Retro: Snow at Saltergate? Play on!

Saltergate in the late 1920s
Saltergate in the late 1920s

Some of the most evocative photos of public arenas are those taken when they’re empty, and this shot of Saltergate from the late 1920s is no exception.

These days, that much snow would have the ‘Match off’ signs going up, not so much for what is on the pitch, as for what that fans might have to trudge over to get to their vantage points.

Clearly, someone was expecting the game to go ahead on this particular day, as the touchlines have all been cleared, but that is the only concession made or needed towards getting the game on.

The old wooden stand that didn’t quite run the full length of the pitch is obviously that which preceded the 1936 one.

A roofless portion of it was first erected around 1891 and it was added to in instalments until is pictured form was reached in 1921.

The small shed at the far end served as the dressing rooms, with the players entering the field of play down a narrow alley between the two, in almost the same location as the 1936 stand took for its players’ tunnel.

Spectator comfort and shelter was non-existent, outside the stand.

A few wooden crush barriers were hammered into the cinder banking that served to elevate the crowd in order to improve the view, but with no roof or sides to one of the town’s highest landmarks, the old Kop must have been a bitterly cold place to be in winter.

Something in excess of 28,000 fans packed on to this ground in its pre-1936, undeveloped state for an FA Cup tie against Liverpool; whether many of them saw much, or felt safe while they were doing so, is open to speculation.