Underneath The Archie

For the many things that British football has exported across the world – naked greed, hooliganism, you know the sort of thing – but some of them, just some of them, have been worthwhile. The league system is an British invention, as is international football. One of the less celebrated exports, however comes in the field of stadium design. Even now, the “British” model of placing the crowd as near as possible to the action, with four stands on each side of the ground is treated as the preferred option for clubs worldwide, creating as it does an intimate atmosphere that is much sought after. Anyone that has watched a match at, say, the Stadio Delle Alpi will be more than aware of the negative that a running track can have on a match. Within the realm of British stadium design, one name stands head and shoulders above the rest. He is the man that, practically single-handedly gave us the look and feel of the pre-Taylor Report British football stadium – Archibald Leitch. The list of clubs that were serviced by Leitch is staggering. He was either the chief architect behind or responsible for construction of one part of thirty-five stadia in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, including Old Trafford, White Hart Lane, Celtic Park, Ibrox, Anfield, Cardiff Arms Park, Highbury, Stamford Bridge, Twickenham and Villa Park. The biggest...

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