Dr Steve McCabe, Birmingham City Business School

For someone who grew up in Hall Green, Birmingham in the 1970s it is fascinating to look at the pictures taken of the area when it was being transformed in the 1920s from a small collection of house in the countryside on the outskirts of Birmingham to the suburb we know today.

Naturally I looked for the house where I lived from 1970 until I went to university in 1981 on Fox Hollies Road. Fascinatingly I could see a photo showing it during construction. It wasn’t hard to find because one landmark was already there; the greyhound racing stadium.

As a child we always knew when the dogs were on, because you could hear the roar of the crowd when each race came to a conclusion. Our house backed onto York Road which is where the stadium is located.

So it is with great sadness I hear that a trip to Hall Green dogs will not be possible for much longer due to the proposed demolition of the stadium to make way for new housing. As well as being an end to a much-loved pastime which, apparently, attracts 500,000 visitors a year, employs 200 people.

Once sites of historic interest are lost in the way that is likely to happen, they are lost forever. Future generations are deprived of the joy of watching racing by greyhounds in Hall Green; a pursuit which commenced in this country in London in the 1870s.

For some the notion of greyhounds racing around a track is perceived to be a very working class thing to do. This may be so but in my limited experience – I have only been a handful of times – the vast majority of those who attend are from the whole spectrum of society.

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‘Going to the dogs’ may be a pejorative expression but it is a way for people to socialise together whilst enjoying what are very rapid races over a drink and some food. The fact that you are likely to lose a few quid is neither here nor there. It’s the fun of the event that counts.

What is especially sad is that the loss of greyhound racing at Hall Green follows the fate of another local stadium that disappeared about fifteen years ago, the home of Moor Green football club which is also now turned over to housing.

In an age of constant communication through social media and video games there may be an argument that sports stadia have less relevance than, for example, a century ago. Maybe there is less need for local facilities to hone the interests of the next generation of sportsmen and women.

Undoubtedly the glamour and, to be fair, phenomenal money, that is associated with premiership football shows that sport at certain levels can be successful. Sadly, however, dog racing appears to lack the glamour of seeing extremely well-paid celebrity footballers.

So, the question to be asked, is what can be done to save local stadia that host events such as dog racing.

Sadly, I fear, very little and what we are seeing is the continuous march of capitalism in that the owners of the land on which local stadiums are built will see greater short-term gain in selling them rather than ensuring they remain in their present use.

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Dr Steve McCabe

Dr Steve McCabe

Birmingham City Business School