White City Stadium
Eight grounds were used for 1966 World Cup in England: Goodison Park, Hillsborough, Old Trafford, and Villa Park are still in use. Three of the other four have been replaced with Sunderland’s Roker Park and Middlesborough’s Ayresome along with Wembley having modern equivalents but one was demolished and never replaced: White City in London.
White City Stadium was completed in 1908 for the Olympic Games, hosting many events besides track and field within its confines. Aside from the running track there was an outer cycling track and the infield included swimming and diving pools in addition to field events. Following the Olympics, White City Stadium had a variety of used but in the mid-1920’s was acquired by the Greyhound Racing Association. Until the mid-1980’s White City was known as one of the finest greyhound venues in England and when it was demolished little was noted about its football history. How did a greyhound stadium end up hosting a single match during the 1966 World Cup?
Money. The owners of Wembley, also a noted Greyhound venue at the time, refused to cancel the races that conflicted with the sole match scheduled at the stadium that didn’t feature England. White City had a sporadic relationship with Queens Park Rangers so football had been featured there before. QPR twice moved from Loftus Road to White City but only played three seasons at the larger ground. The added travel discouraged many Loftus Road regulars and without their commitment the White City move simply wasn’t going to work.
Ultimately the decline of greyhound racing and the ever increasing cost of land in London sealed White City’s fate. The ground. was closed and demolished in 1985. Greyhound racing has all but disappeared from the country and yet a relatively short time ago even top flight grounds hosted dog racing, including Stamford Bridge but that’s another post.