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Sunday, October 26, 2008

A fitting farewell to Stradey Park

A fitting farewell to Stradey Park

Emotions ran high on Friday night as players, fans, and dignitaries bid farewell to a rugby stadium that was more than just a venue to Llanelli fans, it was a home. Stradey Park first opened 129 years ago, but will now be pulled down as the Scarlets will move to a new, modernized stadium. Friday night was the last ever game there as they took on Bristol in the EDF Energy Cup.

It was a fitting sendoff to the legendary theatre of Welsh rugby as the Scarlets won 27-0, adding to the sense of occasion on this most historic of nights.

Stradey Park has played host to some of the finest games ever seen, and been home to some of the games greatest players. Welsh legends such as Phil Bennett, Gareth Jenkins, Ray Gravell, JJ Williams, the Quinnell family, Phil Davies, Ieun Evans, and Stephen Jones, to name a few, have all graced the field at Stradey.

The stadium will now be demolished and a high density housing development will be built over it. A small garden of remembrance will be preserved at the site to acknowledge the legends that played there, and the fans whose ashes have been scattered on the pitch over the years.

The move to the new Parc y Scarlets stadium is much needed, but it didnt make it any easier on the faithful fans and ex-players to whom Stradey was so much a part of their lives.

Maybe Im old-fashioned and should move with the times but it will be a sad day for me, said Delme Thomas, captain of the team which beat the All Blacks in 1972.

Yes, you have to move with the times; I understand that. But Stradey has so much history attached to it and to think theyre going to build houses there, I cant grasp it.

Legendary fly-half Phil Bennett said: "I was privileged to have changed in that dressing room and run on to that field with some of the greatest players in world rugby history and that will make me a very satisfied man.

"I played in a game in 1972 and beat the All Blacks 9-3. That's gone down in folklore and for me that eclipses Grand Slams and Triple Crowns - for me that's the greatest ever game at Stradey Park."

Not too long ago, a player would only play for one club, and that is where his heart was. As a neutral, you cant help but respect the legacy that is Stradey Park, and can only hope that with the new move we see the old traditions, family atmosphere, and spirit of the old ground carried over, and live on forever.

This short clip features stirring footage of the great moments of the past, including victories over the All Blacks and Australia, and leads up to and includes Friday night. The final voice heard on the clip is that of Carwyn James, former Welsh player, Llanelli coach and the man who famously coached the 1971 British and Irish Lions to a series victory in New Zealand.


Time: 02:57
Further reading and footage available here

Posted at 11:11 am | 21 comments

Viewing 21 comments

bD October 26, 2008 12:04 pm

was watching the match....too bad the winger (mark jones?) didnt get a try he was killing himself for one!!

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Anonymous October 26, 2008 12:05 pm

farewell.and best of luck to a new begining.llanelli are a great club and i hope the scarlets can carry their tradition forward

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Anonymous October 26, 2008 12:35 pm

A Great Grownd

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Abs7 October 26, 2008 2:31 pm

aww man, such an awesome place.. my father took me there once for a european cup game, the crowd were awesome.. its a great memmory i will have for the rest of my life!!stradey was truely a magical place!

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Anonymous October 26, 2008 3:10 pm

Very moving clip, even for someone not associated wirh the place. Shows the real spirit of rugby. Top stuff.

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Cornamonian October 26, 2008 4:59 pm

fantasticcwhats the song..?

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geraint October 26, 2008 5:53 pm

As a pontypridd fan unfortunately i never made the trip down west to stradey. I've heard how much of a dump the place was as i'm sure most have, but there is huge tradition down there and even if you've only seen games on tv you can tell how great an atmosphere the ground generates on a big match day. A real shame they could not have renovated it and kept the same site. All the best to them though in Parc y Scarlets (apart from when Llanelli RFC play Pontypridd), it looks impressive so lets hope it generates an equally good atmosphere, unlike the liberty stadium (ospreys) which is shocking.

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Greiffel October 26, 2008 6:18 pm

Emotional stuff indeed. Worth reading more about btw.. plenty of stories that go with the stadium/teams over the years. Song is Superman by Five For Fighting

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Anonymous October 26, 2008 9:08 pm

great stuff it really did show the spirit of our great game

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Anonymous October 26, 2008 9:08 pm

great stuff it really did show the spirit of our great game

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Anonymous October 26, 2008 11:05 pm

You gotta be envious of a club like Llanelli, with a history like theirs and the players they produced and certainly not least a stadium in which all those memories are contained, sad to see it go, but the new stadium is pretty good and if it delivers half of what Stradey did it will be a success.-Dune

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Ref October 27, 2008 1:20 am

Beautiful piece. I hope the fans can keep the spirit of the old grounds alive in the new places.

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R October 27, 2008 1:51 am

Even I felt it and i'm from arg

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Jamie.G October 27, 2008 3:43 am

I have to say i'm privileged enough to have played there, just in a school boy sevens tournament. Seen a couple of matches there too, fantastic place, atmosphere, history and great rugby. Sad to see the end of a welsh rugby institution, will they have saucepans on the posts at Parc y Scarlets? x

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Anonymous October 27, 2008 3:47 pm

I'm sad, just sad, and i'm not even welsh i'm argentinean but i've always admired the welsh rugby and its traditions. besides, i'd like to go to wales sometime

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Anthony Jones October 28, 2008 9:59 am

I had goosebumps throughout the entire clip. I just can't believe they're removing Stradey Park to build bloody houses. There's so much history, so much heritage, so much passion still alive there! It's a sad day, and even if they did put saucepans on the sticks, it's not the same. Hwyl fawr Parc Y Strad, mi fyddech yn fuw yn calon phob Scarlet am byth

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evnz October 28, 2008 4:44 pm

As A Scarlets Fan When I Think About The Good Times I Had There It Makes Me Feel Sick That They Are Building Houses There.Goodbye Stradey=(

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Anonymous October 28, 2008 4:48 pm

*cries*good luck in parc y scarlets..and yeah mark jones should have had a try!

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eating is cheating October 28, 2008 10:10 pm

i love it when you show clips from years ago when men where men and sheep where scared!!

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evnz October 30, 2008 6:48 pm

Btw Dune, Not Havin A Go At You So Plz Dun Take It The Wrong Way.But Parc Y Scarlets Will Never Deliver A Fraction Of What Stradey Did.

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GWD80 September 27, 2012 7:54 am

@Geraint
Mate, I know this is nearly four years after your comment but I only just saw it and felt compelled to respond! Seeing as you hadn't even been there, let me just confirm for you that compared to the House of Pain, Stradey was like the Burj Al Arab!

Thanks for the good luck in any case. They've already had some cracking Llanelli v Ponty matches down there since PyS opened.

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