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Bristol Rovers Awaydaze
Bristol Rovers Awaydaze
Thursday, 5th Mar 2009 14:19

Our visit to Bristol Rovers is on Saturday, with a 3pm kick-off.

The Memorial Ground is a couple of miles to the north of the city centre, and I think I’m right in saying that Rovers get most of their support from the northern half of Bristol, while fans in the southern half follow City. Until the 1980s Rovers played at nearby Eastville, in the shadow of the M32, but after a dispute with their landlords they moved to groundshare with Bath City and didn’t find their way back to Bristol until 1996. They bought the Memorial Ground from the financially challenged rugby club, who now share the ground as tenants.



If you’re going down by car you need to leave the M5 at junction 16 (Signposted Filton) and join the A38 (South) towards Bristol City Centre. The ground is about five miles down the A38. You will pass the large British Aerospace works and further on you will pass on your left the Royal George and Duke of York pubs. At the next traffic lights, the Memorial Ground is signposted to the left and is about 100 yards down this road. If you go over the lights you will see the Wellington pub on your right. There is a fair amount of street parking around the sides and back of the pub. From here it’s a 5 to 10 minute walk to the ground and you’ll struggle to get a parking space any closer than this.



The nearest main line railway station is Bristol Parkway which is around two miles away from the ground, and from there you can get bus 73 or 74. An alternative is to catch a local train to Filton Abbey Wood, though that is still 20-25 minutes walk away from the ground.



The Wellington (see car directions above) is a decent real ale pub, where away fans are usually welcome but occasionally “restrictions are applied if past reputations warrant.” That’s probably us then. Other options nearby are the ‘Victoria’ on Gloucester Road and the ‘Annexe’, which is listed in the Good Beer Guide and can be found by following signs for the County Cricket Ground. One place that away fans should avoid is the ‘John Cabot’ pub.



The capacity of the Memorial ground is 11,916, and whereas away fans normally get 1,100 places on the uncovered Uplands Terrace, for this game we will also have the whole of the South Stand. The home seating areas have already sold out and Rovers’ official website is telling us that there will be no tickets sold for any part of the ground after 5pm on Friday. Away tickets cost £15 for the terrace, with concessions at £8, while the seats cost £17.50 (concessions £9.50).



The South Stand was originally erected as a temporary stand, to fill what was previously an empty space behind the goal. The stand only runs for just over half the width of the pitch, has several supporting pillars running across the front to block the view, and has been nicknamed 'the tent' by Rovers fans. At least we can get some decent scoff inside, especially the huge Cornish pasties (£2), with a choice of meat or vegetarian.



The Club have received planning permission to re-develop the Memorial Ground into an 18,500 capacity stadium. The scheme will involve completely re-building the ground, moving the pitch in eastwards and incorporating residential accommodation around the outside of the stadium. Work will start at the start of the 2009/10 season and will mean that the Club will need to ground share with Cheltenham Town for around 18 months, before returning to the new Memorial Stadium in the 2010/11 season. You might have thought it would be simpler for them to lodge at Ashton Gate for the duration, but as in the 1980s, their fans refused point blank to slum it with that lot south of the river. But at least we can look forward to a better allocation if we’re still in the same division as Rovers in two years time!


Photo: Action Images

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