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Bye bye doggies

Neon bg

Saturday night was the last night of racing at Walthamstow Stadium. There were tales of emergency meetings on Sunday and new bidders, but as far as I know the sale is all done and dusted, and while there’s no definitive “there will be flats here soon”, there’s a distinct feeling that there will be flats here soon.

I went down to the Brighton track years ago for a big family night out and much fun was had by all – my supplied 20p per race bet (a whole 10p above the minimum bet and EVERYTHING) led to a profit of £1.20 on the night, and IIRC the profits went straight into the hands of the local sweetshop. After that I didn’t go back until a few years back when the flickr posse decided to go for a play. This time I bet a whole £1 (one) on each race, a whole five times the minimum 20p bet, and came out a couple of quid down. However, this time I was legally allowed to drink beer and all was good. So, the tradition continued and I’ve been going along to the dogs once a year or so and rather liked the place – crap food, but good night out. So, while not particularly emotionally attached I did want to go down for one last flutter.

As did the rest of the world, his mum, all their friends, neighbours and the guy who lives round the corner whose name noone remembers, but you always invite him around for a BBQ, even if he has never acknowledged the invitation or turned up.

The queue of traffic stretched right back up Walthamstow High Street to the station and following Anna‘s advice I ditched the bus half way there and beat it to the stadium by about 10 minutes. The queue at the stadium stretched round the corner, and a slightly dodgy looking geezer was selling complimentary passes in an effort to get the queue moving. His dodginess notwithstanding I purchased said pass, skipped the queue (after queuing in the wrong queue for a bit, listening to the people in front of me diss Connecticut as a crap state that doesn’t even have skiing) and then had to elbow my way through the throng to try and find the flickr posse. Luckily, as I’d been along before and spent a bit of time exploring the place, I knew some tricks and utilised the mysterious and secret tunnels to avoid the throng, and eventually popped up in our regular spot in the stand, meeting up with Anna, Jane and Rooney.

Races were run, the crowd thinned out a bit, a “no race” was called on the penultimate run and eventually they were done. The staff had piccies taken by the finishing post and the public invaded the track:

Track invasion

They then started stripping the place for souvenirs, tearing signs off the walls and ceilings and removing any form of fixture that could be easily (or not) hidden about the person. We strolled around a bit and as the track lights went out and the crowds cleared out we looked around the slowly deserting stands, including the public enclosure (the cheap seats) that we’d never sat in.

Public StandsThe bookies packed up their boards and lights, leaving piles of betting tickets behind and as the crowd finally cleared out there was a rather heavy level of devastation across the stadium. There was talk from one random guy (who asked me to take his piccy) that the next day’s meetings would sort things out, but even if they did then they’d have to do a refurb to replace a lot of the randomly missing signs. I did see one guy walking out with a plastic pint glass full of a sand with a delicately removed piece of grass perched on top, which seemed properly appropriate.

So, if you want to go and watch some doggies throw themselves after a pretend rabbit then your choices are now limited to Wimbledon and Romford, both of whom were advertising themselves outside of Walthamstow. I’ve not been to either, but I doubt either of them will be quite as specially furnished and random as The Stow.

My piccies

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