Written by Callum Walker
Situated in the ex-mining town of Castleford, the Mend-a-Hose Jungle is one of the oldest grounds in the sport.
Opening in 1926, the Jungle – first called Wheldon Road, unsurprisingly because of the name of the road where it was built – was home to Castleford Town F.C – a football side that dissolved in 1936.
1927 saw its rugby league side, Castleford RLFC, take up home after playing a season at ‘Sandy Desert’ – the current location of amateur side Castleford Lock Lane.
The rest, they say, is history; Castleford have been there ever since and you can tell. Whilst the atmosphere is one of the most intimidating in the game, its terraces are badly baulking under the weight of 94 years’ experience.
Though crowds can sometimes bypass the 10,000 mark – indeed, 11,731 turned out for a Super League record attendance at the ground in March 2004 against Leeds – the number will never hit that set in 1935. A record attendance of 25,449 flocked to Wheldon Road for a third round Challenge Cup match against Hunslet, the year in which Castleford lifted the cup for the first time in their history.
The onset of Super League in 1996 saw the club add ‘Tigers’ to their name as the rest of the competition adopted animal labels in a bid to become more marketable. That subsequently influenced the newly-rebranded club to name their ground ‘The Jungle’.
Sky, of course, were the driving force behind the transformation, but most nicknames have stuck, with the exception of Wakefield and Halifax.
Talk has often centered around the need for a new stadium especially in the era of the franchise and twice the Castleford club have led major projects in a bid to branch out.
One such deal went awry in October 2012 after years of potential planning for a site in Glasshoughton. But, just two years later, the club announced they would be moving to a new stadium alongside a new retail park on the same site.
That still hasn’t come to fruition, although plans have been moving along at a steady pace. Naturally, the current climate hasn’t exactly been helped with the consequences of Brexit.
But, even if the Tigers do move away from the Jungle, the stadium will go down in history as one of the greatest venues to experience a Rugby League game. That being said, it will also go down as one of the most dilapidated.