Address: 33 Filton Avenue,
Capacity: 12,300 (Around 3,000 Seated)
The biggest collection of different sized stands and terraces you are likely to ever see.
The Memorial Stadium is one the few professional football grounds that can offer a completely different view of the game from each of its four sides.
Sports have been played on the site since the 1890s, but the Memorial Stadium itself was first opened in September 1921, and was initially the home of Bristol Rugby Club, now known as the Bristol Bears, who stayed there until their move to Ashton Gate in 2014.
Current tenants Bristol Rovers Football Club moved in as joint owners of the ground in 1996, but following Bears’ relegation and financial difficulties, their share was bought by Rovers and the Football Club became the only tenants of the ground, as is still the case today.
Location and Getting There
The Memorial Stadium is located in the Horfield suburb of Bristol, around 2.5 miles north of the City Centre. Bristol County Ground, the home of Gloucestershire Cricket Club, is around one mile south of the ground, and Southmead Hospital is approximately one mile away to the north.
Coming by car can prove a challenge as the tight streets packed around the football ground make parking very difficult to find.
You’ll need to get there very, very early if you want to find a place close to the ground itself, so expect a fair walk from whatever street you do find parking on to the Memorial Stadium, though it shouldn’t be as far as it would be from the two train stations.
Getting to the ground by train can also be difficult.
The two nearest stations are Redland and Montpelier, both served by Great Western Railway.
The walk from either of these to the stadium can set you back anywhere between 35 and 40 minutes along roads that are very steep, as is the case with the majority of Bristol.
Outside the Stadium
Walking around the immediate vicinity of the football ground isn’t possible. Housing estates back right onto the exterior on its western and southern sides, and as a result fans can only enter from the northern parts of the ground.
There is a gate outside the South Stand which leads on to Alton Road, but this is only opened when the game is finished.
The first part of the Memorial Stadium you will likely see is the Poplar Insulation East Stand. It is easily the tallest and largest part of the whole ground and towers over everything else nearby.
The exterior is made up mostly of blue corrugated iron and has a cantilever roof coming part-way down the back. The lower parts are made up of dull-coloured stone and it shows its age in several places. The stand as a whole is certainly not the most attractive to look at but is nevertheless practical.
Bristol Rovers’ Club Shop can be found within the base of the stand, but the turnstiles into the seating area and the terraces around it are over towards the northeast corner.
There is a large car park outside the Poplar Insulation East Stand but this of course charges a hefty sum for anybody wanting to park there.
Down towards the southeast corner are another set of turnstiles which are for the away fans that have bought tickets in the away terrace.
Continuing round this southeast corner leads you to the edge of the Brunel South Stand.
The turnstiles leading into here are right on the corner and the uncovered concourse is beyond this.
The turnstiles into the West Stand, known for sponsorship reasons as the Nuffield Health West Stand, are in the ground's northwest corner. You cannot walk along the back of this stand without first going through the turnstiles and so you aren’t able to see a lot of it from outside.
What you can clearly see though is the main building in the centre of the stand. It reminds me of the pavilions you find at cricket grounds, much grander and nicer-looking than other parts of the football ground and providing a higher up view than most of the other seats nearby.
The North Stand at the Memorial Stadium is known for sponsorship reasons as the Thatchers North Stand.
There is a large building behind the back of here that only home fans can enter before going through the turnstiles in the northeast and northwest corners. The building leads to two bars that home fans regularly go into for drinks and food before the match begins. In terms of what drink is on sale there, given the North Stand is sponsored by Thatchers, I’ll leave you to guess!
The building itself is lower down than the path outside it, though both staircases and ramps are available for use there.
Inside the Stadium
The Poplar Insulation East Stand is divided into three sections, the largest of which is the elevated seating area. This is made up of three blocks of seating, and the vertical rows in each make up blue and white stripes. The whole area is covered by a large iron roof which hangs well over the front rows, but there are very low windshields that do not provide a great deal of protection from either side.
Because of the cantilever roof on top, there are no supporting pillars that restrict your view and as a result these are the best seats in the house for those who like being high up.
Down below the seating area is the Poplar Insulation Terrace. The standing area is in front of the seating section and also on either side, and only part of this central section is covered by the stand’s roof.
Most of this terracing area is therefore uncovered and on the cold days and nights you will be exposed to the elements.
An area of covered seating, known for sponsorship reasons as the Bristol Response Locksmiths Family Stand, is behind part of the East Stand terracing and near to the northeast corner. This Family Stand is simply a few blocks of blue seating with a blue and white striped roof overhead that looks like a something you’d find at a carnival.
