Just over eight years ago, a ball was kicked at Doncaster Rovers’ Belle Vue ground for the very last time.
The date was December 23, 2006 when, on a chilly winter’s day, Rovers took on League One leaders Nottingham Forest to bring the curtain down on 84 years of footballing action ahead of the club’s move to the sparkling new Keepmoat Stadium just a stone’s throw away.
Doncaster finished their time at the stadium with a win, a bizarre looping goal from Theo Streete ensuring a 1-0 victory in front of nearly 9,000 fans.
A similarly sized crowd had witnessed Rovers’ first ever match at the stadium, then dubbed Low Pastures, on August 26, 1922. On that occasion, Rovers also triumphed 1-0, Arthur Charlesworth providing the only goal of the game in front of 10,000 supporters.
The farewell to Belle Vue was a moving one. Supporters turned up early to enjoy their last lingering looks at the crumbling stadium. Souvenir programmes were produced, tributes were paid, songs were sung, fireworks were let off and the terraces were packed one last time with a sea of red and white as fans bid a a tearful farewell to the old girl.
There was more to cheer about just a few days later when, on New Year’s Day 2007, Rovers began their tenacy at the Keepmoat, Mark McCammon, Paul Heffernan and Jonathan Forte all on the scoresheet in front of 14,470 fans as Sean O’Driscoll’s side beat West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town 3-0.
And what of Belle Vue?
Well, following the last game, various fixtures and fittings were sold off to other clubs as well as keepsakes for supporters.
The ground itself faced a less than glorious finale when the Main Stand was ripped apart in a gas explosion on February 7, 2007, hastening the stadium’s demolition.
The weed and litter strewn terraces and tangled and overgrown pitch remain some eight years on, but plans are in place to develop the site with work on a new housing estate set to begin this year.