Welcome to the first in what will probably be a one part series, looking at abandoned football stadiums.
Linfield’s trip to Institute presented me with an opportunity to check out one such venue, Institute’s former home of Drumahoe.
Though the match would be played at The Brandywell, the pre-match arrangements were for Linfield fans to meet at Drumahoe Park and Ride, beside Drumahoe, in order to be bussed in to The Brandywell.
When the sides met last season, I intended to have a nosey around the abandoned ground, but time constraints meant that I couldn’t. So, I made sure that I had enough time in my stay in the village to look around.
The reason why the ground is abandoned is that it became flooded during heavy rain in 2017.
This caused an infestation of Japanese Knotweed on the pitch, making it unplayable.
That was then compounded by an arson attack on the changing rooms in the Summer of 2018.
Institute then moved to Wilton Park for the rest of the 2017-2018 season, but after winning promotion, needed a suitable stadium for top flight football, hence their groundshare with Derry City at The Brandywell.
There are plans in place for a new stadium at Clooney Park West.
The closest you can get to an Irish League version of Chernobyl, you can’t actually get into the stadium, but there are railings where you can take photos through, which is what I did, capturing the pitch where the grass has grown. A lot.
It’s the first time I have visited an abandoned stadium. When I was last in Glasgow, I attempted to visit Cathkin Park, a former football stadium which now forms part of a public park, though the terracing is still intact.
Next time i’m in Glasgow, i’ll make an effort to make that Part 2 of this series.