The Fir Park Stadium is the home ground of Motherwell F.C. which plays in the Scottish Premiership. The stadium is located in North Lanarkshire in the city of Motherwell. The stadium has been the home to Motherwell F.C. since 1895, which means that the tradition has been going on for more than 100 years.
The stadium provides 13,677 seats and for one season, 2007/2008, it also served temporarily as the home ground to Gretna F.C., a club that soon afterward faced bankruptcy and was dissolved completely. Fir Park was significatnly renovated in 1995 and only certain minor adaptations were done in recent years.
History of the Stadium
Motherwell F.C. is a long-standing club which was founded in 1886, and for the first ten years, its stadium was Dalziel Park until Fir Park was opened. When first opened, the stadium did not have promising prospects, since attendance was low. Somewhere around the mid-1950s, the club added a roof over the eastern terrace and added floodlight lamps to the site.
Before the big reconstruction in 1995, efforts to renovate the stadium started earlier, and it was in the 1960s that a new main stand was constructed. The endeavor was partially financed from successful sales of two Motherwell players. The main stand construction turned out to be a little bit complicated when a neighbor opposed a full-length main stand since it would have affected his nearby garden limiting natural light passage. The owner eventually made the decision to sell his property, but Motherwell ran out of funds by that time to finish the main stand, but they did buy the house transforming it into offices for their staff.
Somewhere around the 1970s, the stadium had to make cuts in capacity by reducing the number of seats from 35,000 to 22,500 due to the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975.
In 1991, when the club won the Scottish CUP, THEY WERE ABLE TO USE THE MONEY to turn their eastern enclosure to seats. In 1993 and 1995 Motherwell completed a south and north stand worth millions of dollars. That was the last major renovation of the stadium, and from then on, no recent changes or adaptations have been made.
Two of Motherwell’s players unfortunately died, and in their honor, the club renamed its stands after the players. The northern stand is now called the Davie Cooper, a player who passed away the same year when the opening took place. The main stand was dedicated to Phil O’Donnell in 2008, the former team’s captain who also tragically died due to brain hemorrhage.
The Sports Ground as the Target of Criticism
The sports ground or soil of the stadium had a few rough moments since it was not always maintained accordingly. For example, during the 2007/2008 season, the field was flooded, and few games had to be delayed due to the mishap. The critics did not spare their words and criticized the unmanageable conditions. At that time, Gretna was also using the stadium, and they had to relocate for a game to Livingston.
In the following season, the ground froze, which again accounted for canceling a game, this time, against Hearts. Many wondered why the underground heating did not prevent such a thing. Finally, until next season, the field was repaired and ready for the Scottish Premier League, but the harsh winter messed again with the host club leaving the newly repaired ground damaged once again.
Structure and Uses
The renovations of the stadium were conducted by WH Dickie Architects, which is, at the same time, in the ownership of the club’s director Bill Dickie. As it seems, he could have been more attentive to the construction works in order to prevent major damages that the stadium experienced in the last years. The stadium has one stand opposed to three smaller stands. The club has some ambitions to move to another ground, and contradictory statements were made by the club’s officials, some claiming that there are good chances to move in the next 5 to 10 years, while others argue that the idea of relocating is far-fetched considering the lack of funds for such an endeavor.
As we said, the stadium hosted the Gretna Club for one season, but it also hosted the Scottish Challenge Cup over the years. Moreover, in 2015, it was the home ground for the Scotland women’s national football team who prepared there for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifications.