So rapid has been the pace of change at British sports grounds over the past decade that it is all too easy to forget our treasured hertitage. I have for the last 32 years been dedicated in creating accurate, evocative, architectural models of old football & sporting grounds for display at stadiums, museums, exhibitions and for the home.
-Aly Gaff -
He is responsible for constructing Hibernian F.C -Easter Road Stadium, Third Lanarks- Cathkin Park and many other famous homes of football - all from the confines of his modest Edinburgh workshop.
Aly Gaff possesses the rare skill of being able to produce replica scale models down to the finest details and idiosyncrasies of famous football grounds from around Britain. His work is exhibited at Easter Road Stadium - Edinburgh, Anfield - Liverpool, Villa Park - Birmingham, Upton Park - London and Scottish Football Museum - Glasgow.
He is perhaps most famous for his reproduction of Liverpool's home, a work of art that was showcased at an exhibition in Rotterdam during Holland and Belguim's Euro 2000 tournament. The self taught model maker and Hibernian fan had come a long way since starting out in the late eighties.
"It came about in 1987 when I was at Newcastle airport on the way to Ibiza on holiday and I saw Simon Inglis book, 'The Football Grounds of Britain'. That gave me the idea of making models of stadiums. As a Hibbee I thought I'd love to make a model of Easter Road from the 1980's. I used my skills as a joiner to make it and had no official model-making training.
"I then started on a model of the 1953 Easter Road ground with the high terracing when Hibs had the Famous Five of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnball and Willie Ormand. I did it without being commissioned and I was pretty chuffed with it. It now lies in pride of place within the West Stand at Easter Road".
"Simon Inglis had a section of the book called 'Lost but not forgotten' and I found it fascinating. So, in the early 1990's, I did Third Lanarks old Cathkin Park. I researched old drawing plans & photographs at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow and I worked out the scale of the ground from the old drawing plans incorporating the land and surroundings. The model was then put on exhibition as part of a collection of Thirds memorabilia in 1995". (STILL AVAILABLE FOR SALE)
Aly, a joiner to trade then saw the commercial potential of such a skill and with a friend travelled around clubs in England touting his services.
"We ended up getting a commission from Liverpool Football Club who wanted an old Anfield model based on the 1946 ground with the barrel-roof stands. My work is still on show at the Liverpool F.C museum within the stadium".
"I got good reviews from the Anfield model but I'm very professional and very critical of myself and there were things I didn't quite like about it".
"The model was taken to an exhibition at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam during Euro 2000 (hosted by Holland and Belguim) and that got the juices going again. It turned out Simon Inglis had seen the model there too".
"Simon got in touch and we ended up forming a partnership and getting a commission from Aston Villa & West Ham United. There was fibreoptic floodlighting in my design and that was the first time I stood up and was pleased. I used more techniques, a more professional birch plywood wood carcass and clad it in plastic brick".
"No-one else was doing this sort of thing so it was a case of trial and error, but I learned how to 'dirty up' the models, making them look old and shabby and incorporated rust effects".
"It is very enjoyable work to do. The feedback you get is so rewarding and to me its a labour of love".
Article from the ELEVEN FOOTBALL MAGAZINE (For the Love of the Game) issue1
by ALEX SCHWEITZER-THOMPSON