Weymouth FC were founded in 1890 and in 1887 leased a recreation ground in Newstead Road from the Weymouth Corporation. The ground, which was just a short walk from the town centre and the beach, remained the club’s home for the next ninety years. The Recreation Ground had an official capacity of 10,000, although the record attendance was set in December 1948, when 12,512 spectators saw Weymouth take on Yeovil Town in the FA Cup 2nd Round.
The club moved to the specially constructed Wessex Stadium, more or less on the site of the old Weymouth Speedway Stadium, in 1987 after the Council sold the Recreation Ground site to the ASDA supermarket chain. The new stadium cost £1 million and was officially opened on 21 October 1987 when Manchester United visited. The first competitive match however was on 26 August 1987, when Weymouth beat Lincoln City 3-0 in a league match.
The Wessex Stadium is particularly imposing as one approaches, with the impressive traditional-style floodlights (transported from Newstead Road) and the massive 800 seat grandstand towering over the large car park that fronts onto the ground.
The grandstand may not anywhere near as attractive as that at deadly rivals Dorchester Town’s Avenue Stadium, opened three years later, but provides a fine unobstructed view of the pitch. In common with many large modern grandstands, the seats are accessed by a series of stairways leading up from the front of the stand. The seats are picked out in the club’s claret, white and blue colours. Note however, the traditional colours are terracota ... hence the club’s nickname: “The Terras”. Two bar areas are incorporated into the stand, which also has provision for standing at ground level in front.
The remainder of the ground is terraced, with ample crush barriers, and is covered on all three sides. The Southill Terrace opposite the main stand extends for about a third of the pitch from either side of the halfway line, whilst there are extensive ‘Home’ and ‘Away’ terraces at either end, although segretion does not usually apply at the ground. The covered areas themselves are fairly unremarkable but no doubt welcome!
Although undeniably impressive, the Wessex Stadium will never win any prizes for aesthetic beauty but can be an intimating venue for visiting teams and supporters alike.
It is possible that Weymouth may soon be on the move once more, with ASDA now looking to take over for a second time, having outgrown the Newstead Road site.
However, in January 2003 the Terras’ official website reported that the supermarket chain its developers Trent and the Terras may face a battle to get permission after consultants for West Dorset District Council - in whose area the ground lies - claimed no logical case had been made for the supermarket move. Weymouth would reportedly receive £1.2 million from the deal, with a new stadium and community sporting facilities built near their current home.
The district council's consultants, Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, say future shopping needs could be met by a store at Westwey Road - just a few yards from the current ASDA. They suggest that May Farm in Chickerell and Osprey Quay at Portland would also be better locations for a new store than the Wessex Stadium. However, consultants for Weymouth FC and Portland Borough Council have already ruled out these three options, and support the Wessex Stadium plan.
Watch this space!
Cover: All sides
Take the A354 from Dorchester to Weymouth and turn right at the first roundabout to the town centre. Take the 3rd exit at the next roundabout and follow signs for the ground, which is about half a mile on the right.
Weymouth (BR) approximately two miles.