The Sealand Road stadium was demolished in 1992 with the club already in situ on Bumpers Lane. One remnant of the stadium that was believed missing was a plaque presented by the Supporters’ Club in 1935. The sandstone plaque was situated on the brick wall at the front of the ground, facing Sealand Road, but partially obscured by a badly placed lamppost.
Although the demolition men were asked to preserve the plaque it came down with the wall and was smashed into three segments. However all the pieces were salvaged by a supporter who handed them over to the Independent Supporters Association (ISA) at the start of the last decade. With continued uncertainty surrounding the club the broken plaque was stored away at the home of ISA chairman George Rogers. Now that the club is back in safe hands George attended a recent meeting of the Senior Blues and returned the plaque to the club.
The plaque, which is inscribed “Presented by the Supporters Committee 1935”, has flaked in places and a very small piece is missing but is otherwise in reasonable condition under the circumstances. The current intention is to possibly restore the plaque and re-instate it somewhere around the ground.
Most of the development on the Sealand Road game took place in the 1930s with an active Supporters’ Club contributing funds to help finance the changes. A total of nearly £3,000 was handed over between 1930 and 1935 and chairman Harry Mansley acknowledged that “without the efforts of the committee the ground would look bad.”
After a burst of activity in 1930 and 1931, when the main stand was extended and the Sealand Road End covered, the supporters were instrumental in the changes in the middle of the decade. In 1934 the rails around the pitch were replaced by a concrete wall. In “On The Borderline” I suggest this was done at the end of the 1934/35 season but I now believe this was done slightly earlier as the wall caused major drainage problems resulting in a poor pitch and many postponements during the 1934/35 and 1935/36 seasons. The problems with the pitch were exacerbated by the construction of terracing on the popular side. This new terracing accommodated 6,000 and was completed in time for the FA Cup tie with Nottingham Forest in January 1935.
At the start of July 1935 a meeting was held between the directors and the Supporters’ Committee in order to discuss further ground improvements. It was resolved to erect boundary walls on the city side of the ground (popular side) and at the Sealand Road End to take the place of the existing galvanised iron sheets. It was also proposed to fit steel girders in the walls of the popular side to prepare for further extension of the covered accommodation. The architect (Mr A J Hayton), on behalf of the supporters, was instructed to prepare the plans and invite tenders from local firms with the intention of completing the work in time for the first game of the 1935/36 season.
In the event the surrounding walls and popular side cover were both completed during the summer although the cover did not extend the full length of the pitch. It is this work that resulted in the plaque being placed on the new wall at the Sealand Road End.
As a postscript, in the first week of January 1936 the city was battered by a severe gale which caused several hundred pounds of damage to the ground. The new wall, erected by the Supporters’ Committee at the Sealand Road End, was severely damaged and the large entrance gate completely smashed with a side wall also demolished. Fortunately the section of wall directly facing Sealand Road (where the plaque was erected) remained undamaged. In addition a 90 yard section of fencing behind the Spion Kop, which had not been included in the summer changes, was completely flattened and had to be boarded up in time for the home game against Gateshead.
I would be interested to hear about the recovery of the plaque in 1992 so please get in touch if you know its whereabouts between 1992 and the early 2000s.
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