A Day to Remember - 15 July 2017
A look back on our historic return to Scarborough with Steve Adamson
Football finally came home on Saturday, 15 July, when Boro entertained a youthful Sheffield United side in a pre-season friendly, and a capacity all-ticket crowd in excess of 2,000 crammed into our new stadium, to signal the end of ten long years in exile 18 miles down the East coast in Bridlington.
It was a day that some of us thought might never happen, but at long last, years of hard work by many people, some of whom are sadly no longer with us, had finally come to fruition, and the feelings of excitement and anticipation were clearly evident around town from noon onwards, as groups of red clad supporters started to make their way towards the newly constructed Flamingo Land Stadium. It was especially poignant to see streams of Boro fans heading along Seamer Road towards the tunnel under the railway lines that leads directly to the new football ground.
Once at the ground there was a huge feeling of excitement as fans mingled outside the stadium, many taking photos and soaking up the atmosphere of what we all knew to be a special, once in a lifetime occassion. On entering through the turnstiles, it was immediately evident that this was going to be a day we would all remember for the rest of our lives. The impressive new stadium quickly filled up, and everything was superbly organised, with special commemorative t-shirts handed out to supporters and the souvenir programmes being snapped up by eager collectors. Toilet facilities are excellent and the catering outlets (ok, burger bars) did a roaring trade, while those fans that made their way into the bar area were impressed by the spacious, well decorated facility, and it was especially pleasing to find a club shop in the corner of the bar. In all our years in exile at Bridlington we had to make do with a table in the club house to sell souvenirs and merchandise from.
A number of specially invited guests and VIP's attended a pre-match buffet lunch, at which club chairman Trevor Bull impressed everyone with his welcoming speech, that included references to the great Scarborough football teams of the past, the value of a successful football club to the econony of a town, and his vision for a bright future for Scarborough Athletic in the years ahead. Amongst the VIP's were members of Scarborough Borough Council, whom the chairman thanked for delivering on their promise to provide the new sports facility. The Council delegation included former Leader Cllr Tom Fox, current deputy Leader Cllr Helen Mallory, projects manager Chris Bourne (who happens to be Colin Appleton's nephew), and the Deputy Mayor Cllr Guy Coulson and Mayoress Mrs Sharon Dickinson.
Also invited were Sir Gary Verity of 'Welcome to Yorkshire', Harry Gration from BBC Look North, officials from the Northern Premier League, Sheffield United Football Club, including chairman Kevin McCabe who also made a brief speech, wishing Scarborough Athletic well for the future, Gordon Gibb and a delegation from stadium sponsors Flamingo Land, various other sponsors, and some great names from Scarborough Football Club's illustrious past.
Kevin McCabe (top) and Gary Verity address the crowds at the Flamingo Land Stadium
Legendary manager Colin Appleton, former Scarborough FC chairmen Don Robinson and John Fawcett, past president John Birley and heroes from the glorious Wembley years in the 1970's: Harry Dunn, Alan Franks, Dick Hewitt, Jeff Barmby and Derek Abbey were also in attendance, as was club life-member Arre Guttelvik (Norwegian Seadog) as well as family members of former club chairmen Richard Adamson and Dave Holland, who both contributed greatly to the progression of the club, but sadly passed away during their time in office. Another distinguished guest was inaugural Scarborough Athletic chairman Simon Cope who had played such a key role in the formation of the new club back in 2007.
Chairman Trevor Bull went onto the pitch to address the crowd prior to the game kicking-off, and there was an emotional minute's applause that rang out around the ground, followed by the lovely gesture of Boro legend Harry Dunn laying a wreath in front of the Boro wall of bricks, in memory of those who are no longer with us.
Sir Gary Verity and Gordon Gibb combined to cut the ribbon to officially open the new Des Winks-sponsored retractable players tunnel.
Then the teams took to the field and the action began, but to Scarborough supporters, this was one of those rare occasions when the football didn't really matter. It was all about our club getting back to our home town. Probably the most humbling sight, when looking round the packed ground was the huge number of youngsters in attendance. It was fantastic to see so many family groups, and so many happy, smiling faces.
A whole generation of local kids has missed out on the chance to watch their home team play games in our town, and now hopefully many of these youngsters will develop into lifelong Boro supporters.
As for the game itself, well Sheffield United were a very good side and fully deserved their 4-1 victory. Their team was full of fast, skilful young players, and as full-time professionals, they were on top for virtually the whole game. Although they were gifted their first goal, Boro would have been delighted to go in level at half-time thanks to Jimmy Beadle's equaliser, which earned him the distiction of becoming the first Boro player to score a goal at the new stadium.
It was interesting to spot former Scarborough FC manager Mick Wadsworth on the Sheffield United bench, as he now coaches at their Academy, while in the crowd, it was great to see former Boro players Jason Rockett, Adie Meyer, Ian Ironside and Mitch Cook mingling with supporters. The result didn't go our way, but the whole day was a tremendous success.
There was an amazing atmosphere around the ground, and the facilities at the new stadium received overwhelming approval. There are one or two little things that perhaps need ironing out, such as the lack of litter bins around the ground, and the PA system wasn't brilliant, but otherwise it was a wonderful day for everyone with an interest in Scarborough football.
The board of directors and the numerous volunteers and helpers who all played their part in making sure everything ran smoothly, deserve enormous gratutude for a brilliant job in making sure the day was so successful and enjoyable.
After the match, Boro fans streamed out of the ground, still with smiles on their faces and full of praise for how the day had gone, with many heading off to the nearby hostelries on Valley Road or up to the pubs on Falsgrave Road, thereby boosting the local economy. There's no doubt about it, 15 July 2017 will go down in history as one of the most memorable days in the history of Scarborough football............
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