of the best

But the stadium is a botch job week to week
Report millhouse January 13, 2013 4:00 PM GMT
While those in positions of power remain the puppets of organisations with a vested commercial interest in the sport remaining in decline, and foot soldiers like JK continiue to trot out the total nonsense that greyhound racing can't survive without BAGS or autonamously without being under bookmaker control, greyhound racing, at least as we used to know it, is dead in the water, imo...
Report Dav_vin03 January 13, 2013 7:28 PM GMT
the answer is flapping
lower the restrictions to ownership and training and you will grow a whole new generation of interest
Report irishone January 13, 2013 7:31 PM GMT
we're doomed captain, doomed Laugh
Report seanjames January 13, 2013 10:15 PM GMT
whose going to show towcester then rptv?
Report woodmanchester January 14, 2013 12:21 AM GMT
Agree with Kay. There will always be dog racing while the high street bookmakers operate BAGS. But in this day and age where cutbacks are of paramount importance, it will still be in decline but very slowly. Flapping isnt the answer to the prosperity of the sport but one day, it could be all that survives.

I love greyhound racing and would be overjoyed if someone, or consortium, could be instrumental in making the above statement tosh. I still see there is potential but nobody seems to be able to tap into it
Report Dav_vin03 January 14, 2013 1:18 AM GMT
what does the industry have against flapping?
Report woodmanchester January 14, 2013 6:53 AM GMT
The integrity of the sport needs to be run under stricter rules that currently employed at flapping tracks, imo.
Report Dav_vin03 January 14, 2013 4:40 PM GMT

on the same theme, are the ownership rules set by GBGB to strict?
Report threecard January 14, 2013 8:12 PM GMT
The key to the future of the sport is ownership of stadiums by dog people. Stop harping on about the good old days when people fell over each other to get a bet on at the tracks. Greyhound Racing is a great night out enjoyed by many...not just punters and gamblers. Continue to modernise its image and seek out ways of attracting people into the tracks. The sport should have combined totally to save Walthamstow at whatever cost to run it as its flagship. Hall Green has great potential...get it out of GRA hands...if I had the money I would. In ten years that will be housing with dog fans still bemoaning the way the sport is going.
Report irishone January 14, 2013 9:35 PM GMT
threecard • January 14, 2013 8:12 PM GMT "The key to the future of the sport is ownership of stadiums by dog people."

The vast majority of "dog" people , that us those who actually own, breed or train dogs,  are running kennels on a shoe string. There is a massive gap between "dog" care and "stadium" care. Guarentee to you 99% would not know anything about owning stadiums and moreover they would not want anything to do with owning stadiums ! Greyhound Racing is a great night out enjoyed by many...not just punters and gamblers...... I agree 100%.... then put it in the hands of entertainment or gambling companies...... the last people you want running stadiums are "dog" people mate ! Laugh
Report Ell January 15, 2013 1:11 AM GMT
Walthamstow & Hackney were both owned by gambling companies and look what happened to them.
Report threecard January 15, 2013 11:35 AM GMT
@irishone...take your point..I probably meant the dog racing community.  The game itself owns nothing apart from the lucky few who own their own kennels. I guess any trainer who does would sell up tommorrow if offered over the odds for development. This is all track promoters are doing
as attendances slip and profits are not as they were. Venture capitalists have seen this for years now. There is a certain inevitablity to the GRA this is why I say the community should try and do something now.
Report lil January 15, 2013 1:30 PM GMT
theres only one way forward open kennal
Report general custer January 20, 2013 9:04 AM GMT
xmoneyx, i'll give shawfield 5 years and it will be closed
Report irishone January 20, 2013 9:42 AM GMT

lil 27 Apr 09
theres only one way forward open kennal

think general custer is trying to , judging by his picture
Report irishone January 20, 2013 9:42 AM GMT

lil 27 Apr 09
theres only one way forward open kennal

think general custer is trying to , judging by his picture
Report xmoneyx January 20, 2013 3:10 PM GMT
i think 5 years is very generous
Report xmoneyx January 20, 2013 3:11 PM GMT
Report general custer January 20, 2013 6:55 PM GMT
if billy king lives that long
Report RothmanMike January 20, 2013 9:55 PM GMT
All very well whingeing but I doubt many of you out there have attended more than half a dozen tracks in your lives, even when there is a good open card available.
The main reason I went to evert track in the land many times was that there were quality dogs running every night and my particular interest were 8 and 10 bend performers.
These have disappeared to be replaced by poor 6 bend dogs trying a new trip.
I preferred Henlow and Milton Keynes when they were flappers....great fun trying to identifying connections, then the dog.
Bring them back and you get real greyhound folk
Report SPOT THE DOG January 23, 2013 8:11 PM GMT
RothmanMike i can do better than the half doz you state...

