20th September 2017, 19:15 | steve_mascord



By Steve Mascord

YOU know you’re getting old when you remember buildings going up that are now being knocked down.

I recall the Sydney Entertainment Centre opening in 1983, the year after my favourite team, the Illawarra Steelers, made their debut. Now the concrete edifice in the Harbour City’s Chinatown district is gone, replaced by something like 1400 residential properties.

On West Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard, I can recalled LA Tattoo – run by the iconic Ed Hardy – a newsstand and some leather stores on the site where the schmick House Of Blues was built in 1994. 

Just yesterday I drove past it – a massive pile of dirt. It’s to become a hotel. The entire life of the music venue, bar and restaurant, passed under my watch.

In British Rugby League, though, there are probably not many people around who can remember Headingley’s South Stand and Wakefield’s Belle Vue going up.

The South Stand was completed in 1931. If Ed Hardy was “iconic” then the South Stand was legendary. It is to be replaced and is currently being torn down, photos of the process giving rise to formless unease when you look at them.

And now we know that Belle Vue is to be redeveloped, too.

The plan to build a £12million, 10,000-capacity boutique stadium has only just been unveiled. Trinity should be playing there by 2020, according to reports.

While on the surface few can be expected to miss the dilapidated 1895 venue, when the bulldozers come in another link to rugby league’s first season will be demolished.

The same pangs of…something sad…will descend on Wakey fans that South Standers are now feeling.

The reminders that everything changes may come via the disappearance of cherished landmarks but the process doesn’t just affect solid objects. Society itself changes and so does the popularity and fortunes of the pastimes housed in these buildings.

In 1895 when the ground opened, the Northern Union had just met to break away from the Rugby Football Union which itself was only 22 years old. That year, the FA Cup was stolen from a shop window in Birmingham and never recovered.

The first Olympics weren’t held until the following year – they’ve become quite popular, I believe! Imagine life before the Olympics....

In 1931 when the South Stand was erected, Sadler’s Wells Theatre – where my biological mother studied ballet (co-ordination skips a generation!) – was established. The depression caused the construction of the Queen Mary to be delayed for two years.

The Queen Mary was retired in 1967 and is now permanently moored in Long Beach, California.

The point is: if a structure that dates back to 1895 can be razed and rebuilt then rugby league itself can be as well.

On Saturday we saw a team from Toronto presented with the League One Shield in front of 8500 fans. Toronto! There is talk – which the RFL insists is premature – of teams across North America.

If rugby league was a stadium, you can’t say it’s being knocked down and rebuilt. But there are gleaming new grandstands and terraces going up while others fall into disrepair. Sometimes the new buildings contrast sharply with the older structures around them and we question whether they are such a good idea.

But just ask the denizens of Leeds and Wakefield: change occurs whether you like it or not. Nothing lasts forever.