Hillsborough Stadium

Capacity39 812
813 (VIP seats)
76 (Press seats)
9255 (North Stand)
5772 (Leppings Lane End)
3700 (away) (North West Terrace)
11 354 (South Stand)
11 210 (Spion Kop)
Country England
CitySheffield
ClubsSheffield Wednesday FC
Other names Owlerton (1899-1914)
Inauguration 02.09.1899 (Sheffield Wednesday - Chesterfield 5-1)
Renovations 1914, 1960-1961, 1994
Record attendance 72 841 (Sheffield Wednesday - Manchester City, 1934)
Address Hillsborough, Sheffield S6 1SW

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Description: Hillsborough

In spring 1898 it was still a meadow with a dandelion flowerbed. A year later, out of necessity, it became home to Sheffield Wednesday. They had to move from the former Olive Grove which was used for railway expansion. However, part of the ground prevailed in new location as a 3,000-people stand was transported to Hillsborough estate in Owlerton (thus the club’s nickname “The Owls”), outside city limits. Until 1914 the ground bared the second name, but was later changed to Hillsborough.

This name today is commonly associated with the place of one of football’s largest disasters, but the ground’s history is much richer. However, not only positive. As it was first revamped in 1914, a wall fell on spectators, injuring 75 people. Later it was only better with Hillsborough growing rapidly and becoming one of England’s largest and most important venues. It played host to 27 FC Cup semifinals as neutral venue and several national finals in both the FA and League Cup. But most importantly it became a magnet to fans nationwide. To make the scale of changes visible, let’s just say that in 1898 it could accommodate some 5,000 people. Less than 2 decades later, in 1914, it was already 43,000. And another 2 decades later, in 1934, the record crowd of over 72,000 was seen.

No wonder that as one of the most important stadiums it was included both in the 1966 World Cup and Euro 1996. Unfortunately it’s not the sporting events, but tragedy of April 15th 1989 that brought the ground to the spotlight. Due to very poor policing and crowd management on the day of yet another FA Cup semifinal 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. Though police tried to put the blame on supporters/hooligans, official inquiry has indicated it was in fact the police who were responsible and no hooligan incidents took place.

These events left the ground empty and closed for safety improvements, of which installing seating and gates opening towards the pitch for evacuation were the most important ones. Similar changes were implemented across the country and later worldwide, making this venue one of the most important ones in the history of football stadia. First major tournament after the disaster was Euro 1996 which was not called off in Sheffield. Ironically, to this day the ground does not fulfill all the recommendations of Taylor Report published after Hillsborough disaster. One of these being that all seats should be covered, while there is one section without any roof over it – though opened only for largest away groups, when regular sections are not enough.

Though the stadium has not changed significantly since the 90’s, it’s still very popular among fans of Wednesday who provide large following of not less than 20,000 people per game – impressive if we take into account that the club is struggling to get back in the top two divisions. And though it’s been years since the golden era for this stadium, it’s still the largest venue outside of the Premier League.

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