Elsewhere on this site, you can read about horse racing in Newcastle and all of the ins and outs and what that entails.
Here, we’re looking more specifically at greyhound racing, which has enjoyed something of a storied history with the city.
That is largely thanks to the fact that greyhound racing’s popularity shot up after the success of the sport’s introduction at Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester, resulting in new stadiums being built all around the place.
When the sport’s popularity waned, those stadiums began to close down.
Brough Park, officially known as Newcastle Greyhound Stadium, is an exception to that rule.
It didn’t close down, instead benefitting from the closure of other such venues in the local area.
Whilst greyhound racing is obviously about so much more than just the location where the races take place, there is no question that the stadium is one of the most important aspects of the sport in the city.
It is where many people congregate, being as much a social venue as it is a place where the races can physically take place.
Going To The Dogs
The first thing to consider is what it is that you’re likely to experience if you head to Newcastle Greyhound Stadium to watch some racing. The reality is that the working class nature of greyhound racing as a sport, combined with Newcastle as a city’s working class nature, means that you’re going to have a much more relaxed evening than you would do if you were to head to Newcastle Racecourse for some horse racing. Depending on where you are in the venue, you can expect to see some people in fancy dress, for example.
There is a restaurant inside the stadium, which offers enough room for 126 guests. If you’re heading there, you might want to dress up a little bit smarter than if you’re just in the main part of the stadium. That doesn’t mean that you have to head there in a tuxedo or anything, just that it’s arguably the most formal part of the venue and people treat it like a nice time out. If that sounds a little too stuffy for you then you don’t need to worry, given the fact that there is plenty of room elsewhere at the stadium for a much more relaxed approach.
There are three bars at Newcastle Greyhound Stadium, promising you plenty of chances to get a drink before, during and after each of the races. There are also more than a few fast food places that you can get a bite to eat, so you won’t be going starving during a race day. In other words, this is a fun night out that can be as formal or relaxed as you’d like it to be. Whether you’re going on your own, with a small group or with a large number of other people, you’ll be sure to have a brilliant night, irrespective of the results of the racing.
If you fancy a trip to Newcastle Greyhound Stadium then, at the time of writing at least, you’ll be able to do so on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings. You can head there on a Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, but those meetings are mainly for the benefit of the Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service. Saturday night is when to go if you’re hoping to enjoy something of a party, with doors opening at 6.15pm even though the racing doesn’t get underway for more than an hour after that. It is a chance to get in the mood for what’s to come.
As for the track itself, the circumference is 415 metres and the run to the first bend is about 130 metres for 480 metre races. If the event is being run over more like 604 metres, that run to the first bend is about 58 metres in length. You can expect to see races run over 290 metres, 480 metres, 500 metres, 640 metres, 706 metres and 895 metres, though of course that can change at any point. If you’re keen to know such a thing then you’ll be interested to learn that it is a Swaffham hare that is in place at the track.
One of the most important things that you can learn about a greyhound racing track is what the bias is. This can change over time, of course, and is what it is for any number of reasons, but at the time of writing, track two has seen more winners than any of the other traps. That gives you a little bit of useful information, but it is always important to remember that the trap that you bet on is far less important than things like the form of the dogs and the weather at the time of the race that you’re planning to place a bet on.
Newcastle Greyhound Stadium has benefitted from many things, but perhaps the biggest is the closing of other greyhound venues around the north of England. That has allowed it to take on some of the better-known races that might have been run elsewhere before then. Not that Newcastle was the only beneficiary of such a thing, of course. Many courses that are still in existence have gained from the decline in the sport’s popularity and the fact that races needed to be moved elsewhere in order to survive.
If you want an example of a race that Newcastle gained after another racecourse closed down, you need look no further than the Northern Flat. This race was inaugurated at Belle Vue Stadium in 1927, making it one of the oldest races in the entire greyhound racing calendar. That isn’t the only example of a bit of history attached to the Northern Flat. In 1971, eight dogs took part in the event, which was the only occasion when so many competitors took part in one of the major races in the sport.
Run on sand over 480 metres, the price for the winner of the Northern Flat is £12,500 as of 2023. Though 480 meters is its current length, it has been run over different lengths over the years. Between 1927 and 1971, for example, it was run over 500 yards, then it was 460 metres from 1975 to 1998. It was extended by five metres in 1999, then extended once more to 470 metres in 2005, remaining at that length until Belle Vue closed in 2018. It has been run at Newcastle Greyhound Stadium since 2021.
