A train journey today took me past Catford Stadium - once a mighty dog track. No more! It's now a rotting hulk - though as you pass by, you can just make out the silhouette of greyhounds in the nameboard above the entrance.
Greyhound racing stopped at Catford in 2003. I was never a great afficionado of the dogs, but when I lived walking distance from the old Harringay Stadium in the 1980s, I used to go there every once in a while. It had seen better days - at least, I hope it had - but it was still fun. And it touched on the old London sub-culture of Baron's 'The Lowlife', of obsessive gamblers, tic-tac men, and bookies at their on-course stands.
Harringay closed in 1987 and the stadium was demolished. White City had been pulled down the previous year. Walthamstow, which I went to once - a palace compared to tawdry Harringay - saw its last artificial hare race round the track back in 2008.
According to Wikipedia, there are still twenty-six registered dog tracks in the UK - including stadiums at Bexley, Harlow and Merton. But the glory days are well and truly gone - and I wouldn't put money on them coming back, at any odds.
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