An Independent View

December 28, 2016

THE CONSIDERED VIEW OF TWO RECENT VISITORS TO THE MEMORIAL STADIUM

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The excellent Football Ground Guide invites supporters to review the stadiums that they visit.

The two most recent reviews are published below.

Some Bristol Rovers supporters may be interested in an independent perspective on the club and the stadium.

REVIEW ONE from Rob Dodd (Doing the 92)

Bristol Rovers v Barrow
FA Cup Second Round
Sunday 4th December 2016, 2pm.

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Memorial Stadium?

The possibility of Rovers moving from The Memorial Stadium had perhaps encouraged me to wait until the new ground had been constructed. However, it seems, as previously reported, that those plans have been shelved for the time being. So, a home draw in the Cup (and with Bristol City playing on the Saturday) meant I could take in the Barrow game as the second part of a double-header in the West Country, following my visit the day before to Home Park.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

Having stayed overnight near Exeter, it was an easy drive up the M5 to Junction 16, from where the Memorial Stadium is well signposted. It’s about four and a half miles south on the A38 from the motorway and you can’t miss the ground on the left. Parking around the ground seems to be a nightmare but I arrived quite early and parked on the A38 itself.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc. and were the home fans friendly?

It was sunny but cold so a steaming hot coffee and a pasty were a necessity! The stewards were very helpful and the lady in the ticket office, once she’d discovered where I hail from, was keen to tell me about her trip to Anfield in 1992. I missed that League Cup game as my wife had gone into labour and our son duly arrived just after the match finished!

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Memorial Stadium?

I sat in the Dribuild East Stand; a good seat but row F meant I should have taken sunglasses and a cap as I was looking into the sun until late in the second half. A lot of Barrow supporters stood on the away terrace rather than in the stand behind the goal resulting in that stand being pretty empty. Given the issues of the proposed new ground, I’m not surprised that Rovers will not want to develop the Memorial. Unfortunately, parts of the ground seem to be temporary.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc.

The view I got from the locals is that Rovers need to consolidate this season after the rollercoaster ride of the last three years. Rovers came into the match on an indifferent run, leaking goals for fun, whilst Barrow were on an unbeaten run going back to August. Rovers started well enough and took the lead within ten minutes but Barrow equalized within a few minutes. Traditionally, Paul Cox’s sides are full of players with physical presence and Barrow fit the bill. Barrow played Bennett and Harrison up front and they ran themselves into the ground, tormenting the Rover’s back line. As the game progressed, the confidence seemed to drain out of Rovers and the crowd became restive. When Harrison scored the winner with twenty-five minutes to go, Rovers struggled to mount a consistent response. It was a deserved win for the National League team. Rovers have a recent habit of losing at home to non-league teams in the Cup and here was another one! The locals seemed to be reconciled to their lot and more concerned about the team getting out of its bad run and solidifying the league position.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

A ten-minute walk back to the car and headed straight for the M5. Yes, it was busy but manageable and I was on the motorway, heading for home, fifteen minutes later.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

I enjoyed the day, four of the current ninety-two to do now! However, my enjoyment was slightly tempered by the chap sitting next to me informing me that my lot had succumbed to three late goals at Bournemouth to lose 4-3! I hope Rovers sort out their ground plans in the near future as it can’t be easy being in a state of uncertainty, particularly when their neighbours at Ashton Gate have invested heavily. As for Barrow, the future seems very bright and the team must have a fair chance of regaining its league status. I’ve never been to Holker Street; at least it’s not too far from Merseyside. I see that Barrow are at home to Rochdale in the third round. Rochdale will underestimate Barrow at their peril!

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REVIEW TWO from Albert Griffin (Port Vale fan)

Bristol Rovers v Port Vale
Football League One
Saturday 24th September 2016, 3pm.

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Memorial Stadium?

I had never been to the Memorial Stadium before. Plus with both teams doing really well in the League, I was hopeful of seeing a good game.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

It was an easy journey on first the M6 then M5 motorways, arriving at the ground an hour before kick-off. However, I had real difficulty finding parking anywhere, and must have spent around half an hour driving around side streets, before eventually finding a spot. I got talking to a Bristol Rovers fan who was also parking up and he showed us the way to the Memorial Stadium. He also commented that parking on match days is always this bad.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc. and were the home fans friendly?

As kick off was rapidly approaching we didn’t have much time, so it was a case of just getting into the ground. The home fans we met were great

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Memorial Stadium?

The away end is covered, but by a plastic tent thing, which seemed quite temporary. The seats were right by the home Family Stand. Early in the first half a drain pipe on our stand was hit by a wayward shot from a Bristol Rovers player and it crashed to the floor. Luckily no one was hurt. The rest of the Memorial Stadium looked impressive.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc.

It was a good game. Port Vale dominated the first half going a goal up, but Rovers equalised just before half time. Port Vale never seemed to come out for the second half and Rovers took the lead through a penalty to make it 2-1 to the home side. That is how it finished and it was probably a fair result.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Once we got back on the Gloucester Road, it was then a straight run.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

If you are an away fan, then I would get there a couple of hours early if you want to find somewhere nearby to park and go to a local pub. Next time I will go on one of the official coaches.

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