Bristol Rovers - A vital away guide
As a visitor to Bristol Rovers ground twice I have had mixed feelings on the matches at the Memorial stadium, from watching a shock 1-0 loss to the hands of Rovers during our relegation campaign with a goal from Ricky Lambert ironically, to winning an emphatic 5-1 win last year, with Lambert scoring again, albeit on a different side.
But the overall experience? It`s always a good away day and certainly worth going if you get the chance.
The stadium itself -
It is quite possibly the strangest ground I have encountered in my time, rather than the traditional 4 stands they have around 6-7 (depending on how you look at it) separate stands. So let`s take a look at the stands in question.
The Blackthorn end -
A typical terrace for home fans only, I haven`t experienced it myself of course but I`m glad that they keep it for home fans! The supporters always create a good atmosphere at the ground despite its open planning, a little far away for banter from the away end mind you but still good fun.
The 'DAS` Stand -
What can I say other than it`s a cricket pavilion! Split between a terrace at the bottom and a hospitality seating area at the top it is the most unique of sights in a football ground, and really doesn`t fit in with the rest of the ground. With 2 separate Gazebo type stands either side its technically 3 stands, depends on how you look at it really!
Unlike many lower league clubs, Bristol Rovers provide fantastic hospitality packages for those who prefer champagne to lager, and with private catering, a bar, private room and other amenities you can have a very different match experience to that in the away end, for a price of course.
Uplands stand -
The Uplands stand like the DAS stand is 3 separate stands/sections within one area, to the right of the Uplands is a terrace area which borderlines the away seating, this being for away fans and primarily for those who see a chair as an inconvenience.
This away terrace boasts great atmosphere and not having a steward shouting at you over everything that you do which is nice, but it seems that the club has miscalculated the amount of people who can actually fit in the terrace, or perhaps some fans are larger than others!
The middle terrace has a seating area above it which is for home fans, the banter from this side is decent, and despite the segregation being relatively little there is a police presence to ensure that things don`t over boil, not that Rovers are a violent club.
Above this middle terrace is a higher tier seating area, with part of it looming over the away terrace you get a lot of fans higher up giving out banter, though on a recent trip to Rovers one fan decided to spit down onto the away support which was dealt with quickly by the police.
The south stand -
When you can see the floor through the seats and have wooden floors in an away stand you know that you`re not at a modern arena, more a run down bingo hall with some ill fitted seats. Despite the scary thought of the stand just falling apart it is structurally sound (at least that`s what a steward told me), and the atmosphere is very good.
h, and if in the event that it rains on a winter afternoon in Bristol (like that would ever happen!) you`ll be a lot drier than the 'hardcore` fans in the terrace!
The stewards/staff -
League 1 isn`t exactly full of competent stewards, but don`t worry; the majority of stewards at the Memorial stadium are very friendly and helpful, as well as very forgiving in some cases, though they don`t seem to be good at stopping pitch invaders.
Food and Facilities -
The food - its fairly decent, with the usual burgers, sausage rolls and mars bars on sale, and unlike some clubs they don`t require you to remortgage your house to buy one! Though if you are going to buy food, buy it early, as someone who has gone there twice they haven`t learnt to cope with demand very well.
The toilets -
The toilets are actually just 6/7 portaloo`s in the corners of each stand, so nothing like what we have at SMS, and like most league grounds make sure you get in the queue early.
The memorial stadium is a small ground with its ups and downs, but overall it`s a fantastic experience. The area around boasts of shops and restaurants and there are tickets to suit all, with hospitality and the good old fashioned terracing to go with it, the match view is good and the price for tickets is also very cheap. And the chance to see 5 goals is also a distinct possibility.