The Five Oldest Grounds in Professional English Football

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Preston North End were the first English champions as well as first double winners - but where does Deepdale rank in our list?

The modern game of association football was first established in England in the mid-nineteenth century and some of the grounds from that time remain at the focal point of the sport to this very day.

We have delved into the history books and discovered which are the oldest grounds still being used in the top four divisions of English football and the stories behind their longevity.

Deepdale – 1878

Originally built in 1875, Deepdale was officially opened three years later and it is widely regarded as the world’s oldest continuously used football stadium by a professional team.

Preston North End have been based at the ground since their formation in 1880 and they became the first English Football League champions during the inaugural 1888-89 season, finishing the campaign unbeaten, while they also triumphed in the FA Cup, becoming the first team to win the double.

Deepdale has undergone plenty of renovation work since those days, including when it became one of just four Football League grounds to have an all-weather pitch installed during the 1980s.

In recent years, the stadium has undergone extensive modifications, while retaining some of its original charm, with the capacity currently standing at 23,404, although the record attendance is nearly double that, with 42,684 people having watched Preston’s clash with Arsenal in 1938.

Rodney Parade – 1877

Rodney Parade may have been originally opened nearly 150 years ago, but its history in football is far more recent, with Newport County having become the first football team to regularly play there when they moved to the stadium in 2012.

Prior to that, the venue had been mainly used for rugby union and it staged a number of high-profile international games, with all four home nations having played at the ground, as well as New Zealand and South Africa.

There is still very much a rugby feel to the venue, with Newport County continuing to share the ground with Newport RFC, as well as Pro14 outfit, the Dragons.

The current capacity of the stadium is a modest 8,700, while that maximum is lowered to just 7,850 for football matches, a far cry from the record attendance of 31,000, which was achieved when Newport RFC took on South Africa’s Springboks back in 1952.

Stamford Bridge – 1877

Stamford Bridge has been the home of Chelsea since 1905, but its existence dates back nearly 28 years before that, with the ground having originally been tenanted by London Athletic Club.

Fulham were initially offered the chance to move into the ground, but they turned down that opportunity due to financial concerns, with Chelsea being formed instead – and they have not left the stadium since.

The venue did undergo extensive renovations during the 1990s, with early matches of the Premier League era almost documenting the work that was carried out.

It is fair to say Stamford Bridge is a lot different from what it was just over 20 years ago, with the ground regularly hosting top-level football from both England and the continent, although the current capacity of 41,837 is well below the record attendance of 82,905, which was again set against Arsenal, this time in 1935.

Field Mill – 1861

Field Mill is the home of Mansfield Town and it is currently the oldest ground in the EFL (until next season anyway), with the venue having celebrated its 160th birthday this year.

A number of football teams contested matches at the venue until 1919 when it became the home of Mansfield, with Football League games having been played at the ground since the club were admitted to the pyramid in 1931.

Mansfield had intended to leave the ground during the latter part of the 20th century, but those plans were soon scrapped and the club instead renovated the venue, with the redeveloped 9,186 all-seater stadium being officially opened in 2001.

The ground is currently known as the One Call Stadium for sponsorship reasons, while the record attendance was set in January 1953 when 24,467 people attended Mansfield’s FA Cup third round clash with local rivals Nottingham Forest.

Bramall Lane -1855

The oldest football ground still in use in English professional football is Bramall Lane, which first opened its doors over 166 years ago.

Initially used as a cricket ground or occasional venue for Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield FC, Bramall Lane exclusively became the home of Sheffield United in 1889.

The stadium is also one of just two alongside the Oval cricket ground to have hosted England football internationals, Test cricket and an FA Cup final.

Bramall Lane also staged Premier League football this season, although Sheff United’s relegations means the venue will be back on the Championship circuit next term, with a maximum of 32,050 spectators being able to attend matches.

The record attendance at the ground currently stands at 68,287, which was set when the Blades took on Yorkshire rivals Leeds in the FA Cup back in 1936 – a decade which seems to have seen many a record attendance broken.

A fountain of knowledge on football, Tom offers a particular in-depth expertise in EFL and European leagues.

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