Liverpool - Bootle Stadium

Aintree Road : L20 9PQ Liverpool - Bootle Stadium : Map credit National Library of Scotland Liverpool - Bootle Stadium : Image credit Liverpool Pembroke and Sefton Harriers
The fourteen acre Bootle Stadium was built by Bootle Municipal Authority in 1931 at a cost of £20,000 and it had a banked cinder cycle racing track, three laps to the mile. The area within the track was grass for running and athletics and the stadium had changing accommodation. In 1931, the cycle track was not ‘sufficiently settled' for racing to take place. It was reported by the Liverpool Echo "there is a possibility that when the track is settled it will be covered with cement."

The track was formally opened in June 1933 and had indeed been covered with cement. The NCU Liverpool Centre held the opening meeting on August 7th 1933, which attracted a very large number of competitors, around 50 for the main events. The races were: a one lap handicap, ½ mile handicap, 5 miles scratch, ½ mile novices handicap, ½ mile veterans handicap and a carrier bicycle race. There was another meeting on August 12th 1933 to decide the Liverpool Centre 50 miles tandem paced championship.

Wednesday training meetings were held throughout the 1930's, these were effectively a track league with races and were promoted by the Liverpool Centre of the NCU. Some of the mid-week track league meets attracted top class riders such as the Wyld brothers, Jack Sibbit and Eddie and Tommy Soens. Attendance for mid-week meetings was not large, 400 spectators was reported in 1937. The stadium was losing money on open events and cancelled the July 1937 meeting because of this.

In 1939 there were 90 riders registered for racing at Bootle, including Reg Harris of Manchester Wheelers. The track was criticised by the NCU in 1939 and the Bootle Municipal Authority were asked to effect improvements to the track.

The track league continued, in some way, through the Second World War. During the war the stadium was used as an army camp. There were rumours that the stadium would be used for speedway after the war.

The Liverpool Echo reported that the newly formed Merseyside Track League held an international open meeting on June 28th 1950 with Alan Bannister, Cyril Cartwright Alan Geldard and Len Jackson riding. Riders from Denmark, France and Holland were also on the card. The Wednesday evening track league ran through the 1950's and local riders Norman Shiel, John Geddes and Stan Britain began their cycling careers there. Open meeting such as the Bootle Carnival track meet continued to be held organised by Ken Matthews, who was the manager of Bootle Sports Stadium. The 1954 NCU Racing Handbook lists the Bootle track as asphalt, 586 yards around, 21 feet wide and banked 9½ degrees.

For bigger events, Bootle was always overshadowed by Fallowfield track in Manchester, but the mid-week track league continued in the early 1960's with National stars such as Doug Dailey riding. A new asphalt track opened at Kirkby in 1964 and Ken Matthews moved from Bootle to manage the new facility there. Most Merseyside track racing was then held at Kirkby, including the track league.

The Bootle stadium was still used for a short time, some Liverpool clubs held their club championship events, such as East Liverpool Wheelers in 1966. This was probably the last cycle racing at Bootle.

The stadium was used for social events, Liverpool Time Trials Cycling Association held their prize giving there in 1979. The stadium was used for other sports, it was Bootle FC's home ground from 1948 and baseball was played there from 1934. The Liverpool Trojans (named after Higson's Trojan beer), played baseball at the stadium up to 2012.

A leisure club was set up at the stadium in 1991, with archery, badminton and indoor bowls. The stadium was closed in 2006 and demolished in 2009, however, playing field at the site were retained. The area has now been developed as Bootle Community Sports Stadium.

Liverpool - Bootle Stadium : Image credit Historic England Liverpool - Bootle Stadium : Image credit Geoff Cooke private collection Liverpool - Bootle Stadium : Image credit Will Soens Liverpool - Bootle Stadium :
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Photos : Liverpool Pembroke and Sefton Harriers, Historic England, Geoff Cooke private collection, Will Soens
Maps    : National Library of Scotland