W city london (fav)
n abb
3 legged x
b vue
rye hse

we should never of let the bookies get a hold of this great sport.
Yes a OPEN kennel would work.
Would the pc brigade allow flapping to make a come back?
Report DONEMYLOT January 23, 2013 9:41 PM GMT
Rothman, whilst this shouldnt become a 'how big is your Dad' thing, most on here will have covered at least 6 tracks, at least 10 times I would think. Used to go 3 or 4 times a week travelling everywhere, leaving work at 5pm and managing to get to the likes of MK, Wimbledon, Oxford, Reading, Posh, as well as the more local ones Rommers, Stow, Rye.

The on-course game died when they offered me shyte facilities for my money along with fellow owners talking utter bshit  and trainers having me over. Add that to being impossible to get anywhere in rush hour now....

Obviously get what you are saying but the next generation dont want to know because there is nothing that identifies with them. The sport has to progress as well as people.
Report shiner January 23, 2013 11:56 PM GMT
Spot call yourself a dog man abd you never went to Glastonbury flap? By the way I remember your username running at Pompey in the 80s wonder if you had anything to do with it had a soft spot for it
Report January 24, 2013 9:20 AM GMT

Surely you must have been to Wembley, the best running track of them all?
Report sparrow January 24, 2013 12:31 PM GMT
Not even been to Clapton, the dogs running there in the bottom grade were winning opens never mind all it's Derby winners in the 60's.
Report deansthemann January 24, 2013 2:37 PM GMT
exchanges have killed the game
Report Winja January 24, 2013 2:49 PM GMT
if there were no exchanges would i be at crayford today......yes i would.......hopefuly with other likemind people making a strong market......would i be getting anything near value or the spectrum of available betting

in balance i prefer to be at home on the exchange......
Report DONEMYLOT January 24, 2013 2:57 PM GMT
at last deans finally said what I said years ago. The game was thriving until you could lay them at home and ponce about with yer stupid take 3.0 lay at 2.99 rubbish
Report SPOT THE DOG January 24, 2013 3:59 PM GMT
shiner yes i do recall spot the dog but i did not own or train it!!!
Report SPOT THE DOG January 24, 2013 4:02 PM GMT
ooops yes i did go to wembley i had a 7/1 winner in a IT one sunday afternoon

ps. ex N/Abbot derby winner ;)
Report DONEMYLOT January 24, 2013 4:13 PM GMT
wembley - greenfield madam. oioioioioi

where i first saw some picture - wow
Report Swayne January 24, 2013 7:27 PM GMT
DML, yes fantastic, always empty, no atmosphere.eerie ghost walk up Wembley way midweek....I loved it.. Blue Murlen, Some Picture, Larkhill/Staplers Jo, get proper bets on, those were the daysSad
Report RothmanMike January 24, 2013 7:40 PM GMT
Donemylot, not being superior here just stating facts and the fact is most so=called followers of the sport have never ventured out of their locality.
For the record have been to all those stated , except the Irish.

To complete the list, I add the following

STAINFORTH (Doncaster)
BROUGH PARK (Newcastle)
HACKNEY (Both Sides)
PERRY BARR (Old and New)
CRAYFORD (Old and New)

Everynight for 30 years.

So learned a little bit about the game  Love
Report irishone January 24, 2013 10:44 PM GMT
rye house
west row
bury st edmunds
stamford bridge
perry barr
hall green
st pete
harolds x

i'm getting bored now ..... still learning Excited
Report irishone January 24, 2013 10:45 PM GMT
cambridge ?   was that milton road ?
Report DONEMYLOT January 25, 2013 8:07 AM GMT
Isle of man
Isle of Wight
Report RothmanMike January 25, 2013 2:16 PM GMT
Old Cambridge City ground (not United), saw GLOSS Betty Godwin, and Linda Mullins had loads of winners.
It was a flap on one side then it became NGRC and then moved over other side of pitch - Wed & Fri
Report RothmanMike January 25, 2013 2:17 PM GMT
Report irishone January 25, 2013 4:27 PM GMT
yeah that was it cambridge city f c .... milton road
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