All England Cup
First run in 1938, the All England Cup has taken place at Brough Park throughout its history. Run over 480 metres on the track’s sand surface, it has been run every year with a few exceptions. The biggest length of time without a renewal of the race was between 1940 and 1946, when racing stopped on account of the outbreak of the Second World War. Some big-names have won the race over the years, such as Endless Gossip in 1952. The race itself has enjoyed a number of different sponsors, with Arena Racing Company taking on responsibility in 2021.
No trainer has won the race more times than Charlie Lister, who notched up six wins during his career, the last of which came in 2016. Of all of the renewals of the race, none are as noteworthy and that which happened in 1946. All four winners of the nation’s Derby races entered, with the hope being that each of them would make the final. In the end, the winners of the Irish Greyhound Derby, Lilac Lady, and the Welsh Greyhound Derby, Negro’s Lad, didn’t make it. Monday’s News, the English Greyhound Derby winner, and Lattin Pearl, the Scottish Greyhound Derby winner, both did, coming first and second.
Northern Puppy Derby
As you might expect from the name, this race is limited to puppies. That means dogs aged between 15 months and 24 months, so it is a good one to watch if you want to get a sense of the dogs of the future. Interestingly for a city as proud as Newcastle, the race was actually inaugurated at the stadium of its rival, Sunderland. That was in 1994, making the switch to Newcastle Greyhound Stadium in 2010. Usually hosted in October, it was moved to be run in February for the 2022 outing, when Freedom Alibi took home the win.
As with the other races on this list, it is run over 480 metres on the sand surface at the stadium. It is also sponsored by Arena Racing Company, who took on the responsibility in 2021. It has enjoyed other sponsors during the years, but none have been particularly long-lived. When the race was run at Sunderland Stadium, it took place over 450 metres. It was lengthened when it arrived at Newcastle Stadium and has been at its current length ever since. The likes of Linda Mullins, Nick Savva and Charlie Lister have all trained previous winners.
If you’re planning a trip to the dogs to see some racing at Newcastle Greyhound Stadium, you’d do well to plan how you’re going to get there.
Whilst it is unlikely you’d be flying in from a foreign country, if you did you’d be wanting to head to Newcastle International Airport, which is about 20 minutes away from the venue by car.
If you’d rather drive then there is free parking available to cars, minibuses and even coaches, right in front of the stadium. That is a good way of travelling for convenience if nothing else.
If you’d rather take public transport then the Tyne & Wear Metro is relatively close by, thanks to the Chillingham Road stop.
When it comes to the bus, the 1 Coaster stops just a short walk from the stadium.
In terms of walking in general, it would take you about 30 to 40 minutes to walk from the centre of Newcastle out to the venue, giving you a sense of its centrality on the outskirts of Biker.
In short, this is a greyhound track that is relatively easy to get to, though it has its complications depending on your chosen method of travel.
A Brief History Of Newcastle Greyhound Stadium
The popularity of greyhound racing at Belle View in Manchester meant that locations were sought for the sport throughout the country. In Newcastle, a site close to Walker was chosen, which was garden allotments and part of a football ground at the time. The stadium was constructed there, with kennels being built next to it. The kennels were large enough to supply both it and, in later years, Gosforth Greyhound Stadium. It was actually the second track in the city, thanks to Tyneside Sports Stadium Limited opening White City Stadium a month before.
The first night of racing took place on the 23rd of June 1928. Within a decade, the popularity of the sport was enough to allow for the introduction of the All England Cup, which helped the track to become one of the most respected in the country. In the years that followed, Brough Park’s reputation only improved, with Norman Oliver securing the Scottish Greyhound Derby in 1967 with Hi Ho Silver. It was the start of a run of good form for the kennels at the stadium, including Shady Begonia’s win in the Television Trophy.
The track’s ownership has changed throughout the years, with one of the biggest improvements coming after William Hill bought it in 2003. They made some big improvements, not the least of which included re-branding it as Newcastle Greyhound Stadium in 2007, simply because it was the only track left for the sport in the city. In May of 2017, Arena Racing Company bought both Newcastle and Sunderland Greyhound Stadiums, rewarded with the arrival of the British Trainers Championship two years later.
What Else The Venue Is Used For
As with so many venues, you can use Newcastle Greyhound Stadium for more than just racing.
The function room at the venue is available for the likes of birthdays, christenings, anniversaries and so. It not only has its only dance floor, but it is also a licensed space that means you can but drinks during your parties.
Given the stadium’s impressive restaurant with a view of the track, you can enjoy your time there even if there isn’t actually any racing taking place at the time.