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Bennetthorpe Ground

1920-1922

When Rovers re-formed in the spring of 1920, the first task of the committee was to find a ground. What is now Westfield Park in Balby was considered but neither the landowner nor Doncaster Corporation favoured this. At the behest of the Corporation the Rovers Committee then looked at some swampy land at Low Pasture, opposite the racecourse, part of which had served as a Doncaster Corporation tip since at least the middle of the 19th century. The Corporation’s Estates committee agreed to rent the new club this location, but it would take maybe two years to prepare. The Corporation’s Education Committee agreed to lease the Rovers its Belle Vue playing fields at Bennetthorpe to give the club time to develop the Low Pasture site. Bennetthorpe’s Belle Vue fields lay within boundaries formed today by Bennetthorpe (the old Roman Road or Great North Road), Danum Road, Welbeck Road and Sandbeck Road. Doncaster Grammar School used the Belle Vue playing fields for many years, but these sports fields were originally gardens for Belle Vue House. Built in 1801, it is known today as the Grand St Leger Hotel.

At the behest of the Corporation the Rovers Committee then looked at some swampy land at Low Pasture, opposite the racecourse, part of which had served as a Doncaster Corporation tip since at least the middle of the 19th century. The Corporation’s Estates committee agreed to rent the new club this location, but it would take maybe two years to prepare. The Corporation’s Education Committee agreed to lease the Rovers its Belle Vue playing fields at Bennetthorpe to give the club time to develop the Low Pasture site. Bennetthorpe’s Belle Vue fields lay within boundaries formed today by Bennetthorpe (the old Roman Road or Great North Road), Danum Road, Welbeck Road and Sandbeck Road. Doncaster Grammar School used the Belle Vue playing fields for many years, but these sports fields were originally gardens for Belle Vue House. Built in 1801, it is known today as the Grand St Leger Hotel.

In June 1920 Rovers were admitted to the Midland League and work began at the ground, building a temporary stand, dressing room accommodation and putting down cinder banking and wooden terracing on the other sides. Rovers rather liked the Bennetthorpe Ground and were reluctant to move to Low Pasture but in June 1921 the club’s directors accepted an offer from the council of a long lease and a rent of £50 per annum to use the new site.

Around the same time a new stand was erected at Bennetthorpe with a capacity of 1,000. This caused some disquiet within the Corporation, who thought Rovers were getting rather settled at their temporary home. However, construction continued at the Low Pasture and Rovers moved home in July 1922, taking the year-old main stand down Bennetthorpe on wooden rollers, and placing it behind what we knew as the Town End.

For a while, Belle Vue Fields reverted to being playing fields but subsequently the Corporation donated the fields to sweet manufacturer William Nuttall, and in 1930 he built alms-houses there now known as William Nuttall’s Homes for Aged Spinsters. If you walk up Bennetthorpe from the racecourse end towards town you will see these cottages on your left which now stand on the site of one of Rovers’ old homes.

Bennetthorpe’s record attendance came on 27th August 1921 when 7,219 spectators witnessed Rovers’ Midland League fixture against Gainsborough Trinity.

JOHN COYLE (with acknowledgement to Tom Beardsley)