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28 Mar 20 09:05
Date Joined: 20 Jul 02
| Topic/replies: 40,247 | Blogger: sparrow's blog
Remember remember the fifth of November, and for those of us who used to call Catford Stadium 'our track' we always will. That was back in 2003, now just over four years ago, when the rumours that the track was closing finally proved right.

I first heard the news at around 9am that morning while preparing SIS's Sports Daily programme. My wife had received a call from Sonja Spiers, trainer of our Catford grader, Lockham Rosemary, to say that the track had closed. No final meeting. No chance to stand on the terraces for one last time. That was it. Catford was history.

Initially I couldn't believe it. I wanted to phone everyone and anyone and ask them what they knew, but sadly, after years of rumours of Catford's demise, it had finally happened. We started 'Sports Daily' that morning by replaying what had turned out to be the track's final race, the last BAGS race from the previous afternoon (won by Redders Senorita) and as if with heads bowed as a mark of respect, we played that race out in total silence.

I could scarcely believe it had happened. Yes I knew Catford had been in a state of disrepair for years and that investment and refurbishment just didn't happen there, but to those of us who used to go regularly we still loved the place.

Derek Hope, the racing manager at the end, told me he knew it was over during the BAGS meeting the previous afternoon when Bob Rowe, the GRA's Senior Racing Manager, had stayed to watch the final race. It was, according to Derek, something Bob never did, always leaving before the end to avoid the heavy south London rush hour traffic.

I had become a regular at Catford in its last couple of years, firstly through ownership of a couple of dogs, and then in the last year as the track commentator, after I persuaded general manager Stan Wolfe that they should employ a race caller again, something that had been dropped a few years earlier.

But my memories of Catford go back much further. Having been born in Lewisham, just a mile or so from the track, and with my Nan having lived within shouting distance of the stadium, I can still recall going to Catford as an impressionable seven or eight-year-old with my dad in the mid-70s. I was into my racing even then, and there was nothing better than a night at the dogs with all the noise, the bright lights, and the pushing and shoving to get a good view. I was in my element watching the bookmakers and taking everything in. I used to love to read the old Greyhound Standard, which probably explains how I ended up where I am today. Strangely, I also remember spending a lot of time picking up old discarded tote tickets in the hope that might have been winners, something my boys now also seem to do quite a bit themselves!

While my teenage years were spent living elsewhere, I took thorough delight in returning to Catford in the early 90s just after I moved back into the area and still remember the excitement of re-visiting the track for the first time. I had deliberately chosen a night when the John Humphreys Gold Collar, Catford's major event of the year, was taking place, and spent a lot of that evening re-tracing my steps. Standing between the first two bends as the dogs thundered round, and taking great pleasure in looking across at the old toteboard and just reminiscing. Wonderful memories, more of which I'll explore next time...

"Probably the most atmospheric greyhound track of all." Read Jonathan Hobbs' thoughts on the closure of Catford here.
Pause Switch to Standard View Catford greyhound track: gone but not...
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Report privatehire March 28, 2020 10:12 AM GMT
I raced there a lot wen i worked for linda mullins wen she was champion trainer. Often wen i left she would shout on me to get bread from the turkish bakery just over the humped back bridge past the pub. Was always warm wen u bought it just out oven. Us kennelhands would often go to the pub on the bridge i cant remember wot it was called for a few games of pool b4 heading back for first race. I would buy bread for linda and some for us while we played. I was lucky enough to be involved in many great nights racing as a kennelhand racing post festivals etc. Think my best memory was winning boxing day marathon at catford with droopys paul. The noise was deafening. It was truely a unique and wonderful place.
Report Deptford March 28, 2020 1:34 PM GMT
Pub was The Copperfield.
Report privatehire March 28, 2020 2:30 PM GMT
Cheerz deptford.
Report the bairn March 29, 2020 8:55 PM BST
I bought a dog from a Catford trainer called Boyce way back in the eighties, travelled down in the bus, hung around London waiting to be picked up, seen a large crowd gathering, didn't realise they were going to the Cenitaph for the annual remembrance, quite a sight and very emotional, anyhow, paid for the dog, not expensive, then back to London and the bus back up the road, the dog was sent up to Waverley by train 3 days later, it paid for itself,but every time it came of the track it couldn't breathe, it must have been the the first greyhound to have canine coronavirus, never bought another dog from those guys. cheers.
Report the bairn March 29, 2020 8:58 PM BST
forgot to say the kennels were quite a bit of journey from central London, I can't remember where they were but I think the place started with a K. cheers.
Report March 29, 2020 9:07 PM BST
i used to go to london bridge by tube to catch the hayes train get of at catford bridge
Report michael59 March 30, 2020 12:17 AM BST
keston ?
Report the bairn March 30, 2020 12:36 AM BST
thanks Michael, Keston was the place, how far out would that be, I think there were a lot of different trainers based there, even ones who trained for White City but i'm not too sure about that. cheers.
Report privatehire March 30, 2020 8:42 AM BST
George andreas, seamus cahill, katie o,flaherty, tony taylor. I know they train there at this moment in time.
Report Deptford March 30, 2020 9:06 AM BST
I had a dog with Arthur Boyce, one year I was on holiday in Majorca and walking along the beach, and walking straight towards me was Arthur, he said to me, I know you have a dog with me but I cant rememeber your name!!! Classic, dog was Baston Bronze, she done 34.82 one night and won by 10, the booing started before the 3rd bend, Stewards Enquiry!!
Report privatehire March 30, 2020 1:00 PM BST
Did u pay the fine deptford. Laugh
Report Lucky Luciano May 22, 2020 7:29 PM BST

Found a card from 1st november 1986 with Baston Bronze running (actually a non runner on the night )
If you want a trip down memory lane I will post a pic
let me know on here
Report Deptford May 22, 2020 9:19 PM BST
Please!! You have made my night.
Report Lucky Luciano May 24, 2020 5:13 PM BST
Been waiting photo approval.....finally

Went looking through the reminder of what I saved (and treasure) for the great memories,did have a huge shopping bag full and when I moved threw most in a bin, how I regret that now.

Found another racecard BB raced in 1986 date was 6th Jan when racing in a A4 then was in an open race 1st November
Night she did 34.82 thats a proper fast time hope you made plenty

hopefully these appear

Kept a few  Gold Collar racrs as well took some pics

Report Deptford May 24, 2020 6:12 PM BST
Brilliant, thank you, and MILLWALL!!
Report Deptford May 24, 2020 6:20 PM BST
I had untold racecards but for some reason I threw them once when I moved, would love to still have them all, did have it off that night, she got beat on the previous Saturday, I thought she was unlucky, we went in The Copperfield and asked for Champagne, the barmaids face was a picture.
Report Lucky Luciano May 24, 2020 8:38 PM BST
Champagne in the Copperfield Laugh
Probably the one thing I regret most is not getting involved in ownership.
Report muzzle May 25, 2020 1:22 PM BST
worked at beaverwood there for paddy milligan,great days many moons ago
Report Catford Toteboard May 29, 2020 12:35 AM BST
Millwall wins the A1! Great stuff Lucky, thanks.
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