Supporting poles run regularly along the front of this stand to keep the roof up and as a result your view of the pitch will be restricted slightly, but you will have protection over your head.
The Memorial Stadium has just a single screen inside, which can be found near to the southeast corner in the open space that is not taken up by the Brunel South Stand.
A live scoreboard, as well as a match clock, is displayed on here and can be seen by most parts of the football ground.
The Brunel South Stand follows the same design as the Family Stand; blocks of blue seating covered by a carnival-like blue and white striped roof.
The stand only runs two thirds of the way along the width of the pitch, with the rest of the space here made up by the South Stand concourse and a small area which fans may sometimes choose to stand in on a clear day.
The letters BRFC are spelt out in white along the seating blocks, and pillars run regularly along the front of the stand which will restrict your view, unless you are sat in the very front row.
Unlike the Bristol Response Locksmiths Family Stand however, the Brunel South Stand does have a back wall to it, and has a lot more rows of seats within.
Additionally, the side of the stand over by the southwest corner is covered and so the wind and rain cannot easily get through this side.
The Nuffield Health West Stand is divided into three main sections, with the largest part being in the centre and also the one with the best view of the pitch.
The central building is divided into three levels, the lowest one being made up of uncovered standing terrace and the two seating areas above being stacked on top of one another. The top tier is the executive seating area and there is a row of executive boxes behind here, whilst the mezzanine that holds the matchday camera is further up above this.
Your view from the top and middle tiers is pretty clear and the terrace underneath is much lower down so you won’t have people stood in your way.
Only part of the low terracing area is covered by the roof, whereas every one of the seats is protected from above.
Close to the Nuffield Health West Stand is the Cooling FX Northwest Terrace. This is an area of fully covered terracing that has pillars on just the ends of the stand and so your view from here is relatively good, especially in comparison to other parts of the football ground.
Over on the other side of the West Stand is the Termination Technology Southwest Stand. This is a near mirror-image of the Family Stand diagonally opposite but is larger and has more seats inside. It has a blue and white striped roof and pillars running regularly along it that restrict your view of the pitch. Only one side of the stand, the side closest to the southwest corner, has a wall up that stops the wind from coming in.
The Thatchers North Stand is the simplest of the main four at the Memorial Stadium.
The stand is made entirely of terracing which is completely covered by a roof, though the back wall only goes part way along, with the exposed concourse and food stalls located behind it.
Large pillars run regularly across the front of the stand to hold the roof up and you can guarantee your view of the pitch to be somewhat restricted as a result.
There are no windshields on the sides either and so in the winter months this stand can get very cold very quickly.
It is however usually one of the most packed stands in the Memorial Stadium and you can expect the most vocal Bristol Rovers fans to be positioned behind the goal here.
Away fans are put in two sections of the ground.
They are given the entire Brunel South Stand for seating tickets and are also given a section of terracing over towards the southeast corner that is completely uncovered.
The two sections are only given to big away crowds however, with smaller crowds given just the South Stand seats and the southwest terrace made available for home supporters instead.
The two away sections are very contrasting. The Brunel South Stand gives you a roof overhead but can provide a restricted view by the presence of supporting pillars at the front.
The terraced area on the other hand has an unrestricted view of the pitch but has no roof overhead to provide protection.
It's worth considering the likely weather for your day when choosing where to go as an away fan.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Anchor (323 Gloucester Road, BS7 8PE) (Home Supporters Only)
-The Annexe Inn (Seymour Road, BS7 9EQ) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located northwest of Bristol County Ground)
-The Drapers Arms (447 Gloucester Road, BS7 8TZ) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Knights Templar (1 The Square, BS1 6DG) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located near to Bristol Temple Meads Station)
-The Royal Oak Horfield (385 Gloucester Road, BS7 8TN) (Home Supporters Only)
-The Wellington (Gloucester Road, BS7 8UR) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
The Memorial Stadium is a real throwback to how football grounds up and down the country used to be.
Bristol Rovers have drawn up plans in the past for expansion and renovation and only time will tell exactly whether these will go ahead and how they will change the aesthetics of what is honestly a tired-looking ground.
The East Stand has easily the best seats in the house but the best atmosphere comes from the thousands of fans who pack themselves into the many terraces around the stadium for every game.
For a visiting fan, it’s unlikely to be one of the away day experiences that you’ll remember with great fondness, but for the supporters of Bristol Rovers, this is their home, and they’re proud to call it that.