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Lansdowne Road (Bóthar Lansdúin [bʷoːɾ/bʷoːhəɾ ɫan̪ˠs̪ˠd̪ˠuːn̥] in Irish) was a sports stadium in Dublinmarker owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). It was used primarily for rugby union, but also for major association football matches and music concerts. It was demolished in 2007 to make way for the construction of Aviva Stadiummarker, due to open in 2010.

Lansdowne Road took its name from the adjacent street.

Location

The stadium was situated in the neighbourhood of Ballsbridgemarker in the city's Dublin 4 area. The stadium had convenient public transport links as the Lansdowne Road station of the Dublin Area Rapid Transit rail system is adjacent to the site and passed directly underneath the West Stand.

The stadium was named after the nearby road, which in turn was named after the Marquess of Lansdowne. The Marquis was also the Earl of Shelburne, and nearby Shelbourne Road is also named after him.

History

The Royal Irish Parks Stadium was the brainchild of Henry Wallace Doveton Dunlop (1844 -1930), though this term came into disuse in the early 20th century, in favour of the more casual Lansdowne Road Stadium. Dunlop, the organiser of the first All Ireland Athletics Championships, a decorated track walker and engineering graduate of Trinity College, Dublinmarker, founded the Irish Champion Athletic Club in 1871.

After an initial meeting at Trinity College, the Provost of the College banned any further meeting on campus. Dunlop had to find a new home for his sporting endeavours. Writing in 1921, Dunlop stated: "I was therefore forced to look for another plot, and after careful consideration chose the present Lansdowne Road one. In conjunction with the late Edward Dillon (my trainer), I took a 69 year lease from the Pembroke Estate, paying a ground rent of £60 per annum, of part only of the premises stretching from the railway to about 60 yards from the Dodder. I laid down a cinder running path of a quarter-mile, laid down the present Lansdowne Tennis Club ground with my own theodolite, started a Lansdowne archery club, a Lansdowne cricket club, and last, but not least, the Lansdowne Rugby Football Club - colours red, black and yellow. On the tennis club grounds the first tennis championship was held long before Fitzwilliam meetings."

Dunlop founded Lansdowne Football Club in 1872 and that club has played rugby union ever since at the grounds, being one of the most prominent and successful rugby clubs in Leinster and Ireland. Wanderers Football Club, founded in 1869, joined Lansdowne at the grounds later. The two clubs have been tenants since that time.

Some 300 cartloads of soil from a trench beneath the railway were used to raise the ground, allowing Dunlop to utilise his engineering expertise to create a pitch envied around Ireland.

Rugby gradually became the main use of the grounds: the first representative rugby match was an inter provincial fixture between Leinster and Munster in December 1876, and on March 11, 1878, Lansdowne Road hosted its first international rugby fixture, against England, making it the world's oldest rugby union Test venue. Dunlop charged the IRFU £5 and half of any profits over £50 after expenses. The first victory Ireland had at the ground took place on February 5, 1887, against England. Around this time, the treasurer of the IRFU, Harry Sheppard, acquired the lease from Dunlop and when Sheppard died in 1906, the union paid his estate £200 for the lease. The IRFU built the first covered stand in 1908, alongside the railway. An uncovered stand was built over the Lansdowne club pavilion at the northwest corner of the ground.

The first international soccer match at the venue took place between Ireland and England on Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, 1900, when the Belfast-based Irish Football Association controlled that game throughout the island. England won by 2-0. In 1926, the Irish Free State played an international game against Italy at Lansdowne Road and this was to be the last soccer game at the stadium until Waterford United played Manchester United in a European Cup tie in September, 1968.

The day after the United Kingdom declared war in August, 1914, three hundred and fifty rugby union players, of middle class and professional background with solicitors and barristers and many working in banks and insurance companies, assembled on the ground. They were addressed by FH Browning, the President of the IRFU, and they decided to volunteer to join the 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers as a "pals" company, D Company. They marched from the grounds through the city on their way to the Curragh. Some were shortly commissioned as officers, others became NCOs and many of the others became specialists in the battalion, such as signallers, machine-gunners and medical orderlies. This unit saw action at Suvla Baymarker in the Dardanellesmarker on 7 August 1915, when many of them fell. A memorial to the IRFU members who died in the Great War was erected on the inside of the external wall of the stadium after the war. It is to be preserved in any rebuilding by condition of the planning permission.

After the First World War, the members of Lansdowne and Wanderers reclaimed land from the nearby River Doddermarker and created enough ground for two back pitches to be formed, enabling the main pitch to be turned out around to the configuration used ever since.

In 1927, the old East Stand was built and a terrace created under it. Soldiers of the National Army filled the stand to test its strength. Unfortunately, the roof of the stand was not erected in time for the first match against Scotland. The day of the match saw torrential rain, soaking the spectators and the day was long remembered for the appalling conditions.

Lansdowne Lawn Tennis Club was a tenant at the grounds and had grass tennis courts where the South Terrace was later located. During international rugby matches, the tennis courts were covered over with planks of wood to allow spectators stand and watch the rugby matches. In 1930, Lansdowne LTC left the ground to move across the Dodder river to Londonbridge Road, taking the turf from the tennis courts with them.

The IRFU, which has its offices within the stadium complex, allowed occasional other uses of the ground, including athletics (a crowd of 40,000 witnessed Olympic gold medalist Ronnie Delany run there in an international athletics meeting in the 1950s).

In 1952 Lansdowne Road hosted the first colours match between University College Dublin and Trinity College, Dublin. UCD took the honours.

