Travelling to the game

Rovers return to Bristol for their first match in League 1, just a few months after securing promotion on the same ground back in April.

It’s just a 21 mile trip (about 40 minutes by road) for Rovers fans travelling to the Memorial Stadium for this game.  It’ll be our second closest away game.

There are new away travel arrangements this season.  Supporters Club members now get substantial discounts on all away travel.  Coach and away tickets can be bought online through the club’s website fgr tickets.  You can find out all about the new travel arrangements at away travel guide.  Coaches will leave The New Lawn at 12.00, Sainsburys at 12.15 and Stonehouse at 12.30.  Coach prices are – Adult SC member £15, Other Adults £20, Aged 16 or under £8.

The postcode for sat navs is BS7 0AQ.  There isn’t any available parking at the stadium itself, though there is street parking all around if you are happy to have a little walk.

Filton Abbeywood or Momtpelier are the nearest stations (1 1/2 miles away) but there may be better connections to Bristol Parkway – Parkway is a couple of miles from the ground.

Memorial Stadium

Bristol Rovers have played at the Memorial Stadium since 1996, having previously played at a number of stadiums including the Eastville Stadium and Twerton Park. The Memorial Stadium dates from 1921, dedicated to the memory of local Rugby Union players killed during the First World War.

The stadium is a weird mixture of stands.  The West Stand looks high and a bit incongruous as it towers over all the other stands. The Blackthorn End is a small covered terrace behind one goal, while the East Stand is a combination of both covered seating, terracing, and an open terrace either side.  Away fans are usually in the East Stand, in an area open to the elements, so you might get wet if it rains, plus it is difficult for away fans to really generate some noise from this area.  Up to 1,100 away supporters can be accommodated on this terrace.  If the weather is poor then it may be a better bet to head for one of the seats that are made available to away fans in the Brunel Group (South) Stand at one end of the ground.  Although the stand is of the temporary variety it is covered, although it does have a number of supporting pillars running across the front of it that may get in the way a bit.

Ticket prices range from £25 for an adult down to £21 for a 16-21, £11 for u-16 and £6 for u-11.

How are they doing?

Just the 3rd EFL meeting between Bristol & Forest Green.  FGR won 2-0 in Nailsworth where Jamille Matt’s double and a Dokes sending off were the key incidents.  This was followed by the 0-0 draw at the Memorial Ground, the draw that confirmed FGR’s promotion.

Bristol started last season disappointingly, losing 7 of their first 14 games.  However, they rallied very well and, now famously, achieved automatic promotion at the expense of Northampton, thanks to a final day 7-0 victory over Scunthorpe.

Bristol have a home sell-out on their hands already, so it’ll be another huge atmosphere for FGR’s first League 1 game.

Bristol released 13 players at the end of last season.  They had run with a large squad of about 34.  At the moment they have only made 3 new signings plus making one loanee permanent.

Striker John Marquis, Bristol’s marquee summer signing

Men to watch

A familiar face in the Bristol Rovers line-up will be Aaron Collins.  Aaron moved to Bristol Rovers when his contract at FGR came to an end last June.  He declined a new contract with FGR.  Aaron has made 40 appearances in the Bristol Rovers’ line-up last season (more than any other Bristol Rovers player) and was their top scorer with 15 goals.  After a slow start, Aaron became more and more of a threat as the season wore on.

Attacking midfielder Antony Evans (number 21) had 10 goals to last season and was Bristol’s 2nd top scorer.

Other than these Bristol’s main players to watch include, Sam Nicholson (number 11) & Luke Thomas (number 7).  Tall striker Ryan Loft (number 38) joined from Scunthorpe in the January window and scored his only goal in 13 appearances against Port Vale.

Joining Aaron up front is striker John Marquis.  Marquis is a 30 year-old who has moved from Lincoln this summer.  He has played up front for Portsmouth and Doncaster, among others.  So far, Bristol have made 3 other acquisitions this summer – right back James Gibbons has come from Port Vale, midfielder Jordan Rossiter has been reunited with Joey Barton from Fleetwood, and central defender James Connolly has made his loan move from Cardiff permanent.

