Classifieds 50% off, use promo code FBkpkPromo The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
The Phuket News World News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

It’s all gone to the dogs

UNITED KINGDOM: Once a hugely popular working man’s sport, last Saturday (Mar 25) marked the final demise of greyhound racing in London, closing a chapter of British social culture in the capital.

culture, animals, property, construction, land,


AFP

Sunday 2 April 2017, 01:00PM


Once a hugely popular working man’s sport, last Saturday marked the final demise of greyhound racing in London, closing a chapter of British social culture in the capital. Photo: AFP
Once a hugely popular working man’s sport, last Saturday marked the final demise of greyhound racing in London, closing a chapter of British social culture in the capital. Photo: AFP

More than 20 dog tracks have been dotted around London since modern greyhound racing was introduced to Britain in the 1920s, drawing in punters for a cheap evening’s entertainment.

Wimbledon Stadium is the last one standing, but it, too, now faces the bulldozers – a victim of cultural shifts and the city’s housing crisis.

The time-worn ground, built in 1928, is set to be replaced by around 600 flats to service the soaring London property market, and a new 11,000-seater home for third-tier football team AFC Wimbledon.

At the penultimate racing event, followers of the competitive sport lamented the closure.

Dressed in a flat cap, a beige overcoat, a blue spotted silk scarf and a yellow tie with greyhounds on, trackside bookmaker John Henwood, 68, has taken bets at almost every Wimbledon race meeting for 34 years.

“It will be a really, really sad loss,” he said.

“In days of yore, it was perceived as a cloth-cap sport enjoyed by the working man,” he said.

“But now we have a cosmopolitan clientele right across the age and social spectrum. And a big proportion of female attendees, which you didn’t get before.”

Once the mechanised hare was introduced from the United States in 1926, greyhound racing in Britain boomed in now-demolished, giant London stadiums like White City and the original Wembley.

Catford closed in 2003 and Walthamstow in 2008, leaving Wimbledon – home of the English Derby, the most prestigious race – as the last venue with a London address.

An all-round cheaper alternative to horse racing, dog race meetings traditionally drew the working class as they took place in the city after work.

Elsewhere in Britain, around 30 grounds are still going, although the sport has been in decline since betting shops were legalised in 1961, meaning greyhound tracks were no longer one of the few places to bet legally.

“None of the tracks closed because they weren’t popular; they all closed because of the value of the land,” Henwood said.

London land is at a premium. The average property price in the wider Wimbledon area surpassed £500,000 (B21.62 million) in December.

Around 1,500 people filled the stadium’s only remaining open stand to watch the penultimate set of 12 races, run every 15 minutes, for the entry price of £7 (B302).

The racegoers are a mixture of old-timers, newcomers, hipsters, groups on a tipsy night out and families, some with babies. Many dressed up for the occasion, with men wearing blazers and shiny shoes and women in evening dresses.

“It’s the whole vibe. It’s cheap, sweet and fun. You have your £2 (B86) bet and have a laugh and you’re so close up,” said Theresa Ajid, who was trackside with her husband and young children.

A fanfare announces each race and the six greyhounds are then paraded along the finishing straight.

C and C Marine

Punters size them up and rush to the bookmakers’ stands to place bets, pint of beer and race card in one hand, banknote in the other.

They choose between greyhounds with colourful names such as Tashas Wee Nasty, Lenson Rambo, Oo Wants It, Jumeirah Maximus, Art of Illusion, Fizzypop Hazard and Mystical Charlie.

Once in the traps, the stadium lights drop and some dogs bark in anticipation.

A bell rings, the traps snap open and the dogs burst out, chasing after the artificial hare, flicking up the sand off the track as they sprint past.

Pressed right against the trackside fence, people cheer on their favourites as the greyhounds complete a 480-metre lap in 30 seconds.

Most bets are small-scale but in the last race of the night, a stag party piles in all their remaining cash on 10/1 outsider Office Hazard, picked by the groom-to-be.

As it triumphs, they erupt with joy, wildly bounce around cheering with beer flung in the air, before heading off into the night with their £850 winnings (B36,765).

“The excitement is unreal. I’m totally addicted,” said pensioner Fred, 78, with the Racing Post newspaper tucked under his arm.

Fred, who declined to give his surname, said: “It’s a crying shame. Eight million people and there’ll not be a dog track in London. That’s it; end of the line.”

Darren, 40, said he had been coming to the stadium for 20 years.

“We’re losing a chunk of history here. Once it’s gone, you won’t get it back.”

“This is an institution, not just a greyhound track,” said the stadium’s general manager Keith Hallinan.

“Fewer people are coming to the tracks. People can watch on their phone and bet,” he said.

“But people don’t realise if they don’t come to the tracks, there’s not going to be greyhound racing.”

Around 100 people work at the stadium and have been looking for new jobs.

Hallinan said last Saturday’s farewell would be “very emotional”.

“We’re not looking at it as a celebration but we are looking at it as a night to remember.”

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

Time to get rid of the taxi mafia and only allow registered taxi drivers who own a taxi license....(Read More)


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

It would be lovely to have prior warning or invites to these meetings as tourists and residents to give US the chance to rally and protest that the pu...(Read More)


Dash cams cut car insurance premiums

Government forcing private industry to give a discount, sorry very wrong, but hey, I guess premiums will go up to cover the "lose."...(Read More)


Dash cams cut car insurance premiums

Excellent news. Of course you need to have one of these anyway, insurance discount or not. Don't stop with a forward looking one either, put one i...(Read More)


Man, 20, dies as sports bike slams head-on into pickup at high speed

There's video of this one on FaceBook from the CCTV at "Phuket Animal Welfare Society" (a great vets' by the way). Bike was easily ...(Read More)


Beaches, transport, security top Phuket tourism development agenda

"The beach is to be maintained in an appropriate manner to honor the late King...". Surin beach remains a disgrace. Mr. Governor, please c...(Read More)


Man, 20, dies as sports bike slams head-on into pickup at high speed

Almost all accidents - of any kind, really - are a result of two or more mistakes by the involved parties. In Thailand's notorious vehicular stats...(Read More)


Beaches, transport, security top Phuket tourism development agenda

Where to start ? Taxis and tuktuks are not public as the article clearly states. "Real progress" to tourists and expats on the public transp...(Read More)


Beaches, transport, security top Phuket tourism development agenda

But traffic lights in Patong for ex no high issue?? So tourist can cross road with some safety?? 1 year now put up the lights but jeep them close...(Read More)


Beaches, transport, security top Phuket tourism development agenda

In my opinion and many residents in Phuket, Thais and foreigners alike, would may say that Phuket does not have "Public Transport" as it is ...(Read More)

The Phuket News
Bangkok Hospital Phuket
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
Photo Galleries
COLOURING BOOK
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2017 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.