Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Abandoned: Brandon Stadium, Coventry Bees

Sunday 28th May 2017

The wife and I were down in Coventry for the bank holiday weekend visiting her dad in hospital. I say we but in actuality I was given the task of dropping off and fetching so we wouldn't have to pay for hospital parking. Having a good three hours to kill, I decided to see if I could indulge my strange curiosity for abandoned stadiums by checking out Coventry Stadium (or Brandon Stadium), home of Speedway team Coventry Bees. I don't know much about Speedway but from what I can gather it's a type of motorcycle racing held on a dirt track with bikes that have no breaks or suspension, with an emphasis on a rider's ability to drift or 'broadside' around corners. Coventry Bees raced in the Elite League, which was the top division of the sport until the league was restructured last year. The Bees face an uncertain future after 88 years of existence as their licence was frozen in February due to them being unable to guarantee the fulfilment of their fixtures at Brandon Stadium or the use of Leicester Lions' Beaumont Park stadium for the duration of the season.

Speedway is something I've heard some older Rovers fans discuss from time to time as Bristol Bulldogs spent a season racing at Eastville Stadium in 1977. In true bloody-minded Bristolian spirit the speedway track was placed on top of the already-existing greyhound circuit and then dug up again every meeting for the entire season. The sport seems to have been a staple in the 70s and 80s for people looking for a summer sports fix after the football season ended. Bristol Bulldogs are no more and the fate of Coventry Bees does lead me to worry for the health of the sport somewhat. Brandon Stadium isn't in the best of states as you can see from these pictures but I can imagine it being an absolutely cracking place to be during a busy meeting, with it's massive curved terraces and grandiose main stand. Sadly this looks to be another great sporting venue that will soon be lost to the ages.

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