Two years on, mixed feelings on the closure of Wimbledon’s ‘mecca of greyhounds’

Two years ago Wimbledon Stadium was forced to close down after it was announced AFC Wimbledon would be buying the land and developing a new ground there.

The stadium housed the English Derby, Britain’s most prestigious greyhound race for 31 years.

For the local Greyhound community this now means that the closest venue to watch the dogs in London is at the Romford Stadium in Essex.

Tooting resident Mark Bryant, 56, said: “I am absolutely gutted, it was everything to me it was the mecca of greyhounds and a family entertainment centre.”

Managing director of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain Mark Bird said: “We know how far reaching the closure of Wimbledon has been felt by the thousands within south west London who enjoyed attending what was an iconic stadium.”

It is not only supporters and members of the governing bodies who feel the loss of one of the sports epicentres but those who have created history there too.

Trainer of Jaytee Jet, the last Derby winner at Wimbledon, Paul Hennessy said: “The venue will be fantastically missed, particularly those who worked there.”

Two years on from the closure, the fallout among the racing community continues, while those who question the methods of trainers and the cruelty of the sport are happy to see the back of the 89-year-old venue.

Action for Greyhounds founder Annie Boddey, 60, said: “The public don’t support the death and destruction of young healthy animals anymore.”

Boddey questioned the methods trainers used to race greyhounds and suggested that the loss of Wimbledon Stadium signalled a changing of attitude towards a sport which she says extorted the animals in a cruel manner.

With the ongoing development of the New Plough Lane Stadium, there is no going back for what was the Wimbledon Stadium and perhaps for greyhound racing.

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