Glyndŵr University Racecourse Ground Wrexham
The Racecourse Ground is a stadium located in Wrexham, North Wales. It is the home of Wrexham AFC. As of August 2016, the stadium has been known as My Racecourse.
The stadium is recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest international football stadium that still hosts international matches, having hosted Wales’ first ever home international match in 1877, and has hosted more Wales international matches than any other ground (91). The record attendance at the ground was set in 1957, when Wrexham hosted a match against Manchester United in front of 34,445 spectators.
The Racecourse Ground is the largest stadium in North Wales and the fifth largest in Wales. The ground is sometimes used by the FAW for Wales’ home international games. The ground has also been used by North Wales Crusaders rugby league club, Scarlets rugby union club and Liverpool Reserves. In the early days, the ground was used for cricket and horse racing. Music concerts returned to the Racecourse in 2016 when the Stereophonics performed.
Wrexham Football Club have played at the Racecourse Ground since being formed in the local Turf Hotel public house in October 1864. However, Wrexham played their home games in the 1881–82 and 1882–83 at the Recreation Ground in Rhosddu due to an increase in rent from the then owners, Wrexham Cricket Club, while also changing the name to Wrexham Athletic for one season. Before the club was formed the ground was mainly used for cricket and occasionally, horse racing.
1952 saw the laying down of concrete terracing on the ever-popular Kop end, which is now the oldest part of the ground. Five years later was to see the largest ever attendance at the Racecourse when 34,445 people gathered to witness an FA Cup fourth round tie against Manchester United. On 30 September 1959 the Racecourse saw the switching on of the newly installed floodlights.
After promotion to the old Second Division in 1978 the Border Stand was built, taking its name from the Border Breweries which owned the ground. This part of the ground is now known as the Eric Roberts Builders Stand, where visiting supporters are normally seated.
The latest addition to the ground was achieved in 1999 after Grant Aid from Sport Lot, the Welsh Development Agency and the Football Trust together with generous local sponsorship allowed for the construction of a new stand on the Mold Road side of the ground. The impressive new structure was originally named the Pryce Griffiths Stand after the then chairman (but since renamed the Mold Road Stand after the then chairman sold the club to Alex Hamilton) has a capacity of 3,500 and also contains hospitality and conferencing facilities.
The development also saw the Paddock areas of the Sainsbury’s Stand and the Eric Roberts Builders Stand become all-seated, bringing the current capacity up to 15,500 and thus allowing international football and rugby union to once again be played at the Racecourse.
In 2002 then Wrexham F.C. chairman William Pryce Griffiths secured a 125-year lease on the Racecourse with Wolverhampton Dudley Breweries for £750,000, and a peppercorn annual rent of £1. The club hosted TNS vs Liverpool in a UEFA Champions League qualifier in 2005.
On 26 June 2002 the freehold to the Racecourse Ground was acquired by Wrexham A.F.C. from Wolverhampton Dudley Breweries for the sum of £300,000. On the same day the ownership of the freehold was transferred by the chairman, Alex Hamilton, from Wrexham A.F.C. to another of his companies, Damens Ltd, for a nominal fee. After this controversial change in ownership the 125-year lease on the Racecourse held by Wrexham F.C. was renegotiated. The new lease stated that Damens Ltd could evict Wrexham F.C. from the Racecourse Ground upon 12 months’ notice and payment of £1,000,000. The new lease also saw the club’s annual rent increase from £1 to £30,000. In 2004 Wrexham F.C. was given a years’ notice to quit the ground; this triggered a furious reaction from fans – in a legal case running through to March 2006 the High Court ruled that the ownership of the freehold of the ground had been improperly transferred, and ownership of the ground reverted to the clubs’ then-administrators (the club having gone into administration in December 2004 with debts of £2,600,000).
On 19 May 2014, work commenced at the Racecourse, this included; a new pitch and sprinkler system, changing rooms for players and officials. The medical and treatment facilities will also be upgraded, together with improved seating for disabled supporters, better floodlighting and removal of cambers at the ‘Kop’ end of the ground. The results mean the stadium has been reclassified to Category 3 level, meaning it will be able to host international football matches.