The first stop for our new series, Venue, sees us travel to Cheshire. Crewe is a working class town with a history steeped in the railway and motorcars. It’s also home to The Alex.
Crewe’s name derives from an Old Welsh word ‘criu’ which means ‘weir’ or ‘crossing’. A fitting name for the town that is best known as a large railway junction and a major railway engineering facility for locomotives from the 19th century to the modern day. At the height of production, 20,000 people were employed by Crewe Works.
So, when most of the town wasn’t building trains, how did they occupy their time? Football.
The club was formed in 1877 as the football division of Crewe Alexandra Cricket Club which had been founded 11 years earlier by Thomas Abraham and other workers at the locomotive works.
There aren’t many clubs in England that can claim they’re named after royalty. In fact, only one can, Crewe. Princess Alexandra of Denmark was Queen of the UK and Empress of India as the wife of King Edward VII.
Crewe Alexandra is a football club that’s seen it all. From being a founding member of the Football League Second Division in 1892 to the heights of the first division in the 1990s. Throughout all that’s gone on one thing has remained a virtual constant, Gresty Road.
The original Gresty Road was located just to the west of its current home. It was demolished in 1906 to make way for the construction of new railway lines. It was rebuilt in the same year and it’s been home ever since.
Now called the Mornflake Stadium, when you walk in it feels like a place that has been at the heart of the town for over a century and has bore witness to the changes the area has gone through. There’s something quite poetic about the fact that ‘The Railwaymen’ sit adjacent to Crewe’s train station. A reminder of their history and the people responsible for making Crewe what it is today.
Over the years it has gone through a number of alterations and facelifts. Currently, it’s an all-seater stadium that can host 10,101 fans but their record attendance sits at 20,000 when in 1960 the club took on Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup.
6,809 of today’s fans call The Boughey Stand home. It’s crazy to think that up until the 1990s, the main stand was actually a wooden structure. Completion of the new main stand was finished in 2000 after a £5.2m rebuild. It houses nearly 70% of the ground’s capacity and towers over the rest of the stadium.
Interestingly, and something you might not notice at first glance is that there are no pitchside dugouts. They’re built into the main stand. It also hosts the changing rooms, club shop and office staff.
The rest of the ground is made up of The Rhino Safety Stand and The Andrew Connolly Financial Planning Stand, whilst the away fans reside in The Whitby Morrison Ice Cream Van Stand. We’d just like to point out that in 2021, Whitby Morrison extended their stand sponsorship for another 99 years. Whether that was an intentional joke or not, we’ll let you decide…
The club are currently plying their trade in League Two after being relegated last season and hope to make a return in the near future.
It’s well worth visiting the Mornflake Stadium, you can view Crewe Alexandra’s fixtures here.
Thank you to Ben and the team at Crewe Alexandra for being so welcoming for our first edition of Venue.
There will be plenty more to come from our Venue series over the coming months, we’ll be taking you behind the scenes of some of the most iconic venues in the sporting world.
If there are some places you would love to see us visit, tweet us @BehindSport and let us know!
You can read more from our Insight series here.