The Ghost Grounds Of England

In an era when modern football continues to morph into something I find increasingly difficult to even recognise, yet alone identify with, my unashamedly retro BTLM world feels a warm and comforting place. Over the past 8 years, the hundreds of articles and posts I’ve published represent my own modest celebration of football past and commemoration of football gone.

Indeed, lost football has played a major role in BTLM’s existence as I’ve always been fascinated by the inherent sadness around football clubs and stadiums that were once vibrant and significant parts of their communities, only to gradually lose relevance, decline and decay and finally be lost to the game altogether.

Sharing a similar mindset is the West Yorkshire based photographer Paul Thompson. Paul shoots a wide range of subjects and themes and one of his projects in particular – entitled Ghost Grounds – caught my attention. For this series Paul travelled around England photographing the locations of old football grounds, or usually what became of those grounds long after the last ball was kicked there. Some of the photos are wistful and some are uplifting, particularly where what was once chipped concrete and rusting corrugated iron has been reclaimed by nature.

I’m pleased to feature a selection of the most striking images from Paul’s Ghost Grounds series here. Click on the gallery to view photos at full size and read the stories behind them. Paul’s website and social media profile details are below, so please do check out more of his fine work.

Paul Thompson was introduced to football when his father took him to see Jack Charlton’s all-conquering Middlesbrough side in the 1970s. His first football work was a record of Middlesbrough’s relegation from the Premier League in 1992-93, as seen from the Holgate End at Ayresome Park. He documented Boro’s last season at Ayresome Park and their move to the Riverside Stadium. He shoots football for When Saturday Comes magazine and ProSports Images. You can see more of Paul’s work at photos.wsc.co.uk and westyorkshireimages.photoshelter.com/index

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulwyi and on Instagram @paulthompson6511

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