I’ll confess to not knowing much about Bristol Rovers before my visit here. Marcus Stewart used to play for them, they play in blue and white and that’s about it.
I visited the Memorial Ground as part of my FA Cup project (cuprunnings.com) rather than a comedy-related visit and I have to say I loved it. The club have plans to move a couple of miles away to a new stadium, but this is a perfect blend of old school and new and it’ll be a shame when they move on.
Wedged in with terraced houses on every side, the club is using every bit of space possible, so it’s easy to see why they need to move, but that won’t make it any sadder when they do.
Indeed, one of the stands exits straight into a street and just takes you back to a magical era when a football ground was slap bang in the middle of a community rather than a retail park.
The stadium itself is a mish-mash of old and new. There’s a terraced “home” end for Gasheads fans opposite the temporary seating behind the other goal that houses away fans. Then one touchline hugs a monster of an old stand (maybe not that old) with impressive views across the city.
Opposite is a beautiful newer stand, a thing of real beauty. The two look entirely different, don’t compliment each other whatsoever, yet it all adds up to make a most charming home.
This is what football is about. Stadiums built over time – so much time that the stands themselves act as a timeline to the club’s evolution. You can see when they’ve added to the ground as they’ve went along and I absolutely love it.
Everyone connected to the club seems lovely as well, and as an added bonus the stadium announcer brings the team on to the booming announcement of “I smell gas!”. Brilliant.
If you’re in the Bristol area I’d get a trip to the Memorial down on your to do list.