So I’ve decided on a new feature for whenever I make a rare trip away with the Cobblers. Starting with this weekend’s trip to Bristol Rovers, here is the first in what’s hopefully going to be a few away trips reviewed this season and on-going into the future. I’ll be making each item out of five and giving an overall experience rating at the end. Hope you enjoy!
Bristol Rovers (Memorial Stadium)
Result: Bristol Rovers 3-1 Northampton Town
Attendance: 5,166 (266 Cobblers fans)
I’ve been to the Memorial Stadium three times before this visit, witnessing one draw, one win and one defeat. This fourth outing ended with a disappointing 3-1 reverse with Anthony Charles seeing red in the first half.
Here’s my latest views on the Memorial Stadium…
Location: It’s a tricky little ground to get to. Driving in we got to the general area of the stadium fine but it was only thanks to a quick check of the mobile phone satellite navigation system that we got to within ‘floodlight vision’ distance of the Memorial. No sign posts in view until right up until the very street it’s located on makes it a difficult location. 1/5
Parking/Trains: Didn’t hear any reports from visitors on the trains but the stations seemed relatively simply placed. There used to be a big car park next to the ground but that’s now gone having been replaced by new housing so it was street parking only. Having said that, there was plenty of free parking in the streets nearby. 3/5
Pre match drinks: Despite being the only Cobblers fans in the supporters’ bar right outside the home terrace (and overlooking the pitch from the windows) there was no problems at all with us being there. Rovers have two bars at the ground, one for members and one for non-members and we were happily told by a helpful gent outside that the non-members one would let us in. Seems like that gesture is based on a match by match judgement but managed to get a pint very quickly and had no trouble whatsoever. 4/5
Away end: Away fans have the option of a terrace at the end of one side of the pitch or seating behind the goal. We went for the terrace and it was a pretty mixed bag. We were close to the action but the sun was in our eyes for the most part which obviously is not a judgement on the away end as a whole but still a small problem. We also couldn’t see the corner at the far end that we were sitting on. Opinion from behind the goal was that it seemed a better option but if you prefer your terracing then the problems I had above won’t ruin your day too much. 2/5
Food: Whilst not in the class of a Kidderminster (League Two misses Aggborough for its delicacies!) this is one of the better quality outlets I’ve eaten from in this division. There’s one reason for this and that’s the pasties, which are absolutely top notch and come in cheese and onion and meat varieties. My mate Pete actually sampled both on the day and gave them both top marks. The positioning right on the terrace makes it a bit difficult when a queue forms but that’s the only thing against it, perhaps as well as variety of food and drink on offer. 4/5
Atmosphere: This category is mostly based on context in terms of how said club are doing at the time but Rovers fans didn’t get going until they took the lead. Late on, when the points were secured they seemed a lot more relaxed and ready to let out their voices that were being rested through the rest of the match and I can see how there is potential for a good atmosphere when their side is going well. On this occasion, though, it’s not getting top marks. 2/5
Overall value for money: I have to forget the result for this one and base it on the experience as a whole which can be tricky, especially after a defeat. But based on a non-intimidating atmosphere, decent facilities and good food I’m going to give the Memorial Stadium 3/5 overall.
Final thoughts: It still has the feel of a ‘proper’ League Two ground and that can sometimes be refreshing. I hear that they plan to move in the near future to a new stadium away from the Memorial…I can’t say I will mourn the loss because of the stadium not really possessing the sufficient character of some others that have been lost in the past few years like the Vetch Field or Gay Meadow but I just hope that the pasties stay as good!
Glad you enjoyed your trip and didn’t get too hungry on the way home after filling up on pasties
As a Bristol Rovers fan I would say that’s a fair assessment. I was on that side of the ground,at the other end, and also had the sun in my eyes. Was almost blinded by your away kit tho – no need for floodlights when your boys wear that. Pleased you were made welcome in the bar. We’re generally a friendly bunch but still have a small band of unsavouries. The atmosphere was a bit nervous as we had not won at home this season. When Mark McGhee arrived in Jan we went unbeaten at home for the rest of the season.
The ground has been sold to Sainsburys subject to planning permission for a new store. Rovers already have planing permission for a 20000 all sweater with University West of England on land near Bristol Parkway station. Planning decision for Sainsburys in November. If all ok should take 18 months to complete. Being built by same company that built Brightons new home.
Best wishes for a good season, apart from when we come to visit of course.