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Bristol City 0 v 1 Leeds United
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 9th March 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Bristol City Awaydaze
Friday, 8th Mar 2019 17:05 by Tim Whelan

Our visit to Bristol City is on Saturday, with a rare kick-off at 3pm, and you’ll find Ashton Gate about 2 miles to the south-west of the city centre.

If you’re going by car, the recommended route is to use the M5 as far as junction 18, then take the (A4) Portway, signposted towards Bristol Airport and Bristol City. Following signs for the Airport/Taunton (A38) drive over the swing bridge (Brunel Way) branching left into Winterstoke Road & you will see the ground on your left. Then continue along Winterstoke Road until the KFC roundabout and take a first left, and it’s another 200m to the away turnstiles.

Parking at the ground is reserved for permit holders only and street parking is limited. There is the Bedminster Cricket club on Clanage Road (A369) that offers parking at a cost of £10 per car and is around a 5-10 minute walk to the stadium. There is also some residential parking, but most of the streets close to Ashton Gate have double yellow lines, with parking regulations strictly enforced!

The nearest railway station to the ground is Parson Street, which is around 15 minutes walk away and is served by local trains to Western Super Mare. There are trains from Bristol Temple Meads at 13.26, 13.54 and 14.26 (taking only four minutes) but coming back the frequency is only hourly, with trains at 17.35, 18.35 and 19.35.

If that doesn’t appeal, you can make your way direct from the main Bristol Temple Meads station, although that is just over two miles from Ashton Gate. Service ‘A’ buses leave an hour before kick off costing a flat rate £2 from Temple Meads station. The pick up point is across the main road at the bottom of the station approach road and the buses make the return journey after the game from Ashton Road, (behind the Atyeo Stand) by the Greville Smyth Park. Away fans can use this service, but the trouble is that there are usually only three buses allocated and they fill up very quickly.

Walking to the ground from Temple Meads will take around 45 minutes, but if you need the exercise you can turn left into Temple Gate, cross over the river, take the first right into York Road and follow the river into Coronation Road. Keep following Coronation Road until you see Raleigh Road on your left. Walk down Raleigh Road and the ground will appear in front of you.

A railway branch line to Portishead runs very close to the ground, but it currently used only by freight trains. A local group have put forward a proposal to re-introduce passenger trains to this line, which would include a station for Ashton Gate, and at one stage it was planned to open in early 2020.

But project costs have now risen to three times the original estimate, and they now need to find a further £31m before it can go ahead. So we may get a direct train service all the way to the ground in a few years if we’re still in the same division as the Robins, but I’m not sure if it’s worth holding your breath.

None of the pubs next to the ground are very welcoming for away fans, so the best advice is to head north of the ground and over the River Avon on the ‘plimsoll bridge’. Among the decent pubs on the waterside are the ‘Nova Scotia,’ ‘The Cottage Inn’ and ‘The Orchard’. The last of these three is in the CAMRA guide and was voted Britain's top cider pub in 2009, with it’s 24 different ciders available! And if you park at the Bedminster Cricket club (see above) you can call in there for a pint or two.

And there are of course a lot of pubs in the city centre, including a large Wetherspoons close to Temple Meads station, called the ‘Knights Templar’. Food-wise, there is a KFC right next to the ground and two fish & chip shops on Ashton Road, as well as a few other takeaways round the corner on North Street. Inside the ground is the usual football ground scoff, including burgers, pies, slices of pizza and sausage rolls.

City moved to Ashton Gate in 1904, though the ground had an unfortunate history during it’s first 37 years of existence. The roof of the South Terrace was destroyed by gales in 1916, a fire partially destroyed the Old Stand in 1929 and then an air raid in 1941 which destroyed the entire grandstand.

In more recent years the club replaced the former away terraces at the west end of the ground with the £1.8 million John Atyeo Stand in 1994, in order to comply with the Taylor report. And they didn’t stop there, with a new Lansdown stand on the west side of the ground and a new South Stand to replace the old Wedlock End, both completed in the last two years.

The South Stand is equipped with the latest ‘rail seat’ technology, which allows the seats to be folded back so the area becomes a safe standing terrace. But currently they can only do this when the stadium hosts rugby matches, so we’ll just have to live in hope that the government will one day allow football fans the privilege of standing. But even with only seats in use for football, the stadium capacity has increased to 27,000.

Now that City have now finished the redevelopment work that reduced the capacity a couple of years ago they can offer visitors 4,200 seats in the Atyeo Stand, but for this game our allocation has been cut to a mere 2,600. This is apparently due to the rather boisterous behaviour on the concourse at half time in the away section last season.

None of us will weep at the thought of Bristol City costing themselves revenue in this manner, and Leeds will actually benefit, with the restrictions meaning that a live ‘beamback’ will now be taking place at Elland Road. The Centenary Pavilion and Bremner Suite have now completely sold out and due to “phenomenal demand” they are now be opening the Norman Hunter Suite as well. Ticket details on the official site.

But the restrictions are harsh on our many fans in the South-West, for whom it would be easier to get to Ashton Gate than to Elland Road for the beamback. I’m told that hundreds have just had their tickets cancelled once Bristol City had cross-checked with Leeds to identify anyone with a ticket for any of the home stands who was also on the Leeds database.

And they have been informed rather late, presumably to restrict the time they would have to buy another ticket from a different source. Probably the best tactics for the exiled Leeds fans is to get someone else to buy the ticket. At least they got a refund, so they can have a jolly good laugh if Bristol City ever get into financial difficulty at any time in the future.

Leeds allocation was of course sold through the club’s ‘attendance tracker’ loyalty scheme, and inevitably it’s now sold out. Thankfully they kept the prices the same as last season, so it’s £32 for adults, with various categories of concessions at £29, £26, £15 and £10.

Last season the trip to Ashton Gate was a good day out, so it’s just a shame that so few of us will there to enjoy it all this time round.

Some of this stuff came from .

Tim Whelan

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