Mike Rowbottom
Mike RowbottomIt's not the despair, it's the hope....

Campaigners seeking a last-minute reprieve for the Don Valley Stadium collected just short of 6,000 signatures within a week, thus obliging Sheffield City Council - which has to respond to any petitions numbering more than 5,000 signatories - to debate the matter at its meeting on Wednesday of this week.

So the debate occurred. And the outcome was a confirmation of a deadline - the Stadium will be demolished later this month.

The Save Don Valley Stadium group - organised by former Don Valley coach Rob Creasey - launched its media and social media campaign in April in response to the Council's earlier announcement that mounting maintenance costs had made the Stadium's future unviable, and that it would officially close at the end of September.

Don Valley stadium in Sheffield, which is confirmed due for demolition by Sheffield City Council, pictured in September of this yearDon Valley stadium in Sheffield, which is confirmed due for demolition by Sheffield City Council, pictured in September of this year

Before the closure, the group sought to maintain the Stadium's future by asking for it to be handed over to the community. The council responded: "The Friends of Don Valley Stadium group's application was assessed against the legislation as set out by the Government and in this instance they did not meet the criteria to warrant the Don Valley Stadium being registered as an asset of community value."

Pictures were taken last week of the tracksuited coach and young athletes from the Team Blaze club he runs standing on the steps of Sheffield Town Hall as they officially presented their 11th-hour petition to a Council representative. There were lots of hopeful smiles.

Creasey was quoted as saying: "I would like to thank the public for their support. I want the Council to consider our request for the community to run the Stadium. It would be more than just about athletics - there would be educational and community elements.

"I know the Council wants to build a school there but a school could be created in the existing buildings."

Now Creasey and his young hopefuls have their answer. The Council, meanwhile, maintain they will hold local and national age-group events at the nearby Woodburn Road arena - but Don Valley Stadium it ain't.

The 25,000 capacity stadium built in 1990 at the cost of £29 million ($44 million/€34 million), ahead of the city's staging of the World University Games, it now appears, is officially history.

It is, as many have pointed out over the last few months - including the home-grown Olympic champion who began her journey at the arena, Jessica Ennis-Hill - quite a history.

While the World Student Games of 1991 met with enthusiasm locally but scepticism more widely in the media, there was nothing but good news over the race between Yorkshire's own Peter Elliott and Steve Cram later in the year in the McVitie's Mile, which was won by Elliott.

And subsequent meetings confirmed the Don Valley's status as a top class international venue. I was in the stadium in 1993 on the night Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic threw a world javelin record of 95.66 metres. It was no more than one of the highlights of the meeting.

I also remember watching Oscar Pistorius run at Sheffield in one of his first big races against non-disabled athletes; and interviewing Roger Black, after finding him at the bottom of a spiral staircase that almost had the effect of screwing me into the Yorkshire grit beneath, after he had returned from his latest injury to run a sub-45sec 400m in the late 1990s.

donvalleykellyKelly Holmes shows off her two gold Olympic medals at her farewell appearance in 2005 at the Don Valley Stadium

I recall too watching Kelly Holmes make her final appearance in 2005, the year after she had taken two golds at the Athens Olympics. Will Jessica Ennis-Hill choose the Woodburn Arena to make her future farewell appearance, I wonder?

When the original announcement of closure was made, Ennis-Hill's coach Tony Minichiello voiced what has since become a steady refrain to this turn of events less than a year after the staging of the London Olympics had raised such trumpeted aspirations for a lasting legacy.

"Not much legacy in a pile of rubble, is there?" Minichiello said, adding: "If there are fewer facilities, things get crowded, and when kids turn up to try it for the first time, it's a bit rubbish so they never come back again. The next gold medallist walks out the door because we didn't take the whole legacy thing seriously."

The latest knockback for campaigners has provoked similar reactions on Twitter.

And they also say we'll be paying for it for another 10 years too, well done Sheffield City Council another shambles. "Shocking waste" and "So much for the Olympic legacy" are among the responses to the announcement that demolition is now due on November 21.

"What a disgrace!" was another response. "We are one of the biggest economies in the world and we can't keep an Athletics stadium open."

Other tweets recall the glories of concerts held at the Don Valley by such as Def Leppard and The Arctic Monkeys.

Jessica Ennis-Hill's coach Toni Minichiello, seen here with her during her victorious London 2012 appearance, has spoken of the lost legacy represented by the destruction of a Stadium at which Ennis-Hill has trained for many yearsJessica Ennis-Hill's coach Toni Minichiello (left) has spoken of the lost legacy represented by the destruction of a Stadium at which the London 2012 champion has trained for years

In a characteristically knowledgeable article written in Athletics Weekly earlier this year, the magazine's editor Jason Henderson also recalled the farewell appearance by Kelly Holmes at the stadium - but pointed out that, even on such an occasion, the back straight had had to be boarded out to cover the fact that there were not enough spectators to fill the Stadium.

He added that the 25,000 capacity, second only to London's Olympic Stadium in terms of size for a British athletics venue, was not likely to be filled, particularly as the International Association of Athletics Federations made it very clear in 2001 when it was suggested that Sheffield might host the 2005 World Championships following the decision not to build a stadium at Picketts Lock that such a venue switch would be "a bitter disappointment".

The economics behind the move are stark. Sheffield City council has to make cuts of £50 million ($76 million/€58 million), and it maintains knocking the stadium down will save them £700,000 ($1 million/€800,000) a year.

Henderson likened the Don Valley Stadium to an expensive jumper in the bottom of the wardrobe which you will never wear but can't bring yourself to throw away.

It is a vivid image. But surely it is also a counsel of despair.

In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, an Iowa corn farmer played by Kevin Costner, is persuaded to build a baseball stadium in his back yard after hearing a voice telling him that it will bring about the return of the late, legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson: "If you build it, he will come."

The obverse, as voiced by Minichiello and others, comes to mind on the subject of the Don Valley - "if you knock it down, they will go."

In September, the last meeting to be held at the Stadium took place - The Sainsbury's School Games, featuring more than 1,600 of the UK's elite young athletes. A final irony indeed.

What makes this turn of events even more disheartening, in the wake of the towering rhetoric surrounding Olympic legacy in the wake of London 2012, is the threat of impending closure over other, smaller athletics stadiums around the country, such as the Cwmbran track in South Wales, and the all-weather track at Carn Brea in Cornwall, which is due to be replaced with a supermarket.

Never mind. Perhaps the local Council will lay an all-weather surface in the shopping aisles as a gesture towards the epidemic of youth obesity.

On subject of Carn Brea, British international runner Jenna Simpson tweeted: "I started my career on this track&ran round as a 10y old the day Seb Coe opened it."

For Coe, who was then MP for Falmouth and Cambourne, and who did all his running as a youngster in his adopted city of Sheffield, the current state of play must be uncomfortable indeed.

Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, covered the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics as chief feature writer for insidethegames, having covered the previous five summer Games, and four winter Games, for The Independent. He has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, The Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. His latest book Foul Play – the Dark Arts of Cheating in Sport (Bloomsbury £12.99) is available at the insidethegames.biz shop. To follow him on Twitter click here.