SUPERMARKETS BEHIND THE NORTH STAND
That’s SO Hull City
As the 1970s drew to a close and a swathe was cut through the North’s economy by a wicked woman from Grantham, Hull City AFC described a similar arc of decline. By 1982 the club had descended to the fourth division for the first time in its history and the disinterested Chris Needler had assumed the chairman’s post, only to plunge the club into receivership within six months of his second tenure. Struggling to stay afloat, the Tigers came perilously close to extinction.
In 1979 City’s directors had announced a scheme to develop Boothferry Park, with the Boothferry Road car park being given over to a complex of leisure facilities, a supermarket, club offices and a multi-storey car park. The proposal took three years to develop and was progressively scaled back to cut costs.
In February 1982 receivership and redevelopment plans crashed into each other. And so it came to pass that the fine North Stand structure with its imposing clock, was demolished and replaced by a functional supermarket shed that was occupied by Yorkshire grocery chain Grandways. The rear of the supermarket, which flanked the Boothferry Park pitch behind one goal, accommodated a shallow area of uncovered terracing that became an unsatisfactory home to many an away following for the next 20 years. It also housed an electronic scoreboard that would seem ludicrously basic now, but was considered to be a sign of the space age coming to Kingston upon Hull at the time. It clapped; it issued yellow cards; it responded when wayward shots narrowly missed it; it told the time. It was to all intents and purposes a miracle in electronic form.
Once a stadium that proudly boasted to being the only one with a dedicated British Railways station, now Boothferry Park was the only ground in English league football with a fruit and veg aisle behind one goal. The store closed early on matchdays so the spectacle of middle aged shoppers in headscarves mingling in the car park with the Fred Perry wearing hoolies of Middlesbrough and Derby never came to pass, but the embarrassment endured and Boothferry Park was denied much of its original cavernous atmosphere.
The decline of Boothferry Park, its name picked out in red backlit letters across the roofline of the store, was characterised most savagely by the failure of the club to replace busted light bulbs in the 1990s, which resulted in the stadium being announced to night-time passers-by as “—–FER– -ARK”.
Grandways begat Jacksons in the early 1990s and after a few years in this guise the store became a Kwik Save budget food seller. The store ceased trading in 2007 when Kwik Save went bust and was subsequently demolished along with the rest of Boothferry Park to make way for a housing development.