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Athletic Grounds, Rochdale facts for kids

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Athletic Grounds
Full name Athletic Grounds
Location Milnrow Road, Rochdale
Coordinates 53°36′46″N 2°08′07″W / 53.61278°N 2.13528°W / 53.61278; -2.13528
Record attendance 41,831
Surface Grass
Built 1894
Opened 1894
Expanded 1954
Closed 1988
Demolished 1988
Rochdale Hornets (1894–1988)
Greyhound racing (1932–1969)
Speedway (1928–30 & 1970–71)

The Athletic Grounds was a stadium in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England. It was the home of Rochdale Hornets Rugby League Football Club for over 90 years until 1988. It has also been used for speedway, BriSCA F1 Stock Cars and greyhound racing.


The Athletic Grounds east of Rochdale opened in 1894 and the new stadium soon became the home of the Rochdale Hornets rugby league club. Situated alongside the Oldham & Rochdale branch railway on its south side the stadium could be accessed from Milnrow Road.


Speedway was first held at the Athletic Grounds on 4 August 1928. The last meeting took place on 12 July 1930, Rochdale Speedway Limited was wound up on 1 August 1930 with "waning interest in the sport" being cited as the reason for failure. There was a revival of the sport on 16 August under new management but this was short lived. On Sunday 29 March 1970, speedway returned to the Athletics Grounds as Rochdale Hornets speedway team took on Crewe. The team moved to Ellesmere Port at the end of the 1972 season.

Greyhound Racing

A greyhound racing syndicate brought greyhound racing to the stadium in 1932 with the opening meeting held on 18 June 1932 under British Greyhound Tracks Control Society (BGTCS) rules, the BGTCS were the main rival to the National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) at the time.

In 1935 the BGTCS disbanded and the track switched to the NGRC and in 1938 the company failed in an attempt to purchase the ground from the rugby league club. Rochdale Greyhounds Ltd had earned significant profits from their tote deductions alone putting them in a strong financial position as the war approached.

The track had a 450-yard circumference and the racing kennels and paddock were set well behind the main grandstand with the 120 resident kennels further behind these quite near to housing that had been constructed since the opening of the stadium. Race distances were 319, 500 and 530 yards in addition to a 465-yard handicap. The Racing Manager during the 1950s was T H Mitchell assisted by J Edden.

In December 1962 the track decided to leave the NGRC due to falling profits and they went independent (unaffiliated to a governing body), J Dickinson was the Racing Manager but Mitchell & Edden remained at the track. However, during December 1969 the greyhound racing stopped with the Rochdale Greyhounds Ltd citing unsustainable losses.

Stock Car Racing

BriSCA F1 Stock Cars racing was introduced to Rochdale in May 1970. The track was used until 1972, the big criticism being the height of the inner granite kerb stones. designed to protect the rugby pitch. It returned in 1974 under the promotion of Mike Parker Promotions until 1984 when it finally closed. It was a big fast shale track, 440 yds in length. Rochdale also produced 2 of the sports biggest stars, 391 Stuart Smith and 396 Doug Cronshaw.


In 1987 both Rochdale Hornets and Rochdale A.F.C. were in financial trouble. First to receive an offer for their ground, Hornets accepted Morrison's £2.6m offer for the Athletic Grounds and, following the sale of the land bought a half share in Rochdale A.F.C.'s Spotland Stadium, thus saving both clubs. A Morrisons supermarket now stands on the site.

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