Hall Green’s final meeting Saturday July 29 will be an all-ticket event writes Floyd Amphlett.
Promoter Clive Feltham said: “We wouldn’t want the same scenario as Wimbledon which got very messy. Hall Green means a great deal to many locals and we wouldn’t want it swamped for the final meeting.”
Feltham will be feeling the loss of the York Road stadium as badly as any of the regulars. He was appointed general manager there in 1985 and spent 12 years in the role before being promoted to company CEO.
Eventually, parent company GRA was eventually sold to Wembley plc and then sold on again to Galliard Homes.
In 2013, Feltham signed an agreement with Galliard to lease the company’s remaining four greyhound tracks, though the freeholds of Belle Vue and Hall Green were sold soon afterwards. Fortunately, he was then able to negotiate short term leases from those new owners, a pension fund and a packaging company respectively. He has been based at Hall Green throughout.
He said: “I think Hall Green is the most attractive track in the country with the best grandstand. I accept that it probably isn’t the best configured circuit, but overall, it has always been popular with the greyhound public.”
Feltham remembers his time as the GM as being particularly enjoyable and exciting.
He said: “We were in a great period of growth in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. We built the motel and snooker hall, expanded the main restaurant and built a second one. We had full restaurant bookings every Friday and on Saturdays there was a three month waiting list.
“I wish I could have bought the freehold back then, but it wasn’t for sale. The industry was doing well. I remember (GRA chairman) Jarvis Astaire saying ‘we really should apply for a few BAGS meetings’. But we really didn’t need them. Years later, when Galliards did put the tracks up for sale, there was less money being generated within the greyhound industry as a whole. I couldn’t raise the funds.
“I often get criticised over what happened, but anybody could have bought the tracks at that stage if they were such good investments. Hall Green was eventually sold for £3.6m but you couldn’t get the required level of return from greyhound racing. The banks simply wouldn’t lend you the money.
“Acquiring the leases was probably making the best of a bad job. Having said all of that, I really thought the issue over flooding would be the saviour of Wimbledon.
“There has been a lot of stuff said and written about me, personally, gaining from the closure of Hall Green, and Wimbledon.
“That doesn’t make sense. I don’t make killing when they are developed, I want them to remain open. The only way I would ever close any track would be if I couldn’t afford to pay the rent.”