Sander Kolsloot, Stadium Journey

New Review: Barnsley FC

Oakwell, the Granddaddy of Stands: Special Correspondent Sander Kolsloot visits a classic English venue that doesn't have the glamour of other grounds, but is nonetheless steeped in history.

The site and stadium of Oakwell dates back to 1888, the year after the founding of the club. The original field belonged to another club, but the owner at the time, Reverend Preedy, succeeded in persuading the Oakwell owner to let his Reds play there, on the condition that they behaved themselves.

Ever since then, Barnsley has called Oakwell its home and in the early 1900s the signs of a true stadium came across, mainly with the construction of the Hayselden West Stand. The west stand is the part where Oakwell comes to life. It's the original west stand dating back to 1904. Some of the seating is still original, but parts have been converted from terracing to seating back in 1995 as a result of the ruling after the Hillsborough disaster. This part of the stadium has always housed the dressing rooms, ticket office, and nowadays the club shop and managers office too.

The stadium was originally part seating, part terracing but in the 1990s it was turned into an all-seater. First, a new East Stand got built in 1993. This was the first stand in Yorkshire to incorporate VIP seating. A couple years later, a new South Stand followed, which was completed in 1995. Works were completed on a new North Stand in 1999.

The north stand, which houses the away fans, was developed at the turn of the millennium from an open-end seated stand of around 2,000. It now holds more than 6,000 spectators and boasts state-of-the art academy facilities in its bowels. The cost of this stand have been part of a huge debate, as its £4.5 million final cost has never seemed to give a viable investment return. It must be said that the stand was built around a time the club had just been relegated to the Championship.

As part of the financial woes in 2002, the land that is underneath and around the stadium is now owned by the city council, in a way to save them - similar to the actions the local council took in Eindhoven in 2010-2011 to save local club PSV.

Click to read the full review of Oakwell

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