Aaron Collins who opted to move to Bristol in the summer of 2021

Their Manager

Bristol appointed Joey Barton as manager in February 2021.  This followed him leaving ‘with immediate effect’ his previous (and only other) managerial position at Fleetwood Town.  In his first half season Rovers were relegated back to League 2.

Barton’s career has not been short of incident, so his appointment at Rovers may have been seen as brave.  These are some of his incidents –

  • sparked a ten-man brawl in a friendly match playing for Man City against Doncaster in 2004 after “hacking” at an opposition player
  • in 2004, after an incident at their Christmas party, stubbed out a lit cigar in youth player Jamie Tandy’s eye
  • in 2005, sent home from a pre-season tournament in Thailand after assaulting a 15-year-old Everton supporter who had provoked him. Barton underwent anger management therapy at the order of City manager Stuart Pearce and paid £120,000 in club fines.
  • in 2006, television cameras captured Barton exposing his backside to Everton fans.  Fined £2,000 for bringing the game into disrepute
  • arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage after an alleged argument with a taxi driver in Liverpool while going to his hotel after a match in 2007.  He was cleared of this charge in May 2008
  •  In 2008, following an incident during training when he assaulted his teammate Ousmane Dabo (Dabo said that he had been hit several times, was left unconscious and had to go to hospital after suffering injuries to his head, including a suspected detached retina) he was sentenced to a four-month suspended prison sentence plus 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay £3,000 compensation and Dabo’s court costs.  Barton was also charged with violent conduct by the FA and was banned for six matches
  • in 2007, Barton was arrested on suspicion of assault in the Church Street area of Liverpool city centre following an incident.  He was remanded in custody since the offence was committed whilst he was on bail for two prior offences.  CCTV showed Barton punching a man twenty times, causing him to lose consciousness, and attacking a teenager, breaking some of his teeth. He was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty for his part in the assault
  • in 2010 he punched an opposition player and was again charged by the FA with violent conduct and banned for three matches
  • in 2012 the FA punished him for all 3 counts of violent conduct with a 12 match ban and a £75,000 fine
  • in 2013 Barton was given a two-match suspended ban for describing Thiago Silva as looking like an “overweight ladyboy” on Twitter
  • in 2015, following his release from Queens Park Rangers, West Ham United were reportedly going to sign Barton but the deal fell through after reported protests from some fans unhappy at the prospect of Barton turning out for the Hammers
  • in 2016 he was suspended by his then club, Rangers, for three weeks following a training ground argument.  Later that year Barton had his contract at Rangers terminated with immediate effect
  • in 2017 Barton was banned from football for 18 months after admitting a Football Association charge of breaking rules relating to gambling on football matches
  • in 2019, as Fleetwood manager, he was charged with causing actual bodily harm following an alleged assault on an opposition manager in the tunnel.  In January 2021 Fleetwood announced Barton had left the club with immediate effect
  • In July 2021, Barton was charged with an assault on a woman (his wife) at an address in London.
  • In his playing career Barton received 117 yellow cards and 8 red cards

The Bristol Rovers manager – no stranger to controversy!

The Club

Bristol Rovers are officially nicknamed the Pirates.  But they are unofficially better known as ‘The Gas’, and their supporters as ‘Gasheads’.  Eastville stadium (now an IKEA and Tesco next to the M32) was Rovers home for over 90 years until 1986.  Eastville was situated next to a gasworks which produced the smell of old gas fumes.  It was said that when the heads of the gasometers were rising, the smell helped to overcome the opposition – hence Gasheads!

Bristol Rovers old Eastville stadium (with gas!)

The classic Bristol Rovers anthem is ‘Goodnight, Irene’, which Gas fans have been singing for about 70 years.

Irene good night Irene, Irene good night
Good night Irene Good night Irene
I’ll see you in my dreams

The song is a Lead Belly song from the early 20th century, since recorded by a number of different artists.  Quite how it became the Bristol Rovers anthem isn’t entirely clear.

The Weird And Wonderful Mascots Of The Football League | Page 17 |

Bristol Rovers mascot – a pirate!

Lead Belly, composer of Goodnight, Irene.