In 1954, the arrangement whereby Ireland matches were shared between Ravenhill Stadiummarker and Lansdowne Road ended with the building of the Upper West Stand at Lansdowne creating 8,000 additional seats. In future, all Ireland internationals were to be played at Lansdowne Road.

In 1977, the old West Lower Stand was demolished and the new West Lower Stand opened in 1978. The uncovered stand at the corner of the North Terrace was demolished and terracing extended. Lansdowne FC moved their clubhouse from under that stand to a new clubhouse within the grounds, near Herbert Bridge, beside the Dodder. The mock-Tudor tearooms of Lansdowne FC reverted to the IRFU.

The East Stand replaced the Old East Stand in 1983, being financed by the sale of ten year tickets. In October 2005, a small fire in the north terrace put the terrace out of commission for all of Ireland's Autumn internationals. This meant that people who had travelled from as far away as Australia and New Zealand could not attend the match. The terrace reopened for the first game of the 2006 Six Nations Championship.

The Football Association of Ireland first leased the ground for international soccer matches in 1971, and from 1990 to 2006, the ground was used by for the vast majority of home fixtures by the Republic of Ireland soccer team. The reason for this was that Dalymount Parkmarker, the traditional home of Irish soccer was no longer considered an adequate venue for hosting internationals due to its lower capacity and fewer seats. It was primarily to allow midweek international soccer matches to take place in the evening that floodlights were installed in Landsdowne in the mid 1990s.

On November 20, 1988, Boston College beat Army 38-24 in the first major NCAA American football game ever played in Europe, played before 42,525 fans at the stadium. The Irish Government estimated at the time that the game brought nearly US$30 million in spending to the local economy.

The grounds have also occasionally been used for music concerts by artists including Michael Jackson,Celine Dion, Neil Diamond, Destiny's Child, Bon Jovi, The Corrs R.E.M., The Eagles, Oasis, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Westlife and U2

Uses

The stadium had a total capacity of 49,250. However, competitive international soccer matches could not use the entire capacity because the stands at both ends of the ground (North and South) were standing-only terraces. FIFAmarker and UEFA both mandate that international matches be played in all-seated venues. The International Rugby Board does not impose this restriction on international rugby venues. For non-competitive international soccer matches (friendly matches), the FIFA/UEFA all-seated mandate does not apply.

At the IRFU ground, Irish rugby and soccer international matches were played. Leinster also used the ground on a number of occasions when crowd size meant their traditional home of Donnybrookmarker was not large enough. In 1999 and 2003 Lansdowne Road played host to the Heineken Cup final. Since 1990, Lansdowne has also hosted the FAI Cup Final.

Republic of Ireland v England

On 6 February 1995, following the 1994 IRA ceasefire, English football hooligans caused the referee to abandon the game after just 27 minutes. Orchestrated by Combat 18, a neo-nazi organisation, English spectators threw debris (including seats, wood and metal) down at Irish fans in response to a goal being scored by Ireland's David Kelly.

Replacement

Artist's impression of proposed new stadium
The stadium is set to be replaced in April 2010 by a 50,000 all-seater soccer and rugby stadium. The development of the new stadium was finally announced in January 2004 at a cost of approximately €365 million; of this, €190 million will come from the Irish government, with the remainder paid by the IRFU and Football Association of Ireland. The new stadium is designed by Populous, Scott Tallon Walker and Buro Happold, with ME Engineers providing the building services design. The development was originally meant to begin in January 2007 but was delayed. The demolition work of the stadium commenced on 17 May 2007, and construction is currently underway.

The last international rugby match before demolition was a 61–17 Ireland win over the Pacific Islanders on 26 November 2006. The final soccer international was a 5–0 win for the Republic of Ireland over San Marino on 15 November 2006. The last soccer game ever before redevelopment was Derry City's FAI Cup final win against St. Patrick's Athletic on 3 December 2006.The last ever contest in the old Lansdowne Road Stadium was a rugby match that took place on December 31, 2006. Leinster beat Ulster 20 points to 12 in a Magners League game that set a record attendance of 48,000 for such a league match.

It has been decided that soccer and rugby games will be played at Croke Parkmarker while the Aviva Stadiummarker is being developed. Croke Park is owned by the Gaelic Athletic Association, whose rules until recently did not allow foreign sports to be played on their grounds. Croke Park staged two rugby internationals and four soccer internationals during 2007. In 2008, Ireland again played their home games of the Six Nations at the GAA ground and will do so again for 2009.

In September 2006, Lars-Christer Olsson, CEO of UEFA, hinted that the new stadium might stage the UEFA Cup Final in 2010. The 2010 final was ultimately awarded to Hamburgmarker, but in January 2009, UEFA named the new ground as the host stadium for the renamed 2011 UEFA Europa League Final.

In February 2009 a sponsorship deal, reported to be in the region of €44 million for 10 years, was struck under which the new stadium would be known as Aviva Stadium.

See also



References

  1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL; Dubliners Cheer as B.C. WinsSteve Lohr, The New York Times,November 20, 1988
  2. http://www.rte.ie/tv/scannal/scannallandsdowne.html
  3. Derry edge a thriller Paul O'Hehir, Ireland.com (The Irish Times), 3 December 2006. Retrieved 4 December 2006.
  4. "Lansdowne may host 2010 UEFA final" from RTÉ
  5. http://www.irishtimes.com/sports/rugby/2009/0212/1224241050544.html


External links




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