Portadown - Recreation Ground
Brownstown Road : BT62 3PZ
Portadown - Recreation Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland The Portadown Agricultural and Recreation Company was set up by public subscription in 1906 with the objective of providing a permanent home for the Portadown Agricultural Show and a new sports ground. The company purchased 12½ acres of land owned by John Campbell at Clounagh for £700 and built a new Showground and a football pitch with a bicycle track around the pitch. The track was three laps to the mile, 31 feet wide and enclosed by a wooden fence. There was a grandstand for 500 people and laying out the ground was estimated to cost £1,500.

The first Portadown Show on the new ground was held in August 1906 and Portadown FC also started using the ground in 1906. There had been no bicycle racing in Portadown for ten years because a new road was built through the old People's Park and the cinder track there was lost.

The first sports meeting on the new ground was on Easter Monday 1907, the sports were varied and included running, five a side football, horse racing and a three miles bicycle handicap race. The Portadown Show was held on June 12th 1907 at the ground and included one and three miles bicycle handicap races. There were several other meetings in 1907 at the ground, which featured bicycle racing.

The Portadown Athletic Club was re-formed in 1907 for the purpose of reviving the annual sports and they held their first meeting on August 13th 1908, the chief attraction was the ten miles Irish Championship race, which included top riders Charles Kingsbury**, the Olympic champion and Dan Flynn the Scottish champion. An outsider, J Robertson of the YMCA was the surprise winner by three lengths.

The Recreation Ground Company Easter Monday sports continued in 1909 with one and three miles bicycle races and became an annual event. Betting at Portadown was a common occurrence and book makers plied their trade without difficulty.

Bicycle racing at the Recreation Ground seemed to fizzle out after 1910, there were a few meetings, but it was not until the 1930s that bicycle racing took off again. From this time, sports meetings and cycle races were held at Shamrock Park, it is not clear if the cinder track at the Recreation Ground and the one at Shamrock Park were one and the same, if not, they were situated very close to each other.

Portadown Week in 1931 included a sports meeting on June 25th with a local cycle race and a cycle race for "shop assistants, clerks etc. in Portadown." More cycle racing took place through the 1930s including a meeting in 1937 which featured the 1,000 yard Championship of Northern Ireland cycle race.

Cycle racing at the ground through the 1940s included National Fire Service meetings and Portadown Athletic and Cycling Club sports. Unusually, the sports meeting on July 31st 1948 was advertised but suddenly cancelled for no apparent reason. There was no further cycle races at the ground after this.

Shamrock Park is still the home ground of Portadown FC.

** Clarence Brickwood Kingsbury won two track gold medals at the 1908 Olympic Games, in the 20km race and the team pursuit. He also won an NCU championship every year from 1907 to 1912.

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