Saturday, August 16, 2008

End Of Another Tradition

As a new football season kicks off, with the English Premiership bearing little resemblance to an English league at all, another great English icon is disappearing. Walthamstow Stadium, the Wembley of English greyhound racing, has seen its last ever race. Along with Catford, Hackney, White City, Haringey and Wembley dog track itself, the stadium has been sold off to property developers.

I don't profess to be an expert on greyhound racing but do enjoy the occasional visit to the dogs. When domiciled in the capital I went with friends, and my sister and her other half, to Hackney dogs and to several charity nights at Catford, South London. It's fine entertainment and extremely sociable too, with the chance of winning, on my part rarely, the odd quid. But it is great fun first and foremost.

Of course if the government sees something is a success it has to get in on the act and a few years ago removed the tax-free status on betting at the dogs. Add to that the constant showing of greyhound racing in bookies shops, thus taking revenue away from the tracks, and yet again government action helps to destroy a part of our cultural and sporting life.

Of course a few animal rights nutters will be pleased at the closure of yet another dog track but, for my part, I think I'll counter that by popping along to Belle Vue dogs in my old part of east Manchester soon. No good crying over such closures, they need support to survive so get to the dogs when you can, I'm sure you'll love it.

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