New Stand at Whitley Bay FC's Hillheads Ground


JK designed and supervised the installation of Whitley Bay Football ClubÕs new stand during the 2010-2011 season.   He contributed the following article to the Spring 2011 edition of the UKÕs best football magazine, Groundtastic which keeps track of all UK and major international football ground developments.  Groundtastic is a must for civil engineers, structural engineers and architects involved in stadium construction, see  Although small, Whitley BayÕs new stand was cantilevered to avoid columns obstructing the spectatorsÕ view of the pitch.  It was installed on a soft fill embankment which created interesting foundation issues.


Whitley Bay FC ("The Bay") of the Northern League Division 1 and FA Vase winners for the previous two years opened the Hillheads Ground's new stand at their home FA Vase cup tie against Dunstable Town on 12th February 2011 – Whitley Bay subsequently won the FA Vase for the third year in succession in May 2011, beating Coalville Town 3-2 in the final.  The new stand has been designed to complement the 300 seater main stand and can accommodate 400 standing supporters.  Recent league and cup success has led to regular crowds of 600+  and up to 3,000 in the later stages of the Vase.  Supporters have been clamouring for additional protection from the NE weather and there will now be sufficient cover for all supporters for most games.


The stand's principle feature is a cantilevered roof affording an uninterrupted end-to-end view.  It straddles the halfway line and includes a fine television gantry right on the half-way line.  It wraps round an existing floodlight pylon at its centre.  As with all cantilever stands, it includes substantial foundations to counteract the overturning moment generated by the stand's self weight as well as wind load and imposed loads.  


In addition to providing more shelter and a better atmosphere, the stand has helped the club's application for promotion to the Northern Premier League (8th Football Pyramid Level) - always assuming the team finishes in a promotion spot.  Club Chairman Paul McilDuff said:


"We are an ambitious club whilst at the same time ensuring that we don't let our two recent Wembley successes go to our heads.  Whitley Bay is very much the town's club and the directors see themselves as stewards of an important part of Whitley Bay's culture.  We have listened hard to the views of the supporters and have ensured that our architect included all of their (sensible) suggestions into the new stand.  We have already shown that we can beat League Clubs in the FA Cup and so far, we are the only NE club to have been to the new Wembley.  How far we go in the league will depend on the players and supporters.  We have a top quality manager in Ian Chandler who has put together an exciting squad with a flair for quality football."


The club was formed in 1950 as Whitley Bay Athletic and developed into one of the country's leading amateur sides in the 1960s, twice reaching the semi-finals of the Amateur Cup.  Hillheads' attendance record of 7301 was set for the 1965 Amateur Cup quarter final against Hendon.  In 1988/89, they beat league clubs Preston & Scarborough in the FA Cup, losing 1-0 to Rochdale in the Third Round.  Whitley Bay have the honour of scoring the fastest ever goal at the New Wembley stadium when Paul Chow netted the first of six in only 21 seconds against Wroxham in 2010Õs FA Vase Final.  In fact this remains the quickest goal ever scored in a Wembley final.

New Stand at Whitley Bay FC's Hillheads Ground. Spectators used it for the first time on 12th February 2011 when Whitley Bay knocked Dunstable out of the FA Vase 5-1.  The new TV gantry was also pressed into service.

Cantilever frames ensure an uninterrupted view.  However, they generate substantial bending moments and require heavy duty connections and foundations.  The building work had to accommodate the existing floodlight pylon.


Dave Styles, The Bay's Director and Stadium Manager supervises the installation of heavy duty foundations to withstand the loads and bending moments from the new stand's cantilever steel frames.  Concrete is being pumped 60m along the pipe from the club car park beside the ground.

One of the eight foundations almost fully concreted. Towards the rear, the bolts which will connect the column to the foundation are being held firmly in place by two paving stones, two strong Geordies and a plank.