You arrive with your sports bag at the stadium. After entering the premises, you go to the cloakroom, where a date indicates on its door: 1755. After changing into a small stone room, you jump onto the lawn which is surrounded by walls several hundred years old and by which the passage of time is perceptible. It’s time to enjoy the ball. Not in vain, not every day you play in the oldest football pitch in the world: Welcome to The Stanks.
It is one of the most impressive places in all of England, a place where the history of a whole nation was written and who, many years later, became one of the quintessential charitable areas, where one of the most important tournaments in the country is played. It is a fortified area located in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumbria (England), and its own charm makes it a unique space in the world. More if there is a bullet in between.
The Stanks – a word that descends from a Scottish word that meant ‘swampy area’ – is a defensive ditch that began to rise in the 16th century and ended in the 18th century, located between the Brass Bastion and the Windmount Bastion. Historically, it was a strategic position, where the walls and the terrain were used to stop the enemy. Centuries later, a new use was found for it: a kind of fridge to keep caught salmon fresh.
Both jobs disappeared over time, but the walls still held. The temperature changed and with it came more sunshine and less humidity and, this area that was swampy, wooded and difficult to cross, I have become a quiet grass. This led the creators of football to realize the potential that The Stanks had: why not make it one of the most legendary and impressive football grounds in the world? Said and done, the ball began to roll across his lawn.
Welcome to The Stanks, a football ground in Berwick which is used for charity matches. The enclosure was a former swamp and over 100 years ago it was transformed into a mini stadium. The changing rooms used by the players date from 1755. pic.twitter.com/J3M0sVEwXj
– English climb (@AscensoInglesok) January 6, 2022
It would be in 1948, in full recovery after the Second World War, that the inhabitants decided create the so-called Berwick Charities Cup. This is a charity tournament in which amateur teams register and in which the income obtained is used for solidarity purposes. Since its launch, the tournament has been played without interruption and can boast of being one of the major events in the region… although in 2017 it was about to see its end.
This year, only nine teams took part in the tournament, which led the organizers to evaluate the possibility of not playing it. However, the press turned to the region’s oldest charity tournament and saved this ‘match point’. Even the covid pandemic has not stopped him and he has the honor of raise between 6,000 and 10,000 euros per year. It has become a reference in the field. Who wouldn’t want to lift the league title in the oldest stadium in the world?
Just under 5 hours before kick-off #thestanksbut despite the heavy rain the pitch looks great after being cut and marked yesterday! pic.twitter.com/umfQRuLCDK
— The Stanks (@thecharitiescup) June 10, 2017
Moreover, he has the honor of being oldest Tudor structure in England, the walls of which cost around 150,000 euros today. Of course, its proximity to the grass itself caused more than one injury between players. Like every year, between May and July, the 2022 edition will take place: who can win the title? Perhaps the least important thing, when you know you’re a part of history for having played in a 16th century monument: it’s The Stanks.