After a ten-year slumber Oxford Stadium came back to life yesterday evening with the sound of thudding paws.

Greyhound racing returned to Oxford Stadium last night (Friday, September 2) to the tune of over 3,000 excited dog racing enthusiasts.

The first race began at 7.30pm; the crowds cheering and shouting as their chosen dog sprinted around the track.

Managing director Kevin Boothby extended the Sandy Lane venue’s capacity for these opening races and said executive tickets were sold out.  

The venue was reopened in April after Mr Boothby secured a 10-year lease on the stadium last year.

It had hosted speedway and greyhound racing for 73 years before closing in 2012.

The highlight of the evening for many was seeing Oi Oi Joey – a greyhound named in honour of Oxford United legend Joey Beauchamp – making its UK debut.

The hasty hound ran from trap two in the race that began at 8.10pm and finished in 5th place.

Trained by Marston-based Richard Baker, Oi Oi Joey made a flawless start to his British career by winning all three trials he participated in at Oxford Stadium, ahead of the main event.

Read more: Joey Beauchamp tribute greyhound will race at Oxford Stadium

The pooch is owned by a 25-strong syndicate of family and friends of Joey.

Among the facilities open on the night was the Joey Beauchamp Bar.

The bar had been adorned in Oxford United memorabilia and photos of Joey and opened its doors to the public for the first-time last month.

David, a dog racing enthusiast, said: “I came from Brighton for these races.

“I know it’s been ages since there’s been dog racing in Oxford, so I thought I’d come over and see.

Another excited crowd member said: “It’s brilliant that the races are back, Oxford has been missing this.”

A third added: “I used to come here and watch the dogs all the time, before it all stopped.

“My kids have never seen it though, so I brought them here today.

“They’re really excited about seeing all the dogs.”

Despite the electric atmosphere and excited fans, there was some opposition to the racing starting up again.

Around 20 protesters turned up to the stadium with placards, engaging guests as they drove into the stadium, trying to dissuade them from taking part.

A member of PETA at the demonstration, Molly Elsden, said: “Many greyhounds get serious injuries or die during this ‘sport’, and we don’t think it’s fair that any animal should be used for entertainment.

“Many of the public don’t know what happens to the dogs involved in this practice and we really need to spread the message.

“The dogs don’t choose to be here, and they’re not here for our use.”


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing:

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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